Lisa D Myers of Verve Search and Patrick Altoft of Branded 3 look at link analysis, prospecting, linkbait and the things you want to avoid when undertaking what is arguably the most important activity in SEO … link building.
Patrick Altoft - Branded3
For Patrick Altoft, link building is important, very important. So much so that he believes that once on-page SEO is done, everything else should be about link building.
“If you have an SEO agency, most of the work they are doing each month should be link building.” - Patrick Altoft
Start with competitive analysis
If link building begins without analysis, any result will be by fluke. Each site will need different types of links. Your job is to identify what links you have in comparison to competing sites and to examine the anchor text distribution. Look to establish how many of these links are brand only, brand and keyword anchor text, keyword only and just noise, etc.
Different types of links
“It’s a bit of a myth reciprocal links don’t count so much, it’s only if they are on links pages.” - Patrick Altoft
There is an ongoing debate about how much social links count towards SEO success - no one really knows. Sometimes they count a lot, sometimes not very much. However if you can get someone to re-tweet a link to your story and people have the Twitter plugin embedded to show tweets on their site, then a link can show, even though it may be a transient one.
Google doesn't really like giveaways as it can err into ‘paid link’ territory. This means if they find out about a giveaway, they can treat the exchange as they would paid links. If giveaways are distributed, they need to be arranged so they don't look like it’s been arranged for SEO purposes.
If you go down this route, links need to look as natural as every other link. It’s more about what the link looks like than whether money has changed hands.
The best way to get links is from people you already know. Searching on Google for blogs is easy, the hard part is getting the link. Manual approaches still have a place in link building, but also email a link request and ask if you can become a guest blogger on their website. But be prepared for the fact that you may email 100 people and only get 2-3 links. If you want lots of links you will need to email thousands of people.
According to Patrick, creating linkbait is one of the hardest ways to build links. Branded3 tends to engage in linkbait campaigns only after they’ve done all the basic link building stuff. One obstacle can be that most sites are reluctant to link to commercial sites. People simply don't tend to like linking to ecommerce site pages.
Another issue to consider is that linkbait is not about social shares, it is to get links. A piece may be re-tweeted 500 times, but it’s important to look at how many links it attracts. In order to try and ensure a good number of links Patrick’s tip is to email hundreds of bloggers asking them to share the story.
According to Patrick, bad links can hurt sites, and the only way to fix it is to remove all the links.
”If anybody tells you bad links can’t hurt then they have not seen what Branded3 has seen.” – Patrick Aloft
Lisa Myers, CEO, Verve Search
How to generate relevant links
Lisa suggests that you can't do this tools alone. When it comes to link building you need to use your brain along with the tools!
Knowing the target audience is key. Link builders should aim to establish their age, gender and location, in order to construct a picture of who the customers are.
A key tip for link building campaigns is to identify social influencers within your industry.
What to analyze
In terms of what to analyze, Lisa suggests focusing on anchor text, depth of links, the types of links, as well as the authority and strength of links. At the start, analyze your own website and find out what links you already have. Identify what anchor text is contained in those links. Analyze the depth of links to your site and ensure there are links to your important pages.
Aim for depth as well as breadth in your inbound link strategy and remember that the diversity of unique domains also plays a part. It’s not only about the number of link citations!
As part of link reclamation, think about whether it is possible to contact a site owner who links to you to ask them to change any link text to better suit your target keyword agenda.
Lisa suggests some ways to find relevant sites using Google. For example by entering into Google:
keyword + "article" can help locate article opportunities keyword + "blog" can locate blogs themed around your target keywords keyword + "directory" can get results for themed directory pages.
Another approach to find websites which might host content or articles, is to make searches in Google by typing:
keyword inurl:"write for us" or keyword inurl:"guest posts"
Get university and college links
If you are looking for university or college links – consider which university the CEO went to. There may be an opportunity to write a profile about the CEO, and offer as relevant content to the university website, which might return a link.
Use content and host it on your website
Directory, blog and forum comments should not be the primary link development strategy. Lisa believes that link builders should think about ways to use content to get links - good ideas are key. Link baiting is a form of social SEO on your website.
Once a good idea for content has been established Lisa suggests that it’s important to host that content.
“Creating a fabulous link bait or social media campaign is a wasted opportunity if it’s not hosted on your website for people to link to” – Lisa Myers.
Lisa's presentation can be found at Link Development - Lisa Myers
More link building ideas
You can discover more great link building ideas in Wordtracker's free 100-page guide to link building and in these recent articles:
- 10 reasons why your link requests are failing
- Have you found your must-have easy-to-get links?
- 25 reasons why another site will link to yours
- How to be a successful guest blogger
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Tell us what you think
What tips have Lisa and Patrick missed? What are your most successful link building tips? Please let us know below.