This is How Link Building is Supposed to Work
10 years ago, you could stuff your site with your desired keywords and the search engines would likely rank your site without a lot of effort.
As little as 3-5 years ago, you could still spam the comments of other blog posts with your URL, and ask bloggers to share your content by just being polite, and this would help you rank.
Fortunately for everyone, search engines are evolving with the desires of consumers, and these strategies don’t work anymore.
Unfortunately, it’s super easy to get penalized if you’re not up-to-date with link-building best practices. She doesn’t know that I know it was her, but another web professional once linked to my site from an adult content website to crush my rankings. Here’s what happened.
At first, I noticed an unusually-large spike in traffic, coming directly from where my URL had been placed. Within a week, my traffic had completely plummeted -- before I could get the URL removed, I was done.
It’s not news that adult content, prescription sites, and casino backlinking can get you penalized. These are known as poison links -- if you drink it you die.
In modern times, Google is even more advanced, and poor linking strategies (even those with well intentions) can have a similar effect. Here’s the awesome part, though: you’re going to find out what a great link-building strategy entails.
What Are Poor Link Building Strategies?
The first thing you need to understand is the difference between a ”penalty” and a “filter.” A penalty is a very severe, difficult to reverse action that is usually implemented after a manual review of your website by a real person.
These can have an effect on several pages or an entire website. A filter is triggered by the algorithms built-in to the search engine itself, and it results in a standardized decrease in ranking (ex: 20 positions down for a search term). Filters generally only affect a certain page.
Risky linking strategies to avoid:
- Buying links from directories
- Buying links from link-brokers
- Buying the help of social media authorities
- Buying natural links
- Commenting on posts in “spammy” language -- almost any language -- with links to your content
Pretty much any links you have to pay for (unless you’re hiring someone to do it for you, and even that’s risky) is bad practice. If you think that building quality links won’t require a lot of effort, then you are sadly mistaken.
What Are Great Link Building Strategies?
There is a reason that banners don’t convert anymore and it’s that consumers don’t want to be sold to. On the contrary, they want to feel like they’re in control.
Search engines are evolving with the consumer in mind, and your business will benefit, as long as you follow best practices. Here are some rules to follow when building your web presence.
1. Don’t Share a Link
Okay, honestly, I just wanted to get your attention, but I had a good reason. Many web professionals want to jump right to a conversion before they’ve even gotten insight as to where the customer is in their buyer’s journey.
This is a no-no. Only share your link when the buyer is ready to make a conversion, not when you are. Here’s a flowchart of the process.
So, when you do finally share your link, don’t share a link to your conversion page, or even your landing page. Share a link to engaging content that is built to direct viewers to a landing page where they can then follow a CTA. Your link-building strategy should nurture, not convert.
2. Be Helpful
Ask not what your audience can do for you, but what you can do for your audience. Whether you’re targeting bloggers, journalists, social media followers, current customers, a web authority, or someone else, your links should somehow provide value to the viewer.
Think, “How can I help you?” not, “What products and services are you interested in?” The landing pages and sales aren’t involved in a great link-building process. Don’t even mention products and services.
NOTE: When you are reviewing and commenting in order to generate links, try to limit the URLs to website home pages to your bio on whatever platform you’re working in.
3. Be Relevant
Who really benefits from your products and services? This is who you’re trying to help.
So, if you’re a printing company who has just launched a new technology, and you’re targeting photographers and graphic designers, find out what these people’s problems are.
Are they looking for lighting advice or a review on some previous technology to make a purchase decision. Deliver solutions to the right audience.
Final Thoughts on Link Building
Your link building strategy can involve social media outreach, reviews, commenting, and just about any other creative strategy you can come up with as long as you follow a few guidelines:
- Never purchase your links
- Share the right content
- Keep products and services out of the mix
- Deliver solutions
As long as your strategy involves everything above, you’re ready to go out and start generating the links you need to get noticed by search engines.