If your website is struggling to attain meaningful rankings in the major search engines, you may be missing out on massive revenue potential. SEO is no longer something that just the tech-savvy companies do. Today, optimizing your website is absolutely essential. According to Joel Gross, CEO at Coalition Technologies, “Great companies fail every day simply because no one knows about them. Average companies join the ranks of the Fortune 500 because they knew how to market themselves.”
Today’s SEO Strategies
The SEO best-practices of today are very different even from those of a year ago. Google has continually implemented specialized algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin to sniff out manipulative SEO tactics and devalue the sites that engage in these practices. The Penguin updates specifically are targeted at manipulative link schemes, and Google is now even using a process called Manual Spam Action to manually locate and penalize websites that break the rules. Unfortunately, this creates a difficult conundrum for webmasters. On the one hand, you still need valuable links to achieve prominent search-engine rankings, but on the other hand, your linking behaviors can land you in hot water if you aren’t careful.
So you’ll need to avoid reciprocal link exchanges, link purchases, low-level article marketing, link wheels, and other practices that lost their value sometime around 2009. After all, the game has changed. Here are 10 ways that you can build links while maintaining your good standing with the major search engines:
The best way to get other website owners to link to your site is to provide content that they genuinely want to share with people. Focus on becoming an authority in your field. Answer a need that hasn’t been adequately addressed online. Populate a blog with valuable information that leaves other resources in your dust. Once people rely on you as a trusted resource, you will see the links pouring in.
Sometimes the easiest way to get something done is to take the most direct route. Find resources that are relevant to your niche without being in direct competition. Think in terms of sites whose users would genuinely benefit from what you have to offer, and send a friendly but professional email to the webmaster requesting a link. While it may seem rude, avoid offering a link in return because — as previously emphasized — Google’s Penguin algorithm can detect link trading schemes.
All too often, small businesses think that all of their online marketing actually has to take place online. One of the best ways to get new traffic (and links) is to market your organization IRL. Handing someone a business card with a link to your website can go a long way in building lasting business relationships – online or off. And while we’re on the subject of local, make sure that your site is optimized for local search. It can make a huge difference.
It may not be the best approach for all businesses, but reviewing other relevant products or services can be a great way to gain inbound links. Of course, you should avoid reviewing your competition, as it is important that people trust you for unbiased information. For example, if you sell performance car parts, you could review a car or your experience at a local track. If your review is thoughtful, thorough, and beneficial, you may even get a link from the resource that you’re reviewing.
An effective way to get links is to host a giveaway. You can offer a discount or freebie to one random lucky person who shares your link, and watch those links pour in. Go through each link to make sure that they are authentic, as links from spam sites can do more harm than good. Make sure to use social media to build a buzz for your contest.
Do you have a unique perspective that reporters might find valuable? There are some great resources out there, like Help a Reporter Out, which link everyday people with journalists in need of a story. Maybe you have a valuable viewpoint on what it means to be a female CEO, or what it’s like to grow your own food. If a reporter uses your perspective, you may get an extremely valuable link from a major news agency. Bear in mind, this method requires a lot of patience, but the payoff can be huge.
One of the most direct ways to get your website linked is to pay for it. Many nonprofits will allow you to post your name and website after you make a donation.
This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of businesses surprisingly still aren’t using the power of social media to its full potential. The Pew Research Center reports that social media usage has jumped tenfold between 2005 and 2015, and now more than 65% of adults use social networks. The audience is out there, they’re listening, and if you market your content effectively, you have enormous linking potential.
The easiest and most effective way to gain inbound links is to pay a professional to do it for you. A good online marketing agency can boost your SERP rankings significantly using technical methods that may not be familiar to the average web user. The cost of admission is surprisingly affordable, and it is an investment in the future of your business. But before hiring an agency, make sure to do your homework. Make sure that they’re intimately familiar with current SEO best practices, and learn everything you can about their link-building practices. It’s best to find a company with high-value PR connections, and avoid any company that engages in black-hat linking techniques (like those noted at the beginning of this article).
Most importantly, remember that patience is key. A natural, high-quality link profile takes time to build, and if you do it correctly — with high-quality content and active user engagement — the links will start generating themselves before too long. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to expedite the process with outdated or spammy link tactics. It may yield short-term benefits, but will lead to long-term disaster.