If you run an agency check out our white label service.
The best way to find out what we can do is to have a conversation with us or request a proposal. Having clearly defined costs and expectation helps the decision-making process.
Until you are ready to chat with us, the following will give you a great idea of how we build great inbound links. But, first, let us tell you why we need to build high-quality links.
If you found this page, you already know that content, no matter how remarkable, will not perform well without links.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Build Links
- 2 Results
- 3 Types of Links
- 4 Guest Posts
- 5 Resource Pages
- 6 Content Marketing
- 7 Business Associates, Suppliers, Customers
- 8 Local Chambers, Trade Bodies
- 9 Citation Directories
- 10 Hyper Niche Directories
- 11 Press Releases
- 12 Infographics
- 13 User Profile Pages, Guestbooks, Forum Signatures, Blog Comments
- 14 Sponsorships, Alumni, Local Scholarships – School, College or University
- 15 Unlinked Brand Mentions
- 16 Broken Link Building
- 17 Ego baiting
- 18 Anchor Text
- 19 How We Build Links
- 20 Competitor Backlinks
- 21 Great Link Building is Hard
- 22 Creating the Content
- 23 Buying a Website
Why Build Links
Google was designed to use citations, a process the two founders took from their days at university. Published papers were considered more authoritative when they were referenced more often by other papers.
Simple? It was at the start. But, there is a huge amount of money to be made online. Very quickly, website owners discovered how to game Google – then the battle began.
As expected, Google is winning. While winning this war, they have contributed to making the content on websites hugely better than it was 10 or even 5 years ago.
In 2007, you could publish a 300 word blog post in the morning and have it rank on the first page later that day. You could submit your domain name to hundreds of “business directories” and increase the rankings of your website. The same goes for lots of other black hat and low-quality link building methods.
At the same time, it was well known that exact match anchor text would boost your ranking massively. Internal, deep links pointing to internal pages, were not the norm.
All the above is now truly dead. In fact, using these methods now will result in lost rankings, less traffic, and maybe even a manual penalty.
Too many exact match links today will result in that page dropping in the search engine results page. Private blog networks are another risk. Google dislikes PBNs and will de-index them as it finds them. Google is clear that these methods violate their webmaster guidelines.
The same is true for paid links. Google even has a page to report paid links and other spam. Would you not think your competitors will use this to kill your rankings and traffic if they could?
Let’s move on from the scary past, (and sometimes present), to what works today.
A quick word on results. The following are three results from 2017. All of these clients are fully committed. Two have in-house resources that have helped create content, for the other, we created all website content, completed the keyword research, and built the links.
This is a service business in the B2B area with less than 10 employees. We started with around 400 visits per month at the start of the project and finished 2017 with nearly 6,000 visits per month – all from Google search. (All traffic is highly targeted to their service offering) Nearly 15 times more traffic at the end of the year compared to the start. (See SEO for accountants)
This is a construction service business selling to builders and construction companies. The project was short, only about 7 months, due to funding from Enterprise Ireland. It was essentially a new website. The company had been trading and using an old website on the same domain for a number of years, we had no analytics data and it was a complete rebuild. They have gone from 400 visitors per month at the start to 2,700 per month when we finished.
This is a travel company, with seasonal customers. Traffic in 2017 was more than 160% up compared to 2016. We started this project in Nov and had good results quickly. (See travel SEO)
Types of Links
- Guest Posts
- Resource Pages
- Content Marketing
- Business Associates, Suppliers, Customers
- Local Chambers, Trade Bodies, etc.
- Citation Directories (NAP Only)
- Hyper Niche Directories
- Press Releases
- User Profile Page, Guestbooks, Forum Signatures, Blog Comments
- Sponsorships, Alumni, Local Scholarships – School, College or University
- Unlinked Brand Mentions
- Broken Link Building
- Ego baiting – watch out…
- Any linkable asset – data, reports, etc
Most businesses will use the first 7 in their link building strategy, they will increase rankings and search traffic to their website.
Generally, the lower the cost and the easier it is to get a link, the less useful it will be.
- Cost – Medium to High
- Authority – Medium to High
- Time – 1 month
Links that are editorially given are generally going to provide more weight and authority than any other – especially when the link is in the content and not the footer.
Follow links are better than no follow, but we will take both to ensure a broad footprint of links.
Guest posting is the most common type of link building. Not all guest posts are equal and strict use of authority metrics must be adhered to, along with very good content.
- Cost – Medium to High
- Authority – Medium to High
- Time – 1 month
Often overlooked, resource pages can be great links. They fell out of fashion due to link exchanges. We do not suggest an exchange. These types of links are impossible unless you have great in-depth detailed pages to submit.
- Cost – High
- Authority – Medium to High
- Time – 1+ month
Content marketing is where link building has been headed for the last few years. The main difference between content marketing and guest posting is the quality of the content and the quality of the websites.
Content marketing has two strands:
- Sending content to other websites
- Creating content on your own site and promoting it
We expect these types of posts on other websites to send traffic and raise brand awareness.
Content promotion is a grind and is unpredictable. Sometimes it is possible to catch a wave and at other times watch €1,000 spent on a great piece produce nothing.
Business Associates, Suppliers, Customers
Almost all the people I know run their own business and consequently have a website. If there is a fit – ask.
Suppliers and customers may have an area on their website that lists their customers, people they work with, or testimonials.
One other thing that fits here: help others. I like mastermind groups and find it helpful to be held to account: in these groups, I have helped others with SEO. Many months after a group was dissolved I received an email telling me that a member has added me on his thank you page as someone who had helped get his project off the ground.
Local Chambers, Trade Bodies
You pay to be a member, make sure you are listed. Some will even agree to you writing for them.
This includes trade shows, events, conferences where you are an exhibitor or speaker. Ask to be listed on the website.
Real citation directories are referred to as NAPs (name, address, phone number).
These directories, like Yelp, do not help rankings much. They do help with local SEO and Google maps listings – an area that is very important for any business.
Local citations are great for controlling the first page of Google for your company name – it makes it harder for any competitor to rank for your brand.
Hyper Niche Directories
There are not many that we find useful in each sector. But, they are worth building and your competitors are likely listed. They have little effect on website authority, but help spread anchor text – more on this later.
Press releases are an easy way to incur a Google penalty. As with most easy link building, this has been highly abused.
If you do have real news, they can be a great way to get in front of journalists. Having links from newspaper websites is normally great due to the authority of their websites. (Just make sure it is for good news otherwise the bad news will stay on the first page of Google forever to haunt you)
Using only hyperlinked company name or naked URL is the best way to stay out of trouble on lower quality submissions – but we don’t advise using these anymore.
Infographics have been overdone as a method of link building. In certain sectors they will still produce good results – but generally not in any sales or marketing area.
Again, the same as content marketing – when they work well the payoff is usually great, but most often they flop. Promotion is time consuming.
User Profile Pages, Guestbooks, Forum Signatures, Blog Comments
As a form of link building, these provide little or no use. We don’t use guestbooks due to spam.
Profile pages can be helpful depending on the website.
Forum signatures are only helpful if you are engaged in the community and your business is related. Often it is better to just advertise directly.
Blog comments are useful for being part of the discussion and getting on the radar of the blog owner. They are not useful for ranking in the SERPs.
Sponsorships, Alumni, Local Scholarships – School, College or University
You are likely proud of or have some fondness for your university. I do, it was a great time of my life. Do they have pages for notable graduates, well known grads, etc? Is there an opportunity to go back and give a talk or class? These are massively great links and are worth a bit of effort.
Sponsor your local GAA club, hockey club, tennis, rugby, football, cricket – and not just the adult teams, sponsor the kid’s teams and be part of a win-win situation. For a few hundred Euros per year, you can be on a pitchside banner and listed on their website.
Local college grants are a great way to be listed on their website, help someone, and get your company in front of future graduates.
Has your company been featured anywhere online by name but not linked to? (Hint – Google Alerts)
It is always worth following up on these and asking if they would add a hyperlink to your site.
Broken Link Building
This has been worked to death during the last few years. The idea is finding websites that have broken links to resources and pointing out the now broken link and that you have such a resource for them to link to.
A variation on this is creating a resource and finding websites that already link to similar ones and asking to be added to that page or even as a replacement for your competitor’s link – as your new content is so much better than what they currently link to.
High frequency with low success rates.
Ego baiting has always worked. Write something flattering about a person or company and let them know about the piece. They will at a minimum usually share on their social channels.
This year, 2018, we are set to see a new twist on this. Completely unrelated websites have started to write about larger companies that keep a press archive on their websites.
Great, you think, we are getting a mention online and links from that website. And, if you go to the page you will see the link, can click on it and land on your website.
However, redirect and no follow links are what is being used, and these do not pass any authority. This process is just starting to happen on an industrial scale. Be aware.
On 24th April 2012, Google introduced the first Penguin algorithm update. This updated specifically targeted websites that had created many exact match anchor texts. Many of the websites first hit by this update had to abandon their domains and start again.
Penguin is now part of Google’s core algorithm. If Google thinks you are overdoing it with anchor text, you will see drops in rankings to those pages.
If you have completely overdone the anchor text, you will disappear from search results – sometimes even for your company name.
How We Build Links
We love our processes. They have allowed us to scale while keeping quality high.
We find thousands of target websites and pull them into a sheet. We have a process for discarding low quality sites and keeping only sites with good metrics.
Then we manually visit every website to approve suitability, find the correct name and email to contact, and then test the validity of the email address.
If they have a write for us page, we follow their guidelines. Otherwise, we have our internal process which results in high response rates.
We agree on the topic, pass it to one of our writers, an editor checks the finished post, we create or find images, and then we send it for publishing.
If suitable, we will share on social channels – every little bit helps.
We find all competitor backlinks and separate them into types of links. The first part of this process is finding links that competitors have in common. These are normally easier to arrange.
Guest posts are added to the above process, other links are targeted by either ourselves or by you the customer.
Great Link Building is Hard
White hat Link building is the single most difficult part of SEO. A lot of it is manual and therefore costly. Due to our great content, we have built up good relationships with website owners and can normally fulfill most orders within the first month.
We have a 30-day notice period to stop our services. To have live blog posts next month, we are emailing and writing this month.
Creating the Content
We have 30+ excellent freelance content writers. We create all the content for guest posts and any other articles we publish.
We have writers for most business sectors, however, if you are in a highly technical area, the first couple of months may be slower than both of us want.
The posts we publish are normally 1,000+ words – though some websites ask for less.
Preapproval of content slows down the process, we can do this with you – but, it has never worked on a long-term basis. (And it costs more)
Buying a Website
If you have the capital and want very quick growth, buying a website can be much cheaper than building external website links.
It is very important to only buy a website that is closely aligned with your current business.
The due diligence on website purchases is deep and can take a while.
If you can buy a website that already has 5,000 visitors per month, 100 links, and lots of great blog post that drive traffic, then this can be worthwhile and bring the cost per link acquisition down to a fraction of the normal cost.
It can take months to find and then buy a suitable website. I do not recommend buying dropped domains and redirecting to your main website as the associated risks are now quite high.
Do you have any questions on link building? We would love to hear from you.