Top 7 Link-Building Hacks for the Modern SEO World
Years ago, SEO professionals may have bought links in bulk from distributing websites and crammed as many as possible onto each page, but both of those practices are now frowned upon and new advancements from Google are pushing spammers out of search results. So how do you navigate the new rules and keep your site on Google’s good side, all while creating a strong link-building network? By following these simple content marketing hacks.
Hack #1: Free is the Way to Be
Adding links to your page used to be pricey, but now it can damage more than just your bank account. With the release of Google Panda, links from bulk sites are more likely to hurt your page than to help it. If Google detects links on your page that show up on lots of other pages, you’ll likely fall from the rankings. This is why it’s important to avoid even a single purchased link: while Google may not pick up on one, if they do notice the link appearing on multiple sites your page will be penalized.
Hack #2: Keep Things Fresh
Content marketing should be evergreen, but that doesn’t mean links will. Keep an eye on your pages to make sure all past sites you’ve linked to haven’t gone stale. Pages that used to be popular can wane as information changes, so periodically check that all sites are still relevant.
How do you tell if the site is fresh? Take a look at a few things:
- Recent updates: If you’ve linked to a page that hasn’t been updated in years, it’s likely to have slowly dropped in viewers and ranks. A fresh site will have been updated several times.
- Social media coverage: Was the blog topic once trending but has now waned in popularity? If you linked during a spike, you may want to consider creating a link to a more pertinent site.
- Google search volume: You can also check the popularity of your keywords through Google’s search feature. If you find that a keyword you’d previously linked to has dropped, it’s time to replace it with a new one.
- News coverage and blog hits: If your topic has continued to gain momentum, you’ll likely have plenty of options for new links. The number of news stories and blog posts about the topic can be good indicators of how hot it is. If you find that your link subject is old news, replace it with a better source.
The geniuses at Moz.com state that “updating older content works amazingly well when you also earn fresh links to the content.” This image from the January update of a Technical Site Audit Checklist can help indicate the importance of this step.
While the aspect of freshness will affect some industries and topics more than others, it’s always a good idea to carefully review your links to be sure they’re not getting lost with old pages.
Hack #3: Follow the Crowd
You want to be unique, to stand out, to be the one with new ideas, but in some aspects of your link-building strategy it’s best to follow the crowd. Why? Because Google judges the relevance of your page partly on the popularity of your links. Their new formula for determining ranking is complex and one of the many aspects involves just how beneficial your links are. If you’re linking to spam, you’re out. If you’re linking to stale pages, you’ll be considered stale yourself. Keep in mind the previously mentioned clues to judge a page’s freshness, but also look at how many links have been made to that page from other sites. If they’ve continued to increase, the Google bots will smile upon your page and move you on up the rankings.
Hack #4: Make Your Links Count
You may wonder how these sites you’re linking to continue to get new links and remain relevant. One key is that their information is useful and so are their links. If the links you’ve created aren’t useful to you or your content marketing strategy, your audience isn’t going to care much for them either. On the other hand, if you’ve created links that truly benefit your viewers you’ll get many more clicks and be recognized as an authoritative site, earning your page additional backlinks from other sites.
Hack #5: Keep it Natural
Don’t create links simply for the sake of linking. Links should be there for a purpose, not just to get recognized by Google. Kind of like keeping your mouth shut if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t bother linking unless you have something worthwhile to share.
Hack #6: Search Like a Boss
Okay, so you’ve decided to take the free route and hit up Google for a little research on some link options. Now what? If you’re running a clothing shop and decide to type in “style blogs” you’re going to end up with some great ones, but it will probably require a lot of sifting and scanning. Instead, be more specific about exactly what you want. Is this for your new baby line? Search “infant style blogs.” Are you wanting the latest in back-to-school trends? Include that in your query. To get good results even faster, let someone else do most of the work for you. Add “list” at the end of the search terms or “top” at the beginning, so “top puppy style blog list.” Now you’ll have a list of great blogs to choose from that somebody else took the time to search for and create. Work smarter, not harder. (Well, okay, maybe a little of both.)
Hack #7: Claim Credit Where Credit is Due
Link-building is always a two-way street. You’re linking in your content marketing and so is everyone else, but what if your site is being mentioned without the author linking back to it? The more links that are created to your site, the more authority you gain, so it’s very important to make sure your fans are linking back to you. Periodically take a moment to search for your brand and URL and see if you find any mentions that lack a link. If you’ve been around for a while, this is an even more likely possibility. If you do find some, there’s no reason to panic. Pat yourself on the back for being so outstanding that people are talking about your stuff, then email said people and let them know that you appreciate their mention of you and you noticed there was no link. A kind reminder that you’re trying to grow your brand can earn you links and maybe even a continued reciprocal relationship.
Becoming a link-building master can increase your presence across the web in countless ways. Follow the rules and play fair and you’ll be able to hack your way right into the top spots of any search results list.
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