Even with all of the hype about changes in algorithms and how social media has become important for overall rankings, link building remains one of the most important activities in driving a successful SEO campaign. If you have budget to support such a campaign, we highly recommend you hire an external agency or resource to help drive links. Regardless of your external support, there is a strong case for why you should also pursue backlinks yourself. Let’s look at some easier options for you if DIY is the way you want to go.
Easy DIY Link Building Tactics
Colleagues and clients have expressed a great deal of frustration with online articles and posts saying that the answer to building authority is all about generating a ton of content and spending all day networking on Twitter and Google+. Those items are absolutely part of a well structured campaign, but unless you have a team of content and social media jockeys, it’s unrealistic to think you can do this AND keep up with your “real” job.
Push out the amount of content that you can manage. Be sure it’s good content. And certainly spend some of your time on social networks. But rather than dropping everything and hoping this works, there are several easy ways to build links progressively via other means.
After Penguin 1.0 and 2.0 hit many sites, a lot of webmasters have become gun-shy about web directories. For example, Penguin 1.0 hit entire blog networks and spammy or pay-for-listing directories.
While I understand why many of us feel that way, web directories are still viable sources of links. You can certainly manage directory submissions yourself. Here are some tips:
- Never use an automated mass submission service
- Aim for directories with a PageRank of 3 or higher or a high Moz authority score
- Be sure someone is reviewing submissions and approving manually before your listing goes live
All of these three tips will help you aim for better sites and minimize risk. Sure, Google can change the rules again whenever they are ready, but since PR is their own measure, it’s a great proxy for how they view the site’s validity and authority.
The Other PR: Press Releases
I’ve seen several articles recently about how press releases are a bad way to pursue links. If your only goal is to get do-follow links on high authority sites, that is absolutely true.
However, one of the big things we look for in a link profile exercise is the mix of nofollow to do-follow links. If you have an active campaign that is primarily focused on do-follow links, how long do you think it will take for that mix to become unnatural looking to Google?
Don’t go for the full link juice. Nofollow press release links just as Google advises. Not only will this help balance your overall link profile, but it will open up the possibilities of receiving referral traffic directly from any PR service or media outlet who chooses to include the links. It will also show a good faith effort to not manipulate the system, which is something you’ll need to prove should you find yourself hit by a manual penalty in the future.
If you produce videos of any sort, you likely already have a channel established on YouTube. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to get quality links posted everywhere you can. YouTube has a PageRank of 9, which indicates a very high level of authority. Of course, this is expected for a company owned by Google themselves.
The first place to place a link to your site is on the “About” tab within your channel. To avoid Penguin anchor text complications, make this a naked URL link (i.e. a link showing the URL as the anchor text, such as http://ReturnOnNow.com/). I’ve seen profiles that include multiple profiles, perhaps links to the home page, the blog, and the news page. Or even your “about” page on your own site. Just be sure it is clear what they are and why you’ve included them.
Another important place to include links is within the “About” tab on any individual video’s page. This is a place where you can include a description, as well as a call-to-action with a link back to your website.
Do keep in mind that these links are now “nofollow” by default. That said, the link profile balance and referral traffic opportunities are well worth staying diligent about always including links. Regardless of whether these links officially pass authority or not, overall link volume still matters in the grand scheme of link building.
Google+ Link Opportunities
Google+ link building has been covered widely, and it is one of the absolute best places to do it yourself. As another PR 9 site, it carries a ton of weight for ranking signals.
Moz recently published some research that indicates +1 shares on Google+ help influence rankings. This caused a little bit of confusion, as there are +1’s and +1 shares, which are not the same. Basically, by sharing a URL on a Google+ status update in any way including a +1, that link counts as a dofollow backlink. Be sure to, at a minimum, seed your content to Google+ via your personal profile and again on your company / publisher page.
You should also be sure to include key links within your personal and company About pages. These too count as dofollow as of today. Keep in mind that this is aimed at the description section, which should be linking to your website even if you have things like “Contributor to” pointing at your blog for Authorship purposes.
When Pinterest first went live, SEOs were all over it since the images pointed back to the original sites will full dofollow links. Pinterest management must have realized this was happening, because they decided to switch them all to nofollow back in early 2012.
Then this summer, it appears they may have gone back to dofollow links. If this is true, then it would be foolish to avoid using Pinterest for anyone with link building interests!
The simple way to use it is to share the image from each blog post you publish to a branded board. We have been doing this at Return On Now since the early days of Pinterest, also mixing in a range of other relevant images as we find them online. Even if they go back to nofollow, the link profile balance comments from above would apply just the same. Not to mention the referral traffic you may get from your pins if they are very engaging and interesting.
Over the past several months, I’ve taken a liking to scoop.it. If you are unfamiliar with the service, it is both a content curation platform and a social network. You can assemble topics of content similar to Pinterest boards containing images, and there are full commenting and discussion capabilities integrated in the platform.
As with most social networks, scoop.it nofollows all of the links you include on there. This service does not provide high value links directly, but it does provide you with additional exposure to active content curators and writers. If you are driving a content marketing program and hoping to earn natural links, try out this platform to see if you can get some traction. Our website has earned some good dofollow links on third party sites after contacts on scoop.it read it via our own topic lists.
There is a common belief among SEOs and content marketers that content should never, ever be posted in duplicate on different pages or sites. While that is 100% true for multiple pages on your own site, it is still acceptable to syndicate your content to other domains for increased exposure, links, and referral traffic.
Just last month, Google advised that content syndication is completely acceptable. To do it properly, follow these simple guidelines:
- Publish the material first on your site
- Include a rel=canonical tag showing your page was the original
- Ensure the syndicated content links back to the original page
- If possible, use authorship markup on both pages (highly recommended)
Link building remains paramount for any successful SEO campaign effort. There are some easy ways to do it yourself, either instead of paying to build links or to supplement the effort. Don’t shy away from nofollow links just because they don’t pass PageRank, because having a solid mix of nofollow and dofollow is the right way to go. Hopefully this post sparks some creative ideas for your own link building efforts. If you cook up any good ones, please share in the comments below so all of our readers can benefit.