Throughout the years, the Big G (that’s what I like to call our Google overlords) has been implementing a ton of updates for its search engine’s algorithm. All these changes have been mostly understandable because in the end, Google wants to provide the best possible search results to its users.
It didn’t help that a lot of unscrupulous “SEO experts” in the past have been looking for ways to game the system, so a lot of link building tactics we used to implement are now worthless as Google has become a lot stricter with what it considers spammy and exploitative techniques.
For 2014, I’ve put together my 10 surefire link building strategies that I believe Google will continue to respect and reward for the rest of the year.
1. Ask the People You Know
Starting your link building efforts doesn’t have to be incredibly complicated. The first thing you can do is to simply ask your friends, your family, your colleagues, your business partners or your mentors that have their own websites for a link to your own.
The Internet is all about making connections, and you can do well by leveraging the connections you’ve already made in the real world to build up your online presence. All you have to do is ask these people who you believe you have real relationships with so that they’d have no problem having their sites associated with yours.
Of course, their sites should be relevant to what your site is about. Having a friend’s animal care website to your tech blog won’t do either of you any good because of how different the audiences are for each site. It’ll also look spammy!
2. Submit to Web 2.0 Sites
This will be one of the two methods that might have readers doing a double take before clicking the back button, but hear me out!
Submitting articles to sites like Ezine Articles and Squidoo is seen as a spammy technique that has long been rejected by legitimate link builders and SEO experts. That is true for the most part, as most articles sent to these domains are poor excuses for posts tackling topics spun over and over with little to no variation.
Yet a lot of these directories still get a ton of traffic because people still end up reading the articles posted there.
I’m not saying you should start writing dozens of posts and sending them en masse to all these different sites. Like any other valuable piece of content, put in the work to make it really good and unique before submitting. They’re good stepping stones for those who’ve yet to gain the reputation required by the real authority sites for guest blogging.
And speaking of that other thing that might get weird looks…
3. Continue Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has been one of the most reliable and effective way of building links for its positive effects for personal branding and growing a business, but the practice has just recently come under a lot of heat from Google. Matt Cutts, Google’s chosen one for leading the fight against spam, had this to say about guest blogging in his latest blog post on January 20:
So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.
So in the face of these hard words by the top Google rep for webspam, why in the world would I continue pursuing guest blogging as a link building strategy?
For those of you who swore off Cutts and the rest of Google for strangling the Internet with their supposedly draconian policies and didn’t bother checking back, Cutts added this to the post in light of the strong reactions from the SEO community:
Added: It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. (Emphasis mine)
I will still be guest blogging because of those reasons I bolded and underlined, and that’s why you should, too.
4. Comment on Relevant Articles
While we’re still on the topic of blogging, posting comments on a blog post (or any content with a comments section, basically) with a link back to your site is another viable link building technique.
Like the guest blogging problem, there have been plenty of ignorant/malicious spammers who just post irrelevant comments with a link just to get that precious link juice passed down to their sites.
This has led to a lot of savvy site owners to moderate any outbound links in their comments sections. Some keep the number of outbound links to a minimum. Others make it so those links are nofollowed to protect their link profile. Then there are the sites that strictly don’t allow any outbound links.
There’s nothing that can be done for that last set, but the nofollow sites can still be commented on even for just spreading the brand to drive traffic to your site and build your credibility.
Just make your comments actually thoughtful, showing that you read the entire post and that you have something important to say. The link should also be relevant with the subject of the post, offering additional insight so that people have a reason to click on it. A good tactic is to provide a piece of that insight in the comment itself, and then saying that you go into more detail in the page you’ve linked to.
Whatever you do, don’t use exact keywords for your name linking to your homepage. That’s obviously spammy.
5. Interview the Experts (and Accept Interviews)
If there is one thing people on the Internet love doing, it’s voicing their opinions (and I’m no exception!). Of course, there are certain individuals who other people will actually pay attention to, and these are usually the experts.
There are those who know how much their knowledge is worth, and jump on the opportunity to spread their ideas. Others are flattered by the offer, and will jump on the opportunities to further build their brands.
In return, your site gets awesome content assets that will drive even more traffic from the people who already follow the expert. You’ll also probably get a link from that expert’s own website, improving your link profile thanks to the high authority domain.
If you conduct a great interview, the opportunity of you getting asked for your opinions opens up as well!
6. Create Infographics
We humans rely so much on visuals to understand the world around us that everything is easier to process when we see images closely representing the things we want to comprehend. Thanks to the Internet, we’ve gotten even more information to deal with, making our attention spans shorter.
So the things that primarily grab our limited attention are visual content – one of them being the infographic.
People are just drawn to their slick designs that simplify complex concepts and organize huge amounts of data, making them valuable content assets that other sites would love to link back to. Just remember to do the necessary outreach through social media and emails to get people to actually know about the infographic instead of waiting for them to stumble upon it!
7. Create Videos
The same principle of the importance of visual content obviously applies to videos as well. What a video has over an infographic is that it can be much more compelling because of all the other elements involved, such as sound and dynamics, giving it more potential for virality if it really connects with people.
Hosting the video directly on your site maximizes whatever link juice you’ll get if other sites do link to it instead of having it hosted on YouTube. The tradeoff is the traffic, as there’s a greater chance of the video itself being seen on YouTube than on your site. What backlinks that will get if hosted on YouTube also don’t seem to matter much with how it’ll rank highly on search engines, as detailed by Philip Zeplin.
Just remember to optimize the video through targeted keywords placed in the title, description and tags. A transcript and a video sitemap also help in indexing the video. Keep it short, and make the embed code easily available to increase its chances of getting shared all over the web, netting you more and more backlinks.
8. Share on Google+
The guys at Moz have done extensive research on the possible factors that affect a site’s search ranking, and it revealed that Google +1s are only second to Page Authority as a positive factor!
Google+ posts are better optimized for Google’s search engine because they get crawled and indexed immediately, each one gets its own URL, the first 45-50 characters in the post show up in the title tag, and resharing (or more +1s) accumulates internal links because each one is “followed”.
Share these posts publicly to get as many people seeing your content. It also helps that the +1s from publicly shared posts pass on more link juice than privately shared ones.
9. Outreach to .edu and .gov Links
Search engines hold links from said domains in high regard, and it’s easy to see why. Only official institutions get these domains, and with institutions come an implicit sense of trust because of their age and authority.
Actually getting a backlink from a university or a government-run website requires a lot of research and good outreach though. Posting comments on blogs on those domains works, as well as praising the actual bloggers through your own blog post so that they take notice of you. The issue is that there aren’t a lot of those blogs, and that also requires keen insight on the issues the posts are talking about.
You can try looking for resource pages within the domains to see what sites they link to, and then providing either another good option or an even better one to replace outdated information. If your site happens to be for a business located within the general area of a school or a government office, you can offer your site to be listed as a local business resource.
10. Reverse Engineer Competitor’s Backlinks
If your competitors are beating you in the search rankings, one big reason is that they probably have better link profiles. Of course, you believe that your site offers the superior content. All you need is a chance to show that content to those high-authority sites that your competitors have links from.
If you already know who your competitors are, you can use Ahrefs Site Explorer tool (note: you’ll have to pay to get access to all the features) to see their backlinks and even the anchor phrases used by those referring sites to link to your competitors’ sites. If you find that their anchor phrases look natural, then they’re conducting good link building, making their backlinks good sites to target for your link building efforts.
If you don’t have an idea of who your competitors are, then you’ll have to do some work Googling with your target keywords to find out who else is using those and ranking for them.
I’ve covered a lot of ground through these link building strategies, but that’s because I want your link building efforts to last all year and into the future. I also wanted to show you that it’s still worth trying out the tried-and-true methods that ultimately boil down to creating and sharing quality content.
And that’s the one thing that will push a website high up the rankings and stay there no matter what algorithm updates Google throws at it.
Now that I’ve told you my link building strategies for 2014, let me know yours in the comments!
About the Author
Sebastian Klessinger is a freelance writer and Internet Marketer, specializing in SEO and Affiliate Marketing. He is also a marketing consultant for Xight Interactive. He loves to travel the world and takes every opportunity to experience something new.