Top 5 Link Building Tips for Your Online Business

October 31, 2015

6:00 pm

Building high-quality links is a must for online businesses. Here are a few low-cost, zero-risk ideas for acquiring high-quality links.

Link building should be a tent pole of any webmaster’s SEO strategy. There are of course many other ranking factors, such as your website’s user metrics (click-through rates, time on site and returning visitors), but links are still a critical part of Google’s ranking algorithm.

I have had experience link building in notoriously competitive niches such as finance, insurance, and gambling. I’m going to divulge five actionable tips for link building, in order to boost your organic search presence.

Interview an Industry Authority

This is a cheap, straightforward link building tactic that is extremely natural and well within Google’s quality guidelines. The expert could be an academic, psychologist, business-owner, or even an eminent blogger in your industry. The aim is to piggyback on their prestige and authority and acquire links from relevant publications.

Start by dropping your target a courtesy tweet and follow up with an email. Try to record an interview through Skype, or better still, visit them and record a fully-fledged interview. Meanwhile, use a tool such as Ahrefs to identify backlinks to your authority’s blog or website and perform a simple Google search to see where they’ve been referenced in the media. These are websites you want to target in your outreach.

In the interview itself, you should be looking to ask stimulating, or possibly controversial questions in order to create content that is deemed newsworthy.

I ran a link building campaign following an interview with respected gaming psychologist Dr Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University. I asked him questions regarding gambling addiction and psychology – content that accrued links from Boston College University and The Conversation amongst other places.

Broken Link Building

Don’t let the dodgy-sounding title dissuade you. Broken link building is a legitimate, white-hat tactic with proven effectiveness in tricky niches.

The idea is to track down broken links and recreate the non-existent content to which they lead. This can be done very easily by performing searches relevant to your business (say “gambling resources”) and then scraping pages containing broken links. Fire a quick email over to the webmaster notifying them of the offending links and offer your content to fill the void. Ideal targets include .edu domains (university websites) and legal resource websites. You could call this the digital equivalent of renovating dilapidated real estate.

The reason this works so well is that success is predicated on tidying up the Internet; you profit directly from plugging Google’s gaps with quality content. Such a campaign is therefore positive for everyone. Obviously, getting a response out of webmasters can be tricky, especially if you’re talking about websites that haven’t been updated in an age, but the dividends can be great and the risk is non-existent.

Create a High-Quality, Linkable Asset

Creating compelling, evergreen content is a great way to earn links. While there’s nothing wrong with the articles and lists (like this one) that are the bread and butter of content creation, your horizons needn’t be limited to standard fare. How about doing a tutorial? An e-book? A podcast? A parallax? In short, something that is genuinely informative and shareable; the sort of thing your competitors may not have thought to offer.

Naturally, you need to show some willingness to invest time and money, but the returns can be well worth it. I recently commissioned an interactive igaming law map that displays legal information about the legality of gambling across the world. This resource is far more user-friendly (and infinitely more link worthy) than the dry databases populating the online gambling sector. Despite the high up-front costs and lengthy development period, such an asset rapidly pays for itself.

Create and Translate

Dovetailing with the high-quality assets mentioned above, these resources become gifts that keep on giving if you pay for a few translations. Aside from the obvious benefit of instantly creating additional content at minimal expense, you might find foreign webmasters more amenable to outreach than Anglophones.

Say you produce an infographic on muscle-building dietary supplements. Your site has a new evergreen asset, which is great! You’ve acquired a few natural pick-ups from webmasters working in relevant sectors and some of your outreach emails have borne fruit. For a small fee, a professional translator (many of which can be contacted via online databases) can reproduce your content in French. Launch your translated infographic under a .fr domain and not only have you opened up your asset to the French market, but you can start outreaching to French and Francophone webmasters, who are likely to be more receptive given that the French-speaking market is far smaller and less competitive than the English-speaking one, meaning these webmasters probably receive fewer outreach requests.

This method is highly scalable, very affordable, and totally legitimate from Google’s perspective. So many link building opportunities are missed due to content marketers’ unwillingness to go beyond their mother tongue; don’t make this mistake.

PR Commenting

Finally, never be afraid to approach journalists from the ‘respectable’ press. Even if you don’t obtain a link, being a named source in an article on a prominent news website can really enhance your credibility, which in turn can grease the wheels for future outreach. Moreover brand references, linked or not, are increasingly thought to be ranking signals.

Just over a year ago, Leah McGrath Goodman of Newsweek quoted me as a source in an article on the rise of ‘bitcoin poker.’ Having my name on the Newsweek homepage worked wonders for my outreach initiatives, as I was able to direct webmasters to the article, thus enhancing my legitimacy and proving definitively that I was neither a black hat hack nor a spambot.

There are several tools that will help you contact journalists in your sector, including Response Source (that offers a free trial) and Muck Rack (available for around $100 per month). When contacting a journalist, it’s important to position yourself as an authority, get straight to the point, and convey awareness about their work.

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Sam is a marketing director at a digital gaming and financial company, specialising in SEO, digital PR and PPC. He manages monthly PPC budgets exceeding £150k. His strategies have been featured in eminent marketing blogs such as MOZ and Advanced Web Ranking.