Link building is a comprehensive and strategic effort to improve search engine optimization (SEO) and page rank. Link building takes considerable time and effort. There is no “short cut” to link building because search engines are constantly identifying sites that take short cuts or “black hat” approaches to SEO, like link dumping, keyword stiffing, fake offsite URLs and other tactics that will surely get your site penalized. A better option is to develop a long-term link building strategy that values quality over quantity of links.
A full service SEO provider performs a competitive link analysis to determine exactly where your competitors are linking and to what effect on their traffic and visibility. Do they use paid or organic links, do they comment on blogs, are they visible in online directories, do they have relationships with industry influencers, journalists and bloggers, do they have a formal content exchange agreement with other sites, are they building links on high ranking pages (indicating SEO expertise and a guided strategy), or does the quality of links seem random? A link building checklist against your competitor not only shows their total external backlinks, but also the quality, measure of importance, rank and trust level of each.
A full scope link analysis also identifies link-building opportunities based on key words. This will tell you whether or not a keyword is worth pursuing with link building efforts, or if your competition has crowded the term. Furthermore, you don’t want to base your link building campaign solely on what your competitor is doing. When it comes to link building, you want to establish your own path. Not only will playing “catch up” to their link building efforts eat up your time and resources, visitors may see both sites on the same resource, undermining the value of the link.
Start to think creatively about how you can build your link portfolio to set your business apart. Increased content development is one area where you can outpace the competition. Regular blog posting and establishing a gust blogging post at another site are both great ways to generate content and build links. Social media activity is another goldmine for link building. If you have social profiles, increase the calls to action back to your website, and establish a presence on niche social networks that have a smaller but more loyal fan base. Create link building campaigns around the content the you can produce quickly and efficiently, for example, a video campaign composed of short testimonial or how-to videos that builds links through the multitude of video social sharing sites.
And don’t forget about networking – both online and in person. You may be surprised how easy it is to start up a conversation with a person on LinkedIn or an industry forum that leads to them sharing your content or trading links. Networking with the “right” people is always a link building best practice because in addition to linking to your site, you might develop a real business partnership.
Link building is as important as you make it, but the analysis and plan of action you need to get started requires an SEO professional.