Google are famous for changing their search ranking algorithms drastically at least once a year. They’ve been doing it from the very beginning of the company and these updates will most likely never end. Over the last year, Google have started naming these updates after cute, black and white animals. First there was a Panda update and after that came the Penguin one.
Panda was basically targeted at content farms and other websites that had large quantities of low quality, typically automatically produced content. This update rendered article marketing as a way to get links almost useless.
While Panda was targeting crappy content, the Penguin update was aimed at crappy links and over optimized websites. Sites that were using black-hat link building schemes, link pyramids, paid links, reciprocal links or just links that use the same set of keywords over and over again as anchor text, were punished and banned from the index.
In the aftermath of Panda and Penguin, many are skeptical about building links and many webmasters and marketers are even afraid of persuing links of any kind. While crappy, low quality links will get your website in trouble and are a waste of your time and money, links are still an important ranking factor so you cannot just ignore them. Here is an easy to follow link building plan that will help you build good quality, Panda and Penguin safe links:
Press releases are one of those tools that, if used properly, can not only get you tons of good quality links, but also great media exposure. Press releases can be costly to produce and distribute so this is not something that I am suggesting you do on a daily or weekly basis. The good part is that a well written press release will give you a long term authority boost so you can do one each two or three months (ideally one a month) and benefit greatly.
How To Write a Great Press Release
Great title – each press release starts with a title and this is what can make or break a press release. You should spend almost as much time writing the title as you spend writing the actual content. Craft a unique, attention grabbing headline that will make the reader click through and read the rest of the content.
Interesting content – write about something interesting, be unique and don’t copy others. The more original and interesting your press release is, the more exposure (and links) you will get. Be as informative as you can and try to solve the reader’s problems. You know your market best so write a press release about their most pressing, biggest, problem and provide a solution.
Less is more, especially when it comes to links. Don’t use more than 2 or 3 links in your PR or you risk making it look spammy.
Diversify – don’t link to the same page with your links. Each link should be pointed at a different and relevant page. The links don’t have to necessarily lead to your home page. You can even create a new (landing) page for each press release. Think ecstatically and link to pages that make the most sense in the context of your press release.
Targeted keywords – press releases can be costly so never use generic keywords such as “click here”, “read more” or “get more information” as your anchor text. Use targeted keywords as your links so you can get the most SEO benefit from each of your press releases.
Distributing press releases
There are generally two distribution models here – free and paid. While free is…free, I would recommend you don’t waste your time with it. Free press releases don’t get distributed to a large network of sites so the links you will get from them are minimal.
The paid distribution model is where you can get the most out of your press releases. Paid distributions reach a large network of sites and media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN and the NY Times. Plus, journalists and news reporters are always looking for new and interesting materials so your pr stands a great chance of going viral and being featured in even more places thus creating more links and authority for you.
Social media links should be a definite part of your link building strategy. The proper use of social media will get you not only tons of links but a great deal of traffic as well.
The right social media strategy will get you tons of links back to your website, not to mention that social signals are an important ranking factor as well.
Social Media Buttons
A good social media strategy always starts with your own website. Make sure each of your pages and posts has visible social media sharing buttons.
Best places to put these are on the left hand side of your content or at the start and end of your posts. If your website is using WordPress, check out a plugin called Digg Digg which will provide you with a easy to install and configure scrolling social media buttons bar (same as the one in the picture).
Less is more applies here as well. Put only buttons to social media sites that are the most relevant to your niche and website. For best results, don’t put more than 4 buttons.
Calls To Action
Calls to action have been proven to increase click through rates by as much as 400%. Encourage sharing, add calls to action at the end of your content and posts.
A study done by HubSpot revealed that you can get 4 times more re-tweets only by asking for them.
In order to be successful with social media sharing, you need to produce world class content. Less is more does not apply here. Longer posts and article are shared more and have bigger chances of going viral. Strive for at least 1000 words for each post or page. Deliver as much value as you possibly can.
If you are not a good writer, hire one or get guest bloggers to provide content for your website. At the end of the day, nothing will be a bigger waste of your time than producing non-interesting content that noone wants to read or share.
If you are not on Twitter, get on it. If you are on it, use it more often. There is no other social media sites that can get you more links than Twitter.
Use Buffer to schedule tweets for days in advance. Spend a little time each day or a couple of hours on the weekend and find interesting and relevant content that you can share on Twitter. Load it all in Buffer and let the tool do the posting for you. Twitter marketing should not take you more than 15 minutes each day.
Use Klout to find leaders in your market and start following them. You can often get a lot of interesting stories from them which you can share and retweet.
When you find an interesting story online that has a twitter button and lots of shares, click on the number and see who has shared it.
Follow some of those people. Chances are that they are in your market since you are both interested in the same type of content. You can also use tools such as Backtweets to find other people who have shared the same piece of content.
Infographics are one of the best link baits you can use. They look great and are fun and informative so people love to share them with their social circles and link back to them.
Post your infographics first on your blog or website and announce it through your social media channels. Avoid sharing the infographic itself directly through social media as people will share the picture and not link back to the original source. Make sure to post your infographics on Visual.ly and Pinterest.
Guest blogging will not only create high authority links back your site but generate tons of traffic as well.
How To Find Guest Blogging Opportunities
- Use a guest posting search engine – this tool by Paddy Moogan allows you to quickly and easily find guest blogging opportunities
- Search Google for your main keywords or niche plus the phrases “guest post by”, “submit guest post” or “guest post guidelines”.
- Check out lists like this one – 202 Internet Marketing PR3 – PR8 Blogs That Accept Guest Posts
- Join guest posting communities such as My Blog Guest or the Pro Blogger Jobs Board
Blog commenting has a bad reputations because it has been abused for years by spammers trying to get links to their website. Despite all of that, blog commenting can be a very powerful way to get links and build your personal or brand authority.
- Leave comments only on active blogs in your community.
- When you leave a comment, try to provide as much as value as you can. Add to the conversation and provide resources. No one likes generic comments and if you leave comments such as “Nice post” or “Thanks for the good information” you run the risk of being labeled as a spammer and your comments deleted.
- Use your read name. This will help build your personal and company brand. Typically you can get away with using your company name or something like “Real Name @ Company Name” but that is as far as you can take it. Don’t try to sneak in keywords or keyword stuff.
- Always include your website in the website field. This might seem like an obvious one but it is worth mentioning. You can try linking back to different pages on your website but keep in mind that some comment plugins and systems might not allow that or might strip down to the domain level.
Links are still a major factor in search engine optimization even after Panda, Penguin and whatever comes next so you cannot afford not to build them. A good link building strategy will keep your website safe from future algorithm changes while helping build more authority and exposure to your business. At the end of the day, a good link building strategy comes down to being authentic and providing great value to your community. You do that and the links will take care of themselves.
What is your preferred way of building links? Share in the comment section below.