The Smart Way to Approach Link Building in 2015

For Google and the other search engines crawling the web, links are the streets between pages, an analysis of which reveals how they are related to one another and in what ways. Since the late 1990s, link building has had an application in SEO whereby links are treated as votes in the nuanced evaluation of websites and pages. Till date, link-related factors represent a large portion of the complex algorithms search engines use to rank pages but algorithm updates including Google Penguin has transformed link building into an art.


Indeed, through a website’s link profile, the search engines analyze not only the popularity of the site and its pages but also other metrics such as trust, spam and authority. Link building remains an important task for good rankings up the SERPs and traffic success but you can no longer participate in link schemes or buy links to achieve your SEO goals. These black hat techniques used to work previously but these days, they are a surefire way of getting your rankings to drop into oblivion following severe penalties. Instead, you need to acquire links to your website pages legitimately. To that end:

1. Create Content Worth Linking To

When it comes to SEO, the key to inspire natural linking and viral sharing is to create great content worth linking to. People won’t link to you unless your content is compelling, leveraging aspects of usefulness, information dissemination and/or humor.

To create content that readers will want to share through links, take the time to research what your audience wants and look for content gaps. You can also create content around topics that people are already talking about on the social networks and elsewhere on the web. For this job, some tools such as BuzzSumo are excellent.

Equally important, when people think content, they often think written content. Other forms of quality content include infographics, videos, PDF guides and images. In essence, think of the content you create as linkable assets that you will use to connect with people, either to solve their problems or entertain them.

2. Distribution & Outreach

Great content is at the heart of generating high quality, editorially earned votes but it won’t substantially build the trust, authority or ranking potential of your website if not backed by a good outreach strategy. So outreach is part and parcel of the link building game but how do you select which sites to contact?

A good place to start is backing up a little and going over the research you did to create the content you’re sharing. In gathering information and brainstorming about an interesting topic to talk about, you inevitably came across many sites that contain unique, fresh and valuable information. Keep a list of those sites. You can also, alternatively, look for websites that have hosted similar content before, for example, infographics.

The next step is to find out how to contact the target websites. Look for contributor guidelines, the reason for this being that you don’t want your pitch to land in a spam folder or customer service. One thing you need to keep in mind is that website owners receive tons of unsolicited pitch letters and requests for guest posts. To demarcate yourself from the noise, some things to consider include:

  • The subject; Include the source URL in it
  • Keep your message short and scannable
  • Be personal and friendly
  • Use flawless grammar
  • Present yourself as an authority on the subject

3. Leverage Brand Mentions

Link building is widely regarded as one of the hardest parts of SEO. The reason for this lies in the fact that, thanks to Panda and Penguin, link building is no longer as easy as it used to be and now requires diligence and outside-the-box thinking.

One technique you can leverage for legitimate link building in 2015 is using unlinked brand mentions. A tool particularly appropriate for this job is Fresh Web Explorer. It’s practically a gold mine of information about sites mentioning your brand. Equipped with nothing more than your domain and brand name, you can find sites that mention you but are not currently linking to you.

For more results, think beyond your brand name and identify other keywords that are likely to be on pages with unlinked brand mentions. Some opportunities for unlinked brand mentions include mentions in blog posts, infographics, promotions, specials, announcements and quotes. All these can be used in search commands.

Last but not least, the final step in acquiring an unlinked mention is writing up a really good SEO sales pitch to convince the person on the other end of your e-mail to link to you rather than just mentioning your brand. The key is to highlight the value of such an activity, namely a better experience for their visitors.

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