There has been a lot of controversy surrounding link building over the past two years, largely driven by the Google Penguin and Google Panda algorithm updates that led many search engine optimization professionals to declare that link build itself was “dead.” They declared the end of the technique in favor of content marketing, noting that Google’s renewed emphasis on content would be key to the success of websites going forward. While content is now more important than ever, though, it is not the only aspect to a website’s search engine performance. link building has not died.
Instead, link building has taken on a completely new form that is distinctly more social and engaging than the links of old. In its original form, link building was just about getting the largest number of websites, all at distinct domain names, to link to a site’s content or homepage. The number of those links often encouraged Google to rank a website more highly in keyword-targeted search results. Today, those links are still somewhat valuable. Their importance is surpassed, though, by social links from authoritative industry sources. For those new to SEO and link building, there are three key steps that will help draw links and social media mentions from industry sources.
The First Step: Do a Large Amount of Industry and Social Media Research
Without a doubt, the first step toward social link building success involves research. In particular, it involves “search.” Start out at Google, and search for industry sources that mention a website’s specific keywords or overall themes. One great example involves excluding a domain name whose content is already well-known and well-sourced. The goal is to discoverer all-new sources of content that will provide unique inbound links. The more varied and unique the links, the more impactful they’ll be for search engine rankings. Try typing something like this into Google’s search field:
By placing the keyword in quotes, the results returned will be only those that use the exact keyword required. Using the “-” operator before the domain name tells Google that all results found on that website should be omitted. Doing so will reveal new sources of content and potential social linking.
In addition to Google’s resources, those new to link building should use Facebook’s built-in search option and Twitter’s search function that scours both tweets and profiles. Search for keywords used on a website, or search for any of the new sources found at Google. Most websites operate a Facebook page and a Twitter profile for social outreach, so taking the message directly to their social media profiles will help raise the potential of a social link and a better user engagement strategy.
Step 2: Reach Out to New Sources of Potential Inbound Links
With a list of new, unique sources that mention a website’s keyword in their own content, it’s time to start making a play for their links. Those links might come from their own content on their domain, but they will more likely come from their Facebook page’s status updates or the tweets that they create via their Twitter account. In order to have a chance at being seen and heard by these companies, use a few of the Internet’s link building tools to great advantage:
- SocialMention.com allows people to search trending topics on Twitter. For link building, this service should be used to determine which keywords are most popular among Twitter’s user base at any given time. Pick the most popular keyword and run with it, with a new article and a series of tweets that mention it. Rival industry sources are far more likely to pick up on a trendier keyword than they are more obscure ones.
- Use the Twitter List function to create a list of industry sources, and then monitor what those sources are discussing in the tweets that they post throughout the day. If the website owner can mention those topics in a blog post, and then tweet about it, that list of sources will be more likely to see it, react to it, or retweet it, boosting inbound links and improving the site’s performance at major search engines.
- Use Rapportive.com to locate contact details for reliable industry sources and leading professionals who might be receptive to things like a guest post, a Twitter retweet or mention, or a Facebook mention. Also use this contact information to build relationships with industry sources as a website’s clout increases.
Step 3: Foster Industry Relationships to Build Momentum
Whether it’s a conversation on social media or a professional discussion away from the public’s view, be sure to keep in contact with industry sources and build a relationship with them. They’ll be more likely to recommend a website or article to others if they know the person behind the content and feel that they’re a reliable source of news, opinion, or industry information. As they recommend the content to others, unique inbound links will increase and social media reach will get quite a bit larger.
As has always been the case with link building and online success, relationships matter a great deal. Be sure to reciprocate others with retweets and mentions, and possibly even guest posts, in order to demonstrate that the relationship is a two-way street. After a few weeks or months of these activities, website owners will notice that their influence has risen dramatically in a relatively short period of time.
Be Thorough, Be Patient, and Be Successful
The key to online link building is to make sure that Google views it as deliberate, reputable, and worth noticing. If the activity is suspect or happens too quickly, Google may assume that the links are a form of spam and an attempt on behalf of the website owner to quickly climb the ranking system in any way possible.
Instead of being impatient and settling for just any link, be patient and deliberate. Do thorough research, target the right keywords, and build long-lasting relationships with the right industry sources and professionals. With careful attention to the details, link building will come naturally and will only gain momentum as a website’s reputation becomes more well-known and respected.