There is this enlightened quote from an unknown genius that summarizes the entire philosophy of digital marketing: “Create high-quality content; publish high-quality content; repeat.” However, only a seasoned expert will recognize the ironic duality in it, as this can be both exquisitely simple and achingly complex. Here, link building can help websites create a potent ecosystem, where quality content automatically leads to maximum visibility.
For newbies, link building is a time-tested marketing strategy employed by websites, to increase online traffic and visibility, and thus promote a business. In fact, if you are doing it right, you should see tangible benefits to your business. But on the other hand, if you get it wrong, prepare to be virtually damned by Google and its fellow search-engine powers!
Fortunately, there are clear tactics that still work for today, while others are as dead as a dodo. Here are 5 direct Do’s and Don’ts when you use link building as part of your marketing game plan.
#1 Do Choose DoFollow Links over NoFollow Links
If you thought all backlinks were good, think again. For instance, did you know that a site can add a <rel=”nofollow”> tag to your link, virtually renouncing any association with you? Your link may still appear on the site, but Google will essentially discard any endorsement from it. It is as good as not having it!
There is an easy way to check this. Load the website that houses your link in your browser, and checks the HTML source (Control + U). Do a quick search (Control + F), to ensure there isn’t any “nofollow” tag associated with your link. If this is missing, your link is good to go.
#2 Do Embrace Authenticity and Relevance
This is best explained with an example. So consider that you have a website to promote (online) sales of organic vegetables. For this, you publish a quality piece on the health benefits of greens. And best of all, you also find a way to include a backlink to a popular article with Spinach and Kale recipes, featured in the popular “Men’s Health” magazine.
Now for the good news, Google has dramatically evolved its algorithms in the past decade. The newer algorithms recognize both the authority (Men’s Health) and relevance of your backlinks and hence award it a higher ranking. This is exactly what you need, in order to consistently feature at the top of Google searches.
#3 Don’t Commit Murder By Numbers
Now consider what happens when you discard authority, authenticity, and relevance. Here, your focus is to generate the maximum number of backlinks. So for the same content, you include a link to your community sponsor’s website, which incidentally speaks of dental hygiene. (Hmmm.) You also include a link to a vague article on organic farming, featured in a website with a tepid number of views.
Finally, you include a couple of Amazon links to your favorite pair of pruning shears, also from your sponsor, which you mask using enticing anchor text (like “growing organic vegetables”). With this, you have 4 mighty backlinks, which is great. Right? Wrong!!
Here, Google’s Penguin algorithm (yes, it is called “Penguin”), is smart enough to spot the confusion in your website. Are you promoting veggies? Or gardening tools? Or even dental services? Google no longer cares and is more likely to penalize you for being unclear, or worse, “spammy”!
#4 Do Check the Link’s Positioning
When featured in an online article, your website link should be placed at the beginning, or in the middle of the article. The ideal placement would be within a (sub) heading, again in the early portion of the content.
This is important, as online readers have a limited attention span to sort through a lot of content. So if they miss your link within the first 10-20 seconds, they will probably miss it altogether.
#5 Don’t Bank Entirely on Guest Blogs
In less evolved times, Guest Blogs was a guaranteed way to increase visibility to your website. You strike a deal with a friend (guest!) so you both mutually promote the other’s website. You may even submit to a site – entirely made of sponsored guest blogs – lacking authenticity and authority.
Again, Google algorithms have been trained to spot this virtual trickery. In fact, Google made its intentions clear when Matt Cuttis, a core member of the webspam team shared, “Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.” Touché!
(Note: Guest blogs can still be productive when backed by authority and relevance.)
In summary, link building is still a powerful tool but has to be approached with a clear strategy that works with Google. For this reason, consider partnering with expert link building services to make your links land with a bang.
Also published on Medium.