Showing up on page one of Google results is one of the most coveted rewards of being online. Inbound links to your website are reportedly part of what will put you there. Link building, as it is also known, is one component of a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. But just what exactly does it mean? What is link building?
Links are an editorial vote of confidence. The number of links you have pointing to your website is part of how a search engine ranks your site quality. If you have a high number of links, from good quality sites that are also relevant to your topics, it will often help you show up higher in search results. It is why you hear many web experts say content is king. Companies and bloggers want to link to good content.
Most important, you do not want to pay for links to your site. That’s a big no-no. You might pay a consultant or contractor to help you build inbound links, but if you’re paying another website for the individual links back to your site you are asking for trouble. Perhaps you’ve seen these spammy-type offers, or link schemes, from untrustworthy firms that “guarantee” you thousands of backlinks, or links back to your site. These five tips will help you organically improve your rank in Google search results.
Tip 1: Generate quality content
I know, this is somewhat of a no-brainer. But you absolutely need exceptional, high-quality content. It can be educational, entertaining or news-oriented, but make sure it is in tune with solving your audience’s needs. Readers will link to content they like and find useful. It is that simple.
Tip 2: Get on Twitter
Do you want to know the real reason you need to join social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? It is one of the easiest ways to build a strong following, or audience base, which in turn is where you’ll go to share your content and links.
You shouldn't share only your content, but you can certainly post links to your own stuff. And, the main reason to share in social media? Google and Bing acknowledge that social sharing (links, status, tweets, updates) count in how your site gets ranked and where it shows up in search results. Many SEO experts are now using social media as their main approach to link-building.
Tip 3: Contribute to other sites
You should write for other sites. Do it because it is fun and cool and contributes to the community at large, but also because you’ll be able to [organically] link back to your site. Focus on sites that you know, sites that are relevant to your topic, and not the content farms that still exist, even after Google penalized them.
Tip 4: Get on Yelp
Local business directories and review sites like Yelp, Google Places, and FourSquare also provide quality links back to your site. As your ratings grow, your rank also increases within those sites, thereby sending you some additional traffic. Needless to say, it'll also be a motivating factor to improve upon your customer service, and that's always good for business.
Tip 5: Add video to your site
Videos can generate great links to your web pages. Before you upload, be sure to include a keyword in the video file name. Then make sure you optimize the title, the description and the meta tags, when possible. The description block is your biggest opportunity to get people to click on your link; you should always start it with the full link and name of your site.
2 bonus tips
If you’re looking for solid research on SEO and link building, check out this report from MarketingSherpa: 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report - SEO Edition. They offer a free executive summary that shares some great insights.
Two of my favorite recent posts both come from SEO and SEM expert Matt McGee, who writes for OPEN Forum and serves as the executive news editor at Search Engine Land. The first is "8 Places To Use Your Keywords" where McGee alludes to the value of internally linking to your own pages with smart keyword use. His other post is a great foundational reading list for those who want to take the Crash Course on SEO and PPC (both moderated by McGee).
You may not show up on page one of Google overnight, but if you get into the habit of doing the things in this post, you’ll see better quality links coming to your site and maybe even more positive mentions of your content. That will help your brand awareness, and it will increase your website's traffic.
Do you have great link-building advice? Please share some of it in the comments below.
Image Credit: FindYourSearch