It’s a well known fact that the days of quick link acquisition tactics, such as making directory submissions and posting comments are gone. These methods are now not only ineffective but they can also harm your site’s potential to rank. SEO has been disrupted by the advent of content marketing; creating high quality and engaging content is considered the main legitimate way of earning links to a site. I think I can speak on behalf of all SEO and content marketers when I say that producing linkable content is often quite resource intensive and requires significant time, and sometimes financial commitments. So, what is left for SMEs that have very limited content budgets and need to gain search visibility as quickly as possible to drive conversions?
What is a good link?
Let’s first demystify our understanding of quality links, as this is something we get asked to clarify on a regular basis. As Casey Meraz says on the Moz blog, a good link should meet the following criteria:
– It should drive direct referral traffic.
– It should build visibility with the target audience for your brand.
– It should build your reputation.
The six link acquisition methods outlined in this post will put you in good stead to acquire links that are in line with these requirements. Now that we have established what kind of links we should be trying to earn, let’s take a look at six quick and effective ways of getting them.
1. Leveraging your business network
Most organisations have a number of external stakeholders (suppliers, customers, clients or other types of business partners) that have websites and could potentially link to your site – so contact them! The exact placement of the link will depend on the nature of yours and your partner’s businesses, but it could be added to a testimonial or an ‘about us’ page, for example.
2. Competitor link building
If there are websites that link to two or more of your direct competitors, there is a good chance that they’ll be willing to link to you as well. Tools such as Majestic’s Clique Hunter and Open Site Explorer’s Link Intersect come in particularly handy for this quick win link earning tactic.
3. Unlinked brand mentions
This link acquisition method is usually extremely powerful when it comes to strong brands, but it can also work well for less known names. Search for your brand name using the advanced search operator [BRAND -site:DOMAIN] and you might find many instances of websites that mention your brand but don’t link to your site. A quick email to the website owner asking for a link within an existing post often yields fantastic results. Once you’ve checked and chased most mentions that you can find in the search results, you can automate this link acquisition process by setting up alerts for your brand name using tools like Google Alerts or Talkwalker.
4. Utilising your digital assets
Do you have a lot of imagery on your site? Does your company logo get used on various websites across the web? Visual, but also audio and video materials created by you or your business are owned digital assets that can be protected by intellectual property rights. You can require those willing to use your logo, images or videos to give credit by linking to your site. It’s also possible to chase those who have already re-purposed your assets by doing a search using relevant keywords and/or Google image reverse search feature.
5. Link reclamation
You should regularly conduct technical SEO healthchecks and crawl your site for server errors. You may have pages that no longer exist (and return a 404 error) that might have some external inbound links. Your website has already earned them, so make sure you make the most of this and redirect the URLs of the non-existent pages to relevant pages on your site using a 301 redirect. This will ensure that any link value flowing from the external sites is captured, which should subsequently lead to a boost in page and domain authority.
6. News jacking
This tactic is very similar to chasing unlinked brand mentions but instead of monitoring the web for mentions of your brand, you keep your eyes open for any mentions of a topic that is relevant to your business. Should you come across a relevant mention, take a look at your portfolio of existing content and digital assets to see if there is anything that could complement the given piece of coverage. If you have a relevant blog post, imagery or infographic for example, get in touch with the author who has written about that topic and ask if they’d be willing to include your work.
Having worked in SEO for many years now, these tips have proven very effective when clients require fast, inexpensive links. Follow these steps and you are well on your way to strong and succesful outreach and link building strategy. Good luck!