SEO Primer: Ethical Link Building – For Today and the Future
One of the more surefire ways to improve the ranking for your website or for a great piece of content is through link building. In theory, link building is a pretty simple concept. Just get other websites to link back to you. But as with all things related to SEO management, there are nuances and subtleties to consider when it comes to getting quality links back to your website.
Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Backlink Targets
The first step to getting quality links is to identify the websites and online directories that you want a link from. For example, let’s say you are a roofing company that specializes in tin and metal roofs and are looking to gain quality backlinks, where might you start?
First, look for other businesses that attract similar types of customers. These businesses aren’t competitors but operate in the same space and sell to the same client-base as your business. Examples, in this case, might be home builders, general contractors, land development companies, etc. Once you have a list of companies that fit this qualification, filter down to only those with websites that either contain a blog or a resource page.
And use your common sense. If a website or directory looks sketchy, then don’t ask for a link. Not all backlinks are good. In fact, links from spam sites can negatively impact your search rankings.
Step 2: Add value to their website, look for win-win situations
Now that you have a list of websites that have blogs and resource pages, reach out to them through email and see if they accept guest blogs or resource listings. Be sure to frame your question in a way that highlights the benefit for their customers as well as the benefit for you.
For example, if your target website has a blog, you might say something like this:
“Hi (first name),
I’m reaching out to you today to see if (their company name) accepts guest blogs. My company (your company name) is a leading tin and metal roofing company in (insert city) and we write great articles on how to care for and tend to your roof year-round to ensure it lasts a long time. We would love to provide a resource for your customers in the form of a guest blog while also helping us reach a new audience.
Thanks in advance for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
The key thing here is to act normal. If it seems shady, you will never get a yes. How do you not appear shady? By being honest and upfront about your intentions. This is a simple transaction: you are giving them a free blog that can drive users to their website. In turn, you are getting to promote your brand on a new website and link back to your website. A win-win.
And remember that most blogs are a major pain point for the site administrator. Getting a guest article for their blog should make them very excited. Like everyone else, they probably struggle with creating content. You are doing them a favor just as much as they are you.
Step 3: Focus on Quality Backlinks over Quantity
Using software, like Ahrefs, will empower you to focus your efforts on websites that are more trustworthy and have more authority. After all, your time is valuable, and wasting it creating content to be posted on websites that have little traffic and no SEO “juice” is probably not the best use of it.
It’s also best to focus on creating a few really amazing pieces on content as opposed to several mediocre articles. The obvious reason is it’s more likely to get shared on social media and other various platforms if it’s really good, thus helping you rank. But another reason is that this is your first piece of content for this partner company. They still don’t know what you are going to come up with, and are probably a little anxious wondering if you are really going to deliver on what you promised. By blowing away their expectations on the front end, you can be sure that you will always have a place to go for future opportunities.
In summary, getting ethical backlinks from trusted websites is nothing more than honest hard work. You have to put in the legwork and be able to create amazing content, but the results can really make an incredible difference in your web ranking.