Search engine optimization (SEO) is accomplished through a variety of factors but perhaps one of the most important is backlinks.
Backlinks are vital for SEO. When a user types a query into a search engine, robots will attempt to find the answer by trawling the web. Although other ranking factors play a sizable part in the results displayed, backlinks set out a clear signpost for the robot to follow. A suitable analogy is trying to find a book on a particular topic in a library. Although you can search through the shelves, if that book is referenced by multiple texts, you’re more likely to see that as an authoritative resource.
In the past, quantity was the only thing that which mattered when it came to links. Now, it is about quality and diversity. By possessing a diverse backlink profile, you’re more likely to be seen by search engines as a reliable source of information. Therefore, this should lead to greater visibility in their search results—and increased traffic.
A diverse link profile needs to have backlinks from a variety of sources, to different pages, and using varied anchor text to build a diverse link profile. Therefore, a range of links from locations such as news sites, reference pages, directories and blogs go a long way to making your profile more diverse.
In contrast, just creating backlinks to the homepage using the same strategy is unlikely to be as effective (although this method would have reaped rewards years ago).
How can you get links from numerous sources? Fortunately, the only limits are related to human imagination. There are several strategies you try:
Seek links from existing brand mentions: A good starting point is asking those who already mention you to provide relevant links. As these people will be spread across blogs and news sites, this is a key opportunity for developing backlinks to a variety of different pages. For example, if a blog mentions your product, ask them to link to it. If they are referencing research you have done, ask them to link to the research. If local news is reporting charity work you did, ask them to link to the blog or fundraising page.
Directories: Although useful for local optimization, directories and business listings are a prime opportunity to improve your link profile. For example, set yourself up on sites such as Yelp and Foursquare and this should help supply high quality information to users, make you easier to find online, as well as provide a relevant link.
Seek news coverage: Although some firms might think they don’t do anything particularly newsworthy, there is always something that will be of interest to someone. Although you could create a survey or raise money for charity, I’d conduct research around the data already available to you.
For example, if your products are popular in a specific region, it is worth investigating and creating a story around that. Speaking of customers, do you log search terms on the site? If so, what are the most misspelt words? Staff are also an avenue of data. What are their commuting habits? Are there any patterns on what they eat for lunch?
The possibilities really are endless for creating news stories. At the very least, your data could make for an amusing blog post.
Check out the competition: Nothing is quite as valuable as competitor research. If competing firms have identified a good link building strategy, look to replicate it. You can do this through a variety of different methods but looking for them using a search engine could reveal some of their most effective coverage.
Build links to different pages: As mentioned previously, building links to just the homepage won’t cut it. It also isn’t natural. We touched on this during the brand mentions section, but links must point to relevant pages. For example, if you’re referencing a guide, it makes no sense to link to the homepage instead of the resource.
Internal linking: The importance of this can’t be understated. An effective internal link strategy helps users with navigation, provides information related to page hierarchy, and spreads link value throughout the website. If you create multiple links to different relevant resources, an effective internal link strategy should ensure the rest of the site benefits.
Employing varied anchor text: In the old days of SEO, anchor text was strictly related to that all-important term. For example, for a car dealer, this phrase might have been “cheap used cars”. Now, variety is important as well as relevance. If I was linking to a guide related to this phrase, I might use the phrase “guide to buying a cheap used car”. Alternatively, if I was looking to target a specific region, I might use “buying a cheap used car in Soho.”
Furthermore, synonyms are vitally important to diversity. In the above example, I might vary my anchor text with “second hand cars” or “buying a used car on a budget”. The point is, employing the same anchor text again and again could be seen as a spam tactic.
No follows: Some SEO experts will claim no-follow links are worthless. This is not true. While it is correct that followed links are still to be prioritized as a powerful ranking factor, no follow links are still valuable for other reasons and not to be sniffed at.
When attempting to diversify your link profile, it is important to note that it is quite natural to have a mix of followed and no-followed links. Therefore, don’t worry if you receive a few following your efforts.
Tom Chapman is an SEO specialist for digital agency CandidSky.