Link building has always been a hot button topic in SEO. The big debate is whether it’s good or bad for your web rankings. The data is in and the answer is: it depends.
Depending on how it’s done, link building can hurt or help your online brand presence, traffic and leads, search engine rankings, and domain authority.
There are infinite terms and categories associated with link building, but the two most important and general types are “contextual” and “navigational.”
Contextual link building involves placing links within your content (i.e. web pages and blogs) rather than placing them on a header, footer, or sidebar, which are considered “navigational” links.
Ideally, a strong website has both. While navigational links help a user find what they’re looking for internally, contextual links have two important purposes internally and externally.
Internally, contextual links interlink your webpages together to help spread your web traffic evenly throughout all your pages and aid in search engine categorization. Externally, contextual links can build your website’s authority and search engine rankings. In this blog, we will explore the various contextual link building techniques and evaluate them for effectiveness.
Throw Away “Black Hat” Methods
Many contextual link building techniques that were once touted as the end-all solution to maintaining high SEO rankings have now been blacklisted by Google’s algorithms and can cause hefty penalties.
These techniques are intended to “game the system” of SEO and focus on the quantity of links going back to your site while throwing quality out the window. Not only do these not provide anything of useful substance to your users, they can actually make your site look less credible and clog up the internet with shallow references to your site that might have no relevance at all.
For example, they might utilize spam-like tactics such as posting comments on other websites that will link to your website, making edits to Wikipedia to link back to your pages, or creating “link farms,” which are websites created solely for the purpose of hosting links to other websites.
Google’s ranking algorithm used to count pages with more links as automatically more valuable. However, Google has since developed extensive updates, such as Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird to not only reverse this but to actually offset it.
If your website used these techniques in the past or paid someone else to increase SEO who may have, you may be penalized by Google. These link building strategies are referred to in SEO as “black hat” methods because they are not legitimate and can actually be quite harmful in the long run.
Tip Your “White Hat” Instead
The favorable link building strategies, known as “white hat” in SEO, take more time and expertise to enact properly but they are worth it in the long-term.
While you can still link to your own content through a social media presence, you’ll want to avoid excessively and aggressively doing so—ensure that your self-references are meaningful. For example, if you’ve created a piece of content that’s evergreen, backlinking to this page can be an excellent strategy for your social media.
But rather than creating your own references to your site from low authority offshoots, you’ll want to develop strategies to persuade other high-quality, authoritative sites to reference you voluntarily. There’s a number of reputable strategies to accomplish this and while none of them are quick or easy, they are all doable and will make your business better for having done them.
Content Is King
This becomes more and more true with every Google algorithm update. Creating content that is consistent, evergreen, unique and useful, and SEO optimized is your best bet for obtaining genuine, authentic backlinks.
Make a plan to post once a day, week, or month and stick to your schedule. It’s better to post less frequently than be too aspirational and miss postings. This way, you can build a loyal group of followers that will become accustomed to checking your site for updates and build trust with your content.
Evergreen content is incredibly valuable not only because it will always be relevant to anyone reading it but because it will gain traction in search engine rankings that build continuously over time. While it may never go viral, it can continue to build traffic and backlinks indefinitely.
- Unique & Useful
Aside from evergreen content, you can also make your content valuable by expressing newsworthy, exceptionally useful, or niche information.
Newsworthy content will likely spike in popularity and may never see the light of day again. However, you can always create internal backlinks to it if it’s relevant to do so.
Exceptionally useful content will take time and effort but just like evergreen content, it can gain popularity and receive backlinks that will build over time. Visuals such as images, videos, and infographics are great for this because it’s usually easier for someone to cite you than to create something as informative.
- SEO Optimized
Keywords are still crucial to helping search engines categorize your content and ensure relevance. While the content should come first and not be built around keywords, be aware of what your potential clients might be searching for and how you can help them get to it. Your anchor text (the content you decide to create contextual links from), should be relevant, descriptive, and simple.
Find Your Niche
While you’ll have competitors in any industry, you might consider what niche you can appeal to or needs that you can fill that your competitors simply can’t. In certain cases, geography might play a role as well. This can and should involve extensive research.
For example, if you have a treatment center operating in Santa Barbara, you’re not realistically competing with other treatment centers outside of California or even those in Los Angeles. Your topics of interest will overlap considerably, and you may even consider linking to their content to establish credibility.
Build Relationships, Networks, and Alliances
Creating relationships with businesses that are not in direct competition with yours but that overlap enough to create a relevant link can be beneficial for everyone involved. For example, you might find that your treatment center is not directly in competition with another because while your center is geared towards alcoholism while the other specializes in treating narcotic addictions.
You may be able to create a meaningful alliance with this treatment center and be able to link to one another’s content, share trending ideas that might be of value to both of your client bases, and vouch for one another to inquiring clients. Additionally, contextual links of this sort will reflect well on you. It’ll be clear you value getting the best information to your potential clients rather than trying to appear to know everything.
If you have concerns about correcting “black hat” link building or are interested in “white hat” organic link building services, get in touch with us today. No matter the changes that Google makes to its broad core algorithm, we’re confident we have a solution to keep your business relevant on the web. Contact us today and boost your company’s web exposure.