I'm revisiting backlinks again in this post, and I've got some news for some of you. Backlinks still work. This is nothing new to many people out there, but to those who have been hearing mixed messages, I want to clear something up.
Backlinks still work.
As long as they are quality, not spammy, and done in a natural way, you can be actively backlink building to your site and see an increase in your traffic and rankings. This could be just a minor increase, or it could be a massive increase. It really depends on how aggressively you're building links and how good your content is.
Backlink Building Done Correctly
Today's topic is going to cover building a “base layer” of safe links to your site. These are kind of low-moderate strength links which will not bring a whole lot of ranking your way by themselves, but with a decent amount of them (we're going to aim for about 100), you'll get some terrific results.
A base layer of backlinks is just a small step to enjoying some success. You also need to do adequate keyword research, create excellent content for your users (not search engines), and make your site easy to navigate with some good internal linking (internal linking is where you have your posts and pages linking to other posts and pages on your site. This is just as important as backlinks).
Before we move on, I want to address a question some of you might have:
Isn't Content King? Aren't Back-Links Worthless?
Content is very much king. Content helps Google know what to rank you for, it helps you promote products to your users, and it helps your users get the information they want. Without content, there's no business.
Back-links aren't worthless though. It's like saying “My legs are king, I don't need arms”. You need both. As I explained briefly above, all you're doing by building some basic back-links is giving your site a few votes. You're also giving Google more chances to find your site and crawl (then rank) your content. Building around 100 or so will get your site a few steps closer to those coveted rankings.
You're probably spending a long time doing keyword research, but what's the point if you're not doing anything to help your site get found? Sharing Google plus posts helps, but anyone with a spammy website can fill G+, FB and Twitter with noise. You're going to need some more diverse links to get some momentum going. You can't deny this unfortunately.
But If I Just Focus On Content And Social Sharing, Rankings Will Come Eventually Won't They?
They will! But there should be massive emphasis on the word “Eventually”. It could take you up to a year to get some good rankings without actively building some back-links, so why wait that long?
Here's what you could be doing instead, and what you absolutely must not be doing:
- You're not going to be running around spamming the web with your link.
- You're going to be engaging other people in your niche.
- You're not going to be dropping links on irrelevant content.
- You're going to be finding relevant places and introducing yourself and your site.
That's all there is to it.
How Do You Get Started?
I'll be referencing the list on PointblankSEO a lot. You can view it here. There is also a great course that PBSEO owner Jon Cooper put together for $67. If you want to learn everything to know about back-links, give it a read.
Now Jon's guide has a LOT of different places you can get links from. Some of them are very good links, others are kind of low. Some of them are very time consuming, and others are very quick. I want you to go and have a read through that list, but I also want to save you some time and highlight a few of the links you should worry about building.
Today I'm going to cover the following methods:
- Blog Commenting
- Profile Links
- Logo Directories
- Niche Specific Directories
- Resources Pages
- Infographic Submission
- Social Bookmarking
- Social Media
- Linking Out
N.B. There are many services out there which will claim to do all of this for you, but the problem is they also do some old-fashioned and pointless submissions. Places like Rank Crew will still worry about web 2.0 and article directories. These really are a waste of time. The list I've mentioned above will keep you busy and get “phase 1” out of the way nicely, so let's just deal with that. And yes, we're going to do most of it manually.
Strategy One: Blog Commenting
With blog commenting, the focus isn't really on the link. I think 99% of blogs out there make their blog comment links [nofollow] anyway, which means there isn't a whole lot of link-juice passed on to your site (but there is still some). The main purpose of blog commenting is to:
a.) Get your site out there.
b.) Meet people and grow your authority in the niche.
c.) Network with others for potentially higher quality links further down the road (more on this below).
d.) Associate your site with their sites by saying “Hey these are the people I hang with”.
When you start putting your site out there and being active on other blogs in your niche, people WILL start coming to your site more via your comment links, and the website owners that you are speaking with will start checking out your site. They might even give you a link in one of their articles if they find a relevant post on your site.
Later on, if you want to get a link from them via a guest post or a resources page, they'll also be a lot more likely to say yes.
Method: Compile a list of 10-20 relevant sites in your niche. Also find about 10 sites that aren't 100% relevant, but have a few relevant articles.
Make sure that you can comment on their sites with a link. Search for “my topic + leave a comment” in Google to get started.
One Rule: Always make your comment relevant to the discussion. Don't just write “nice post bro”.
Over the course of the next one-two weeks, start leaving comments on them. Don't bother doing more than 3-5 per day. If the sites are really interesting, try to leave a few comments regularly and build up a relationship with the website owners. I normally aim to have 10-20 comments published, and find 3-5 sites that I really like and want to comment on regularly. Make notes as you go, and check back to see which comments are published.
Stop when you've got 10-20 comments live (but feel free to keep commenting on the sites you like and building up that relationship).
Strategy Two: Profile Links
Many forums and websites let you create a profile and stick a link in it to your website. Start off by searching for 5-10 forums in your niche and making a profile for yourself (again, do this over a week or so). Add a link to your website in your profile.
You can also add a link to your signature and post a few comments in the forum too, but many forums won't let you do this until you've made 25 posts or more, so sometimes it's not worth doing.
As well as forums, there are sites like crunchbase.com that will let you add your new website/business to their site with a profile link.
These links are a bit more powerful than blog comments, and if you stick to places similar to your niche, you can get some pretty relevant links without much difficulty.
Strategy Three: Logo Directories
Does your site have a logo? (You should have one really..you can get one done for $5 from fiverr.com). If so, you can submit it to logo directories! This is quite easy and can get you 10-20 backlinks right off the bat!
Just search for “logo directories” or “logo submission directories” in Google and go from there. Thelogomix.com is a good one to get started with.
Strategy Four: Niche Specific Directories
It's easy to submit your site to general directories where every other blogger in the world submits theirs, but there's not much point. Instead, look for relevant directories. If your niche is photography, find 5 photography directories and submit your site to it. It won't take you long and gets you a few useful links from relevant sites. Some of them are quite high quality too.
Don't submit to any paid directories, it's not worth your money.
Strategy Five: Resource Pages
Many websites in your niche will have a “resources” page. This is a page where you list useful resources for people reading your site. I've got one here. Getting a link to your site from one of these is going to be a very nice link. It wil be relevant, and will make your site seem like a pretty good resource.
Tips: You can't just contact a bunch of webmasters and ask them to link to you though, I doubt you'll have a high success rate. Instead here are some things you can do:
- Get to know the webmaster, comment on their site (see the value in blog commenting now?) and let them know you have some useful content where possible.
- Check out their resource page, are any of the links dead (linking to a site that doesn't exist anymore)? Let them know which links are dead, and ask if you can have your site added in their place. You'll be surprised how successful this can be.
- Create a “top blogs in this niche” post on your site and give them a shout-out in that post. Let them know about it afterwards, they might link to you automatically, or you might be able to ask for a link a little while later (don't do it immediately).
You'll have to be a bit creative, but these are great links to have. Get as many as you can. I once found a university resource page in my niche with 50 dead links on it. I contacted the webmaster, told him which ones were dead, and asked to have my site placed on the list.
Not only did I get a new link, it was from a University too.
Strategy Six: Infographic Submission
Everyone loves an infographic! If your site has one, you can submit it to quite a few different directories and get some good backlinks from there. You could do this multiple times as well.
You can also have them made on fiverr.com for a fiver.
Strategy Seven: Social Bookmarking
I wouldn't put a lot of stock into social bookmarking, but it's a very easy way to get some decent backlinks and you'll also get some traffic too.
Social bookmarking sites are places where you can add your content and people “browsing around” will find it and maybe give it a read. There are a lot of these sites, but I only ever bother submitting to Digg, Stumbleupon and Delicious.
You should start off by submitting your main articles, and when you publish new ones (or a few days have passed), add some more.
Strategy Eight: Social Media
There could probably be a whole other post dedicated to Social Media (in fact I wrote an eBook about it here), so I'll just give a brief summary here.
When you create content, share it on GooglePlus, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. You don't have to do all four, but do one or two when you first start out. If you don't want to share things with your friends initially, you can limit who you share with, or create alias accounts.
Definitely make sure to try and grow your social circles as well by joining groups/communities related to your niche and befriending people there (and actually be engaging in those communities).
Social is a great way to get new readers, get engagement, and new opportunities for links from other sites, but it's also a good way of getting your content out there for Google to gobble up.
Further reading on social media: Social For Search eBook.
Strategy Nine: Linking Out
You might find this counter-productive, but linking out to other sites from your site is very important. Try to link to 1-3 high quality sites on almost every post you write. Google knows that good websites link to other good websites, so you've got to play ball.
Don't think about it like helping your competition, think of it as working with them. I wrote an article about this concept before. You can always link to wikipedia or news outlets anyway.
Additionally, when you link to people, they'll be more likely to link back to you! Win-win.
Before you get started, make a spreadsheet of all the places you find that you could get a link from. Put them into categories like “comments” “forum profiles” and so on. Once you've finished searching around, return to that list every day or every few days and work down it adding the links in. It should take you around 2 weeks.
Free Download! Here's a template spreadsheet I made to get you started. [Download It Free]
These eight strategies should keep you pretty busy, and you should aim to stagger things out over 1-2 weeks. Your site will look very strange if it suddenly gains 50-100 backlinks over night!
If you find that doing those eight strategies doesn't get you a very long list of sites to get a link from, then head over to the list on pointblankSEO and see what else you can do. Also check out the back-link guide. It's one of the only legitimate guides out there.
There's one final thing I've not spoken about yet, and that's anchor text.
Anchor Text – Keep It Natural
Anchor text is the text that you turn into a link. You see the link above? “Social For Search” is the anchor text, and http://www.humanproofdesigns.com/ebooks/ is the link (often called “the naked URL”).
When you are dropping all of these links around the web, you might be tempted to use a keyword as your anchor text to try and boost your rankings. Don't. This is how sites end up getting penalized by Google.
For your blog comments, use a mixture of http://yourwebsitename.com and http://www.yourwebsitename.com (vary the use of the “www”). Do the same for your profile links.
You really want anchor text to be about 30% naked url (like above), 30% your name or your website name (“Dom” or “humanproofdesigns”) and about 30% general terms like “click here”. For these base links, you'll mostly be doing your name, your website name, your brand (if you have one) and naked URLs.
When you move onto more advanced links (in the next post), you can worry about things like keywords in anchor text.
Should You Link To Your Homepage Only?
Great question! For most of these methods, yes. Definitely only link to your homepage for blog comments, profile links, resource pages (unless another one is more relevant), and things like directories. For Digg, StumbleUpon etc you can link to inner pages too.
If your site has good internal linking, the page rank will be spread well between all your pages anyway.
When you have a nice healthy base layer of links pointing to your site, all with safe anchor text and from relevant sites, then you can start thinking about finding the really good back-links. In the next post, I'll cover some ways of getting even higher quality backlinks. You might only need 5-10 of these, so once that base layer is built, the fun begins!