Link Building Strategies for DIY SEOs

Link-building plays a vital role in the success of a business. But it’s a time-consuming process that requires:

  • Knowledge
  • Skill
  • Patience

Here’s the thing:

By using the right strategies, it doesn’t have to be complicated:

Keep reading to find out more:

The Role Backlinks Play In SEO

Backlinks have been an important part of SEO since 1998. The best way to look at backlinks is to think of them as votes for the site.

The more votes a page has pointing to it, the more Google deems the content worthy of taking the number one spot.

When the backlink algorithm was first introduced, it used to be a case of the number of links a page had. But this resulted in people spamming links wherever they could. Luckily times have changed now, and it’s about the quality of the links instead of the quantity.

Diagram of Google's Backlink Trends

Link placements need to be well planned. Without relevance, the link could cause damage that outweighs the benefit.

3x High Converting Link Building Strategies

As mentioned earlier, link building strategies have stood the test of time; this means there’s plenty of actionable strategies to be used.

Three strategies stand out above the rest. These techniques are super easy to complete but also have a considerable win rate:

Replicate Your Competitors Backlinks

This has to be on the list for the top link building strategies for a few reasons.

To start with, the top-ranking competitors in the same niche will be spending thousands of dollars trying to create the perfect backlink profile. And this means it’s super hard for the small fish to compete against them without a lot of hard work and a ton of cash.

Unless the business replicates its competitor’s backlink profile.

In essence, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

When comparing the win-rate with the overall time spent on it, it’s easy to see why this strategy is so effective.

Here’s how it works:

Identify The Competitors

The first step is to identify the top sites for the chosen keyword. Doing this is super easy and only requires a quick Google search.

Just enter the chosen keyword into Google and make a list of the competitors on the first page. Don’t worry about how big their site is, all that’s needed is their backlink profile.

Find Their Backlinks

Once the list of competitors has been identified, it’s time to find their backlinks, which can be done using tools such as Majestic, Moz, or Ahrefs. In this article, we’ll be using Ahrefs for our examples.

In Ahrefs, enter the first URL into the Ahrefs site explorer and hit the search button.

Once the page has loaded, go to the left-hand side menu and click on ‘Backlinks’. You’ll then see a full list of sites linking to that page. Export the list of backlinks on to an excel sheet and do the same for the other targets.

Analyze Their Backlinks

This part can take some time; the idea is to get rid of all the spammy looking links, so all that’s left is high quality and relevant linking opportunities.

Once that’s complete, it’s about finding out how they got the link and how it can be replicated.

Once a solid understanding of the link has been found, it’s time to reach out to the site owner to score the link.

Provide Testimonials

This has to be one of the easiest and least time-consuming link-building strategies. With just a few hours of work, it’s possible to score high-quality links pointing directly to the businesses homepage.

Gael Breton quote and example of link placement

This strategy aims to offer a positive testimonial for a product/service the business uses in return for a link.

Here’s a step by step guide for finding testimonial links:

Identify The Targets

This stage is about thinking of services/products that are relevant to the site, or that it’s used before.

The chosen products and services all need one thing in common for this strategy to work, and that’s an existing testimonials page or evidence that they publish testimonials on their homepage.

Create a list of possible opportunities in an excel sheet ready for the next step.

Pitch To The Right People

Finding the right people to pitch to can seem like a challenge at the best of times. Luckily there are a few tools that can be used to find their emails quickly:

  • Hunter.io
  • FindThatLead

These tools will provide a list of emails connected to the site. Making it really easy to find the right person to pitch to.

FindThatLead Screen capture

Once the emails have been found, it’s time to pitch to the sites and see if they’re interested.

Write Their Testimonial

Once they’ve got back to you and accepted the offer, it’s time to write the testimonials. Writing the perfect testimonial is super easy, especially if you’ve tried the product or service and can write from first-hand experience. Just make sure it includes things like:

  • Description of how the tool/product/service helped
  • The best part of the service
  • A personal recommendation
  • Results

If the testimonial contains these four things, it’s ready to go.

Guest Posting (It Really Does Work!)

Guest posting is the most popular way of building links to a page, and for a good reason, it’s super simple and very effective.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard SEOs debating whether a guest post is a white hat or black hat technique.

In the end, does it really matter?

Google only wants to see the right metrics for the site, and smart guest posting does just that.

The idea behind guest posting is to create a high-quality piece of content with a link pointing to the page that needs ranking.

Here’s how that works:

Find Target Sites

The first thing is to find sites that will accept a guest article. The ideal website would have a high domain authority and traffic.

For this, head to Google and try searching for terms like those listed here:

list of keywords to publish guest posts with

These will show thousands of potential targets to outreach too. Don’t focus too much on the authority or traffic just yet.

The purpose of this step is to find targets for a guest post.

Choosing The Right Blogs

Once a list of targets has been created, it’s time to see if they’re worth the time linking too. To do this, tools like Ahrefs come in very handy.

Enter the site in question into the Ahrefs site explorers search bar. It will then take you to a page which shows the Domain Rating (DR) of the sites.

If the DR is high for that niche keep it on the list, if low with little to no traffic, delete it, along with any spammy looking sites that are just obvious link farms.

Pitching The Sites

Once the site has been qualified, it’s time to pitch out to the site owner. Again finding the emails with the tools mentioned in the previous section, it takes seconds.

Make sure pitches are unique to the site, it’s the best way of getting a response. Don’t get disheartened if they don’t message back the first time.

Chances are they are super busy and receive A LOT of emails. Send a couple of follow-ups before moving to the next email.

Create Stunning Content

Once the site owner has accepted the terms, it’s time to start writing the content. The most important thing to include is the link back to the page.

But that’s not all, they should also include:

  • Links pointing to their site (internal links)
  • Quotes with backup links (other external links)
  • Images/videos

Make sure the content contains as much value as possible and more importantly keeps their audience in mind.

BONUS: Mention Monitoring

There were only supposed to be three link building strategies in this article, but this was too good to leave out.

This strategy works best for people that already have a respected brand in their niche.

If the brand is already well known, there’s a good chance someone has mentioned it in an article.

But here’s the thing:

Sometimes people forget to link to the site they’ve mentioned, which is something that can be fixed quickly. Just follow these simple steps:

Find Blogs That Mention Your Brand

Use Google’s search command to find sites that mention the brand. This can be done by searching variations of:

“horizonwebmarketing.com”-inurl:horizonwebmarketing.com/

This will return a list of URLs mentioning the domain of this site, but not the page from the blog.

example of inurl: search engine results

Here’s a pro tip:

Make sure to play around with the site name in your searches, it’s incredible how many people can misspell the site’s name.

The sites to look for are ones:

  • With broken links
  • Which lead to a 404
  • Or which mention the blog with no link

If any sites in the search engine results have any of these problems add them to an excel sheet.

Reach Out

Again this all about reaching out to the right people. Once the email address has been found, it’s time to pitch the idea to them.

For maximum effect, make sure the outreach is unique to the site, if it isn’t, chances are it will get ignored.

But most importantly, don’t forget to send follow up emails if they don’t reply.

Can You Trust Link Building Services?

Link building campaigns take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress. So it’s understandable why people are turning to link building services.

But can they be trusted?

In all honesty, this industry can be real shady at times. The amount of sites that get penalized due to shoddy link building services is scary.

The thing is:

Spammy and low DR links can kill a site… quickly.

And with so many link building services out there, it’s easy to get burnt.

On the other hand, they can be a godsend. Think about it.

The amount of time it takes to launch a full link building campaign is huge. But link building services make it easy.

They already have an extensive database of sites that accept links. And if they’re good the sites will be risk-free of penalization.

To find a link building service that’s trustworthy, a lot of research needs to be done thoroughly. One such service we’ve found that does the hard work is matthewwoodward.co.uk.

Rounding Up

It’s almost certain that link building will play a vital role in SEO for years to come, which is why it’s beneficial to jump on the train now.

There are tons of link building strategies out there that work. But the ones covered here far outperform them all.

And if time is lacking, it might be time to call in the experts. Link building services can provide quick, quality, natural links to a page.

Happy link building!

(Do you have a favorite link building technique we haven’t covered? Or…have you had an experience with a link builder that’s hurt your domain with shady links? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.)

 

Google Does SEO, and They Claim it’s Important to their Success

Every few months it seems I read a post somewhere that proclaims that SEO is dead, or a sham, or useless. So it was gratifying to see that one of the organizations that does NOT buy into that assessment of Search Engine Optimization is Google themselves.

Some of what Google had to say about its own SEO is very important for small business owners. Here are the key points you can learn from this revealing Google post…

Marketing-on-Internet

Google-Proofing Your Business, Protect Yourself from Google Algorithm Updates

Eat24 Gives Facebook a Not-So-Fond Farewell

In business, your best friend is you. Build up your clientele and customer-base. Sell yourself on your own merits. And most importantly, don’t rely on third parties. Case in point:  Eat24. When a popular brand ditches social media, people tend to take notice.

Social media and web marketing outlineMuch like Google’s own fabled Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird, Facebook relies on complex algorithms to determine what shows up in a user’s news feed. However, as Eat24 notes in their “break up letter” to Facebook, the constant changes required by an ever-evolving online environment often have negative effects on businesses.

The trouble is that the algorithms used by Google and Facebook are more about furthering those companies’ own agendas, rather than servicing businesses. It’s become such a problem in recent years that some entrepreneurs actively seek to “Google-proof” their companies and protect themselves from Google Algorithm changes.

One of the most famous examples is Jason Calacanis, creator of the new app-based news service called Inside. Jason is the former owner of the website Mahalo, and when the Google algorithm “Panda” dropped in 2011, his business was heavily impacted. Essentially a human-run search engine, Mahalo nonetheless relied on traffic driven to it by Google searches. When Panda launched in February 2011, Mahalo took a 77% drop in site traffic, and has continued to drop since then (current estimates put it at a 92% decline as of 2013). Only one week after the Panda algorithm took its toll on Mahalo, Jason Calacanis laid off 10% of his staff due to the severe cut in business revenue.

Eat24 experienced a very similar story, but with Facebook instead of Google. Facebook applies similar algorithms (minus the animal-themed names), in order to direct what news an average user sees on their daily feed. Sometimes this shows relevant news stories or your favorite restaurant’s daily special…sometimes it’s Miley Cyrus’ new album cover or your next door neighbor raving about the sandwich they just ate.

Expressing  frustration very similar to Jason Calacanis’, Eat24 rage-quit Facebook once and for all, taking the opportunity to spell out exactly why in their blog “The Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries” with a lengthy, sarcastic, and brutally honest letter about not just their reasoning, but how changes made by Facebook can affect businesses adversely.

“When we first met, you made us feel special. We’d tell you a super funny joke about sriracha and you’d tell all our friends and then everyone would laugh together. But now? Now you want us to give you money if we want to talk to our friends. Now when we show you a photo of a taco wrapped with bacon, you’re all like ‘PROMOTE THIS POST! GET MORE FRIENDS!’ instead of just liking us for who we are. That’s hella messed up.”

The letter continues in the same vein, mingling witty commentary with trademarked, food-centric attitude.

They continued to detail Facebook’s new attitude, “But we loved you, Facebook, so we tried to understand you and your algorithm. As far as we could tell though, it involves words like ‘affinity’ and ‘time decay.’ There also might be a Greek letter in there somewhere, but we’re not sure cuz we got bored and ordered a Panini. Look Facebook, all we’re saying is that we wanted to share a joke about chicken wings, not ponder astrophysics.”

That just about sums it up. Most businesses don’t have in-house tech support to decipher the Matrix. That’s where SEO comes in. You want Google-Proof? PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is one such way, allowing your company to stay at the top of the list for search terms, regardless of algorithm changes.

There’s an important point to be made in all of this: you can’t rely on any single third party. Your business’ best friend is you, the owner. Social media can be a powerful marketing too, but as Eat24 found out, even that is unreliable. The best way to keep your business from being held hostage by any single online marketing platform, be it Google, Facebook, or the “next big thing” is to ensure as much coverage as possible.  Post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, as many social media outlets as you can manage. Make sure your website is constantly up-to-date, and blog about relevant topics weekly. The newest Google algorithm, Hummingbird, focuses on quality content, so create the best content you can think of, the kind that other people will want to link to. Most importantly, make your site visible to everyone and you will never end up on the receiving end of Google’s (or Facebook’s) algorithm changes again.

 

The Geo of SEO

Everyone remembers 8th grade geology class: rock samples, videos about volcanos, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and especially the charts showing the layers of the Earth. Well, at Horizon Web Marketing, we may once again refer to that chart, and break down how Search Engine Optimization works in layers too, with the goal of getting your website better rankings.

 SEO and Geology aren't so different.

Layer 1- The Inner Core: The core is the inner-most layer of the earth, the center around which everything else rotates. In geology, the core is made up of liquid rock and metal, and the inner core is the very center of the planet, generating earth’s magnetic field and burning at about the same temperature of the sun. In SEO, the Core layer is our basic setup process: localization. Even if you have a nation-wide business, you need to make sure your address, phone number, and other contact info is correct wherever your company is listed. Your homepage, your social media accounts, your Google+ local listing, and even on ad listings and reviews like Yelp.

Layer 2- The Outer Core: The outer core is slightly cooler, and significantly larger than the inner core.  In SEO, this outer core involves secondary setup procedures for your site. These include establishing Google Analytics and Google Webmasters Tools tracking, and linking all of your reporting sites to your business website in order to get all your data in one place, and keep track of traffic to your site.

Layer 3- The Mantle: Now we’re starting to get away from the basics. The Mantle of our planet is made up of molten rock and metals- essentially the same lava and magma that erupts from volcanos! While the core is our solid foundation for both the planet analogy and SEO, the Mantle is constantly changing, flowing and heating and cooling. This is where we have the maintenance and upkeep process for your website. Algorithms change and traffic ebbs and flows just like the flow of liquid-hot rocks and minerals in our planet. At Horizon Web Marketing, we maintain your website with constant new keyword research; updating and improving content to make sure your site stays fresh and continues to rank as current search trends change.

Layer 4- The Crust: You may think of the crust as the solid ground you stand on, but any good geologist will tell you that it’s far from stable. Tectonic plates are constantly shifting, seismic activity causes earthquakes, and erosion is constantly wearing the crust down and rebuilding it, all beneath your feet. This, our SEO-troubled friends, is the Google Algorithm itself. When nearly everybody uses Google to search for sites, it is a huge upset in the SEO community when the Google Corporation changes the game. First came Google’s Panda algorithm in 2011, then Google Penguin in 2012, and now we have Google’s Hummingbird. Each time they change their algorithm- aimed at making search more user friendly and responsive to the individual searcher- it changes how we optimize for keywords and content. Considering that we seem to be getting a new algorithm each year now, it truly is a tumultuous time for SEO, and the ground we stand on is far from stable.

Business Profile: Buy Shock Blocker

Profiling New Business Partner Shock Blocker/ American Innovative Inventions

Visit the Shock Blocker Website

BabyAndPuppy_clipped_rev_7Horizon Web Marketing is proud to be working alongside American Innovative Inventions, creators of the Shock Blocker home safety product. With an innovative new design, the Shock Blocker is a tamper-proof outlet cover guaranteed to protect your children and pets from unwanted electrical shocks. No more accidentally sticking mom’s keys into the outlet! The patent-pending shutter technology ensures that nothing but an approved electrical plug can be inserted into the outlet.

This is the debut product of American Innovative Inventions, a firm dedicated to helping up-and-coming inventors establish their products. For parents looking to childproof their homes, there is no better solution than Shock Blocker. There are more than 6,000 incidents of children being electrocuted in the U.S., many of them due to unprotected outlet covers. The Shock Blocker offers an utterly tamper-proof design which, once installed in homes, schools, and businesses across the country, aims to reduce this number significantly.

With the launch of the Shock Blocker website, American Innovative Inventions wishes to reach out to retail distributors and individual customers alike, offering the chance to purchase their product. Distributors and customers can order the product directly from the website through a dedicated, secure e-commerce system ensuring   safe transactions and privacy for their information. In this way, you can rest assured that both your personal information and your children are safe when you buy Shock Blocker.