How to rank highly on Google
Why is link building so important
The previous chapter explained how to make your website visible to search engines. It also showed how to optimize keywords using on-page SEO. Links are essential if you want to improve your rankings by leaps and bounds.
Perhaps you have ever wondered why link building is so important given the many factors Google uses when ranking sites.
Links are such an important factor that it is unlikely that you will rank high in a keyword search if your competitors have more backlinks.
Links are the currency of web. Every time a page links with another page, it is a vote to increase the page’s value. It is likely that a page will be linked from other sites if it provides a lot of value to Internet users. Google considers links to be a key factor in their algorithm.
Link building is key to ranking high in search engine results.
Link building is the dirty little secret that no one wants you to know.
Many opinions are floating around the Internet regarding the best type of links you should build to your website. They often lead to heated debates.
What’s the best link? Is it a link from a government website or a blog with a lot of traffic? Do you prefer a link from a high-quality site or one that has a lot of social networking activity?
No one wants to reveal the dirty truth about link building: there are many types of links.
Google wouldn’t exist if this were the case. Everybody would find a way spamming their way to the top of Google’s rankings quickly. It is a sign that the site owner is manipulating the system by having thousands of links pointing to the same page.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to link to authoritative, relevant, and high-quality websites. Links from relevant, high-quality sites are more powerful than those that are not related to them.
How to get links and what to avoid when building them.
Many stories are out there about business owners getting slapped by Google without any good reason. Do not let horror stories fool you.
Most cases show that the webmaster did something suspicious or out of date, such as building thousands upon thousands of links to their website from link directories and then suddenly their rankings dropped from Google’s top ten search results.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll be fine if you don’t display spammy behavior when you build links.
These best practices will help you get links right and won’t violate Google’s terms.
1. Link acquisition should be done naturally and over time. Links should be acquired organically and consistently.
Google made the process of assessing link acquisition relative to time public. Patent US20050071741 describes how Google calculates search results by analysing the age and acquisition rate of links.
You don’t have to spend hours researching patents. Instead, build your links slowly over time so Google can see that your website is acquiring organic links. You shouldn’t buy 1000 links to your website overnight. This will cause a red flag in Google and make you look bad.
2. Don’t buy links. You could be penalized if you buy links in the hope of improving your rankings. These links can work, but they are not worth the risk unless you’re confident that you understand what you’re doing.
3. You should forget about link-swapping and link-trading. These schemes are obvious to Google and may cause harm or ineffectiveness to your site. Although this is not common knowledge, I have achieved numerous number one rankings for extremely competitive keywords without ever switching links. Link-swapping can be very time-consuming, and it is completely unnecessary. You can do without it.
4. Spam message boards, article websites and blog comments with poor content is not a good idea. While this might work temporarily, these strategies are quickly obsolete.
5. For a small monthly fee, there are many paid networks that will build links to your website. These networks are not recommended. These networks are in violation of Google’s terms and service. Using them can quickly lead to you being banned by Google.
Anchor text. Anchor text.
As we have discussed in previous chapters, anchor text has caused controversy. Anchor text refers to the text in a link. Anchor text was an important factor in achieving top rankings.
It was possible to rank first if you had one hundred links to your website with “NFL Football Jerseys” as the anchor text and only a few links from competitors. This was before Google’s Penguin update, which effectively ended the practice of using “exact matches” anchor text in SEO strategies. It is now too risky.
It is not as effective as it used to be. However, it can also prevent a site from ranking for a keyword by building hundreds of “exact matches” links.
You might then wonder: How do you build anchor text?
It should feel natural.
While it is acceptable to include your targeted keyword as an anchor text, it shouldn’t be the only keyword or main keyword in all your links. There should be a mixture of related keywords.
This is the pattern that legitimate websites naturally attract, if you think about it. It is absurd that quality sites would be automatically linked to the same text across the entire World Wide Web.
Take a look at the following examples to see how a bad anchor text profile compares to a natural one:
Bad anchor text – External links
NFL football jerseys – 200 links
Good anchor text
Examplefootballbrand – 50 Links
NFL football jersey shop – 10 Links
NFL football jerseys – 5 links
http://www.examplefootballbrand.com – 25 links
Football jersey store – 5 Links
Football jerseys online – 5 Links
Football jacket shop – 15 Links
Click here to see 7 more links
Website – 15 Links
This anchor text example shows how sites naturally accumulate links over time. The most frequently linked phrase on the page should not be your target keyword.
It is possible to learn a lot from Google’s search engine results listing. You can also use Link Explorer to look at high-ranking websites and their anchor text. Natural anchor text is a common feature on top-ranking pages, such as the one shown above.
Keep track of your link-building activities and organize them in a spreadsheet. This will allow you to monitor and adjust your anchor text in accordance with best practices.
From simple to complex link building strategies.
These link building strategies will help you to build quality links to your website and give Google a push to rank it higher. They range from small-scale SEO tactics to large-scale SEO agencies looking to distribute links globally to enterprise-level SEO agencies.
In recent years, directory links have been criticized for being a proven method of linking building. Google has penalized spammers for creating excessively low-quality directory link to their sites.
It is important to not overlook directory links. Directory links should be considered the starting point for any link building project. You can find a lot of quality business directories that will help you get strong and powerful backlinks with minimal effort.
To be safe, directory links should not exceed 10-20% of total links. These links must be relevant and high quality sites. not sites with web addresses like seolinksdirectory.com or freelinksdirectory.com. These sites smell like spam! Ask yourself if this directory link looks legitimate and trustworthy before you build it. If you don’t think so, focus your attention on quality, legitimate sites.
Use the following search terms to find directories relevant to your niche. Replace “keyword” by your industry or targeted keyword.
Keyword + submit
Keyword + Add URL
Keyword + Add Link
Keyword + Directory
Keyword + Resources
Here’s a list of directories that can be used to start a business:
Stealing links from competitors.
Stealing links from competitors is an old-school tactic that has seen a revival recently, thanks to Google’s increased emphasis on quality links, making it harder to find easy links.
Why not profit from the hard work of your competitor who has done all the heavy lifting? These sites will allow you to export backlinks from your competitors. You can often find links opportunities to link to your site by looking at their links. If the competitor is ranking highly in Google, then you can feel confident that you are targeting SEO-friendly links sources.
Ahrefs All in One SEO Toolset – $7 to test, then $99 per Month
Majestic SEO Backlink Checker: Free to Try, then $49 Per Month
Moz Link Explorer – Free trial, then $99/month
Video link building.
Google loves videos and YouTube videos in particular. Google owns YouTube, which is why this is so. Posting videos can greatly improve your SEO if you want to capture viewers from the largest video search engine in the world.
For the best user response, post relevant how-to guides and industry news updates. In the description, link to the pages you are interested in.
Video link building success is dependent on the relevance of your description and video. Your targeted keyword or other relevant keywords should be included somewhere on the page.
Don’t be discouraged. You don’t need to make a video that is as good as the latest Martin Scorsese masterpiece. You can make a video that teaches visitors useful information about your topic, for as little as 5-10 minutes. Focus on providing value to the viewer.
These tools can be used to quickly create videos and upload them to the internet.
OBS Studio is a free and open-source screen recording software that allows you to create high-quality screencasts right from your computer. After you are done, you can either download high-quality video files or stream live. OBS Studio is available for free on Windows, Mac, and Linux. However, it can be difficult to use. QuickTime Player’s native screen record function for Mac users or a paid screen recorder like Camtasia are both user-friendly alternatives.
You can visit high-quality websites, upload videos, and get backlinks easily:
Link bait is an effective and new strategy to build high-quality, powerful links on large scale. Link bait is great because it only takes one content creation, but thousands of people can link to it from the Internet, all while you relax and take a break.
What is link bait? Link bait refers to any type of compelling content that is naturally linked from other sites.
Although there are many steps to successfully creating link bait, it is easy to get links and engage in social media with this strategy. Your content should be valuable enough to be almost worth the price of buying.
You can either hire experts or recruit researchers to create industry content that is easily shared. You’re not doing it right if there are already 10 whitepapers or blog posts on the same topic. Make it unique, useful and substantial.
This content can be compiled into a whitepaper or top 10 list, an infographic or a downloadable resource. Make it appealing enough to share with others.
This content should be promoted heavily on your website and through social media. Encourage readers to share the post at bottom of the content. Share the content as easily as possible to maximize your results.
Next, locate popular link bait within your niche or industry. Next, use Ahrefs and Link Explorer to compile a list of websites linking to popular content. To let site owners and bloggers know that you have a better resource, send a quick email blast.
You can take your link baiting to the next step by writing and publishing a press release about your content. A press release can be distributed to thousands of journalists, and may attract media attention.
Perhaps you are curious about what a successful link baiting campaign looks. I’ve listed examples below:
Joost de Valk is a well-known name in the SEO industry. This is partly due to his one-page guide to WordPress SEO, which is updated once a month. Over the years, this guide has been shared many times and received many links.
101 motivational business quotes
This is a great example of a link bait article that went viral and can be easily outsourced for pennies per dollar.
Different types of link bait
Guides on how to do it
– Beginner guides
– Top 10 Lists
– Industry reports
Pictochart – Free to Start
Excellent service for infographic creation, with an easy drag-and-drop interface to create infographics in minutes.
Prlog provides entry-level press release syndication services for free, and additional coverage is available for an additional fee.
Many PR agencies will just write press releases and then send them to PRNewswire. They charge a premium. You can cut out the middleman and write your own press release. This will allow you to get huge PR at a fraction the cost of hiring a professional PR agency. Packages start from $545 USD, and you can scale up for more syndication.
Finding guest post opportunities.
Many link builders have adopted guest posting as a standard practice to get high-quality, contextual, and highly-relevant links. This is the type of link Google loves.
It is easy to find guest posting opportunities. You can easily find quality placements by simply doing a few Google searches using the following search terms. You or your writer must produce quality articles. Articles that are well-written and researched, articulated and preferably citing source are more likely to be shared and engaged with by others. This will improve the strength of your links. A reasonable-sized social media platform can make it easier for editors or site owners to publish your blog post.
However, this strategy could be detrimental to your rankings if it is used on a large scale and contains poorly written, outsourced articles that are not well-written. A successful guest posting strategy requires quality.
For guest posting opportunities, you can use the following Google search queries. Replace “keyword” by your industry, niche, or topic. Use the Google Chrome extension Link Clump to copy and paste search results into a spreadsheet. This will allow you to reach out to blogs to place guest posts. We’ll be covering this later.
Keyword “guest post by”
Keyword “guest post”
Keyword “guest article”
keyword “guest author”
keyword “guest contributor”
Broken link building.
Broken link building can be a very effective and new strategy. This strategy allows you to reach out to high-quality sites that have broken links and use it to convince site administrators to update your link.
If you discover a broken link on your website, tell them about it and offer an alternative resource that will benefit their visitors. This strategy will allow you to create a linkable resource for your site. This allows the webmaster to easily point to the replacement.
To find pages that may have broken links, use the search phrases below. Add your keyword at the beginning of the search phrase.
Keyword useful resources
Sites that are keyword-recommended
Keyword suggested links
Sites that suggest keywords
keyword more links
More resources by keyword
More keyword sites
Keyword related resources
This service will automate the process. It will give you a list with broken links, contact information, and a list of websites that have them.
Broken linkbuilding – $67 monthly
Although this tool is very comprehensive, it comes with a cost. The broken link building tool can be used to find many broken links by simply entering keywords. This tool saves time and identifies quality opportunities.
Broken brand mentions
Broken brand mentions can be used for nearly every SEO project. They are quick, easy and reliable. This works like this: In some cases, people forget to link to your site when they mention your brand. Track mentions of the brand and, if appropriate, ask for a backlink to your website. Track mentions of your brand using the tools below. Send an email to the author if you notice a mention of your brand, but without a link. They will often be happy linking to your site.
I have found these brand monitoring sites to be very useful:
Google Alerts – No Charge
Google Alerts is an excellent brand monitoring tool. You can receive email alerts when your brand name or any keyword is mentioned on the internet. It is both free and powerful so it’s worth looking into.
Mention – Pricing starts at $29 per Month.
Mention is an effective brand-monitoring tool. It will send you an email alert whenever your brand is mentioned online. So that you can quickly respond,
Although paid links are not allowed by Google’s terms of service, the following link building strategies work and can be overlooked. You’ve been warned. I’m not responsible for any consequences of using paid link strategies.
Donate to charities and non-profits.
Many charities and non-profits have a donor’s page. Google search for “site.org+ donors” or “site.org+ sponsors” to find a list. You can also request a listing.
Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau links are some of the most trusted. Links from the Better Business Bureau will be trusted and respected. You can check your listing to determine if your site is already linked back to it. If not, you should sign up.
Link outreach–scale up high-quality link building campaigns
SEO professionals use link outreach as a powerful and common method to increase the number of relevant and high-quality links.
Here are some things to be aware of when you engage in link outreach campaigns
Google has published guidelines regarding link outreach before we dive into the practice. It’s important that you know what to do so you don’t fall for Google’s trap.
Here’s an example of the combination Google considers to be bad-practice as per guidelines published in May 2017 regarding large-scale article campaign:
– Adding keyword-rich links from your site to your articles.
– Articles published on many sites. Or, you can have a lot of articles published on one site.
– Hiring or using article writers who aren’t familiar with the topic they’re writing about.
– Use the same content or similar content in these articles. Or, duplicate the entire content of articles on your site (in which case you should use rel=’canonical” and rel=’nofollow) tags.
These guidelines are somewhat vague. Google cannot outlaw guest-posting completely, nor can it outlaw site owner talking to other site owners in order to collaborate – that would be unfair and a gross overreach by Google.
Google cares most about articles being relevant, high-quality and posted on relevant websites. They also don’t spam their inboxes with unpersonalized emails. These practices are best avoided and you will not be slapped by Mr. Google.
If you’re interested in reading more, here are the official guidelines of Google HQ.
Google Search Central Blog – A reminder about linking in large-scale article campaign campaigns
Here are some steps to help you get involved in link outreach campaigns.
Link outreach campaigns typically require two steps:
1. Prospecting – Finding link opportunities and contact information.
2. Outreach – Writing and sending emails, following ups and managing relationships.
We have already discussed link opportunities such as finding guest posts opportunities and looking at competitor backlinks. Let’s now get into the details of finding contact information and running a link outreach campaign.
The right tools make it easy to find contact information. You can either use a standalone tool to automatically find contact information on websites while you browse through link opportunities like Hunter.io’s Chrome extension, which automatically finds contact data for you. Or you can simplify the process and use an all-in-one outreach platform that finds contact details and then sends them emails.
You should also keep track of all your link opportunities using a spreadsheet or Google Doc. Make sure to leave a note for each opportunity. These will be later dynamically added into your email (more later).
Hunter is focused solely on finding contact information and is very skilled at it. It also has a Chrome plugin that displays the contact information it can find for any site you visit while browsing. Plans start at $49/month and include 100 contact information requests.
No matter what outreach platform you choose, it is important to personalize your emails. You can address the editor or author by name, mention a recent article that caught your attention, or discuss a similarity between the sites or how you have a resource or topic that matches something the site owner is passionate. Keep this information in your spreadsheet as you review opportunities.
There is a huge difference between emailing a site owner with a personalized, relevant email with mutually-beneficial opportunities for collaboration and sending a mass email blast to thousands of site owners with the same email template. This could quickly land you in serious trouble with Google. Personalization is essential.
Schedule emails and outreach platforms
Due to this growing popularity, there are more outreach platforms. These are some of the most popular options available. Some send only emails while others provide complete outreach campaign management. This includes finding prospects, contacting them, and sending emails. They are here, anyway.
Mailshake is pure-outreach. Mailshake requires you to enter your contact information. This software is extremely effective in sending personalized emails. You can also import personalization information including name, address, and personal message via a CSV file. Automatic follow-ups and email templates libraries are included. Plans starting at $59 per Month
Buzzstream is a favorite of content marketers and link builders. Buzzstream is an end to end outreach platform that can track relationships and find contacts. Buzzstream does not allow one-click email sending or automatic follow ups. This means that campaigns must be manually managed. Plans start at $24 per Month
Ninja Outreach is another platform that provides end-to-end outreach. It allows you to find contact information, send emails, personalize, and follow up with your contacts. It seems that most bloggers using this platform require you to pay for your site. This is disappointing to me. Pricing starts at $299 per Month.
Pitchbox, an enterprise-level outreach platform, allows you to find contact details, send personalized emails, follow ups and detailed reports. Pitchbox is better suited to larger campaigns or teams, as well as SEO agencies and professionals. Although it is more expensive than other platforms, Pitchbox can be a great tool for serious SEO professionals. It has more flexibility and features than the others. Plans start at $195 per Month.
How to obtain links from major news sources for free
Did you know that links can be obtained from major news outlets like Fox News, The New York Times and Time Magazine without having to pay a penny? Well, you can. It’s called Help A Reporter out and connects more than 55,000 reporters with news sources every day for a variety of topics, including small business advice, cooking tips, tech news, and even news about technology. You’ve come to right place if you ever wanted badges that said, “featured in Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN”.
HARO sends a huge email blast three times a day, with reporters’ requests for story contributors. HARO’s emails can literally flood your inbox. This is why they offer paid plans to filter emails with keywords and SMS alerts. You can also use their free plan to filter out irrelevant emails and only view relevant opportunities.
How to get started with HARO step-by-step.
1. Sign up for HARO with the link at the end of this section.
2. Enter your personal information and select the categories you are interested in. It’s better to use more categories, we will filter out irrelevant opportunities later.
3. It’s a good idea to upload a high-res professional headshot to your website in JPG or PNG format. And if you have one handy, upload a press kit while you’re at it (a quick one pager on the background of your company with contact details for PR professionals). Don’t email attachments to reporters or you’ll set off antivirus and spam alerts over at HARO HQ and get yourself in hot water. Send links instead.
4. Wait until you start receiving daily emails from HARO. You won’t miss it, they will flood your inbox.
5. Follow the instructions in the next section to filter the emails out of your inbox so you’re not overwhelmed.
Help A Reporter Out
Use the “HARO One-Two Punch”.
I would like to introduce a technique I call the “HARO One-Two Punch”, for maximizing HARO results and keeping your inbox tidy. We’re going to create two Gmail filters for HARO emails, one specific and one broad. The specific filter helps you respond to relevant opportunities faster. After you’ve responded to relevant opportunities with higher success rates, you can respond to broad opportunities to improve your overall media mentions. And best of all, HARO emails will be kept in their own folder, away from your inbox, keeping it all nice and tidy.
Perform the following searches in your Gmail account. Create a Gmail filter for each search, making sure to select “skip the inbox” and “apply label”. In the following examples, I’ve used a Gmail search that would match with a travel startup founder based in the San Francisco area. Change the keywords to suit your background.
Example HARO specific Gmail search – apply label “haro-specific”:
from:([email protected]) (tech|startup|founder|CEO|travel|San Francisco)
Example HARO broad Gmail search – apply label “haro-broad”:
from:([email protected]) -(tech|startup|founder|CEO|travel|San Francisco)
See the difference? The minus sign in the second Gmail search hides the specific results from the broad results. If you haven’t created Gmail filters before, check out the guide below.
Once set up, make a habit of checking your HARO specific Gmail folder first, for the most relevant opportunities. Reply to as many relevant opportunities as possible before replying to broad opportunities, to maximize results.
Create Rules to Filter Your Emails – Gmail
Advanced tips to increase success with HARO.
1. Keep at it. Don’t give up on the first or second day. Success rates range between 5%-15%. The more opportunities you reply to, the more you’ll be featured.
2. Keep it relevant. Reporters are flooded with responses. If you want to stand out, don’t waffle and definitely don’t tell your whole life story. Get straight to the point and answer reporters’ questions directly. If you want to provide more background information, provide it after replying to the reporter’s questions.
3. Establish your expertise. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Reporters want to quote experts. If you are an expert, make it clear in your bio and email signature.
4. Reply to anonymous opportunities. Big publications often send HARO emails with the publication listed anonymously. Why? They don’t want to be flooded with irrelevant pitches from small website owners desperate to get a link. Replying to anonymous media opportunities increases your chances of being mentioned in a big publication. It also increases your chances of being featured on smaller and less known sites, a fair trade.
5. Set up Google alerts and get an email alert whenever you’re mentioned across the web. More often than not, sources get featured in news articles, sometimes weeks or months later, without even knowing. Fortunately, Google alerts can help you never miss a mention in the media. If you do get mentioned without getting a link, reach out to the reporter or webmaster and ask to have your link included in the article.
6. Automate your responses with Gmail templates. There’s no need to start from scratch every time you write a reply to reporters’ questions—we’re living in the age of automation, baby! Respond to a few reporters’ questions, then save your email as a template in Gmail. Next time, automatically insert your email with just a few clicks, make it customized to the reporter’s questions, and get your emails out 10 times faster. To access Gmail templates, click on the more button at the bottom right corner of Gmail’s compose window (it looks like three vertical dots). If you can’t figure out Gmail’s email templates, check out the simple guide below.
Create Email Templates – Google Workspace Learning Center
Additional link building opportunities.
The aforementioned link building techniques are enough for 99% of readers to push rankings higher than competitors. For link building junkies who’ve exhausted the above options, here’s a handful of strategies listed in rapid-fire fashion. These are intended for advanced SEO users, who are already actively blogging and building links.
1. Create a Twitter profile.
Adding a link in a Twitter profile is a big opportunity disguised as a small opportunity. Simply by creating a Twitter profile, and listing your website in both the “website” and “bio” fields, you will get a handful of links from high domain authority aggregators that scrape your information from Twitter. Sites that do this include Klout, Twellow, and many others. To make these links more powerful, you can make your profile active without a large overhead of time. Use a service such as Hootsuite to auto-post blog posts from RSS feeds relevant to your niche, to make your profile active. Build up a base level of followers to your account with a small budget using a service like Twitter Ads.
2. Pingback & trackback link building targeting authority sites.
You can get a handful of easy-win authority links, including .edu and .gov links, by linking out to blogs in your industry with pingbacks enabled. Pingbacks are notifications from your blog sent to other blogs when you mention an external post. Blogs with pingbacks enabled will show a link back to your website in their comment section when this happens.
Here’s how a comment will look if it is a trackback or pingback:
Digital nomad blog
[…]read the latest tips on how to travel with only your carry on luggage[…]
Pingbacks build up valuable relevant links back to your website. They can also be a traffic source, picking up engaged readers from other sites and sending them to your site.
Run a quick search on Google to find the top 50 or top 100 blogs in your industry, then go through and find the ones with trackbacks enabled. For example, to find digital nomad blogs, you might type into Google:
intitle:“digital nomad” “comment”
Next up, in your upcoming blog posts, link out to blogs with pingbacks enabled. For this to work successfully, keep in mind you need to link out to actual posts, not the home page.
3. Create your own authority links.
The most powerful link building strategy is to simply go out and make your own authority links. By buying a previously owned website or domain, you can turn it into a blog and unlimited source for powerful, highly relevant links back to your site.
There are readers out there who will scoff at this strategy and there are readers out there nodding their heads—it’s the readers nodding their heads that know how powerful this strategy is. Links from authority sources in your market are much more powerful than any other kind of link, and the easiest way to get authority links is to create your own authority site. Consider buying a website more than three or four years old with a relevant domain, for a more powerful effect.
Be careful with this strategy. If you create a network of sites like this and obscure the ownership details at the domain registry, and only link back to websites you own, you risk being labeled as the owner of a private-blog-network by Google and could receive ranking penalties. However, if you create a legitimate, authoritative resource creating genuine value for users, you should be fine.
Market place for buying and selling websites.
Buy and sell domains.
4. Relationship link building.
If you’ve been following the online advice on blogging and link building in the past couple of years you will have noticed a recurring theme: building relationships with other bloggers in your industry is a powerful way to earn strong backlinks to your site.
While this strategy is only relevant for users with active blogs on their site, fortunately, creating these relationships and getting the links is easier than it sounds. Other bloggers in your industry are just as dependent on links as you are. By linking out in your blog posts to other bloggers you 1) give a valuable backlink to the blogger, and 2) give recognition to the blogger for being an authority in the industry. Everyone likes recognition, and the law of reciprocity comes into play here, you will find most bloggers are grateful for being mentioned and happy to link back in a social media post or future blog post.
Try creating or curating popular blog posts into a top-level summary, then send a quick email to the bloggers mentioned, let them know, and very politely ask for a mention or linkback. The best part of this strategy is curating blog posts; it is often easier than creating content from scratch.
Hey [expert blogger],
Just thought I’d give you a heads up. I’ve just featured you in my post [xyz]…
Hope you don’t mind. If you’re happy with the article, I would really appreciate a mention on social media or perhaps a link back. Or if you want anything changed, feel free to let me know.
Really enjoyed your post on [xyz].
Example expert round-up post:
Experienced business travellers reveal their favorite travel tips
5. Testimonial link building.
An awesome way to get high quality, relevant links back to your site is to give out testimonials. Sometimes you can actually earn a link back to your site from somebody else’s homepage, possibly one of the strongest types of links! I will sometimes go as far as purchasing a product just to get a testimonial link. Give this strategy a try by finding a few sites with testimonials and offering your own. Of course make it easy for the webmaster by including all the information they need, such as a photo, your name, job title, testimonial and link back to your site. The key is to look for businesses or services with a testimonials page already, or a testimonials carousel or widget on their homepage. Speed up your search with a couple of Google search queries:
“keyword” + testimonials
“keyword” + recommendations
“keyword” + “client testimonials”
“keyword” + “what customers say”
5. Social media & SEO.
Is social media important for SEO?
Social media has become integral to the way we use the Internet. Important content is not only linked, it is shared, liked, tweeted and pinned. How people use the Internet has drastically changed, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed over at the Googleplex. Many independent studies on Google’s ranking algorithm show a large correlation with high-ranking pages having strong social media activity.
While the official stance from Google is that social signals are not directly used in the algorithm, the SEO community pretty much agrees it is certainly a factor in achieving rankings. Disagreements aside, I can tell from my own experience, sites with large social followings consistently get higher rankings in a shorter timeframe.
Not only can you use social media to build social activity to increase your overall SEO strength, you can use social media to regularly create backlinks that are free and easy to build. It also increases referral traffic back to your site and engages previous customers. As a rule, social media should be a part of every SEO project, or perhaps every marketing project.
Facebook & SEO.
Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. What’s popular on Facebook is essentially a snapshot of public opinion, and Google has noted this by making Facebook activity a very strong factor in the algorithm. You should consider using Facebook for every SEO project. If you only have the time or budget to use one social network in your SEO strategy, use Facebook.
To improve your site’s Facebook social activity, share content from your own site on your Facebook page on a regular basis.
Each time you do this, you receive more exposure from your fan base, and you also build up social activity around the content on your site. Be careful to mix this up with relevant, engaging non-commercial content for your user base, so you don’t turn them off and maintain high levels of engagement. Examples include infographics, inspirational quotes, inspirational photos, and so on.
Build up your audience by including a Facebook follow button on your site, your email signatures, and your thank you or success pages.
If you want to speed up building your audience, you can use Facebook advertising to build a relevant audience of loyal customers. This is a good strategy if your competitors in the rankings have a larger following and you are looking to beat them. You can also use Facebook advertising to increase exposure for your posts, or run advertising campaigns for a promotional offer. Facebook advertising stands out as a great way to build up an audience, social activity and referral sales for projects with a budget.
Facebook for business
Twitter & SEO.
Twitter is filled with discussion on the world’s latest news and events. In many cases, groundbreaking news stories are released on Twitter before the world’s major news outlets. The death of Osama Bin Laden is the perfect example—it was leaked on Twitter by a former chief of staff to the US Defense Secretary and within minutes it was all over the news.
Google has recognized this and use Twitter activity in the algorithm. While it may not be as strong as other social networks, you can use Twitter to build up your overall SEO strength. Twitter is a great social network to weave into your SEO strategy as you can schedule a lot of your tweets in advance without coming across as too spammy, and manage your account with only a small commitment of time and effort.
Schedule tweets to your pages such as Hootsuite and start building up your tweet counts on your pages. Mix this up with relevant and informative tweets about your industry. You should aim for a maximum of 12 tweets per day. 12 Tweets per day is roughly the limit you can post without annoying your followers. If you’re lazy like me, you can schedule all of your tweets about 3 months in advance.
If you want to encourage site visitors to tweet your content for you, include a “tweet this page” link on every page or blog post on your web site.
Free and easy Twitter management software. You can install Tweetdeck on your computer and manage your whole Twitter account from inside the program. Popular features include managing multiple accounts, scheduling tweets, and arranging feeds so you only see updates from Twitterers you’re interested in.
Hootsuite -Free to start. $19 monthly for power users.
More advanced than Tweetdeck, you can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets, analyze social media traffic, manage multiple accounts, create social media reports to monitor your success, and much more. Recommended for power users or automating multiple accounts.
Other social networks.
Let’s face it, we’d all love to play around on social networks all day, but we don’t have the spare time to be always looking for great ideas and sharing them endlessly on social media accounts.
If you have limited resources, focus on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.
If you are looking for an extra edge, doing SEO for a large brand, or maybe you have an army of helpers waiting for your command, you can gain significant boosts by expanding your social activity to several social media sites.
Set up an account on the below networks, posting on the networks most relevant to your business:
LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool if you are in the business-to-business industry and looking to build up your personal brand or the brand of your site. If you want to increase your effectiveness on Linkedin, join groups and participate in discussions, post relevant updates about your industry and post content in the news feed.
Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in a very short timeframe. Pinterest’s fast-growing user base is primarily made up of women. The site has effectively turned into a giant shopping list of wish-list items. If your target audience are women, you should be on Pinterest.
Initially a mobile app to help users make their photos look pretty, Instagram has skyrocketed from a fledgling mobile app to competing with major social networks in just a few years. Instagram limits the amount of links you can post, which essentially means the links from your profile on Instagram are much more powerful. If you work in a fashion or image-heavy industry, Instagram is a must-have social network to incorporate into your SEO and overall digital strategy.
Social media analytics.
If you invest time and effort building up your social media profiles, you will want to track your results so you can separate the parts of your strategy that are successful and not so successful.
Social media analytics are different compared to other web analytics, because social analytics are geared to measuring the conversation and interaction of your fan base with your brand. Using the software listed below, you can monitor results and get valuable insights on how to improve your social media efforts:
Sprout Social – Free for 30-days. $99 per month for regular use.
Sprout Social is a great web analytics and social media management package that allows you to track the performance of your social media profiles over time. It has a free trial, suited to advanced level use and offers powerful analytic reports for major social networks.
Hootsuite – Free plan available. Paid plans start at $19 per month.
Hootsuite is quoted many times in this book and for good reason—Hootsuite is a robust social media management platform allowing for control over many social networks, as well as powerful web analytics insights. Its paid plans are also quite affordable for pro-users.
Google Analytics Social Tracking – Free
Google Analytics social-tracking features are great for tracking basic social interactions that occur when visitors are on your site. It is free and includes an out-of-the-box solution with the standard setup. To see social reports, log into Google Analytics, click on the “Acquisition” tab in the main menu, then “Social.”