Like it or not, links still matter. While Google likes to play this down a little bit to stop people trying to get links by any means they can a good back link profile will do more for a site than almost anything else. But how do you get them? which ones should you get? and how many of them do you need?
You want answers?
Well sadly there are no hard and fast answers to any of the above questions. As with most things in the fun and often frustrating world of SEO it is a matter of trail and error and a mix of so many factors that pin pointing one is often very hard. That being said you can work some answers out to point you int he right direction and they are very simple.
How many links do you need? – More than your competitors
What links should you get? – Better ones than your competitors
How do you get links? – in a better way than your competitors.
While this is all rather facetious it is basically true. In order to outrank a competitor you need to be more relevant and more useful as a search result than them. When just talking about links you simply need more better quality links than they have and this must be ongoing. Of course, it can be quite nuanced in that you could have less but they could all be stronger….or you could have the same number and strength but yours may be from generally more relevant sites. As you can see, it is a complex process and trying to second guess the algorithm used to judge your site is very hard.
So what do you do?
Well regardless of what your competitors are doing you should set a link building plan into operation and keep it going….forever. You really do have to keep those links coming in every month to get anywhere. This means investment in terms of time and money. Whether you use internal staff or an SEO agency you need to get used tot he idea that this is an ongoing cost of business and it can be a very fruitful one too!
How to get links!
Every single conference we attend around SEO has at least 2 talks about this and they are always full….every time! The reason for this is that people are desperate for help, some want cheap ways to get links, others want ways to get better ones, some just need help getting any links at all. Within this mix of hopefuls is a budget gap the size of the grand canyon; some are stunned to have to set aside even £50 for this and others are sitting there knowing they have £10k per round of links building to spend.
It is important to realise different techniques lead to different levels of link and carry different costs in both time and money.
To get really big, national newspaper level links you need a serious budget and a serious plan. For the most part small to medium sized businesses just cant play in this arena. They general methods involve creating some amazing content based on self resourced research or perhaps creating a web based game on a page on your site where people can test their reaction times or see if they are colour blind etc etc. These then get seeded out to journalists via PR channels, in the hope they eventually get picked up and the various big websites write their own content linking to it. This level of link building is serious stuff but not impossible. For smaller businesses the focus is on unique and interesting content. This doesn’t mean a blog post about a local business event that you think it great news. This means do some research, find some really interesting info that no one else will know. For example a home removal firm might run a slightly salacious feature on the number of “personal” items that have fallen out of boxes over the years with some “what the butler saw” style quotes from the old hands at the company. This kind of thing could do very well in a paper like the Sun. The key is to try and find something interesting to the public.
The lower end of link building is a little more achievable. It involves finding good quality smaller blogger sites and simply asking if they accept guest posts. By offering to write some unique content for them that is of value they may be happy to let you link to yourself in the article. Keep the content about something rather than being about you and you may find you get a good few links this way. Some site owners may want to charge a small fee for the effort of publishing the content and it is up to you if you feel it is justified. REMEMBER – Google strictly forbids paying for links in any way!
You can also think local, find some local journalists on linkedin, reach out to them and see if they ever need any quotes or content from your sector, this can be a slow trudge but it can work well over time.
#journorequests is another great way to get links. Get on Twitter and follow this hashtag. You will find a wide range of writers asking for quotes and information about specific subjects. When your subject comes up be quick and get in touch, you may just get lucky and get a link from the finial article and sometimes these can be big. But remember, competition is fierce and if you are not on it 100% you will miss the boat every time.
Get out there and get some links
There you have it, some simple link building advice! We didn’t even go into how to assess site quality but maybe that’s for another time. Think relevant, think quality and be creative! You might just get get a few good links. If you ever need any help in this area then you know where we are!