AudienceBloom

CALL US:  1-877-545-GROW

Category Archive: Link Building

  1. 7 Reasons Your Inbound links Aren’t Increasing Your Rank

    Leave a Comment

    Despite Google’s insistence that link building isn’t a good way to increase your rank and regular naysayers warning that traditional link building is either useless or counterproductive, it remains an integral and valuable part of a well-rounded SEO strategy. Building the right links in the right places can greatly increase your overall search visibility and drive tons of new traffic to your site.

    However, with the wrong approach, your links might do nothing at all for your search ranks—and you might not even realize your mistakes. If you notice your ranks aren’t moving despite link building for weeks or months, there are seven probable causes that could be interfering with your efforts:

    1. You’re Posting on the Wrong Sources.

    articleimage1152 You’re Posting on the Wrong Sources

    Remember that the quality of your source has a direct bearing on the impact of the link you build on it. Building a link on a low-quality article directory won’t have the same positive impact as building a link on a well-established government organization’s site. In general, links on .edu and .gov sources are the most authoritative, followed by links on highly renowned and well-respected publishing sites and major brands. The lower you go on the totem pole, the easier it is to build links, but if you go too low, you won’t build any authority for yourself.

    2. Your Link Diversity Is Low.

    articleimage1152 your Link Diversity Is Low

    The types of links you build also have an impact on your authority. For example, if you use the same link over and over—such as one pointing to your home page—you probably won’t see much of an increase in your search rankings. Instead, you need to use a diversity of different links pointing to multiple internal pages of your site. If you can, avoid using the same link multiple times and instead focus on using only the most relevant link for the context of your post. Having a wealth of blog posts and articles to choose from can help this considerably.

    3. You Use the Same Sources.

    Let’s say you have three or four high authority sites that you use as link building sources. Because they’re high quality, the authority they pass to your domain should be proportionately high. But over time, you’ll notice your rankings start to level off; this is because having highly authoritative sources simply isn’t enough. You need to have a wide range of different sources pointing back to your domain. Otherwise, Google will assume you’re involved in some sort of link exchange scheme, and your domain authority will never increase.

    4. Your Content Isn’t Relevant or Valuable.

    articleimage1152 Your Content Isn’t Relevant or Valuable

    Google’s search ranking algorithm is incredibly advanced. It does more than just detect where you build links and where they point—it also analyzes the context of your links and uses that information to determine how relevant or valuable your links are to the conversation. If you post a simple link with a simple comment in a thread that is otherwise ripe with valuable contributions, that link won’t end up passing much authority. On the other hand, if your link helps support the author’s argument or if it deeply adds to the conversation in some way, it will appear to be far more valuable.

    5. You Aren’t Using Brand Mentions.

    articleimage1152 You Aren’t Using Brand Mentions

    Mentions of your brand on high authority sources, without a link, can also pass authority to your domain. They’re practically risk-free, since Google won’t penalize you for building brand mentions, and they serve as a perfect complement to a core link building strategy. If you aren’t using brand mentions regularly in addition to building traditional links, it could be the reason why your ranks haven’t moved much lately. Be sure to wrap your brand mentions in well-written content, and post regularly on high-authority external sites.

    6. Your Bounce Rate Is Too High.

    articleimage1152 Your Bounce Rate Is Too High

    It could be that your links are fine—they’re spaced out appropriately, they’re diverse in nature, and they’re built on a wide range of different high-authority sources—but your website’s quality is preventing Google from moving your ranks accordingly. For example, if Google notices that users who follow your links on external sources tend to leave within a few seconds of landing on your pages, it will keep your rank fairly low. You’ll need to improve the design, layout, navigation, and writing of your website to ensure that your incoming visitors like to stay there.

    7. You’re Only Focusing on Links.

    Link building is a valuable SEO strategy, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a bit player. Site relevance, content marketing, proper onsite structuring, mobile optimization, and social media marketing are all more important to Google when it comes to determining a site’s overall rank. If you’re neglecting any of these strategies in favor of link building, it’s no wonder why you haven’t seen results—instead, you need to focus on the fundamentals first, and then work on the peripheral items like link building.

    Take action to correct these link building errors immediately. The sooner you perfect your link building approach, the sooner you’ll get on the right track for SEO development, and the more time your domain will have to cultivate authority. Successful link building campaigns are the product of years of effort, and only when complimented by more valuable strategies like content publication and social media marketing. Remember that there are no shortcuts to great SEO: results are only the product of hard work and dedication.

  2. How Risky Is Your Backlink Profile?

    Leave a Comment

    articleimage1063 How Risky Is Your Backlink Profile

    The strength of your backlink profile is going to dictate the eventual success or failure of your overall link building campaign. With a strong, diversified portfolio of sites linking to yours, your domain authority will skyrocket, but if even a handful of your sources are low-quality or are considered spam, it could compromise the results of your entire SEO campaign—even if your other strategies are in perfect order.

    Occasionally, it’s a good idea to take a snapshot of your backlink profile and audit your current status. Take note of your profile’s current quality, and take action accordingly.

    Where to Find Your Backlink Profile

    articleimage1063  Where to Find Your Backlink Profile

    There are a variety of free tools available to monitor and track the number and position of your current backlinks. One of the most useful and easiest to learn I’ve found is Moz’sOpen Site Explorer, appropriately nicknamed the “search engine for links.” Here, you’ll be able to plug in your site’s URL and instantly generate a list of all the sources on the web that are currently pointing back to your domain.

    Unfortunately, at this point you’ll have to manually go through each source and determine how you stand—there is no automated tool that can accurately tell you how risky or safe your backlink profile is, though there are a handful of existing and upcoming tools that can evaluate the strength of a given source.

    Overall Factors

    articleimage1063 Overall Factors

    For now, let’s take a look at the overall nature of your backlink profile. You should have no problem forming these types of conclusions at a simple glance, without digging into each source individually.

    Source Diversity

    First, take a look at all the different sources you have currently pointing to your site. As you might already be aware, Google takes source diversity very seriously—if it looks like a vast majority of your links are coming from one or two sources, there’s a good chance your rankings will suffer. If, however, you have a large number of different external sites pointing to yours, you’ll be in good standing.

    Page Diversity

    Source diversity isn’t the only type of diversity that matters. You’ll also have to make sure that the links pointing to your site aren’t all pointing to the same page or same group of pages. For example, you probably have several hundred pages on your site. If you notice the majority of your inbound links going to your home page, that makes your link profile more risky. If most of your links go deep into your site, connecting to specific and unique pages, your backlink profile is much more secure.

    Frequency and Volume

    You’ll also want to get a feel for the volume and frequency of your link postings. In some ways, having more links is a good thing, but if you find your link volume is overwhelming compared to the current size of your business, it might be a red flag (especially if your diversity is low in either of the above areas). If the bulk of your links are created in large-volume chunks, that could also be a bad sign. Work to improve your volume of links, but only on a consistent and gradual basis.

    Source-Level Factors

    articleimage1063 Source-Level Factors

    Once you’ve analyzed the overarching themes of your backlink profile, you can dig a little deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of the individual sources comprising it.

    Relevance to Your Industry

    First, take note of any sources that appear to be totally unrelated to your industry. These tend to be red flags for Google. For example, if you’re in veterinary medicine and a bolt manufacturer is linking to you, there’s probably no valid reason for that link to exist. If there are lots of pet-related and medicine-related pages linking to you, however, that’s a good thing. Evaluate the relevance of each source as you work your way down.

    Authoritative Strength

    The strength of each source also matters; if a spammy site links to yours, it could bog down the relative authority of your site. Don’t let this happen. If you see a site with particularly low authority (anything that appears spammy or annoying when you visit it), try to get rid of the link. Any sites with major brand recognition or cemented authorities will drastically improve your overall profile strength.

    Context

    articleimage1063 Context

    While going through your individual entries, take a look at the context of the links that have been posted. If they’re floating in the middle of nowhere with no grounding content and no apparent reason for existing, they will likely be considered spam links. Instead, make sure the majority of your links are practical to other users and relevant to the conversation at hand.

    If you notice that your backlink profile is exceptionally risky, take this time to take action. Work to actively remove any backlinks that are particularly risky or are posted on a harmful source. Then, revise your entire link building strategy to ensure that your backlink profile never sinks back to the level of risk it once was. On the other hand, if your backlink profile appears to be in order, simply keep executing your strategy the way you have been and create a follow-up task to re-audit your profile after another month of work.

    By taking initiative and keeping a constant eye on the state of your backlink profile, you’ll avoid the possibility of getting penalized out of the blue for your link building practices. Instead, you’ll forge a clear path toward consistent, measurable organic growth.

  3. The Difference Between Natural and Unnatural Links

    Leave a Comment

    Link building has been the subject of heavy scrutiny lately. Between advancing iterations of Google’s link-judging Penguin update and some scathing comments from Google’s own John Mueller, many in the SEO community have come to think of link building as a new taboo.

    Since the dawn of online search engines, external links have been a major factor in calculating a domain’s overall authority, which in turn influences its ranks for various keywords. Google Penguin introduced a new determination algorithm, which scouted whether or not a link was “natural.” So-called unnatural links would earn penalties or hurt domain authority, while natural links would improve domain authority without issue. To get around this, many search marketers simply adjusted their link building tactics to make their links appear to be more natural, rather than relying on the cultivation of purely natural links.

    Now, Google’s ability to detect natural links is more advanced than ever, and with some Google employees insisting that link building should be avoided altogether, it pays to know the real differences between natural and unnatural links.

    The Strict Definition

    articleimage1060 The Strict Definition

    In the truest sense of the definition, and the one Google uses as the basis for its algorithm development, natural links are ones that you had no part in creating. Some neutral third party decided that your domain was worth linking to, so they posted a link somewhere to prove a point or offer a resource.

    Unnatural links, on the other hand, are any links that you put into place yourself. That means even your most carefully-placed, intelligently created, authoritatively sourced links are considered unnatural if you placed them with the intention of increasing your rank.

    That being said, Google still isn’t all-knowing (though it gets a little closer every day). Its algorithm can only use certain indicators to judge whether or not a link is natural, and as long as your link passes those tests, you won’t be penalized. Learning these indicators can help you understand what types of links are considered natural, and how to structure your own links so they appear to be natural in Google’s eyes throughout the course of your link building campaign.

    Types of Sources

    articleimage1060 Types of Sources

    First, Google takes a look at the type of source being used to host the link. If the link is pointing to a domain in an industry wholly unrelated to that of the source, it will be considered unnatural. As a result, keeping your links to only the most relevant sources of your industry or business is a wise strategy. On a related note, higher authority sources tend to pass more authority than lower authority sources, so getting a link featured on a major publisher or .edu site is much more natural and much more powerful than stuffing one into an article directory.

    Source Diversity

    articleimage1060 Source Diversity

    Google also looks for patterns in how and where you’re posting links. Essentially, it can tell if a particular series of links have been placed by the hands of a single individual or company. For example, if all your links are confined to only two or three different sources, Google will conclude that you’re either spamming the links or you’ve engaged in some kind of mutual link scheme with those other sources. Either way, your links will appear unnatural—so make sure you’re using a wide variety of different sources.

    Link Destination

    If all the links pointing back to your domain point to the same page, Google will deem them to be unnatural. For example, if you use your homepage as your primary URL when posting external links, eventually Google will pick up on your habits and penalize you. Instead, use a variety of different link destinations, getting to the deepest pages of your site whenever possible.

    Anchor Text

    There was a time when anchoring your links with keywords or words related to your industry was a good idea. That time has passed. If Google notices too many of your links using the same keyword or keyword phrase, it will become wise to your tactics and judge your links to be unnatural. Instead, try to anchor your links with words that actually describe what your page has to offer, or better yet, let your link sit naturally in a bed of text.

    Link Context

    articleimage1060 Link Context

    The contextual placement of your link also matters. For example, if you post a link by itself with no explanation as the only comment on an external blog, your link will definitely appear unnatural. If, however, you introduce your link with a thoughtful explanation of why it’s helpful in response to another member’s comment, your link will appear to be natural—even more, it will be natural. Work to frame your links in a real, natural context and you should have no problems building authority.

    Your Best Bet

    articleimage1060 Your Best Bet

    There are two things to consider here. The first is that link building is really only a small factor in what determines your overall authority—your social presence, onsite structure, and content are all far more important.

    The second is that “natural” link building can be achieved relatively easily—arguably more easily than by using unnatural tactics. Instead of trying to meticulously plan the placement and structure of your links, let them come naturally. If you’re browsing a forum and you see a way to help, introduce yourself and make your links genuinely helpful. Produce and syndicate high-quality content that will make people naturally want to link to you—doing so will create far more links than you could possibly create yourself, and they’ll all be natural too.

    Understanding this, work to perfect your strategy in a way that is most beneficial for your customers, including more SEO tactics than just offsite link building. If you do so, Google will reward you.

  4. How to Build Links Without Penalties in 2015

    Leave a Comment

    Link building has been under significant scrutiny under the past few years. New iterations of Google’s now-infamous Penguin update have been rolling out annually since its inception back in 2012, and John Mueller recently denounced the practice of link building altogether by stating “In general, I’d try to avoid that.” These actions and opinions would seem to suggest that Google is on a perpetual crackdown to prevent any link building from taking place.

    As a search marketer, I can see why. Many companies have taken advantage of the fact that external links pass domain authority, and have spammed the web with unnecessary or useless links purely for their own ends. When done improperly, it is an annoying and destructive process.

    However, even now, there are ways to build links that are constructive and beneficial to the online community as a whole. While Google could never explicitly condone link building for SEO and their updates are constantly refining what constitutes a “good link,” there are only a handful of fundamental principles you’ll have to follow in order to build links effectively in 2015.

    Vet Your Sources

    articleimage1006 Vet Your Sources

    This first step is also the most important. You can no longer post links wherever you please—you must carefully and critically evaluate your sources before using them. In doing so, you should have two main priorities, both of which must be met before you can proceed with link building on a particular source. The first priority is one of authority. How authoritative is this site? Is it known for providing valuable, accurate information to the public? Is it a major brand name? Does it have a .edu or .gov domain? All these things can help.

    Your second priority is one of relevance. Is this source somehow related to your brand or your industry? When dealing with a very high authority site, this isn’t as important, but otherwise, your source should be directly involved in your industry, and the more niche you can get, the better. Keep a running list of “acceptable” and “great” sources to use, and try to add more sources whenever you get the chance.

    Speak to Your Audience

    articleimage1006 Speak to Your Audience

    In the old days, link building was a sneaky process. You could hide your links in the deep corners of some far-flung website and still get authority from it. Today, you need to post with your audience in mind. Post a link with full knowledge that the online community is going to see and use your link, and consider what’s going to be important to them when they first encounter it.

    Get a feel for your target audience, including their demographics, their priorities, and their needs. Write a brief note or use an excerpt of content to explain the purpose of your link, and make sure you’re linking to an appropriate and valuable section of your website. If your readers don’t think your link is valuable, they could flag you as spam.

    Use Brand Mentions

    Using brand mentions is a way of building links without building links. As of the latest iteration of the Penguin update, non-linked brand mentions are capable of passing just as much authority as traditional links. For example, if you use your company’s brand name in the context of a blog comment, you could get just as much value as if you would have posted a link. This is advantageous because it gives you a similar value with far less risk of penalty.

    Bear in mind that links are still important. You should use brand mentions in an alternating fashion, and make sure to use variations of your name if there are any.

    Build Links Hands-Free

    articleimage1006 Build Links Hands-Free

    One of the best ways to build links without penalty is to get others to build links for you. The way to do this is to create a piece of highly valuable, potentially viral content, and syndicate it to the masses. Typically, infographics, videos, and whitepapers tend to circulate the best. If your audience likes what they’re reading, they’ll start sharing it and posting it for you, linking back to you as the original source. Essentially, you’re turning yourself into a magnet for links, and you won’t have to lift a finger once that content is out there.

    Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

    The most important strategy to building penalty-free links is diversity. Google hates to see patterns in your backlink profile—it’s an indication that you’re up to no good. Instead, diversify your practices at every level. Use multiple different sources, and work new sources into your lineup as often as possible. Post different types of links to different areas of your website, and work in brand mentions whenever you get a chance. Post at different frequencies and different times of day, and make sure you have plenty of natural links being built on your behalf by your audience.

    The more diversified your strategy is, the less likely Google will be to issue a penalty to your site. Force yourself to try new sources and post different kinds of material.

    The biggest key to building links without penalty in 2015 and beyond is to build them without the goal of increasing your authority in mind. Instead, focus on the value of each individual link. Ask yourself: is this link going to help someone? If the answer is yes, you’ll be fine. If you’re unsure, you should probably avoid building that link.

    Also keep in mind that while link building is still effective and, in my opinion, necessary for a strong SEO campaign, it isn’t the only important factor. In the context of onsite changes, ongoing content, and social media work, It’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Don’t neglect the other pieces.

  5. How to Write Great Offsite Content for Link Building

    Leave a Comment

    Link building has been under much scrutiny lately. Between Google’s Penguin update, which overhauled the way the search engine views offsite links, and John Mueller’s recent comments that he would avoid link building in general, many search marketers are wary about the state of link building and whether it’s a worthwhile strategy to pursue.

    There’s one critical fact you must consider above all others: Google still relies on offsite links to evaluate domain authority. That means even though links are more rigidly evaluated, they’re still an important factor for your SEO campaign. Building links isn’t the problem; instead, it all comes down to how you build them.

    If you build links with the sole intention of artificially increasing your rank, you’re going to get penalized. If, however, you focus on building links with quality offsite content, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a large-scale offsite link building strategy without facing the risks. The question then becomes how do you write high-quality offsite content for link building?

    Why Offsite Content Is Different Than Onsite Content

    There are two demands for onsite content. First, you must write in a way that’s pleasing to your users—your goal is to show off your brand voice, entertain or inform your users, and make them want to come back for more. Second, you must write in a way that informs search engines about the nature of your business, using keywords and topic choices that convey accurate ideas to its hyper-intuitive crawlers.

    Offsite content has a different set of goals. You’ll want to make sure your content is valuable, but making a striking impression isn’t quite as important. In fact, you may want to write in a style other than your brand voice, depending on your goals. For example, if you’re looking to guest post and build your reputation offsite, you should focus on maintaining a consistent brand and quality. However, if you’re merely looking for a vessel to build links, you can spend less time and focus on a standard production.

    Assuming you’re trying to write content solely as a vessel for link building, there are several qualities you’ll need to consider.

    Length

    articleimage997 length

    The length of your link building content needs to be substantive, but not over-the-top. Anything less than 300 words isn’t worth writing because it barely registers as a full article. Anything longer than 1,000 words is too much effort. As for the ideal range between those two extremes, that’s up to you. What type of content are you writing? How detailed do you need to be? The answers to these questions should point you in the right direction.

    Topic

    articleimage997 topic

    Because your offsite articles aren’t going to be directly posted on your main site, you have much more flexibility with the range of topics you offer. You won’t have to adhere to a certain theme or follow any particular protocols. However, you will need to select topics that are at least peripherally related to your industry. The goal here is to ensure that Google reads and categorizes your content appropriately; otherwise, it could get mixed signals about the nature of your business and your keyword rankings could become unpredictable.

    Structure

    articleimage997 structure

    Like with any piece of content online, your offsite link building content should be structured in a way that’s inviting to a reader. Include subsections, headings, bullet points, and stylistic differences that make it easy to navigate the greater article. This will make your article seem more valuable, and stray readers might eventually wander to your site, giving you some bonus referral traffic in addition to your domain authority building strategy.

    Link Presence

    The number and type of links you include in the body of your article both affect how Google crawls and interprets your material. If you include too many links, it could register as spam. If you include too few, you could waste your effort. If you include too many of the same link across multiple articles, your domain authority could suffer.

    Unfortunately, there’s no single rule that dictates the best link types to include. Your best bet is to diversify your strategy, using as many different links as you can and varying your link frequency from few links to many links. On the whole, one link per 300 words is a good rule of thumb, but you should still diversify regardless.

    Quality

    Your content needs to be well-written, no matter what. Google’s search bots can detect the unnatural use of language, so it’s going to tell if you’ve simply outsourced your article writing to developing countries. Double check your content for spelling, syntax, or grammatical errors, and make sure all your facts are both accurate and cited. Just because your content is offsite doesn’t mean that Google won’t dock you for the quality of your work.

    Frequency

    Generally, it’s unwise to post too many new links at one time. Spread your link building article publications out over the course of weeks or months, regularly and consistently posting to ensure an even build. The number of articles and links you can get away with building depends in part on the size of your organization; too many external links too soon for a new business might seem out of the ordinary, while that same number for a long-established major corporation might not trigger any red flags.

    While a content strategy is usually seen as the onsite portion of your SEO campaign, it’s also critically important for the success of your offsite strategy. Once you’ve mastered the process of writing, publishing, and syndicating linked offsite articles, you’ll be able to easily and steadily increase your domain authority without interfering with your other efforts.

  6. How to Build Authority Without Building Links

    Leave a Comment

    In order to get your website found in search results, you need to have a high domain authority. The higher your domain authority is, the higher it’s going to rank for relevant queries. For many years, the best way to build that authority quickly was to build external links pointing back to your domain on a diverse range of high-quality sources. However, after the crackdown of Google’s Penguin and subsequent updates, it became harder and harder to build authority using links as a primary strategy.

    The words of Google’s own John Mueller echoed a fear in the search marketing community. Recently, he was quoted as referring to link building: “in general, I’d try to avoid that.” While links are still valuable for passing authority to your domain and a high-quality link building strategy can improve your overall domain authority without much risk of a penalty, for the average search marketer, it may be wiser to stay away from link building altogether.

    That raises an important question; without link building, how can you increase your domain authority, and by association, your search ranks? Fortunately, there are several alternative strategies that can boost your domain authority just as much as—if not more than—a traditional link building campaign.

    Creating Viral Content

    articleimage1creatingcontent

     

    Your first option still involves link building, but in a much more organic way. Rather than building any links directly on outside sources, you’ll be calling upon your audience to do all the work for you. The goal here is to produce a piece of content with a high potential to circulate virally—that means it’s highly informative, entertaining, shareable, and practical—and share it to a wide audience. Those audience members will share your content in turn, and eventually, it will catch the attention of several dozen (if not hundred) external sources. Those sources will link to you as a credit, of their own accord, which will pass ample domain authority onto you without ever having to get your hands dirty.

    Social Media Marketing

    articleimage2socialmediamarketing

    In addition to being a perfect outlet to begin syndicating your viral content, social media is a great platform for building your domain authority. While it’s not clear exactly which factors Google takes into consideration when calculating your social-related domain authority, there are many social signals that can actively improve your position. For example, companies with large social followings tend to have higher domain authorities than those that do not, and companies with high levels of engagement—that means your followers have a high tendency to like, share, or comment on your content—also have increased domain authority. Engage with your audience frequently and make an active effort to build your following. If you can encourage enough activity on your social profiles, you’ll earn a much higher domain authority without the need to build external links.

    Brand Mentions

    Google also considers mentions of your brand name on external sources when calculating domain authority. In a sense, you can consider brand mentions to be a milder form of external links. Because brand mentions do not trigger any spam-related red flags to Google, it is much safer to build brand mentions on external sources, and you can therefore use them as a simple substitute for your traditional link building strategy. Capitalizing on the same high-authority, industry-relevant sources, you can post occasional brand mentions to boost your domain authority, and you can also use nofollow links to attract referral traffic to your brand without upsetting any search bots. This works both for company brand names and branded names of individual products.

    Navigation and Interlinking

    If you’re looking to increase your domain authority, don’t exclusively incorporate offsite tactics. Onsite SEO implementation is just as important for building authority. For example, the navigation of your site has much to do with how much authority Google evaluates your site to have. Sites with a clear, simple, and intuitive navigation will have a higher authority than sites with a confused, jumbled, or overcomplicated system. This is because Google values high-quality user experience above all other factors when ranking websites. You can also increase your domain authority by interlinking your content; the fewer clicks it takes to get to any one page of your website, the better. You can improve this by implementing user surveys, finding ways to consolidate your pages, and redesigning your site to be more intuitive to the average user.

    Historically Great Content

    articleimage1greatcontent

    Everyone knows that great content is essential for SEO, but don’t forget the fact that one piece of content doesn’t trigger an increase in domain authority. Authority must be gradually earned over time. If you produce high-quality content, consistently, over the course of months and years, your domain authority will flourish. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this. Domains that have been around for decades will always have more domain authority than similar sites with a shorter history. Stay patient and committed to your domain.

    Remember, as long as you’re posting on highly authoritative and industry-relevant sources with a diverse and appropriate style of links, you shouldn’t have to fear a penalty from link building. Link building can still be a valuable strategy, especially if it is used in moderation and in conjunction with the authority-building strategies listed above. The more diverse your strategies are and the more effort you spend trying to improve user experience, the more you’ll be rewarded in search engine visibility across the board.

  7. The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Link Building Strategy

    1 Comment

    articleimage939The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Link Building

    Link building is an important part of the SEO process. When Google evaluates the authority of a given domain, it takes your offsite presence into heavy consideration. The more links you have pointing back to your site, and the more diverse and highly authoritative those links are, the more credibility you’ll be given, and the higher you’ll rank as a result. But understanding the right approach to link building takes years of experience and training, and executing the individual tasks required to build backlinks is extremely time consuming.

    As a remedy to these problems, many businesses have begun outsourcing their link building efforts. Rather than buying links directly, which will earn you a firm penalty from Google, modern outsourcing usually involves hiring an individual or an agency to go through the manual, intensive process of vetting link source candidates and posting the actual links. There are pros and cons to outsourcing your link building strategy, so its usefulness to your business depends on your priorities.

    Benefits

    articleimage939 benefits

    The benefits of hiring an external link building partner generally depend on finding a partner you can trust. The quality of your partner means everything to the effectiveness of your campaign, but generally, you can count on these benefits:

    You Don’t Have to Worry About It

    Have you ever tried link building all on your own? It’s a pain. The process is tedious, repetitive, and sometimes confusing. If you try to take the task on all by yourself, you’ll likely end up wasting time or at least stressing over whether you’re doing it right. If you delegate the responsibility to one of your internal teammates, you’ll be taking them away from something more in line with their specialties. By delegating the work to an external partner, you’ll no longer have to worry about any of that. It will all be taken care of for you.

    You Can Hold Someone Accountable

    If you’re doing your own link building and something goes wrong, you can only blame yourself. What’s worse is you might have no idea how you caused the incident, and no idea how you can fix it. If you’re outsourcing your link building strategy, you can hold your partner accountable for results. If you get penalized, it will be your partner’s responsibility to analyze the penalty and take immediate corrective action.

    You Can Save Money

    When you first review link building programs with high monthly rates, you might think it’s crazy to say that outsourcing your link building can actually save you money. But link building authorities have experience and knowledge of the industry, and are able to build better links at a much faster rate than you could internally. That means, for the same amount of links, you’ll actually spend more money doing it in-house than you will with an outside expert.

    Drawbacks

    articleimage939 Drawbacks

    Some of these drawbacks are subjective and won’t apply to all businesses, but they are worth considering when you’re preparing to make a major change to your link building approach:

    You Lose a Degree of Control

    This is important to a lot of businesses. Being able to control exactly which links are built on exactly which sites is a minimum requirement for some business owners. Outsourcing your link building campaign means you’re going to give up a portion of that control. You’ll still be able to set goals and provide general direction for the overall campaign, but the management and oversight of day-to-day tasks will be on your partner.

    You Can’t Trust Everyone

    Unfortunately, link building is an industry that has been tarnished by unscrupulous companies and so-called “experts” who really have no idea what they’re doing. The number of agencies conducting fantastic, high-quality link building campaigns is much higher in the modern age, but there are still occasional offenders who could compromise your domain authority and bring your campaign to ruins. If you do decide to outsource your link building strategy, be sure to thoroughly review your potential partners. Check references, talk with your account manager directly, and look for any red flags that might reveal the company’s true intentions.

    You Could Be Bound By a Contract

    This is another subjective problem, but it’s important if you’re skeptical about how link building will be able to improve your search engine ranks. Many link building affiliates mandate signups through long-term contracts, sometimes lasting a year or more, which can legally bind you to one service even if you’re dissatisfied with it after a few months. One easy workaround to this potential drawback is finding a partner with a month-to-month program.

    The Bottom Line

    If you have a dedicated expert and the resources available to complement his/her expertise, it’s probably worth it to have your own in-house link building team. However, if you’re depending on a non-SEO expert, or if you have limited resources available, it’s probably better to outsource your work. While the initial cost might seem prohibitive and the premise might seem risky, with a dedicated, reliable partner, your outsourced link building strategy will be far more efficient and profitable than an equivalent in-house effort.

    If you’re concerned about outsourcing your link building, find a partner with a flexible contract and experiment with it for a month or two. If you don’t like the results you see, you can pull out. Otherwise, continue on and watch as your ROI begins to grow incrementally.

  8. How to Get Backlinks From Major News Sources

    Leave a Comment

    There’s one solid rule in the modern world of link building; quality matters more than quantity. While in the old days of SEO, building lots of links all over the web was a smart and straightforward strategy to increase your domain authority and build your ranks, today Google takes the quality of your links into more consideration. Quantity still does matter, as building a handful of links can’t sustain you forever, but your first priority needs to be on building high-quality links.

    There’s a catch to this, however. As a general rule, the higher the authority of the site you choose to build links on, the harder it will be to build your links. As a perfect example, major news outlets like CNN or MSNBC are seen as highly authoritative sites, but getting a link published on their sites seems nearly impossible to the average user.

    Fortunately, getting backlinks from major news sources like these isn’t quite as difficult as many people have made it out to be. It will take a disciplined strategy and a consistent follow-through to be successful, but there are several tactics you can use to get your business featured on these highly authoritative sites.

    Use Google News to the Fullest

    articleimage927Use Google News to the Fullest

    If you want to get your link featured on a major news site, you first have to get noticed, and getting noticed by these sources isn’t easy. They’ve earned their place as an authority by carefully selecting only the most newsworthy content to publish, and their standards haven’t relaxed over time.

    Using Google News is pretty simple, even if you’re new to the medium, and it can help you get noticed by those giant corporations. Google News is a kind of aggregator that pulls in news stories from all over the world and displays the results for relevant queries using its sophisticated algorithm. Best of all, Google News doesn’t make any barriers—while there is a quality checker in place to weed out bad content, you can submit anything you’d like for consideration. Whether they’re short blurbs on your press page or full-blown press releases, there’s a good chance you can be featured in Google News.

    If you can get your content featured on Google News, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting your link picked up by a major news outlet. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll still have the benefit of getting a feature published in Google News, which can increase your domain authority and send lots of referral traffic to your site.

    Distribute Press Releases on a Regular Basis

    articleimage927 Distribute Press Releases on a Regular Basis

    Press releases should already be a part of your ongoing SEO strategy. They’re great pieces of content that tend to get more attention and more opportunities for links, and like Google News, they’re all about getting more attention from major news sites.

    There’s one golden rule for press releases: they need to be newsworthy. You can’t write a blog post and call it a press release, nor can you use the guise of a press release to write a sales pitch about your product. Press releases need to cover real news, and offer substantial content to cover that news. Otherwise, it won’t be picked up and it certainly won’t earn those juicy major news site links.

    If you’re not sure how to publish or syndicate a press release yourself, you can use a service such as PRWeb, which is pricey but very effective. Through PRWeb, you’ll be able to select certain publication and distribution channels for your press release, giving you instant visibility from major news outlets. Just remember that submitting a press release is no guarantee that it’s going to be published by your ideal outlets.

    Take Advantage of HARO

    articleimage927 Take advantageofHaro

    Help a Reporter Out, known better by the acronym HARO, can give you tons of new opportunities to get your link on major news outlets. Essentially, it’s a service used by news writers and journalists to enlist the help of outside candidates. By signing up, you’ll get free email notifications whenever a news writer is seeking a contribution from an outside party—sometimes it’s a quote or opinion, and sometimes it’s information related to an industry. Whenever you see a request related to you or your business, jump on it. If you provide the type of information the reporter is looking for, you’ll get your name, business, and link featured in a major publication.

    Comment

    Comments have always been a great way to build links, and you can even use them on major news sites. While posting in the comments section of a CNN article isn’t going to build nearly as much authority as being mentioned in the body of a CNN article, it can be beneficial to your strategy. As with any comment-based link building, you’ll need to make sure your link is relevant and valuable; otherwise, you run the risk of being flagged as spam.

    Due to the significantly higher effort it takes to earn news-hosted backlinks, it’s not viable to rely on only news sources for your entire link building campaign. In fact, doing so could actually work against you. The best link building strategies do incorporate high-authority sources, but they’re also highly diverse. They use a wide range of different sources and different links, creating a more natural backlink profile. Go after news sites and make those high-authority links a priority, but don’t forget that your link building strategy will require more than just those.

  9. The Difference Between Clever SEO and Link Schemes

    1 Comment

    Link building strategies require a delicate balance. In order to earn more authority for your domain, you’ll have to engage in some kind of link building strategy, but if any of your links appear unnatural or violate Google’s official policies, you could end up getting penalized instead of rewarded.

    In the early days of search engine optimization (SEO), it was possible to earn page rank through sheer force of will. Climbing to the top ranks of Google was a simple matter of posting as many links as you possibly could, using whatever tactics you could come up with to get the job done. Google has grown sophisticated, and today, it’s able to easily detect those link schemes and stick the perpetrators with a ranking penalty. Link building today requires tactful consideration and well-executed strategies, carefully toeing the line between what’s seen as a “link scheme” in Google’s eyes and what is simply a type of clever SEO.

    The problem is that the line between clever SEO and link schemes is thinner than you might think, and it’s difficult even for seasoned experts to tell the difference. In this article, we’ll take a look at the types of link building strategies that can earn you a penalty, and how clever SEO is distinguished from them.

    The Risk of Link Scheming

    articleimage884 The Risk of Link Scheming

    It should be no secret that link scheming will earn you a penalty if you’re aggressive enough. Ever since Google’s Penguin update in 2012 (and its subsequent revisions and follow-ups), Google has been able to clearly evaluate the quality of links on the web and take that quality into consideration when it evaluates rank. Google’s entire philosophy is to improve how people experience the web, and that means weeding out the people who abuse the system or fail to provide value to users.

    Put simply, link scheming is any way of building links that carries absolutely no value for the end user. This is a simple definition, but should allow you to evaluate whether your strategy falls into this category. Because these schemes have no value to users, and may even hinder their experience, Google will penalize domains who engage in them by throttling their domain authority and automatically or manually decreasing their rank for various queries. You’ll want to avoid link schemes at all costs.

    Types of Link Schemes

    articleimage884Types of Link Schemes

    If you’re having trouble determining exactly what counts as a link scheme, you aren’t alone. Since some people qualify a link scheme as any attempt to increase domain authority through link building, the lines are particularly blurry. Below are several examples of plain-as-day link schemes you’ll want to avoid no matter what; they should help illustrate what counts as a scheme.

    Article Directories

    Article directories are low-quality sites that host hundreds of poorly written articles as an excuse to build links. They don’t specialize in anything, they don’t provide value to users, and they don’t offer anything other than a place for random sites to post articles. Building links here or creating your own directory to pass authority qualifies as a scheme. The exception to this is niche directories, which cater to a specialized industry and try to connect industry companies and direct users to them.

    Link Farms

    Link farms are even worse than article directories, because they don’t have any content to back them up (usually). A link farm is a group of peripherally related websites that all link to each other for no reason other than to link to each other. Some people try to wedge their way into an existing link farm and others try to set up their own independent domains; either way, it’s classified as a scheme and will earn you a penalty.

    Automated Link Building

    Building links with any automated process, such as creating a bot to spam links across the web, is a bad idea. In fact, it’s one of the easiest types of schemes for Google to detect; you’ll be caught right away, and your domain will likely face a harsh penalty.

    Reciprocal Link Building

    Reciprocal link building can be good in small doses. Backlinking to a site and having them link back to you is not a link scheme by itself; however, when two sites exchange links constantly, and don’t diversify their strategy with other sites, it’s a clear indication of poor link building.

    Link Buying, in Any Form

    As a general rule, if you pay for the link to be built, it qualifies as a link scheme. The only justifiable reason to pay money for a link is when you’re using an affiliate link strategy—and affiliate link building is acceptable.

    What Constitutes “Clever” SEO

    Clever SEO can take advantage of Google’s algorithm and find ways to link build without risking the threat of a penalty. Diversity is the key here; you can build links on almost any source, as long as you hedge your bets by including many other sources. Use varying types of anchor text, grounded in the body of great, contextually appropriate content, and link to different internal pages of your site. You can even use nofollow links and link-less brand mentions to keep your strategy even more diverse.

    The Best Strategy

    articleimage884The Best Strategy

    If you’re worried about what constitutes a link scheme and what’s simply an execution of clever SEO, go the safe route. Let your audience build your links for you. By creating and syndicating high-quality, informative, entertaining content, you’ll encourage viral sharing of your material, and by extension, you’ll be the recipient of hundreds to thousands of inbound links. Creating viral content takes time and isn’t an exact science, but you’ll never have to worry about being penalized for links you earn as a result of it.

  10. Is Google Easing up on the War Against Link Building?

    Leave a Comment

    articleimage883s Google Easing up on the War Against Link Buildin

    The war against link building has been going on for years now. Starting in the mid-to-late 2000s, Google began an initiative, cracking down on shady link building schemes around the web in any way that it could. Back then, backlink building required no tact—it was just a matter of quantity, and the more links you had pointing back to you the better. People would readily buy up backlinks or build them using questionable practices like article directories or link farms, and user experience suffered.

    Google started clearing up the spam by de-indexing or manually penalizing sites that existed solely to help people build backlinks. A few years later, in 2012, it released the Penguin update, a massive algorithm change that rewarded high-quality links and penalized any that appeared to be built solely for the purpose of passing page rank. Since then, Google has continued to make it abundantly clear that anyone caught buying or selling links, along with anyone who built links using questionable practices, would face the search engine giant’s wrath.

    Now, that storm appears to be calming, and it could mean that Google’s war against link building is starting to subside.

    The Slowing Momentum of Penguin

    First, we have to take a look at the Penguin update as it exists today. When it first debuted in 2012, it was a massive game-changer, sending webmasters scrambling to try and pick of the pieces of their lost campaigns. Anyone who was hit by the update had to remove the offending links in short order, and anyone not hit by the update had to update their strategies to ensure they remained in compliance.

    A new version of the update, Penguin 2.0, came a year later, but had a significantly lessened impact. It refined a few processes and added some more criteria to how Google evaluated the quality of links, but beyond that it was a straightforward data refresh.

    In 2014, the SEO community expected a similar update, informally known as Penguin 3.0, but the update was delayed until much later in the year. When the update finally did arrive, it appeared as though the changes were even less significant, making little to no waves in the SEO community at large.

    It could be argued that the slowed momentum of Penguin is due to the fact that Penguin is still doing its job; bad link builders are punished and good link builders are rewarded. However, it could also be an indication that Google is starting to lighten up when it comes to penalizing link builders. It recognizes that millions of sites rely on link building to gain authority, and furthering the struggle against them isn’t worth the effort.

    The Emergence of Link Buying Ads

    articleimage883The Emergence of Link Buying Ad

    According to a recent post by Rand Fishkin of Moz, Google AdWords has apparently removed its ban on advertising from link building companies. Previously, any advertisements that explicitly mentioned the buying or selling of backlinks for the purposes of increasing Google rank were explicitly banned in Google AdWords. Now, a quick search for “link building” or “buy links” reveals several top ads for link building companies.

    Keep in mind that Google’s official policy still forbids the buying and selling of links for the purpose of passing page rank. Allowing advertisements for companies that shamelessly violate that policy is a seeming contradictory decision. It could be a further indication that Google is starting to realize that no matter how hard they try, they’ll never be able to win the war against link builders. If they’re going to exist anyway, Google might as well stand to make a little money off of them through advertising in the process. But does this mean that Google is implicitly agreeing that link building is a necessary strategy to increase rank, or that it accepts the process?

    “I’d Avoid Link Building in General”

    articleimage883I’d Avoid Link Building in General

    Google’s own John Mueller recently gave his opinion on the matter. As part of the Live Hangout, a user asked the question “is link building in any way good?”, directly calling the matter to Mueller’s attention. Mueller responded, “in general, I’d try to avoid that,” then elaborating that pursuing a link building strategy would ultimately cause more problems for your site than it would solve.

    Mueller reinforced the accepted truth that links are still an important part of the Google ranking algorithm, but there are so many other factors that link building should never be your top priority. If you try too hard to build links, you’ll ultimately end up hurting your domain authority, instantly ruining any of the benefits you may have picked up along the way.

    This little discussion makes it clear that even though Penguin is losing momentum and Google AdWords now allows link buying companies to place advertisements, Google is firm on its position that buying or artificially building links is a bad idea.

    The Bottom Line

    Google isn’t fighting the war against link building as hard as it used to. However, that doesn’t mean that excessive link building is suddenly okay. The search engine’s policy on buying or improperly building links is still intact, and some of its highest ranking officials are explicitly warning against it. If you want to build links to increase the authority of your site, the best way to do it is by writing or posting great content, and making it easy for your users to share that content and link back to you. This strategy generates hundreds to thousands of links, but doesn’t carry the risk of a penalty since it constitutes a form of natural link building. Otherwise, build your links on relevant sources in context with the conversation, and never resort to buying links directly or spamming users.

Success! We've just sent an email containing a download link for your selected resource. Please check your spam folder if you don't receive it within 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Love,

-The AudienceBloom Team