Use robots.txt and 301 redirects to "shape" your content into a Google search friendly high-traffic machine while avoiding common pitfalls
Making sure your site enjoys the benefits of high quality, relevant backlinks is about more than creating great content and waiting for nature to take its course.
Not all niches lend themselves to viral sharing that build up lots of organic backlinks in a relatively short space of time. This is why it is important to be proactive about getting the links your content deserves.
At the same time, because links are important in SEO, almost every link building practice has been spammed to death. To the extent that many people would argue that the act of link building is spam.
Google itself takes a very dim view of any link building practices that aren't organic. So where does this leave genuine businesses with great content who want to increase their organic search traffic?
... unless you are in an industry that thrives on memes and celeb gossip.
This articles looks at six ways you can encourage the spread of organic backlinks for free, without running afoul of Google's Penguin algorithm - or resorting to spammy techniques.
1. Talk about other players in your niche
One of the best ways to ensure that other influencers in your industry link back to your articles is to talk about them.
This is a great strategy for a number of reasons:
- become known to the people you talk about
- give them a reason to talk about, promote, and link to your articles
- forces you to learn more about people in your industry
- encourages debate and interaction
- highly relevant backlinks
Mentioning someone in an article also gives you a great reason to share that article with them via social media - Twitter in particular.
It's hard for someone not to read something written about them. So it's likely your article will at least get a look-in. If it's also interesting and worthy of sharing, you'll generate some backlinks.
Check out talking about other people is the most powerful way to get more traffic for more.
2. Tell people
It's one thing writing a great article, and seeing other people mentioning it or referring back to it in forums or on social media. But is that all the traction you can muster, or is there something more?
Ideally, you want a permanent, editorial endorsement on other industry websites. And, if someone has already taken the time to mention you on social media, then it's worth prompting them for a little bit more.
Think along the lines of:
"Thanks for the tweet. Feel free to use that data on your own blog, or get in touch for more info. Please attribute with a link back to the original article."
In other words, it may be that your article is worthy of plenty of backlinks... but people won't necessarily do it without a bit of a nudge.
3. Help others with good info
If your company is in the habit of publishing great content, then it may be that you are in a position to help other organizations plug the gaps in their own content.
Find other companies or bloggers who are in need of additional content - specifically content that you have already done a great job of covering.
Drop them a line and let them know that they are welcome to use your content as the basis of their own research - provided they link back to any original information they make use of.
And, while guest blogging is no longer a viable link building strategy due to the rampant abuse by spammers, it may be that you can even produce an article or two for those businesses - ensuring, in the same way, that attributable data is linked.
There's a good example in the article how to find the best products to sell online where the data that forms the basis of the research is credited to the site that provided it - with a backlink.
Provided you are a producer of great information, there is no reason not to ensure that you receive plenty of backlink equity as a reward.
4. Be a facilitator
Here's the thing. Not everyone who is working online is a marketing and content expert. But, everyone who is online and in business undoubtedly wants things and needs things in order to realize their goals.
Often, you might be in a position to genuinely help someone get ahead. It could be as simple as introducing them to someone you know, or linking to them in a comment.
It can sometimes feel hard to help people out with no guarantee of a return, but it is worth it in the long run. Here's why. People who are good to do business with will remember what you did for them and repay the favour as and when they can. People who don't are maybe not the type you want to be involved with anyway.
In any event, building up a mountain of goodwill from influencers and players in your niche will ultimately bring sustained trust, authority and (most importantly) mentions, backlinks and referrals down the line.
5. Be generous with links
There's nothing wrong with linking to other articles and websites in the course of writing a blog. Google won't penalize you for adding unpaid links to your content where it is natural and relevant to do so.
Linking to other blogs, websites and articles has several benefits, the main ones being:
- provides an opportunity to reach out to linked sites and say "Hey, check out our article - we talked about you"
- Backlinks show up in SEO research and in Analytics - especially if they drive traffic
Example: Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof is a fantastic article by Carson Ward. I recommend you read it.
By adding backlinks to highly relevant sites, people, and content, you put yourself on the map, and in the conversation. And while linking to someone else's article is unlikely to stir them to link straight back to you, it does offer a good way to make new connections that could prove valuable down the line.
6. Use facts, figures & quotes
The one thing that people like to talk about nearly as much as themselves and each other, are facts and figures. While I appreciate that not every blog post can be a treasure trove of painstaking research that generates a couple of interesting statistics, it is important to make an effort to research your topics.
The more you can integrate accurate, engaging and fun statistics, facts, figures, and quotable quotes into your content, the more people are likely to quote and reference your content.
What other strategies do you use to build backlinks? Do you find that using hacks and tricks work better than going after sustained relationships? Or, is there room for a whole slew of link building techniques? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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It often helps to mine Google analytics data for SEO intelligence with a specific business objective in mind. The analytics and SEO tips covered in this article are all techniques I use to help me decide what new content to create, and whether or not my content is making an impact.