Link Building Starting Guide
Link building, or the acquisition of hyperlinks pointing to your website, is simple. You heard me right. Link building is NOT difficult. However, there is so much misinformation and snake oil on the internet about link building, that it is difficult to discern what is and isn’t a good strategy. There are a ton of ways to start link building, but first, you have to start with the basics which focus on two primary things: your website and your competitor’s website.
Link Building with Your Own Assets
The simplest way to start building links to your website is to utilize your own controlled (and influenced) assets. To start, focus on your social media accounts – make sure you have control over ALL of them, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever else is out there. All these social media accounts can link back to your main site. One that I see underutilized is YouTube, as you can place hyperlinks within the video descriptions and on your “About” page. If you’re a local business, make sure to include a link to your website in your local listings, such as Yellowpages, MerchantCircle, or even your local Chamber of Commerce.
Reclaim Broken Backlinks
If you have redesigned your website or changed domain names, make sure that any and all historical backlinks to your website are fixed with a 301 redirect to the proper destination. Broken backlink reclamation is one of the first tasks we complete when performing any backlink analysis or backlink planning process, mainly because these are easy targets for competitors to poach your links and authority. If you have completely removed a piece of content from your website that is now broken, does it make sense to recreate it, since it was already doing the work of naturally acquiring backlinks? You will also want to make sure you are consistently monitoring your backlinks to ensure that nothing nefarious is happening such as a huge influx of spammy links or nothing has broken.
Partnership Link Building
Utilize industry connections to acquire backlinks. Do you have trusted vendors, partners, or other connections? They probably have websites that are related to your niche, and relevance is one of the most important signals when it comes to the quality of a backlink. You can get links from high DA/DR websites all day, but if you are missing the niche-related links, then a lot of your work could be burning dollars on unnecessary backlinks. It could be as simple as a “trusted vendor spotlight” post that is essentially a soft sales pitch for your vendor or partner’s services on your own website, and maybe they could include you on a “trusted vendors” list. Partnerships can also be something like sponsoring a niche-related conference or a local soccer tournament, these all have their benefits depending on the size of your niche, whether you are a local or more widespread business, and many other factors.
Internal Data for Link Building & Lead Generation
Data can be beautiful. And proprietary data can be very lucrative when presented in the right way. Whether that’s the “most common problems that are present in new homes” for a general contractor or other industry knowledge that you have from your own customer base, making sure you are utilizing that information to the fullest to help increase your marketing efforts is key. Data like this can help with the creation of white papers that could be behind a form to capture potential customer information, or you can use it to get backlinks from authoritative industry publications.
Writers, editors, and website owners are always looking for the next piece of content, and if you hand them the right piece of content that they don’t even have to write themselves, then you are doing their work for them. Avoid the gimmicky guest post emails, as those more than likely, will go to spam since these publications probably get tons of these emails per week. Make it personal, insightful, and lean into your own expertise, it isn’t always a bad thing to brag about your own accolades if it makes sense in a given situation. Also make sure that you are utilizing all of your marketing channels, especially things that connect directly to your customers such as email marketing or text message marketing. If you have this data at your disposal and it is in a blog, then share it to your email marketing list in a newsletter, maybe someone in your industry will pick it up in their next blog. Every opportunity that you have to share your content could be an opportunity to get a backlink.
Link Building Using Competitors and Others as a Template
Not everyone has hundreds of thousand or even millions of dollars to use for market research, paying PR firms to get interviews with movers and shakers in the industry, or any of the other marketing efforts that are undertaken by Fortune 100 companies. We have to get scrappy, and in doing so, we can find the easiest way to analyze a good link building strategy is to analyze the competition.
Competitor Backlink Gap
Competitors can give great insight into which strategies work and don’t work for link acquisition, as well as good targets for backlinks, partnerships, and advertising opportunities. Identifying worthwhile competitors in your industry is the first task, which may be direct and indirect competitors, it just makes sense to understand who actually has their “finger on the pulse” when it comes to digital marketing, as they are the targets to focus on the most.
Once these competitors have been identified, then you can run a backlink intersect also known as a backlink gap analysis. My preferred third-party link data source is Ahrefs.com and they provide a seamless way to perform this task through their Link Intersect tool. Once you have the raw data from this, you can then start combing through the list of links, which usually involves both the Hive Digital team and the client looking through the list to filter out competitors, unrelated websites, and the other junk that accumulates in a backlink profile. When looking into competitors’ marketing efforts you may uncover high-performing content that you do not have your own unique perspective or internal data to provide some interesting statistics to compare. This is an added bonus to looking at the link intersect because you may find worthwhile content to add your own unique take on your website or even a piece of evergreen content that could be updated every year to include the latest information.
Targeting Businesses with the Same Customer Base
Businesses typically have some overlap when it comes to your typical customer. Pest control companies and home cleaning services are both targeting people that live in a residence, therefore, there is a good bit of overlap between people with pests and people who need cleaning services. If you have friends in the industry, it helps to scratch each others’ backs with affiliate programs that way they have trusted vendors for tasks that are out of their scope of expertise, and you can potentially get a backlink from it by creating featured sections of your website to funnel potential affiliate traffic over to them (and vice versa).
You can also offer to write an article on their blog that speaks towards their niche but gives your own spin on a potential solution that both companies could offer a customer. Using the above example, you could have the cleaning done and extermination so that the source of the pests (food waste, filth, etc.) would be less apt to return if it was both cleaned and prevention of pests was put in place too.