We’ve all read “recent” SEO articles about how we should be moving link building forward, and how SEO led PR is “the new link building”.
But is chasing PR7 newspaper links really the way to kick start a successful link building campaign?
Although if the opportunity arose to get that PR7 link in the first few days of building links for a client, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.
The key thing to remember here, is that building links for a new client takes time, and although quality is the most important thing, volume is definitely the second, and getting links in volume requires you to get links that perhaps won’t stand out as your best work, but ones that do offer some simple, quick wins, and more immediate results.
These links are the foundation of any great link profile.
At the start of every new link building project, you should aim to look at replicating your competitor’s links. The effect of this is three-fold.
- Devalue your competitor’s links by reducing the amount of “link juice” that is shared between links on any one page
- Gain a valuable backlink for yourself
- Benefit from co-citation (being linked, or mentioned alongside sites in the same niche improves rankings)
To get a list of potential targets, I use Majestic SEO’s clique hunter software.
Phase 1 – top ranking sites at Page / URL level
- Choose one of your target keywords
- Type this into Google
- Record the top 9 or 10 results (as URLs) depending on if your client already ranks in the top 10.
- Put these + your client into Clique Hunter and generate a report
Phase 2 – top ranking sites at Root Domain level
- Take the list you generated in Phase 1
- Put these + your client into Clique Hunter as root domains, and generate a report
Then, just repeat this process for each keyword you want to rank for.
Pretty soon, you’ll have a huge list of link targets to sift through. Your next step is look for the sites that link to 2 or more competitors, but not to you, and to approach these for links, providing you’re happy that these links won’t affect your site in a negative way.
It’s up to you then how you chose to link, and with what anchor text.
As time progresses, links break. And as a link builder, you should set aside some time each month to keep on top of them.
Links break due to your client retiring pages, changing URLs during redevelopment projects, or because of misspellings in URLs on third party websites. Any time you see a link that points to a page that then returns a 404 server code, you’re looking at a broken link.
Finding broken links to your own site is another activity that has multiple benefits.
First off, a link to a 404 page on your site is a negative signal to search engines. It shows that you don’t keep on top of your content, or that you create and retire content with little regard for your end users. Remember, a link is a navigational device first and foremost, so a link should never point to a dead page – that’s not where the user wants to be.
Secondly, you’re missing out on the opportunity to keep those good links coming in.
How to find broken links
I use two methods.
Generate a top pages report in Majestic SEO and then filter this by:
- Pages that have inbound links
- Pages that don’t return a 200 OK sever code
Check Google Analytics Landing Pages, and then filter by referral traffic only
Download this and upload into Screaming Frog and see which pages fail to return a 200 code.
Luckily, fixing broken links is easy
For misspelled or changed URLs
- Contact the webmasters and get them to update the link
- Set up a 301 redirect on the misspelling of the URL to make sure traffic lands on the right page
For retired content
- Recreate the content
- Redirect the URL to something similar
- Create a custom page that explains that this content is no longer here, but the user might be interested in something else
Broken Link Building
Similar to repairing your own broken links, “poaching” your competitor’s best broken links is also an effective and simple strategy with potentially huge gains.
- Generate the same top pages report as you did in Method 1 for Link Reclamation, but for your competition.
- Now, check the pages that return 404 errors, but that have significant link equity.
- Check the Internet Archive to learn what should have been on those pages
- Recreate those pages, only better
- Inform the webmasters that they’re linking to a broken page and that this is bad for their own website performance, and user experience.
- Offer them your version as an alternative.
As you’re no doubt aware, penalties are being handed out thick and fast by Google – if you’ve been hit by a manual penalty get in touch and we can talk about recovery.
If you’re not under penalty, then keeping on top of your backlinks has never been so important, and conducting a link audit at the start of any link building campaign is essential.
You should be making a note of:
- Over-optimisation of anchor text
- Image links that put strain on your site’s bandwidth allowance
- Suspicious anchor text
- Links from scrapers, spam sites and link networks
- Comment Spam
- Negative SEO attacks
Of course, it’s not only the penalty risk that should be spurring you on to check your links. You might also find:
- Safe anchor text opportunities
- Images that are linked without Title or Alt text
- Mentions that don’t link to you (Majestic can report these)
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Popular content that you could refresh or develop further
Partners & Suppliers
Most businesses have suppliers who have websites, or supply other businesses who have websites. Any of these should be a viable link partner.
Effective ways to get links from your partners:
- Offer a testimonial about their services
- Suggest writing them a blog post
- Suggest partnering on a case study
It doesn’t stop there
These are just some easy quick win strategies that can help you form a solid foundation for your future link building.
Let’s talk today about essential link building strategies for your business – please leave a comment or get in touch using the contact form in the sidebar.