Everyone wants and needs links; but why, and what do they mean to your site?
Link building is the creation of links between one website and another. The reason it is important is that search engines (most importantly, Google) base the ranking of where your website appears on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), largely upon links. But be careful, in the past the main school of thought used to be quantity over quality. The more links you had the higher and faster your site shot up the rankings.
Change of tactic
The tactic of including many links on each page is not a useful tactic anymore and is even frowned upon. Utilizing this same tactic today can have the opposite effect on your site and can see you plunging down to the 10th o of Google in no time. What matters today is QUALITY over quantity, Google has put a major emphasis on sites getting links from pages that are not only relevant to your site but are also trusted sources.
Quality is important now
Quality over quantity gives the searcher (the most important person in Google’s eyes) the best results and improves their user experience. It provides them the most relevant results for the searches that they perform. Search engines that don’t have quality links incorporated in their results algorithm end up not providing users with usable, pertinent results. You don’t have to believe me, but my friend Matt Cutts will back me up…
How Do You Link Build?
Link building may sound new and techy, but don’t be scared off by it. The backbone of link building is nothing new. Link Building is a term created by the web generation for a new industry, but many of the tactics and strategies used by web marketers are similar to those used in the pre-computer era. Link building has many things in common with Public Relations; think of it as Digital PR.
With that in mind, here are the 3 R’s that I always keep in mind when I am reaching out to people to start the link building process.
Don’t expect to build high quality links by sending out large template based e-mail blasts. Behind each site is a person, a person that you need to create a relationship with. Whenever possible your outreach emails should include their name, something they may be interested in, or something they have written about. Start a conversation, don’t just spam them with what you want. Be real and build relationships! Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites that you can use to build a relationship.
Be a Resource
Much like being real, you need to be a resource, be someone that adds value. This means, follow the sites you want to be linked to. Get to know what they write about, post about or are interested in. How can you and your site be an added value to their site? Do you have videos, infographics, or are you an expert in their field of interest?
Lastly and most important be relevant. Have something in common with the site you are reaching out to. Look to see if you have a post on your site that would enhance something on theirs? Is there something happening in the news that is relevant between your two fields? One of the worst things you can do is reach out to sites that you have nothing in common with. Do not reach out to sites that have nothing in common with yours, you will come off as spammy.
As mentioned above, link building is highly important, not only does it account for where your website appears on the SERP, but also how often your site is being seen around the Internet world. Every link may not be a follow link, but getting your brand out there should always be on the back of your mind. You want your site to get as much exposure as possible, if your site is not seen, you simply do not get visitors. If you don’t get visitors, you don’t generate business… at least from your website.
Recently, here at Nifty, we did a study on the effects of link building, it being one of the major pillars of local search. We compared five different practice areas in 100 different cities that were ranking 1-3 in the local pack compared to those ranking 8-10. We also did this same comparison for the organic rankings.
First, lets take a look at what the study said on the local level. After crunching hundreds of numbers, rankings of 1-3 average 5,367 backlinks, while rankings of 8-10 average about 5,739. The numbers were pretty close so we had to roll up our sleeves and dig deeper. From these numbers the conclusion can be made that, although links do play a huge part, for local search it’s just as important to have other aspects done like citations and reviews. You can have thousands of more links than your competitor and not rank well locally if these things are overlooked.
Organic search results are on a different level. The average links for organic search 1-3 is 23,233 while position 8-10 is only 12,239 backlinks. It is obvious to see that if your goal is to rank organically, links play a huge role. The top ranking websites had on average more than double than the 8-10 spot. Links are highly important as a Google ranking factor, especially if you want to rank organically.
Give Me Links!
“There was a brief time in SEO history where you could build thousands of spam links and watch your site climb to the top of the first page. Those days are long gone. SEOs that do well today dedicate serious resources (time, money, and skilled labor) towards their link building campaigns.”
-Brian Deal, author of Backlinko
I know what you’re thinking, “yeah, I know links are important but how do I get them? I have money, lets buy some.” First off, stop buying them, Google will hate you forever and you will drop in the SERP faster than the speed of light. Second, let me share some ideas we have done here at Nifty.
Internal Link Building
Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are most commonly used in the main navigation but should be used more regularly. There are three main reasons for internal link building,
1) It makes it easier for the user to navigate through your site;
2) It establishes information hierarchy.
3) It helps spread link juice throughout the site.
Many sites have a blog; do you put links back to other pages on your site with more information in your blog posts? Do it! How many internal links do you have on each page? We suggest trying to get one to two internal links per page.
Citations are your NAP listing on places like Google, Yelp, and Yahoo etc. Directories are a more in depth mention of a specific lawyer, not just the business’ location. Although the amount of citations you have are important, it’s not as important as consistency. If on one of your citations it says you are located in Las Vegas and the next one claims you are in Los Angeles; major red flag folks. Citations may seem like an easy way to get links to your site, but they are very finicky. They should be regularly checked on and monitored. One month they could look great, then the next month things have gone missing, or your phone number was changed. So keep a close eye on these listings, but remember they are very important and should be done.
This is one of the easier types of link building, that is, if you’ve been involved in the community. People talk; it’s a fact of life. Many times when you get involved in the community, people talk about you. You can do a Google search for your name or business or you can find instances using Moz’s Fresh Mention tool. With this tool, you can see if local media outlets like bloggers, news sites, or local businesses have mentioned you. If you or your business has been mentioned, reach out and ask for a link to your site. If you are a fairly well known attorney, there should be new opportunities on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. Just as Jason Acidre stated, “Always seek for link opportunities and suitable linking targets; because once you’ve reached the top, your competitors will never stop trying to outrank you – make this part of your campaign’s daily tasks.”
Contests & Giveaways
This is where creativity is key. I just mentioned how being known in the community can get you easy links. Find a way to give back to the community. Make yourself known and as an added bonus, receive some link juice back to your website. A great example of this could be a scholarship. You could do a one-time scholarship or a yearly scholarship. You get to make the guideline, credentials etc. then you simply reach out to your local schools, or even statewide schools telling them this scholarship is available and asking for a link back. Google loves .edu sites, so if they are linking to you, that’s like gold.
Another great idea is to hold a contest. The sky is the limit with this, if you want to sponsor a hot dog eating contest, great! Let the community know and get links from places like the radio station, community calendars, or local bloggers. How about a race, best Instagram picture or a video/commercial contest that covers something to do with your type of law business. There are all kinds of great ideas, some just take a little time and attention but can increase your link building campaign, which in return, increase’s your rankings and business.
Rand Fishkin from Moz said it best when he said,
“SEO stuff is okay. It is okay. This is something that we are used to. We are used to change. If there’s anything that SEO’s can be assured of, it’s that things will change tomorrow, that things will change next week. No one is better prepared to handle change than we are.”
Buying links is so 2013, move on, step up and get moving on your link building campaign. We all know links are important, get creative and put yourself and your business out there.