Push your page up in the SERPs with the right links.

Let me show you how.

Why contenting marketing and link building will get you optimal results.

In the middle of 2020, I made the decision to stop all standalone link building projects. This was because clients who relied heavily on links were losing in the SERPs. Instead, I’ve doubled down on helping clients achieve topical coverage and topical authority.

Link building was made popular in the early days of Google. Those days are long gone with each subsequent maturation of its algorithm.

That’s not to say you should ignore link-building.

I still believe links play an important role in rankings. But the old hacks are becoming less effective, seemingly take longer to take effect in rankings, and buying links are getting more expensive.

Things you should know.

Link building is the active process of having another website link to yours.

Generally speaking, link-building in the context of SEO aims to achieve 2 things:

  1. Pass PageRank from the source to your website or target URL.
  2. Drive referral traffic from the source to your target URL.

There are safe ways to do this and there are terrible ways. On this page, I share link-building strategies, critical thinking, and tactics to get links from noteworthy websites that will not put you in Google’s spam crosshairs.

July 2021 update: Google has launched another initiative to combat low-quality link building tactics. Read the announcement here.

If you’re new to SEO or link-building, I highly recommend that you watch the following video.

Yes. When done right, link building can be very effective at pushing your page up in the SERPs for competitive keywords.

You will often see a positive correlation between top ranking URLS in the SERPs and the number of backlinks these URLs have. However, backlinks isn’t always the answer why these pages are ranking.

Some link building services sell you the idea that you need to have as many backlinks as ranking competitors. I’ve seen no hard evidence that this is true. In fact, many ranking URLs do not have a lot of backlinks coming into them.

This is because with clean technical SEO and well formed content-marketing, you can usually perform well in Google Search.

When done poorly, you can find your website completely removed from Google Search and a lengthy recovery process. Not only is this frustrating, it means that you’ve sunk money into a business liability.

In both my agency role and as a freelance SEO consultant, I have had to clean up a previous vendor’s link-building.

To understand backlinks better, I highly recommend that you read the following:

White hat link building is supposed to represent non-spammy link building tactics. In my opinion, there is no such thing as white hat link-building. And this is why – “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines” – (source).

Even guest posts can be considered as part of a link scheme – “Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.” (source).

The devil is in the details and from the above quote, the biggest hint are the words “large-scale article marketing”.

What this means is that guest posting campaigns can be safe, provided that they’re done in a way that (i) provides users with valuable information, and (ii) does not abuse keyword-rich anchor text links.

Black hat link building refers to fraudulent tactics to get a website to link to yours. This can involve injecting code into a plugin or form submission vulnerability, gaining access to a website and inserting links from existing pages without the website’s knowledge or consent, cloaking, or JavaScript redirects.

HARO is short for Help A Reporter Out (click to open in a new tab). It is a platform where journalists request commentary from industry experts.

The idea behind HARO is that you can submit your professional or expert opinion and if a journalist uses it, they may include a link to your website. You can earn links from noteworthy publications such as HuffPost, Psychology Today, and Business Insider and from globally recognized companies such as American Express.

HARO has gained popularity in recent years because link-building has gotten harder and more expensive.

I’ve won some noteworthy link placements for clients and for myself. Click here to read what I learned from pitching hundreds of HARO requests.

Here are my thoughts on HARO as an avenue for link-building.

A link insert is when you get a backlink from an existing webpage. Some vendors call this niche edits, some vendors call this the shotgun skyscraper technique, and some vendors call this resource or broken link-building.

The premise behind a link insert is to find a webpage that already ranks well. The benefit of this is that Google has already indexed the content on the page and because the webpage already ranks well, it should receive organic traffic from Google Search. This both passes PageRank and the potential for referral traffic.

Link inserts can be extremely effective but they can also be executed poorly.

For example, most editors, bloggers and journalists or large publications will not go back to a past article and update it unless the article is still relevant, brings in a lot of traffic, and the information is outdated.

Digital PR is an extension of traditional public relations. In more recent times, it has become a popular methodology of earning links from top-tier publishers.

To carry out digital PR effectively, you need to understand two things:

  1. What does a publisher want?
  2. What does the publisher’s audience want?

With this understanding you can provide unique data (video, statistics, infographics, web app), insights and expert commentary and pitch it as a hook for a story to the publisher and if the editor or journalist likes the angle, they can link to you from their article.

Digital PR campaigns can work gloriously and they can just as easily tank. It often comes down to timing, the current news cycle, and the hook that you pitch.

Let’s get started.

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