The opinions are divided on whether or not you actually need to actively seek any backlinks to your site. There are discussions everywhere about white hat and black hat link building techniques and how Google can penalise you for the wrong kind of backlinks.
Google themselves are saying that we should not be actively building any kinds of backlinks to ours sites at all.
Regardless whether you believe that you should or should not be actively building quality backlinks to your site, the fact remains that if other sites link to your site, your site will get traffic sooner. Both directly from the sites that link to you and indirectly from the search engines.
To give you an analogy from the offline world, imagine that you have just opened a fast food outlet in a quiet street. Your food is really great. So, on the strength of that you refuse to do any kind of outreach, which would allow your shop to be discovered by more people sooner. You insist that your food is so good, that people will be spreading the word and you will get all the customers you can handle through word of mouth.
And you are right, to a point. People will spread the word and more people will discover your shop, but it might be a very slow process. The important question is, will you get enough customers for the first few months to stay in business?
It’s quite similar with your new blog or website. You are working very hard to create great content and you insist that on the strength of that your site will get discovered by others. So, you refuse to do any kind of outreach for backlinks.
And you are right, to a point. Your site will get discovered and you will be getting some traffic eventually (maybe even plenty of traffic), but this is likely going to be a slow process. The important question is, will you have enough patience to keep going during the initial slow period, or will you throw in the towel after few months saying that this stuff just doesn’t work?
As I wanted to learn everything I needed to know on the subject, I searched the internet for the best advice regarding backlinks and outreach. Notice that I didn’t say to learn all I can. I don’t want to get overwhelmed with reading about 144 ranking factors (or over 200 according to some) and other complicated stuff. I much prefer to learn about a handful of key factors that will actually make the most difference. Similarly, I don’t want to learn about every backlinking technique under the sun. I want to learn about a handful that are easy to use and actually work and will have the best chance of working for years to come, without my site getting penalised by the next search engine algorithm update.
I found several such places and in this post I’m going to present the best and most useful of those, as far as I can tell. They resonated with me the most. Hopefully you will find this resource useful and it will save you some time. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Brian Dean – backlinko.com
I first read about Brian on someone’s blog post about his now famous skyscraper technique. Ironically, the case study Brian described in the sky scraper post was about Google’s 200 ranking factors (LOL).
Brain is recognised by many bloggers and marketers as one of the best SEO and backlink experts today. While the skyscraper technique is still as useful as it was when Brian wrote about it couple of years back, you should probably read his excellent free guide to backlinks first. It’s a relatively quick read and will give you all essential information including: what backlinks are, how to build backlinks that actually work, Brian’s favourite backlink building strategies and bonus tips and some real life examples.
Apparently, Google have confirmed that links remain one of their two most important factors in search engine rankings. The other one is indeed content. No surprise there, Google have been encouraging everyone to write quality content for years.
A relatively recent study of a million of search results conducted by Brian and his partners, also confirms it. There was a very strong correlation between a total number of referring domains and a ranking in Google search results.
Brian says “There are backlinks that can make a small difference. There are backlinks that can make a BIG difference. (And there are even links that can hurt your rankings.)”
In his above free guide to backlinks Brian discusses how to build the right links that matter for your search engine rankings.
My favourite technique from the above guide is getting listed in link roundups. Brain advises that for that to work you need to write amazing content first. Then he explains how to find link roundup pages in your niche and how to pitch for a link (including examples of email scripts that can be used).
The other method I really like is broken link building. Brain explains how to do it correctly. I will quote some more resources for this techniques bit further down in this post. It can work really well, if done correctly, with the added benefit of making the internet better (getting rid of broken links).
Brian goes into much detail with several more link building techniques. You are likely to come out with a few that you like best.
To read more on the Broken Link Building techniques and also Brian’s own skyscraper technique, study another free guide of his: Link Building For SEO: The Definitive Guide.
To complete your link building education from Brian, read also his post How to Get High Quality Backlinks (7 New Strategies).
You should read all three guides. There will be some overlaps, but this will just help you understand the subject better. Brian gives plenty or real life examples and scripts to use. Great stuff.
Neil Patel – quicksprout.com
Neil is an online marketing expert that works with large companies (that’s apparently how he makes most of his income). He regularly shares great free advice with the solopreneurs like you and me. As an online marketer Neil also became quite good at effective link building strategies.
Neil and Brian Dean have co-authored The Advanced Guide to Link Building.
This is a definitive resource you want to study. It’s really nicely done, with 12 chapters loaded with very actionable information. The first few chapters go through some background information you need to know in order to understand how links work in today’s world of search engine rankings and some other major factors without which linking is not going to help much anyway. The foundation of every great website is content, not links. Links cannot make a website popular on their own.
The following chapters then go through several simple and effective linking methods, including my favourite broken link method. I really recommend you spend some time digesting that content, including many examples of the outreach emails.
And for broken link building method specifically: A Step by Step Guide to Modern Broken Link Building by Neil Patel.
Chris Lee – rankxl.com
Chris is a quiet achiever. He worked for an SEO agency for a while and then started building his own niche sites and monetising them with ads. Chris knows his stuff when it comes to SEO and link building and shares a lot of it through his RankXL blog.
How To Build (Powerful) Backlinks With Outreach is a great free resource from Chris. It’s full of real life examples, even including email scripts of some of his successful link outreach campaigns. Definitely a must read.
I believe in keeping things simple and I honestly believe that the above free resources from Brian Dean, Neil Patel and Chris Lee is all you need for effective link building. The rest comes down to honing your skills by doing.
Is your content worth linking to?
I know this is already covered in the above resources. However this is such an important point that it needs to be really brought home. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, content is one of the top two Google ranking factors for search results.
Great, useful, actionable content will get you better rankings in the search engines. However, first and foremost, it will make the content worth shearing by others via their websites as well as the social media.
If you have limited time and resources available, you should be spending most of that time on creating content that’s worth linking to in the first place. Poor content will attract very weak links at best. And then the visitors that do manage to find your content, will be leaving very fast if it doesn’t provide any value.
Finally, keep things simple. Find a method that you like most and focus on just that. At least initially. Master it.
Until next time.