Link building has transformed from an industry buzzword into a bread-and-butter necessity. A study of a million SERP results found that quality links correlated with high rankings more often than any other tool. Any link won’t do, though because Google ranks according to quality. The most powerful links have domain authority and relevance, but the way you position them on your page is equally important. These three facets fly in the face of black hat techniques. You must remain firmly on the ethical side of search engine optimization if you want results. Black hat strategies are fast and painless to carry out, so they’re preferred by profit-hungry businesses who lean towards quick and dirty tactics. A penny-pinching agency won’t give you a benign outcome, but one that could harm your rank for years to come.
Google turns up 100 billion results for link building businesses, so finding a link building service provider who achieves lasting results instead of instantaneous ones is certainly a challenge. It is possible if you can identify the green flags.
Building for Quality, Not Quantity
Link building has become an editorial art form. You will need to find your way onto respected sites, not as a marketer, but as a thought leader. High-quality links require you to produce excellent content and/or run a committed blogger outreach campaign. Tools such as Moz will help you to determine which sites have the domain authority to produce quality links. Large publications like Forbes and Huffington Post have recently begun to accept guest bloggers, which will give you a shortcut provided your content fits their niche and editorial style. Be wary of sites that insist on “no follow” tags, which tell Google not to build on your link.
If you’re outsourcing, you’ll need to find a white hat provider who puts content above numbers. This kind of blogger outreach tends to build rank organically, which takes time. If your service provider is promising you a first page rank within a week, it’s safe to assume they’re using black hat techniques that won’t sustain themselves over long periods of time. It’s easy enough to identify quality link building content: simply request a portfolio with URLs. You’re looking for immersive writing and cherished domains, not throwaway sites. Authority tools will support your assessment.
Black hat hacks will have as much trouble assessing link relevance as they do building relationships with publishers. This process requires marketing skills, not IT-related expertise. If your service provider doesn’t develop buyer personas and their larger demographics, they’ll throw your relevance out of the window with all their other dying campaigns. There’s a reason Google includes detailed buyer personas with every content brief they order: their own search engine prioritizes relevance.
If you’re not outsourcing, establishing relevance can chew up your hours, but a few analytics tools will support your process. Google Analytics will help you to create buyer personas and comb through landing pages through the resultant filters. If your personas are vibrant and organic, your staff will have an easier time performing strategically sound blogger outreach.
Uncovering Black Hat Providers
Google can and does give out negative ranking factors for known link brokers. This is the simplest red flag to avoid. All you need is to run their website through Google’s transparency report tool.
Establishing a Functional Partnership
Today’s business evolves at a rate of knots, so SERP providers must offer more than mere service. Only a living, proactive partnership will keep up with the daily work involved in maintaining your brand presence online. This takes time, and time costs money. An excellent provider can charge such rates because they generate returns on your investment.
Distrust any provider who uses these methods:
- Mirror sites
- Keyword stuffing
- Content spamming
- Link spamming
- Email spamming
- Link exchanges
- A promised number of links
An ethical and competent provider will:
- Carefully plot out a sales funnel before executing a strategy
- Define your target market
- Build brand awareness for each niche within your demographic
- Have a broad portfolio of outstanding guest posts
- Seek to understand your unique needs
- Work according to Google’s latest algorithm
- Do outreach to one publication, and not 100 emails, at a time.
Your Service Provider and Your Reputation
When you outsource any task related to your company, you’re hiring a brand representative. Others will judge your company on the basis of your service provider’s actions, so you’ll need to approach your hire with due diligence. A thorough interview, telephonic references, and a portfolio of campaign strategies will help you to assess whether they will add gravitas to your corporate identity.
Find out how often they follow up and which metrics they’re using to assess their progress.
Outsourcing Tasks Over Projects
If you’d like to guide your campaign hands-free, you can outsource tasks instead of the entire project. You can create your own workflow and strategy and rely on a team of niche professionals to carry your project out.
Referral Traffic and Influencers
Excellent link building generates a domino effect by inspiring others to share their knowledge of your brand. To bolster your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to build links through traffic and customer influencers. These will help you to generate rank, but more importantly, they’ll build your social media presence and online reputation. Every aspect of your campaign should keep traditional marketing goals front and center. There’s no getting away from your branding duties, and this entails turning every link into a strong online presence. Social media listening tools will help you to make the most of every mention of your business.
It’s easy to get lost in Google algorithms, metrics, and automation, but Google should never be the sole focus of your marketing campaign. The world is not made entirely of pixels, so nor should your campaign. Ultimately, link building is about convincing others of the importance of your brand or concept. That process is a human one, and it should be treated as such. Build relationships, and you’ll build excellent links.