Backlinks and the process of link building has reached a unique position where website owners are being told two very different messages. The first is that Google says to avoid backlink building because it can do more harm than good. The other message is that you can’t rank without backlinks.

So what is a website owner to do?

We have recently come across three great articles about Link Building and thought they are worth sharing here on our blog to help you better understand the right way to naturally go about obtaining backlinks to your website.

Link Building: No Longer about Manipulation

In this article over at Search Engine Land, Andrew Dennis makes the statement that manipulation is no longer a sustainable route to link acquisition.

Instead he challenges website owners to question how to improve their authority, relevance, and value online. The purpose of link building in a Post-Penguin era is to ensure that Google recognizes your website’s importance.

Dennis also revisits four main reasons we link to other sites that were relevant before Google incorporated links into its ranking algorithm that are still just as true today:

  1. Navigation – you create a pathway for your visitors to see another site.
  2. Reference – you provide your visitors with more information on the topic.
  3. Citation – you need to acknowledge the original source of the content.
  4. Endorsement – you genuinely want to support another person, company, product, event, etc.

Rather than trying to manipulate the Search Engines with links focus on acquiring links with an audience-first perspective. Always keep in mind the four reasons why links are used. Dennis challenges readers to reach out to real webmasters and actively seek out websites that are relevant to both your website/ industry and to your audience.

It’s worth checking out Dennis’ comparison of good verses bad examples backlinks in guest posting, resource link building, directory listings, and blog commenting.

Earning Links through Trust

In another article posted on Search Engine Land over six weeks ago, columnist Jim Yu argues that neglecting critical on-page elements, site design, and content quality will impact your ability to gain natural links to your website. He touches on several key points:

  • Quality Over Quantity – as Google becomes better at understanding the actual language on your website rather than just strings of text it will depend more on the quality of content rather than the quantity of backlinks pointing to the content.
  • Website Design – your website design will impact who and how many people will want to link to your website. Factors such as page load speed, a simple design that reflects customer expectations, fewer advertisements, high quality and suitable graphics, page layout, and navigation are all factors that will impact who will link to you. Backlink acquisition aside, these factors also have a huge impact on how your own visitors interact with your website.
  • Value of Content – “good” content is what will attract people to your website in the first place, entice them to come back, and even illicit them to link to you from their own website. Yu suggests that quality content needs to meet several criteria including understanding visitor personas and educating them on topics of interest. Keeping your content updated regularly is another key factor.

11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links

Over on the Moz Blog Casey Meraz offers up practical ways for local businesses to get links to their website. Here are some of the favorites:

  • Try to get a nomination from your Chamber of Commerce, “Best Of” List, or other local awards for businesses
  • Sponsor a local event
  • Help host a community event
  • Support a local club, organization, or charity
  • Offer discounts for students, alumni, seniors, or another special group
  • Ask for links from manufacturers and wholesalers as they likely have an authorized reseller list or store locator on their website
  • Leverage business relationships (ex. if you are a mortgage broker your best Realtors may want to link to and recommend you to their visitors)

As one commenter points out, these ideas are great not only for SEO value but also for driving traffic and generating awareness among your local audience.

Link Building Key Takeaways

So what can be learned from the general attitude towards link building in 2015?

  • Backlinks are for discovery and visibility, not ranking value.
  • A good backlink will provide value to the person who sees it.
  • Your site needs to be valuable, professional, and inviting for others to link to.
  • You should market your business appropriately through links.

For more information about natural link building please contact our office at 1-888-262-6687.