A big challenge for new websites is a backlink profile. While Google has tested ranking websites without a backlink model, and has placed greater emphasis on content over links, they still see backlinks as an important part of their algorithm.
The trouble is that, unless you are able to generate buzz for your website, you will remain hidden from those that would be interested in your content and link to you.
In this article, we talk about some ways for new webmasters to acquire backlinks and some key things to avoid.
Your Site is Not Perfect. Always Be Improving
Building a great website will be the greatest help when acquiring links. There are many elements that go into a good website including:
- Page Layout – The placement of elements on your page. The size of text font, videos, and images. A hard to read/understand page will turn users off, even if the content itself is relevant.
- Content Quality – Writing clear sentences, free of grammatical errors, that is relevant and adds value for the user visiting the page. Breaking the content up into lists, tables, info graphs, videos, etc. This is key. A user that finds value in content is more likely to link to it.
- Site Navigation – A clean site navigation that points to the most valuable pages on your website. Regardless of how large the navigation structure is, it should be easy to understand and use.
- Ad Placement – Are the ads intrusive of block the content on the page? While it makes sense that you want users to be able to see the ads you have on the page, these should be placed in a way that does not hinder the users connection with the main content of the page.
- Page Speed – A slow site can drive people away. Depending on the types of content you have will dictate how long a user will wait. If the user clicks onto a page that contains large scale images, the load time expectation will be lower than a page that is text heavy. In any event, your site should be faster than your competition.
Before you attempt to market your website to others, you need to make extra sure that your website is in order.
The best way to check the quality of your site is to look at it with your own eyes, then get some trusted friends to look at it too. Start on the home page, then go to your important pages, then down to support pages. Look at the site on mobile. Then go to your competitors and repeat the process. Do you see things that could be improved? If you answered no, do it again. If you answered yes, make those improvements, then do it again.
Your site is never perfect.
If you keep this mentality and make constant improvements to your website, you will have a better website than your competitors, and have a website that others will want to link to.
Engage with Social Networks
Simply writing great content and having a great website is not good enough to get links. If you want your content to be seen, you have to go where the people are. The people are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks.
In every social network, there are groups that are a match for the types of content you are producing. Your mission is to find those channels and engage with them. Become a known entity and share your content with them. As long as
- the content you are sharing is relevant,
- you are not spamming the channel,
- and you are seen as a positive force in the social community,
your content will be allowed, read, and shared with others, which will lead to higher visibility for your website. Remember that Google does take into account buzz when it comes to ranking. A webpage that is being shared and talked about will have a greater chance of ranking better and linked.
Engage with the IRL Community
Along with virtual networks, your business should also be a positive member of your local community. If you run a business that services a region, like a plumbing company or lawyer, then one goal for link building strategy is acquiring links from other regional focused websites.
- Chamber of Commerce websites – many of these websites tend to have business directories that you can join.
- Local Niche Directories – For many types of industries, there are directories that aggregate information about businesses. For example, there are directories like Avvo and Justia for lawyers. You should focus on only the highest quality niche directories and avoid anything that feels low quality or is unused. If the site is not ranked well, or not ranked at all, there is a good chance that Google does not think very highly of that website, and you should probably stay away.
While these sources are not as valuable as social channels for driving traffic to your website, they are important for establishing your business online and should be part of your link acquisition strategy, especially if you are targeting a region.
Never Buy Links
As we mentioned, having a good backlink profile can help your website’s organic visibility. This has led to the creation of services where webmasters can pay money for a number of links from other websites. In the past, this led to sites that may have had worse content ranking well, since Google was putting more value into the number of links that a website had.
In 2011, Google came out with an update to their algorithm, named Penguin, that sought out links that look bought or were coming from sources that had a history of paid links, and penalized sites it saw as buying links. This led to many ranking sites either drop in rankings or get dropped from the index altogether. Webmasters would then have to go to those websites it bought links off of and ask for their removal. It was a long process, and to this day, the rankings of many of those websites never came back to where they were pre-penguin.
In a post penguin world, the number of links you have is not as important as the quality of those links. It would be foolish to try and game the system by buying links. Yet, services still exist to pay for links. NEVER BUY LINKS. Falling into the temptation that link sellers are giving will lead to Google never forgets a website that tried to game the system, and if you get penalized for buying links for your website, you may forever have reduced visibility, since Google doesn’t trust you.
The best, and safest, way to build your link profile is naturally, through constant website improvement and engaging with your community. The more trust and authority you maintain, the better your chances of being linked from other trusted sources are, and the better your site will perform in organic search.