By now if you have a blog you’ve no doubt heard all about Google’s Penguin update. If you haven’t, here’s a quick recap from an earlier post on Spice Up Your Blog, How Google Penguin Update Will Affect Your Blog ? .It’s been many months now since the hammer fell on some webmasters and it always takes a while to adjust and learn how to go forward. Of course every major update has its casualties and you rarely hear about people having Panda issues any more. Strategies change and every new update strikes even worse fear in the hearts of some webmasters. If it wasn’t clear before it’s pretty obvious now that if you want to succeed on the web, then you need to be ‘doing it right’. So without further ado I’m going to explain what strategies you shouldn’t be doing and explaining how to ‘do it right’.
Directory submissionsThis was always the easy ‘go to’ method of building links. There are literally tens of thousands of web directories out there, and many people used these to get ‘easy links’. Now I’d say that easy links are the ones you don’t want. It’s a zero sum game. If everybody can get easy links then where’s the advantage? The links you want are the harder to acquire links.
Google has de-indexed a huge amount of directory sites and you certainly don’t want to be on any of these. SEOMoz has a curated list of quality directories (http://www.seomoz.org/directories) that adhere to higher standards. You need to be a member to see the full list, but you can sign up for an account for free for 30 days and get access.
You will have to pay a small fee to be on some of these directories but you need to remember that to maintain the integrity of the directory they will need to charge a fee. For now in the Penguin era you need to stay away from low quality directories but quality ones do still have their place. Now you know where to find them. I hope that helps you.
Here’s what Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts has to say about this.
Blog posting/article marketingWe’ll fit two algorithm updates into this section. Do you remember back in the day people posting their articles to article sites like ezine articles? It worked for a while until Panda came along and destroyed many of these types of sites. Just as this was dying off the next step in link building/spamming evolution was blog networks. If you don’t know, these were huge spam networks where you could post your articles and get links. The major ones all got de-indexed right before the Penguin update.
I’m sure that many webmasters of quality blogs got caught up in this and paid the price that was the Penguin assault on their rankings and livelihoods. Again just like the spam directories, it was all too easy. There’s nothing wrong with marketing yourself by sharing your knowledge on other sites but it needs to be on quality relevant legitimate sites with a real readership. If the link is easy to get then it’s probably not worth it.
The way to get quality links through sharing your knowledge is to find sites with real readers that have actual quality standards. In my opinion you should avoid the many sites springing up where webmasters exchange their articles. I won’t name names and say who these sites are as that wouldn’t be right. They are a step in the right direction, but as a blog owner you need to be looking for quality. Would it make sense for your content (and link) to be there if Google didn’t exist? If so, then it’s a good choice and you should go for it!
If you want to find quality sites to share your content and ideas as well as getting links, then Google is your friend. Try using these two simple search terms (footprints):
inurl:”write for us” [insert your niche]
“guest post” [insert your niche]
Those footprints should find you sites that accept sharing of content and ideas, but don’t forget to evaluate the site itself. If it’s a spam setup you should easily be able to see it. Aim for quality and relevance. Relevance is more important than ever now. Black Hat SEO’s pre penguin used to think that any link counts and relevance is, well, irrelevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you can find quality relevant sites and pitch content ideas that would resonate with both your audience and theirs then you’re onto a winner.
Blog commentingThis old low quality SEO trick has been around forever. Essentially the plan was to ‘get the link’ and make one blog comment on the site and then move onto the next. The more linking root domains that your blog has the more power it has for ranking, or at least that was the theory. Again, when Penguin came along then this method of getting backlinks got absolutely destroyed. It was already seriously devalued before then, but now you risk getting a penalty on your blog if you carry out these tactics. So, my SEO suggestion to replace this in the Penguin era is to comment on blogs.
Yes you heard that right. I’m not looking for you to get penalised, don’t worry! There’s nothing wrong with these techniques and there never was, it’s just that way that they were used and abused that was the problem. Relevance and quality is the key and it always will be, but even more it’s about building relationships.
By commenting on blogs you can get links and good ones if you do it right. I’m also NOT talking about the link within the comment. I’d suggest linking to your Twitter account in the comments. Find the highest quality relevant blogs in your niche that write the best content for their audience. When you find an article that you have enjoyed, make a quality comment. I’m not talking, “thanks, nice post”, I’m saying make a super high quality reply to the themes explored in the article itself. Think of your comment as an article in itself (although don’t go too crazy!). You’ll certainly get the attention of the webmaster and he’ll thank you for it, especially if you do this a few times over a few weeks. So, how do I get a quality link I hear you ask?
Building links is all about connecting with people and ideas. Build a relationship slowly with your link targets. Follow them on Twitter, retweet their tweets, and comment on their blog. Maybe later on send an email and start an exchange of ideas. Finally when the time is right, make your approach for the link. You can do it many ways. You could ask for a guest posting opportunity even if they don’t normally do guest posts, and you’ll probably get it, but that’s too easy.
By now you should know the kind of content and ideas that the webmaster and his audience enjoy. Create that content on your own website (which helps you even more) and ask the webmaster to link to it. If you’ve worked hard on the relationship then you’ll likely get a great link to your site. Not only will you have earned a quality link the hard way, but you’ve built a relationship which may well last much longer than the time it takes to get a single link. Not to mention that your link target was the type of site that won’t link to your competitors or others in your niche.
This strategy of course should be used for the highest of the high quality sites. The ones where you’d dream of having them link to you. It works.
A final noteThe key with all of this is relevance and quality. There’s no point doing any of this on low quality or irrelevant sites. Create a list today of all the sites in your niche that you’d love to get a relevant link from. Then work out a strategy of exactly how you can approach them and get the link. Outright asking for it upfront is going to get you nowhere. However, if you build real relationships then you can achieve the hardest of goals.
What tips do you have to do the link building side of SEO better? Everybody can surely see that today it’s all about quality and relevancy, and lack of creativity is your only roadblock to blogging success. Let me know in your comments.