In the wake of Penguin, I’ve been getting asked this question A LOT. I think it’s finally time for my answer.
Penguin has changed everything – oh wait, no it hasn’t. All it did was penalize those for doing what they knew was wrong, but the only difference is that Google actually followed through with some of their threats on bad links.
So what SHOULD we be doing? We know what links we SHOULDN’T be pursuing, so it’s finally time to break down the links that you can get.
I’m not talking about an Xrumer blast, but for the lower quality links you can get, never go for anchor text. That era is over (see image above). Here are a few examples:
Directory links (Give me a minute before you bust my chops)
If you’re still going for directory links solely so you can get anchor text, then stop. Your goal for directories (stick to higher quality & niche related though) should be 1st to make sure they get accepted into the directory and 2nd that you can get branded anchor text, never keyword rich. You can get those elsewhere.
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In limited numbers they work, and they work great, but once again, don’t go for exact anchors. Always use your name, because not only will they have a higher chance of getting accepted, but it’ll help diversify your anchor distribution.
You know you can still get easy followed links from Tumblr, right? I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, so go check out this video by Ana Hoffman (scroll down a little bit). To clarify: just use your name. I know you can get anchor text, but don’t (if you HAVE to, do partial). Also, don’t abuse this. You’re ratio of total links to linking root domains will start to look very unnatural very quick if you start getting a ton of these each day.
You hear a lot about content-based link building strategies, and a lot of them are vague and hard to actually put into play (not to mention completely hit or miss), so here’s a quick list of actionable content-based link building tips.
Research FAQs, build content around it, set up alerts, reference it when you enter the conversation
This one’s a little old in my book, but create content around certain questions that get asked a lot in your niche, create a thorough post on the topic, then set up Alerts so when it’s mentioned, you can swoop in & answer, as well as referencing your post either in the middle of your response or as a source at the end (i.e. Yahoo! Answers makes you cite the source at the end). They might be nofollow links in some cases, but seeing as they shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to get each time, they’re worth it IMO.
Target natural linkers, build content that they share
Here’s the process for this strategy:
An easy identifier of those who link out freely are the ones who do weekly or monthly link roundup posts.
Also, I recommend (as you probably already know) to make sure you’re not just sending over a cold call email when you suggest the content. Make sure you develop those relationships, then start recommending that content. Sure, it might take a month or so, but if you do it right, you’ll be able to tap into these linkers time & time again.
Mega Broken Link Building
I call this “mega” because if done correctly, you might never run out of opportunities (depending on the size of your niche). Here we go:
You now have a sortable list of previously linked to content that no longer exists. The top of your list of broken links should have a few highly linked to pieces of content, so use the Wayback machine to find what was there, recreate it (but make it even better; even add other types of media like images, video, audio, etc), then reach out to everyone linking to the broken resource and ask for them to replace the old one with a link to you.
You can also do this for links pages:
Seeing as it was a links page, they’re probably broken homepages, so start out at the top of the list and go down until you find a website that’s completely broken. Put them into OSE and find their Top Pages, then recreate that content & reach out to the old linkers to replace it with a link to your new content.
Reclaiming Twitter Mentions
If someone ever links to your Twitter page (i.e. twitter.com/pointblankseo), then do what I did here by creating a page on your site for your Twitter account, then reach out to them and ask if they could switch out the Twitter.com link with one to the page you just created. Can’t remember where I heard this, but it’s genius.
You can also do this with any other accounts you have online. Sure, they might not have a widget that Twitter has that makes it a quick & easy set up, but get creative (i.e. if they link to you in a forum, create a page on your site all about your activity and accomplishments on it, as well as a link at the top of the page to your account).
I know most of you’ve heard it before, but because it’s a quick set up & they’re practically free links, I’m hoping one person hears this for the first time:
Super simple & super actionable.
I might have repurposed a lot of these strategies from past posts, but the point is that there are tons of ways to build links that are still OK in Google’s eyes, so if you stock up on these, you’ll never have to worry about algorithm updates again (actually, you’ll start looking forward to them!).