10 Tips for Link Building and SEO: Part Two • Anna Colibri
(10 Min. Read)
Welcome back for Part Two of our 10 Tips for Link Building and SEO!
As the top San Francisco B Corp-certified digital marketing agency, Colibri Digital Marketing answers a lot of questions about link-building resources, and about some of the lesser known avenues for creating strong backlinks. We’ve put together this helpful guide to showcase some of our favorite tips and tricks for generating the backlinks your business needs to get a leg up on the competition. If you missed Part One, go ahead and give it a read-through first. It gives you a quick refresher on the basics of linking, and it introduces some of the acronyms and examples that I’ll be using throughout Part Two.
Give it a read, bookmark it for later, share it with a friend — we hope even a seasoned SEO professional will find something new.
If you’re careful with them, reviews are another useful, and under-utilized, avenue for getting the word out about your site. Testimonials, reviews, quotations, and so on have a few different uses. For instance, our hypothetical friend John would welcome a review like “John’s SEO roundup blog is the best all-in-one resource for any digital marketing agency. — Andrew McLoughlin, for Colibri Digital Marketing” on his site, or anywhere else he could advertise it.
There is a trick to it, though. Peppering review sites with obvious link-grabs (“Tony’s Pizza is the best pizza a San Francisco digital marketing agency could ask for! — Colibri Digital Marketing”) is just going to annoy users (of their site and yours) and spammy nonsense like that will quickly trash your DA. Remember the simple guideline, like with any backlink, that a review needs to be relevant and responsible, before you should consider using it as a backlink.
6. Volunteering and Sponsoring Events
Following our cardinal rule that these links need to be relevant in some way, volunteering with an organization or sponsoring an event can be another wonderful strategy to get your business some link exposure. If you can find an event or in your industry, all the better, but so long as there’s a reason why this event, in particular, should link to your site, it can be a great source of link traffic. If your digital marketing agency were to sponsor a local park installation, say, or a civic cleaning initiative, it might reinforce the idea of your company’s eco-friendly business practices, making the backlink a natural fit. Someone reading about the park installation might be glad for the backlink, since it would direct them to a company that shared their values. Your backlink would thereby enhance user experience, and wouldn’t feel out of place.
While we’re on the subject of sponsorships, another often overlooked link opportunity comes from scholarships. Students often apply for dozens or hundreds of scholarships, so even a modest scholarship (like $1000 annually to a student studying web design who contributes an essay on eco-friendly business practices in the digital age, say) will go a long way. For links, you can expect to find your business linked, via the scholarship, from any number of sites including eligible universities, local roundups and resources, scholarship registries, industry blogs, and so on. The more valuable the scholarship, the more likely it is to generate strong backlinks, and don’t discount how valuable that kind of resource will be to the lucky student(s).
This digital marketing strategy requires some skills, but there are plenty of tools out there (some free, some paid) to assist you. Basically, with a little grunt work, your site might be able to redirect existing backlinks for itself, snagging traffic away from your competitors.
Here’s how scraping works. First, find a site that links to a number of your competitors. Larger, well-established sites, especially those with a big archive of back content in your industry, are a pretty strong bet. Recalling John’s hypothetical round-up blog, we may presume that he’s got years of back content, like old blog posts, linking to digital marketing sites, many of which have updated, changed their URLs, moved to new hosts, stopped hosting old content, or whatever else. Those links in John’s back archives now 404 when you click them (what are called “broken links”). By finding all broken links (using a bot to inventory a site is called “crawling” or “scraping”) you can find opportunities to nab the link for yourself. John doesn’t want broken links cluttering up his site (they’re terrible for user experience), so if you bring an error to his attention he’ll likely be glad to amend it with a functioning link. If your site offers content which would be appropriate to link to, there’s a good chance that your site can claim that backlink for its own.
This is really a subset of #8, but there’s a special trick to this one so it merits its own section. When Wikipedia, in the natural course of editing, finds a broken link, rather than just remove it, it’s flagged as a “dead link” so that it can be updated or revised. Basically, Wikipedia is doing the scraping for you. All that’s left for you to do is claim the linking opportunities they’ve laid out. The easiest way is with a simple Google search. Here’s an example search query:
site:wikipedia.com digital marketing agency San Francisco “dead link”
This will bring up any page on Wikipedia that mentions your search phrase (here, “digital marketing agency San Francisco”) that also includes the exact-string “dead link”. Next, you start checking webpages to find out whether any of your content would be appropriate to fill the vacancy. Before long, you’ll have snagged yourself a whole pile of new hyperlinks from a site with stellar DA and towering traffic volume.
And finally we come to the elephant in the room. The Dreaded Directory. I know that, back in Part One, I said that directories were no longer appropriate, but there are a few special cases. When we talked about directories ten or twenty years ago, we referred to vacuous pages that existed solely to house thousands of cheap, pointless backlinks. At the time, you could materially increase your page rank by having more links and you’d get essentially the same rankings boost from cheap spammy ones as you would from legitimate ones. It was slimy then, but now Google doesn’t tolerate the practice and has been cracking down hard on sites that still employ what are generally referred to as black hat SEO tactics.
However, there are some directories now that are much improved over the glorified phone books of yesteryear. Directories that cater to a specific industry, for example, can help a user search for a business. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are a good match for this kind of directory listing, but there’d be no harm in a directory like “John’s Digital Marketing Directory Service”. So long as the directory is actually enhancing user engagement (quick rule of thumb: “would a user actually search this database to find someone like me?”) then the backlink is legitimate. If the directory’s primary function is to host links rather than to help users, then absolutely steer clear.
No Stronger Than It’s Weakest Link
Well, there you have it, folks. That’s our list of the top ten link building tips for digital marketers and SEO professionals. If you can think of any great link building tips we didn’t mention, find us on Facebook and let us know what else to include in Part 3! If we can help your business build a better link network, contact us today to schedule your free digital marketing strategy session!
It’s fun :)
Colibri Digital Marketing
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Originally published at colibridigitalmarketing.com on February 17, 2017.