By now you know that Google optimization is based on the premise that the more people like a website, the more important and valuable it must be in that niche, and the more it deserves higher rankings. For over two decades since Google was devised, beneath the complex mathematics, the dozens of MIT experts swallowed into the RD department, and the billions of dollars created in revenue, beneath all this lies a simple truth, Google optimization works.
Popularity will give you a pretty accurate idea of a website’s value. But what exactly constitutes popularity at least as far as the search engines are concerned? From Google’s perspective, the number of quality backlinks your site has from authority websites is a meaningful vote of confidence.
I’d like us to break down 10 simple but powerful ways you can build quality backlinks that will send you real traffic.
1. Watch your competitors’ backlinks
It’s one great way to find out what your competition is up to and the great thing is you have a lot of online tools to help you with that. Tools such as Open Site Explorer, which is a backlink tool created by the folks at SEOmoz and you can use it to monitor links and find out where they’re coming from. Are your competitors getting linked to from blogs/publications that cover your niche? Contact the author and introduce them to a piece of content that you wrote, and avoid begging and pleading.
If you’re writing emails with the intention of having websites link to you then the most effective approach would have to be the one where you offer to fix a problem they have. For journalists this would mean ideas for new stories, and for bloggers it would mean new posts. Find out other sources where your competitors are linking from; this could be resource pages, relevant sites, etc. Whatever the source, if they are getting linked, then so can you.
2. Remember to design your website for readers
I know this may sound counter-productive, but stay with me for a moment. Search engines have been exploring ways to follow people, as opposed to following links, and while backlinks still play a huge part in search, there has been an effort, particularly from Google, to get more in tune with people. What this means is that the more you spend time creating a site that makes absolutely no sense to a person and is meant to be read by search engines, the more you will have trouble being taken seriously by the same engines.
Google has set in place measures to pick out and penalize sites for ‘over- optimizing’ content so that should give you a pretty good idea where they’re coming from. Websites that build content aimed at a real audience has a better chance of surviving rank drops because it takes more than search traffic to maintain a thriving following.
Also creating a site with useful content leads to more interaction and more natural links because the content creates discussions and links tend to follow discussions.
3. Contribute to other blogs
You probably already know the power of guest posting and its triple effect which comes in the form of
- Brand exposure - Links
If you can contribute regularly to a large blog, whether paid or in an effort to gain exposure, it will give you an opportunity to generate links more consistently, even linking to some of your older content. When you write for other blogs, it gives you the opportunity to link to some of the deeper pages on your site, and when combined with regular guest posting, the result is abounding links. This form of exposure creates a lot of buzz around a brand and also generates direct links.
4. Design a great blog
Now you might be wondering what in the world blog design has to do with SEO, but it’s more than you think. Among other things, a great design plays a huge role in increasing conversion and a good design reduces your bounce rate significantly. There has been a lot of argument over whether blog design affects SEO directly, but one thing is for sure, people won’t stick around to read your content if the blog isn’t appealing.
Also, marketing trends suggest that people innately trust a well-designed website than they would a low-quality website. This matters because a site with trust and good reputation generates more links and that in turn affects SEO.
Direct linking on the other hand, can be explored through sites that allow submission of well-designed sites. TheLogoMix is one such avenue, and they let you submit any site logo and receive backlinks for it. In addition, you can get plenty more design sites that will allow you to turn in your site design to a showcase, where most of them will agree to link back to your own site.
5. Set in place resource pages
Resource pages, in addition to reducing your bounce rate, also work well as link baits to boost your rankings on tough topics. One good demonstration for this would be Copyblogger. They have comprehensive resources which link back to some of their best posts on the same subject, and those links target difficult keywords.
Considering they rank somewhere on the first or second pages for terms such as SEO, Copywriting and Content marketing, you have to conclude they are doing something right. Consider the major topics covered by your blog, and research a few keywords around the same topics using the Google Keyword tool; that way you will find out which terms have higher search counts. Select the terms you can realistically rank well for.
6. Employ embeddable widgets/images
Are you familiar with the comic site TheOatmeal? Well, the owner, Matt Inman, once worked as a consultant at SEOmoz, and he knows a few things about getting links. When he started a project for a dating site called Mingle2, he managed to beat industry giants such as Match.com for terms such as “online dating” and “free online dating”. So how does that happen?
One way smart people do this is by creating embeddable content which people showcase on their own sites. You see, those embeddable widgets contain a link to your site. Aside from widgets, folks such as Mint.com also use infographics at the bottom. This helps them rank for tougher terms.
7. Do an interview with a well-known figure
While you probably know about the power in interviewing industry influencers, chances are you haven’t actually done so. Interviews are great, and more so for blogs and they are pretty simple to arrange because everyone loves being interviewed. It’s a tactic intended to let you feature names bigger than yours, and if you do a good job with the interview, the interviewee is likely to share your post with their own following, further pushing you into the limelight.
They don’t even have to link directly to the content itself. What matters is you interviewed someone perceived as powerful in a specific industry, and the result will be a growth in links from lots of people in the same industry.
8. Create round-up posts
Round-ups are basically collections of resources, articles, products, that cover a specific topic in great detail. Round-up posts are effective because they usually link to a large number of people and those same people are likely to Tweet and link back the article. For this reason, they tend to become powerful bookmark havens and people just have to share and save them because of their quantity of value.
You could create your own round-up and check out a few keywords you think would be okay to rank for, and then publish. It helps to do a little research before publishing large pieces such as this so that you build links and pull in traffic.
In case you hadn’t noticed, crowdsourcing is all the hype these days. It’s a more dynamic take on the traditional form of interviews. Instead of posting one interview containing loads of information, you collect small bits of information from different authority figures and publish small bit of each interview.
One example of this is the round-up feature most blogs utilize to gather a bunch of experts talking about a given topic. You can do something similar, perhaps by gathering small bits of interviews from SEO experts where they talk about their predictions for the coming year.
10. Create products
It’s an area where many bloggers get lazy and resort to the ‘build an audience build products later’. It’s true you might not actually need a product to begin with, but you can’t argue that having a product to promote and sell can definitely lead to more brand awareness.
At the end of such a list, you might have too much information to process, and that can make it harder for you to implement the strategies. The trick here is to choose one or two strategies to implement this week, and work your way up from there.