Link Building Tips

Link Building Tips by Matt Cutts

What Are Some Effective Techniques For Building Links?

Ok, we have a question from Pulkit Agrawal. Pulkit asks: “Organic link building, according to me is one of the most difficult tasks for SEOs of SMEs. Can you please list 5 effective ways of organic link building other than building great content?”. Well, I think that’s kind of a false dichotomy, because you do want to build great content and great content is often what brings you those links.

I’m not going to say “Oh, i’m going to leave out all those way of getting good links that involve good content.” I’m just going to talk about a few of the ways, and I don’t know if its five or more or less of thinking of getting good organic links. First and foremost, i’ll start with the first one, which is controversy. Controversy is one of these hooks or link-bait ideas where no matter what you say (eg:”this person sucks”) or you pick one company or you pick one person that you hate and you really pick on them. There’s a few people who have made a profession out of hating everybody, which might do well for them, but boy, its not always fun to hang out with them.

So, you can do that a little bit, but think of it more like the leavening or the spice that you do every so often. It can be fun to uncork a good rant whenever you’re really frustrated because somebody’s had bad customer service or something like that, but you don’t always want to be going for the controversy or you’re like the boy who cried wolf, saying “Look at me, i’m being loud, you have to pay a lot of attention to me!”. Over time, people will end up paying less attention to you. There are a lot softer ways to do that, whether it involves humor or bringing something original to the table, so I wouldn’t rely on controversy all the time. One of the best ways to get links is to participate in the community. I’m not talking about signing up and spamming a bunch of blogs or forums, but rather showing up.

Link Building TipsA good example is answering questions. If you have something of worth, some value you can add by saying “Hey, you know what, I know the answer to this. This is how you configure .htaccess to do a 301 redirect.”. Somebody appreciates that and somebody will remember that you answered their question and they’ll be more willing and more receptive to link when you realize that’s their site, they have a whole pile of interesting articles about how to do good things with 301 redirect or .htaccess. I think participating in the community, answering questions, help other people, can be a big way to do that. Going back to what is building great content, but is still super important: original research. To this day, if somebody does even a little bit of work, dig into a subject, they’re a lot more likely to get links. One of my favorite examples is Danny Sullivan, who compared how well different webmail services were able to despam his inbox. All he did for like a month or so, was compare how much spam he got and what the false positive rate was. He got good data out of it which he them blogged, and a lot of people linked to that.

Just earlier today, for example, Google released Google Public DNS, which is a DNS server that anyone anywhere around can use, so its public for everyone and there was a guy (NAME) who, rather than just read and rehash the blog posts, took it and tested it: Open DNS versus his ISP’s DNS versus this Google Public DNS. He found out we were especially good for international domains, where sometimes DNS resolvers are a little bit slower. Just that original research makes it that much more likely that I will link to him, he’ll stick in my mind, all those sorts of things. So, original research can really make a big difference.

Newsletters. You know if you already have people coming to your blog, make it a little bit easier for that sort of information or article to show up in their inbox because then that can drive traffic, and drive conversions. Social Media. Participating on a forum or blog is one thing, but then participating on Twitter or Friendfeed or Facebook can be another great way, Think about where people spend their time. If they spend five hours on Facebook, then maybe you should spend some of your time on Facebook because getting to know those people can pay off in lots of ways, not just links. Maybe you get to present at a conference. I guarantee, if you’re doing a conference presentation, that’s a great way to get links because people will live blog it, they’ll link to your website, all those sorts of things.

Along with controversy, one of the weaker ones I consider is lists. For example, if you go to Google and say “50 ways to build backlinks”, you will find those articles, right? Those things tend to get Dugg and linked to, and that sort of stuff. They tend to get tiresome after awhile. It’s almost like the candy in your diet; you almost want to have a little spinach and substance as well, but writing a few every so often is not such a bad thing.

Good piece of advice, and I was talking about this question with my cameraman “Wiz” before this, get a blog and establish yourself as an authority. There’s no excuse for a company these days not to have a blog and for most people not to have a blog, because you don’t have to update them all the time and if you want to, you can use Tumblr or Posterous or something where you don’t have to maintain the software but it’s really not that hard to do. If you see a funny picture or something like that, you post it on your blog, you can get a lot of links very quickly. More likely, you’ll probably use your blog to establish yourself. It’s your online business card, your profile, and you can use that to project how you want to be on the internet.

SEO Link BuildingSo, just building that up as a resource of good articles. Another good example is how-to’s and tutorials. I recently, awhile ago, had to figure out how to change the default printer in Firefox on Linux and when I was done, I said “Ok, i’m going to write down those steps so that I can remember it, but more importantly, so the other people searching for it can remember it.”. Even if you don’t get a ton of links to that post, sometimes you don’t need a ton of links. Sometimes that long tail content is enough where the other people who are searching for it will find you, even if you only have two or three links to it.

So its not always about having links, its about having a resource that nobody else in the world has. Talking about resources. Another thing you can do is run a service that people find really useful or even make a product and release it for free or give it to the community. So, a Firefox extension, or a Chrome extension, something that improves you Apache experience or makes things easier for WordPress, WordPress plugins, stuff like that. Services are good because people will come to you to try to try things out but open source is also fantastic because people can download it.

They’re grateful that they got something for free. So you can do the work once, and then lots of people downstream can be grateful and some of those people will link to you. Another good piece of advice. Try to make sure your site has good site architecture. You’d be amazed at how many people don’t handle things like “can my site be crawled?”, “can my site be bookmarked?”, and “can Google get to all the pages on my site?”. You might think it sounds remedial, but you’d be amazed at how many websites mess that up.

So, make it easy to link to your site, or to individual pieces of content on your site, like individual blog posts. That’s almost everything on my list, but i’ll make a final one which is, make a few videos. It turns out, making videos can be a really easy way where, you’re just talking, but people can watch it at any point. They can get a lot of value out of it and hopefully, it’s enjoyable. So, you again, do that work once and then its useful all the way down the line. So those are just a few tips, some different ways to try to build links. Not necessarily always content but it can be really helpful and it can be a good way to try to get some good links.

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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