The buzz in the digital world is that SEO-led PR is the way forward for link building – but putting all your eggs in that “Page Rank 6 Newspaper Website” basket isn’t exactly the most effective or easiest strategy for building links in the short term. This is not to say that those links aren’t nice to have, but the likelihood of getting them at the start of a campaign is quite slim.

The most important thing to consider when link building, is that it takes time to understand the brand and its tone, and to develop the right approach to get those links.

During the first few months of link building, the volume of links is going to be a very important factor that will let your client see tangible results very quickly. In order to get those simpler and quicker links, there are a few things you can do.

Consider these the foundation of a great link profile.

Analyse the competition

At the beginning of a link building project you should look at copying your competitor’s links.

This strategy has three effects:

  1. It will devalue your competitors’ links, lessening their share of link juice from any one page.
  2. You will gain a valuable backlink for yourself.
  3. Improve your site’s rankings by reaping the benefits of co-citation, being linked or mentioned beside a site in the same niche.

We recommend Majestic SEO’s clique hunter software to gather a list of prospective targets.

How it works:

Phase 1

Analyse the top ranking sites at Page / URL level

  • Choose one of your target keywords
  • Type this into Google
  • Record the top nine or ten results (as URLs) depending on if your site already ranks in the top ten.
  • Put these, plus your website into Clique Hunter and generate a report

Phase 2

Analyse the top ranking sites at Root Domain level

  • Take the list you generated in Phase 1
  • Put these, plus your website into Clique Hunter as root domains and generate a report

Then repeat the process for each keyword you are looking to rank for.

By the end of this process you should find yourself with a long list of link targets to work through.

Next, you will have to look for the websites that have links to two or more of competitors in your niche. You can then approach these websites for a link, as long as you are positive that links on said website won’t affect you negatively.

How you chose to link and what anchor text you use is up to you.

Link Reclamation

As time goes on links tend to break, as a link builder it’s usually good practice to take some time now and then to keep on top of them.

There are a few reasons why links may break, such as retired pages, changing URLs during redevelopment, or misspelt URLs on third party websites. How can you tell if it is broken? Any time a link returns a 404 server code – it is broken.

Finding broken links leading to your site is an activity that has multiple benefits.

A link to a 404 page on your website sends a negative signal to search engines. It shows that your site’s content is not kept up to date, or that you create and retire content with little regard for your end users’ experience.

It is important to remember that a link’s primary purpose is as a navigational device, so if it leads to a dead page the link is essentially useless.

How to find them:

There are two methods you can use to find broken links.

Method 1

Generate a top pages report in Majestic SEO and then filter this by:

  • Pages that have inbound links
  • Pages that return a 404 Not Found server code

Method 2

Check Google Analytics Landing Pages and filter by referral traffic only.

Download this and upload into Screaming Frog and see which pages fail to return a 200 code.

Once found, these links are actually pretty easy to fix, and here’s how:

For mis-spelt or changed URLs:

  • Contact the webmasters and get them to update the link
  • Set up a 301 redirect on the misspelling of the URL to make sure traffic lands on the right page

For retired content

  • Recreate the content
  • Redirect the URL to something similar
  • Create a custom page that explains that this content is no longer here, but the user might be interested in something else

As simple as that!

Broken Link Building

Once you have repaired your broken links you can move on to pilfering your competitors’ broken links. This task can be highly effective with the potential to greatly benefit your link building strategy.

What you will need to do is:

  • Generate the same top pages report as you did in Method 1 for Link Reclamation, but for your competition
  • Now, check the pages that return 404 errors, but that have significant link equity
  • Check the Internet Archive to learn what should have been on those pages
  • Recreate those pages, only better
  • Inform the webmasters that they’re linking to a broken page and that this is bad for their own website performance, and user experience.
  • Offer them your version as an alternative

Link Audits

As you are probably aware, Google is handing out penalties left right and centre. If you have been penalised, you can contact us today to talk about penalty recovery.

If you have not been affected by a penalty then it is vital that your back links are kept in line. The best way to start any link building campaign is by conducting a link audit.

You should be making a note of:

  • Over-optimised anchor text
  • Image links that put strain on your site’s bandwidth allowance
  • Suspicious anchor text
  • Links from scrapers, spam sites and link networks
  • Comment spam
  • Negative SEO attacks

The threat of penalty should not be the only reason for you to keep on top of back links, you may also find:

  • Safe anchor text opportunities
  • Images that are linked without Title or Alt text
  • Mentions that don’t link to you (Majestic can report these)
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Popular content that you could refresh or develop further

Suppliers and Partners

If you have suppliers who have websites or are a supplier to other businesses that have websites, this is your chance to utilise this opportunity for links. These would be viable link partners.

Here are some ways you can get links from your partners:

  • Offer a testimonial about their services
  • Suggest writing them a blog post
  • Suggest partnering on a case study

These are just a few of the quick win strategies that can be used to gain a healthy backlink profile, and the perfect foundation for further link building.

If you need help with a link building project, get in touch with Receptional today!