The Fundamentals of Link Building
Link building is a simple yet crucial element of online marketing that involves getting other websites to link back to your site. When done properly, link building is a key factor in building and maintaining your pest control website’s organic rankings in Google and other search engines. This is important for search engine optimization (or SEO) because if other authoritative sites are linking to yours, it shows Google that your site is legitimate. Think of these as referrals of your credibility!
Link building used as a single ranking strategy is probably not the best move. It is most effective when done hand-in-hand with other online marketing activities – such as content marketing, social media, and paid search – among many others.
Another benefit of link building is increasing brand awareness and establishing authority in your industry. Producing relevant, useful content for readers shows your expertise on the topic and will help build your name as a pest control expert.
How to Build Links to Your Website
Although the concept of link building is simple, the process isn’t always so easy. There are several effective ways to build links that follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, or the “dos and don’ts” of website optimization.
This is both the easiest and, yet, most difficult strategy. This kind of acquisition occurs when bloggers and influential site owners link to your site or share your content on social media without any outreach or work on your end – other than simply your creation of relevant, high-quality content. For example, if you publish a blog post about the risk of the Zika Virus in your state, and a local news source discovers your content, they are likely to share it because it is topical to local readers and national news headlines. While this is the most ideal strategy, it isn’t always the most reliable or realistic way to obtain links. More often than not, you’re going to have to do manual outreach to promote your content. This is especially true for smaller, locally-owned companies that don’t have the brand recognition of bigger corporations.
Manual outreach can be time-consuming and frustrating, but it can also be very rewarding. What is manual outreach? It means manually contacting bloggers and webmasters to ask them to link to your site. This can be difficult because you have to prove to the blogger in a short but attention-grabbing email what your content or information offers to them and how it is relevant to their website. Your language is important in the initial outreach – mention how the link will benefit them and their readers! Other tips for manual outreach include:
- Address the webmaster or blogger by name
- Make it as personal as possible by including details about their website
- Provide specific ideas on how they can link to you, such as an infographic or a sponsored piece of content
So what kinds of websites are considered relevant to the pest control industry? Odds are there aren’t many people with personal blogs focused on eliminating pests in your area, so you’ll have to think outside of the box. Who could benefit from what you have to say and share? Perhaps “mommy bloggers” in your area would be interested in sharing information about what pests dwell in the backyard that could be potentially hazardous to children. DIY home improvement bloggers may be willing to mention the risks and dangers of having termites present in your home. The possibilities are endless—just be creative and ensure the content you are providing is relevant and useful!
When building links for your site, it is beneficial to investigate and analyze your competitors’ websites and their backlink profiles (all of the external links pointing to their site). This can be done with the help of tools like Moz Open Site Explorer, which allows you to view the type of links that your competitors have generated. Resources like this are a good place to start if you need inspiration. What kind of websites are linking to your competitors? How are they getting those links? If a site has already linked to another website in your industry, this may be an excellent opportunity for them to link to yours as well.
Link Building Techniques to Avoid
Now that we know what link building offers to you and how to start acquiring links, let’s take a look at what not to do when building links.
Quantity vs. Quality
Once upon a time, a few Google algorithms ago, the more links you had pointing to your website the more likely you were to rank. While having a diverse backlink profile is not a bad thing, quantity does not trump quality. One thing you should especially avoid when link building is obtaining excessive amounts of links quickly. This is a waving red flag to Google that says, “Hey, something strange might be going on here, come check it out!” which could result in penalties to your website.
What do link penalties mean for you? It means your website’s rankings could potentially drop drastically. Usually, when websites generate large quantities of links in a short amount of time, they tend to be low-quality links from irrelevant pages. Remember: quality is always more important than quantity when it comes to links!
Diversify Your Backlinks
One thing to avoid when link building is pointing all of your links to the same internal page on your site, such as the same blog post or your homepage, even if you are trying to maintain the rank of a particular page on your site. Point readers to various pages on your site–whether it’s the homepage, service pages, blog, or contact form. Diversify your backlink profile!
Good Links vs. Bad Links
“White hat” SEO follows Google’s (or any other search engine’s) rules and policies of online marketing and employs strategies that focus on a human audience rather than search engines. When building links, it is crucial to follow white hat SEO practices to build good, quality links. This includes using high-quality, original content and promoting that content to relevant communities that can benefit from it.
“Black hat” SEO focuses on trying to manipulate search engines rather than focusing on a human audience. In link building, this includes paying for links that attempt to influence search engine rankings or the excessive exchanging of links (i.e. “You link to me, and I’ll link to you!”). These links aren’t considered natural and should be avoided. You should also avoid building low-quality or spammy links. Examples of low-quality links include:
- Low-quality directory websites
- Websites with the word ‘links’ in it
- Websites in a different country or language
- Links on completely irrelevant websites
- The overuse of keywords in the anchor text
Link building can be a tricky thing to master. It is both a fundamental and challenging element of online marketing. The most important things to remember in order to successfully acquire links are to focus on relevance and quality. Link building is a process that requires patience and dedication, but when executed properly, you are more likely to build your company’s reputation and cultivate valuable relationships for the future.