Many of my clients, on first contact, are interested in what we can do for them when it comes to link building.
That’s not surprising, there is no end of content around the web about how important links are and most people receive regular spamy type emails offering ’50 links for $20′ or the like. It all makes link building sound vital.
More often than not it is the client’s website itself that needs cleaning up first so that the search engines can actually understand it and index it correctly. From this more visitors, and more of the right visitors, start pouring in. For more on this see one of my past posts – SEO: building backlinks doesn’t work.
The big change over the last two years is that links play a minor role now compared to in the past. Much of the web content harping on about their absolute importance is dated (or the people who are writing it are dated!).
But links are not to be discounted. Once a website’s code and content are optimised it may still need inbound links, especially if it is for a very competitive keyword or phrase that the client wants to pursue.
So when link building as actually needed, and again I’m pointing out it isn’t always, there are two ways to go about it:
- trawl the internet and make them yourself (submitting to directories, commenting in forums, etc) or pay someone to do it for you.
- persuade internet users, complete strangers, to make the links for you.
Now this second option sounds ideal and it is actually achievable through something SEO practitioners call ‘link bait’. Create content that is so good people will want to link to you, or like you on Facebook, or Tweet about your page, or bookmark you, and so on.
In some ways Wikipedia is the ultimate example of this with each page literally acting like Link Bait for the word it is about. Google ‘Hong Kong’ and there it is.
Now imagine how many times a month someone asks a question somewhere on a forum, chat room or in a blog about Hong Kong and another person answers, ﾓThere’s good information about Hong Kong on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong.
Add to that all sorts of organisations from hotels to guide books who have a link on their page to Wikipedia’s Hong Kong page and you begin to see how effective Link Bait is. All these people and organisations are creating links so Wikipedia doesn’t have to lift a finger.
And here’s an example of us using Link Bait. On the website of How to Really Buy a Property we created a property terminology section useful enough for people to bookmark or link to from their websites. Now the site ranks in Googles top 10 for over 50 property related terms.
The added value of Link Bait is that once it is out there it just keeps on attracting more links day and night, week after week. You don’t have to do anything except keep the bait up to date. But it has to be good bait.
And there lies the issue. It is not easy to create content so interesting or so comprehensive that internet surfers and other webmasters will want to create that link. Blogs, articles, glossaries and FAQ sections are all great places to put the bait, but to do them properly means a large investment in time and resource, especially at the beginning.
Hence it always feels more straightforward to pay that $20 and get those 50 links.
Ultimately though most of these cheap-cheap links are on such poor quality sites that they will either disappear fairly quickly or they are on sites which are so spammable (and hence so full of spam) that Google or other search engines pay them little attention.
Link Bait, on the other hand, gives you a chance to get links even from the most respectable websites on the internet whether that is one of Google’s trusted sources (like the BBC or CNN) or giants like Wikipedia itself.
So if you plan to be around for the long term Link Bait is the direction you should be considering. The work is hard but the links you gain count for far more and stand the test of time, keeping you high and stable in the search engine results.
And if you don’t have the time or the skills to create Link Bait? Well we can do it for you. Visit our SEO quote page for more information because, ror the most part, it’s better to pay someone to build link bait than to build links.
As for DIY link building, it is not to be thrown out with the bath water, but exactly how you can do it in an effective way is something I will cover in the next blog.