Today’s SEO Link Building Best Practices

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Link BuildingDespite what you may have heard, link building is still an important part of SEO. That’s because the search engines still use a website’s inbound link portfolio as a ranking factor. The more high-quality, relevant links a site has, the better. However, it’s true that link building has drastically changed over the years. In an effort to minimize link spam, there are now many link building rules set forth by the search engines to follow. But that doesn’t mean that SEO link building is dead. Here are 5 SEO link building best practices to follow today:

Ask for a link

Not every person who publishes online content understands SEO. That’s why many SEO link building opportunities are missed. Any time your company is mentioned online, it’s important to ask for an inbound link back to your site. For example, if an executive at your company is quoted in an article it’s likely that the article mentions their position and your company name. Is the company name linked to? If not, don’t be afraid to ask them to add the link. They might say no due to their own internal linking procedures, but there’s no harm in trying. It might have been an oversight on their end or they didn’t understand the significance of the link. The marketing or PR department should be aware of any online press your company is getting. Always check to make sure that a link is included.

Nofollow any paid links

Think of a paid link like an advertisement. Any time there is an exchange of money for a link, that link needs to be nofollowed. This tells the search engines that you are placing this link to generate traffic, not to try and manipulate your link portfolio for SEO gains.

Keep link building top of mind

When you engage in any marketing activity, be sure to ask yourself how you can get an inbound link from the activity. For example, if you’re sponsoring an event, ask for a mention and a link on the organization’s website. The same goes for attending trade shows, attending college career fairs, forming partnerships, joining professional/local groups, appearances on local TV or radio stations, and any community service work your employees do. Nearly every organization has a website today and if you do any work with them, they can mention it on their website and include a link to yours. As mentioned above, sometimes you’ll need to ask for this link.

Use the correct link

HTTP on a Computer Monitor
When your company earns any online coverage (non paid), make sure that the correct page is being linked to. For example, say your website includes an e-commerce component. If an article mentions a specific product, they might hyperlink to the name of the product. Yet, they might link to the search URL and not the actual landing page. Here’s an example. On the Home Depot website you can search for “top load washers.” That URL generated is: http://www.homedepot.com/s/top%2520load%2520washers?NCNI-5 While this URL will take people to the correct page, it’s not helping SEO because that page isn’t indexed. Instead, you want to make sure that the landing page is used. In this example the “top load washers” landing page is: http://www.homedepot.com/b/Appliances-Washers-Dryers-Washers-Top-Load-Washers/N-5yc1vZc3oc As you can see, this page is indexed.

Focus on branded anchor text

After the Google Penguin update a few years back, keyword anchor text linking went out of style. However, a smart alternative is to link to branded keywords instead. To the search engines, this is a much more natural way of linking to your website.

Link building is still important, it’s just necessary to have the right mindset and follow the rules. Doing so will improve your inbound link portfolio and organic search traffic over time.

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