Last week I was consulting with a small business here in Salt Lake and the business owner asked me what it meant to diversify a link portfolio and how one might go about it.
This is an excellent question and one that many business owners are probably asking themselves, especially after the roll out of Penguin 2.0 early last week.
The problem with SEO is that marketers have always tried to game the system and build certain types of links that deliver big results with the least amount of work. When I first got started with SEO, you could build thousands of directory links and rank in the top three positions in the SERPs within a few weeks. A few years later, it was article marketing websites, and a few years after that, it was blog networks like LinkVana, BuildMyRank, and SEOLinkVine.
What this has led to was a lot of websites building a few different types of links for a very long time and when the algorithm updates discount or ignore those links altogether, those sites are in a world of hurt. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been right there in the thick of it and have had my share of sites go through these same issues (this is not a holier than thou post), what I can tell you is, going through this has caused me to be a smarter marketer, especially when it comes to diversifying my backlinks and my marketing strategies altogether (SEO, Paid Advertising, Email, Etc.).
In today’s post I want to talk about how to better protect yourself from future algorithm updates and five types of links you should consider acquiring when trying to diversify your link portfolio.
Content Driven Links
I wanted to start out by talking about links driven by high quality content that’s interesting and share worthy. One of the easiest ways to future proof your website from algorithm updates, but hardest to execute, is to create the kind of content your target audience is in dire need of and get them to share and link to it. This can be done by creating infographics, ebooks, white papers, checklists, and other items of great value. It can also be done by becoming a thought leader and blogging (freely giving away your knowledge and expertise) on a regular basis.
Creating this kind of content generates the signals the search engines are looking for and are really hard to replicate by the competition. There will always be a group of individuals who link to and share your content that won’t for your competition.
I am always amazed by the number of companies I consult with that have never thought to get links from websites in their region. Chances are, there are chambers and other organizations you belong to that you can get a link from. There are also good chances that there are different events that you can sponsor or charities you can donate to that will get you a link. I love Wil Reynolds idea of creating scholarships (you should do this for local Universities) and use that for generate links for your business.
Some other ideas to help you generate links from websites in your region is to comment on local blogs, guest blog on local, niche blogs, and provide testimonials to local businesses that you love. You can read more about these in this post by Matt Green over on the Moz blog.
One high impact link strategy that many businesses overlook is setting up your business in all of the major business directories online. Most marketers do this to help with their maps optimization, you know, citation building and aligning your name, address, and phone number, but forget that these trusted directories also provide links back to your website.
I like to start with some of the bigger, more trusted sites, like those found on GetListed.org. These include Best of The Web, City Search, FourSquare, Hot Frog, Super Pages, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and Here.com. I’ll tell you what, if Moz recommends these sites, you should have profiles on them… TODAY!
Partners & Vendors
Another way to get some awesome links that help to round out your link portfolio is to leverage any partnerships or vendors for links. A lot of companies are scared to even ask because they are afraid it is going to damage their relationship with them. I’m here to tell you, it’s not! In fact, it often times strengthens the relationship. If you are willing, you might also add a link to them on your website. Yes, this is a reciprocal link, but in this particular situation, it is perfectly normal to link back and forth and you won’t be penalized for it. So don’t even go there in the comments 🙂
Lastly, and I saved this one for last because it is a tactic that is severely abused, is to do some guest blogging. To do guest blogging the right way, you will want to identify a handful of high quality, high visibility blogs in your niche and build a relationship with the blog owners. After becoming friends, you should work to get some of your best content published on their websites. These links will stand the test of time, low quality, “anyone can get them” guest posts will not. So be smart about it.
There are lots of other fantastic ways to build links that will help diversify your link portfolio, however, I’d start with these. If you’d like to chat about other link strategies not listed here, please do so in the comments section below.