14 Ultimate Link-Building Guidelines

How do you know what link-building is safe in 2014? Is there such a thing? That’s a question most SEOs, marketers, and business owners have been trying to answer since Google Penguin first hit in April 2012.

The only answer you can really provide is that all links should be naturally acquired as a byproduct of your brand. As Matt Cutts says above, Bing’s Duane Forrester followed up recently by stating that "You should never know in advance a link is coming, or where it’s coming from."

People are much more cautious about link-building now, and rightly so - no one wants to leave a footprint for Google. Yet we still all need links! Everyone knows links are still a very strong factor toward organic rankings, and despite all of the algorithm updates, this still isn’t likely to change in the near future.

As an agency we have always developed our own internal guidelines to make sure that link acquisition is more natural and content-driven. Below I have listed these guidelines to share with readers:

1. Build an Audience, Not Links

Your biggest link-building weapon should be your publish button. If you publish content to four readers, unless they are the biggest influencers in your industry, it's very unlikely to go viral!

Whereas if you have a publisher readership of more than 100,000 subscribers, it's much more likely to resonate and have a natural outreach effect of shares/links, because you've got the attention of the right crowd. Being in this position is the ultimate position you want to build into, but if like most you’re not quite there yet - try leveraging someone else’s audience instead!

Look to Place Content on Sites With Clear Readership Levels.

Don’t take any of these figures too seriously individually, but this can be determined via a combination of the following:

  • Brand recognition of website
  • Number of quality comments on recent posts
  • Social engagement levels of recent posts
  • Number of Facebook fans/Twitter followers (measured against engagement levels)
  • Associations within niche (partner sites, mentions, celebrity writers)
Make It Win-Win.

Always have something to offer the publisher that they can’t get elsewhere (not money - unless the link contains a nofollow attribute and is clearly labelled as sponsored/featured, but even then be careful!) - but think about how you can create outstanding content, crafted specifically to their audience. This can be:

  • Well-researched and relevant data, a study or a news story
  • Something fun, creative or interactive
  • An expert opinion, unique angle or take on a topical/news story
Target the Content to the Readership of the Publisher, Not the Brand.

This process can be worked out with the publisher, but the following should be taken into account:

  • Who are the readers of the publisher? (Age range, demographics, intellect, level of niche interest, familiarity with brand)
  • What topics will interest them?
  • What angle will encourage them to engage with the piece? (How, what, why)
  • What will annoy them? (Overly branded content, overhyping of claims, bland content)
  • What kind of writing style will appeal to them? (lifestyle, scientific, thought-provoking)
Give Them Something That Can Send Them Your Traffic.

Think of a reason, or follow-up why people would click through to your site. If you can create outstanding content, people are more likely to be intrigued - that means they visit your site and hopefully start to read/subscribe to your content. This builds your marketing list and your own audience for future promotions.

Bear in mind that most blogs get paid on a CPM advertiser basis so they are interested in building an audience and supplying them with content that will encourage them to visit the site. If you can create a content piece that you know will resonate and be a big hit with their readers, it’s much harder for them to say no.

Source : 14 Ultimate Link-Building Guidelines