A Brief Guide to Successful SEO Link Building in 2020

As the CEO of a full-service digital marketing agency, I see far too many marketers and website owners subscribing to outdated link building practices in an effort to improve their SEO. Unless these practices are nipped in the bud early, they can actually have the opposite effect.

The truth is that many link building tactics are either unnecessary or downright harmful to your SEO performance. While most marketers know better than to employ black hat SEO tactics, not everyone understands how backlinks differ in value.

While one backlink can do wonders for your ranking performance, a dozen other links can barely move the dial. That’s why I’ve put together this brief guide to improving your SEO link building strategy while staying compliant with Google’s updated 2020 Webmaster Guidelines.

Below, I’ve put together a list of the best link building tactics for 2020 that will noticeably impact your ranking performance and won’t penalize your website.

Start locally.

Local SEO should be the starting point of any successful link building strategy. Local business mentions (or “quotes”) tend to work very well with Google’s PageRank algorithm. They also go a long way to improving your results, with 18% of local searches (download required) on mobile devices leading to a sale within 24 hours, according to 2014 Google data.

A local citation is any mention of your business details on the web, including name, phone number, website URL, address or zip code. If your website is associated with a physical address or physical storefront, accumulating local citations helps Google understand who serves your website or store. In other words, citations help search engines build trust in your business’s physical presence.

Building local SEO backlinks is easy because there are tons of registries and directories where business owners can enter their business information. Here are some great places to start creating local citations:

• Google My Business.

• Apple Cards.

• Foursquare.

• Bark.

• Bing.

• Acxiom.

• Facebook.

• Better Business Bureau.

• Yellow Pages.

Invest in value-driven content.

Linking to your website’s landing page can help build your page’s domain authority, but it won’t have as big an impact on your results compared to blog posts in your marketing funnel. Before building links or guest posts, invest in creating solid SEO content where you have at least 30-50 search engine optimized blog posts on your website that provide real original value to readers of your niche.

Having a solid base of blog posts on your website allows you to build backlinks to posts that direct readers to a money page. For example, if you’re an e-tailer selling fitness equipment, backlinking to a review of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes hosted on your site can help drive sales. However, the blogs you link to should always match the searcher’s user intent – in other words, don’t link to a sales-oriented page if the reader just wants to know more. on a given product.

Start posting guests.

Reach out to high-authority web hosts or domain administrators in your website’s niche to write a guest post for their website. In the bio section of the article, be sure to include a link to your website landing page and provide a link to a relevant informative blog on your site. These links will pass more “link juice” to your website based on the authority of the host platform.

Guest posts are an effective part of a link building strategy because they are mutually beneficial. On the one hand, they benefit the website host by adding free content to their website. On the other hand, the guest poster gets a free backlink or two to their domain, which will help boost their SEO performance by transferring domain authority.

Fix broken links.

If you removed a page from your website, all inbound links that pointed to it will now generate a 404 error. You can easily find these broken links by running a link audit with third-party SEO software such as Ahrefs or SEMrush.

Once you have identified broken links to your site, you can redirect (“301”) the destination of each broken link to a new relevant location on your site. Never leave a 404 error link on your website. Instead, pass the PageRank to another property on your site.

Use HARO or Qwoted.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and Qwoted are services that connect journalists with industry experts. They’re also one of the easiest ways to rack up high-quality backlinks from major publications like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal.

Reporters working to tight deadlines write questions (“source pitch”) on these platforms, and users can share their expertise in their response. Experts whose answers are used in the final article are often rewarded with a link to their web property. This is a technique that we have been using successfully for years in my agency.

Remember to keep it real.

The key to a successful backlinking strategy is to create original, value-driven content that your readers can’t help but share with their networks. Without amazing content, domains with high PageRank are unlikely to want to link to your website.

It is equally important that you remember to always keep your backlinking strategy genuine. If you buy backlinks or use a private blogging network (PBN), you will almost certainly receive a penalty from Google for violating its webmaster guidelines.

The truth is, there are no shortcuts to successful SEO. Instead, you need to be prepared to create share-worthy content and not be intimidated by the prospect of pitching your content to high-authority domains or thought leaders within your niche. Over time, they will pass PageRank to your domain. The next thing you know, you’ll be the thought leader.

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