Over the course of the last week, I have seen people saying what works and what doesn’t in link building – and they all contradict each other. Some say the old fashioned link request from webmasters is dead and guest blogging is the way to go, while others say guest blogging is not a good strategy at all for link building. Directories, blog comments, forum posts, dofollow, nofollow, social media – you name the strategy, and there’s bound to be a group of diehard fans of it as well as those who think it’s a complete waste of time.
So, the question is, what does work?
The answer – it depends. It depends on the keyword difficulty and competition, the niche, the client, the saturation, etc. So how do you determine the best route to go? It really comes down to two things.
1. Competitor Research
First of all, you need to do competitor research for the keywords you are trying to rank for. Find the sites that rank the best, then look at their backlinks. You might be surprised to find that someone is ranking with only reciprocal links or directories. You might notice that someone is ranking with a ton of mini-sites all linking back to their main site. You might see that someone is ranking with nothing but blog comments.
How fast do you want to be ranking well for your keyword? Are you looking to blast someone off of the number one spot right now, or looking to build quality links for them in the long run that may not give an initial boost? Is your link building strategy simply for search engine rankings, or are you trying to build links that are going to bring in direct traffic?
A Winning Link Building Strategy
So what determines the best link building strategy? It’s really the analysis of what you learned in your competitor research in conjunction with what you want as your end results that will help you decide what types of links to go for.
This means if you see all of your competitors doing nothing but directories, and you just want rankings, you should be doing directories. If you want traffic plus rankings, then you should incorporate guest blogging and social media on top of directories.
And of course, remember that mixing things up is a good thing – try some different approaches to link building to keep it looking natural.
Still not convinced?
If you don’t believe me, take it from these three case studies (for starters) that offer some insight on what works that shouldn’t, or should work but doesn’t.
Always quality stuff coming from you, Kris. Gonna check out some of those articles. Read the one about link directories. Never heard of directory critic! That'll work well for an SEO campaign I'm doing for a computer repair company! My recent post undefined
Relevant content on niche related blogs or article works great! Must be non duplicated original content...oooh the spammers hate to hear that! My recent post ROI Unlimited Superior to Time Shares
Submitting to directory sites is one that doesn't work, unless submitting to the strong directory. Unfortunately there are so many spam directory sites. That's my experience, maybe others have different experiences.
Hi Kristi, I totally agree with you that each keyword phrase should be analyzed separately. What works for one keyword phrase may not work for another. One thing is certain though- varying the kinds of links you get to any page that we're trying to rank is always good practice. Some links are definitely worth the extra effort of work. All the best, Eren
I don't look at the competitors until I get to page one. After analysis, I realize that I just have to keep doing more of what I have been doing as the competitors have been at it longer than me. Patience is key.
It is all very case specific, however I don't think that overestimate competitor research. I will explain - the thing is that you NEVER find your competitors focusing on one or two main methods. If you do, well you're in luck - taking over will be a breeze because your competition is undereducated/lazy. I most cases what you see is that your competition is all over the place - everyone spreads their efforts across all accepted techniques, and so should you.
I have actually seen several cases where the competitors did just one thing. So far, those included only reciprocal linking, only blog comments, only directories, and only creating mini-sites to link back to the main one. A mixed strategy is definitely the best way to go to look natural, but competition who is focusing on just one is easy to beat!
Good advice - it really does depend on the situation and competitor research is so important. It's not that you want to copy others, either, it's a matter of looking at what works vs what might not work for that particular search phrase. Kristi, if you decide you need to get listed in directories, does the decision *which* directories also depend too on the keyword and the competition? Are there any directories across the board that you think make sense to get listed in, regardless of the situation?