How to Build Links for a Brand New Website
Building links is a dangerous business.
It’s so easy to get it wrong and send your site on a roller coaster ride until it hits the ground.
Although the latest Penguin update, a Google algorithm change targeting sites with low quality backlinks wasn’t as large as its previous iterations, it still proves that the search engine is at war with those trying to manipulate their rankings.
At the same time, you need links.
It doesn’t matter how well your new site is optimised, without them it stands little chance to rank.
So how should you build links for a completely new site? Here are two approaches you can take.
Approach 1: The Long-Term Strategy
1. Start with Great Content
Building links without content is tough. Sure, there are some strategies that could work. All in all however, you need content to build links.
So, before you do anything else, you need to create amazing content others will want to link to.
Your content can take many forms:
- Writing – from website pages, blog posts, guides to dedicated landing pages,
- Visual Content – Infographics, memes or cartoons,
- Videos and other interactive content – games, apps etc. and many more.
- The most engaging content types for B2B and B2C companies
- Content types that raise brand awareness.
- B2B content strategy guide.
2. Build Your Personal Brand
I know, it might seem illogical, you want to promote your site and here I am telling you to build your personal brand first.
But let me explain.
People prefer to link to those they recognise as a credible source.
It doesn’t matter if they do so to provide more information, back up their claims or to look more knowledgeable. When deciding whom to link to, they first pick those they know or have heard of.
And that’s where your personal brand comes in.
A personal brand will help you to:
- Build your reputation. An expert status not only opens doors to new opportunities. It also promotes content for you.
- Build relationships. It’s much easier to connect and build relationships with influencers and link prospects with a strong personal brand. If they already know you, they are more likely to recommend you, link to you or share your content on social media.
- Gain passive links. One of the reasons people link to content is to make them look more knowledgeable. And whose content will achieve it for them if not one from a reputable source?
Neil Patel wrote a great guide to building a personal brand. Go check it out.
3. Build Your Network
When speaking about selling, Jeffrey Gitomer once said: If they know you, like you and trust you, only then they might buy from you. The same holds true for link building. In today’s world, if your link prospects don’t know you, like your content and trust you as a resource and a person, they just won’t link to you. Full stop.
Here are some tips to change that:
- Connect with top influencers in your niche on social networks.
- Curate and promote their content
- Engage in conversations with influencers.
All with one single goal – to get onto their radar and start building connections with them.
4. Reach out for links
With great content, personal brand and network of connections to tap into, the last step is to start promoting your content for links.
Here are few strategies to do so:
- Reach out to bloggers and other influencers telling them about your content
- Run Adwords to your top content to drive more eyes to it
- Promote your posts on social media
And do whatever else it takes to get your content in front of people who could link to it.
Approach 2: Quick Wins
1. Recreate your competitor’s links
Your competitors are building links too. Analysing their link profile can reveal a lot of low-hanging fruit – links you could quickly create for your site too.
Recreating competitor’s links is a complex operation, and definitely one deserving a separate post. But to give a quick run through:
Once you have a list ready, assess each link by checking the following:
What type of a site the link is on – is it a blog, PR news site, media publication or a personal site. The reason for doing this is to assess your chances of recreating the link. For instance, if the link is on an industry blog or a resources page, you could get in touch with the site’s webmaster and ask for an inclusion. But if it’s an editorially given link in a newspaper, there is hardly any chance that you could get included as well.
What’s the strength of the domain – the last thing you want is to create links on spam or less reputable sites. Therefore, assess if the site that links to your competitor is worth the effort. You can do so in a number of ways:
Check PR – PageRank (PR) is Google’s own metric assessint the site’s importance, reliability and authority on the web. It is slowly becoming redundant, yet for the time being you can still use it as an indication of the site quality.
Check DA – Domain Authority (DA) is a metric invented by MOZ to assess how website might perform in search engine rankings. The higher the metric, the better the projected performance.
Use common sense – lastly, answer yourself whether you’d like to be associated with the site in any way. If the answer is no (because it looks suspicious, the content is poor or even very low quality, it has no social signals indicating any readership etc.), then perhaps it’s better to let the link slip this time.
(Ahrefs backlink report)
Justin Briggs posted an in-depth guide to performing competitor’s analysis. It’s well worth checking out.
2. Use HARO
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform that connects journalists with news sources.
Once you register as a source and select topics you could provide insight in, HARO will start sending you daily emails with related journalists queries.
Respond to those you could add something valuable to. You might not always be selected for a further interview. If it happens though, you will gain free publicity along with a valuable, editorially placed link.
(An example of a HARO pitch)
Austin Paley wrote a tutorial on using HARO to build links.
3. Ask Your Personal Connections to Link to You
Sometimes the best links are within your reach:
- You vendors might have a “clients” page on their site on which they list everyone who does business with them.
- Clients might also include reference page listing who they buy from. Or publish vendor case studies for example.
- Lastly, your friends or family might also have websites and might link to you. These might not be the strongest links but they might be good to start with.
Link building is risky yet at the same time, you can’t rank a site without links.
When you begin to build links for a new site though, pick few low hanging fruit but focus on long terms strategies as well. Create great content, build a personal brand and develop connections that could help you gain links and promote your content on social media.
Creative commons image: asenat29 / Flickr