When you want your website to rank at the top of Google search results, having high-quality links is essential. But how do you get good links? What are the best link-building practices? What do you need to avoid? As you’ve probably noticed, there are many differing opinions on the best ways to make links work, but there also many reliable strategies you can count on.

Below you’ll learn more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to links so you can stay at the front of the pack.  

What to Avoid

Google has become increasingly sophisticated over the years, so there are several link building practices that were once effective that will no longer work. In order for links to work for you, Google must see them as organic. So if you’re using outdater “cheater” strategies to create links, you can actually get de-indexed by Google. In a nutshell, if the way you’re building links feels like anything other than creating useful content that other sites want their users to connect to, you should reconsider your strategy.

Here are some specific tactics you should avoid at all costs:

First, never use what are known as hidden links, where you use a white link on a white background so the link appears invisible to readers. The theory behind this one is that although readers can’t see these links (and can’t see how spammy they look), crawlers can. This is an area where Google has seriously advanced in recent years, so this practice no longer yields results.

A second once-popular strategy you’ll want to avoid is trying to acquire tons of low-quality directory links. You should also steer clear of private link networks, blog networks, and link schemes. Not only do these practices appear spammy, but Google will deindex you for using them.

Link exchanges, where you agree to link to another site in order to get a link to yours, are also outdated and won’t help your SEO at all. In addition, automated link-creation tools that add links to many websites should be avoided. Sitewide links look incredibly spammy, and won’t get you anywhere.

Finally, asking for specific anchor text will backfire on you, as will comment links with hyper-optimized anchor text. This is because neither of these will look remotely organic to Google.

Best Practices for Links

While some people think link building isn’t useful and that the goal should be to simply have good content that automatically drives users to your site, striking a balance between these two is the best way to get more traffic.  

There are several things you can do when it comes to link building to make sure it’s a good use of your time and truly benefits your business. First, determine what each link you get will do for you. Will it drive traffic? Add relevancy or authority? Try to get links that are in line with what your website needs to rank more highly or deliver more value.

Second, make sure your business is being indexed by Google. Local listings are valuable because they tell Google that you are located where you say you are located. Make sure you have a page on your site that shows users where they can find you. Then link to local listings so Google can index you.

Third, reach out to any companies that are mentioning your brand without linking to it. Simply asking if they can add a link will help you make sure your site is getting all the  traffic it deserves. And while some people shun the idea of link building outreach due to low response, don’t be afraid to ask people you know and that you can provide value to for a link. By focusing on businesses you already know, you’ll be more likely to improve on the typically low response rate.

In a similar vein, we tend to reap what we sow when it comes to link-building. By linking to others’ pages, you can also improve the likelihood that they’ll link to yours. Don’t hesitate to sponsor local nonprofits, charities, or other causes you believe in. Whether they’re large or small, these organizations will often reciprocate with a link to your site.

And finally, while guest posting simply to get a link should be avoided at all costs, guest posts that provide value regardless of whether there’s a link involved are a great way to promote yourself and up your credibility. Just make sure not to exploit guest posting for the sole purpose of building links.

By following these do’s and don’t’s, your link building efforts should start to pay off. To find out more about how you can use links to drive more traffic to your website, contact Blueprint Internet Marketing at 1.888.533.4886 or [email protected].