Discussing how to build links to your website is probably one of the most controversial topics in the SEO world.
Google says you don’t need to do it – which is true – if you’re someone like Amazon.
Google says if you have great content, visitors will magically find you in Google search.
You have a great website – check.
You have great content – check.
You’re barely getting any traffic – check.
You start reading about SEO and discover you’ve done everything but link building, and while you can do it, there are so many pitfalls and dangers, you can’t make heads or tails of what’s good or bad, and just decide to run paid campaigns to start driving more traffic.
I see this all the time… the “SEO is too hard, I’m just going to buy the traffic” mentality.
Conspiracy? We’ll examine that at another time. But for now, let’s assume you finally decide to take the plunge and work on your SEO by outsourcing the linking to an SEO agency or SEO consultant.
Here are some tips to make sure your linking campaigns are being done correctly.
- Don’t have your SEO company focus on long tail keywords. Make sure you agree on a mix of short tail and long tail keywords to target for linking. You must be realistic about what keywords you’re actually going to try and rank for.
- Don’t track your keyword rankings by searching for them. If you’re signed into your Google account, and search for your site under a keyword, Google will track that and start showing your site higher for that search and others because they want to serve you relevant results you like. Even if you’re not signed in, they might have a cookie on you. Make sure you’re searching incognito if you’re going to do this.
- Don’t have all your links placed on the same day. Make sure your SEO company is building them slowly, over time, in a drip fashion. The ranking algorithms and the manual penalty teams are looking for patterns. If you have new links around the same time every month, or you site suddenly has a ton of new links in a few days, it’s going to garner attention. Link building should be a slow, steady process over time. Be patient, good things will come.
- Don’t buy links. Avoid outright paying for links and avoid networks who do. Google probably already knows about them and if they don’t, they’ll find them eventually.
- Don’t worry about the disavow lists. The only time you should use a disavow list is if you’re facing a manual penalty from Google, they’ve basically acknowledged they just ignore crummy links.
- Don’t ignore directories. There are still very good, high quality directories, even paid ones, that offer valuable links.
- Do setup Google Search Console. You can check your site’s health, see keywords your site is getting impressions and clicks for in Google search, and get those fun notices, like you’ve been hit with a manual penalty for linking. (Quick note: Keyword rankings in search console are in aggregate by all pages that may be showing for that keyword, not just one page, so you will see different keyword ranking results from more traditional tools that do it on a page by page basic vs a domain basis.)
- Do setup a linking calendar/plan. Understand what kinds of links your SEO company is going to drive and ask for a linking calendar or plan that breaks down how many, what kinds, etc. Ask for an example of reporting and other work so you can see the types of links they’re placing.
- Do ask who’s doing the work. Is your SEO company doing the work, or are they outsourcing it? Most companies are outsourcing to groups in other countries, which isn’t a bad thing, but make sure you find out about how that arrangement works before executing a campaign.
- Do focus on local citation linking. If you’re business is focused on a local, geographic area, make sure your linking campaign is focused on local citation links.
- Do work with local chambers, charities and business partners/vendors. Make sure to make your SEO company aware of anyone who can provide you a link. Most charities provide links. If you sponsor a conference, ask for a link. You’d be surprised how many easy links you can generate this way.
- Do gauge the work of your SEO company. Make sure they’re tracking the campaigns target keywords in your target geographic area, not nationally, using a ranking tool. Track your organic traffic to see if it is increasing. Establish these goals and benchmarks upfront to gauge success.