Episode 6: Link Earning
Acquiring links to your site, or more specifically, to the pages of your site, is arguably the most important SEO tactic you can do. It lets search engines know that other people think your content is relevant and informative; therefore, other users may like it too. Analyzing the links to a site is a way for search engines to let users decide who gets ranked higher in search results. The problem is this tactic is often manipulated by spammers who will do anything to get links to their site. That my friends, is called “black hat” SEO, or unethical SEO. It’s not good and can get your website banned from search engines. But, if done properly, earning links can bring your site a ton of traffic, business and money.
I want you to take a mental note that I keep saying the phrase “link earning”, and I’m not saying “link building”. Essentially, link earning and link building are the same thing. In either case you are trying to get different websites to link to your website. However, I really dislike the term “link building”. Link building has been connected with spammy SEO tactics for years. To me that term implies that you should go out and find websites to link to yours. In my opinion, that’s spam. But link earning sounds like other website owners naturally linking to and sharing your content because it’s so informative and awesome, hence the term “link earning”.
So, I want you to make me a promise that you will only use the term “link earning” instead of “link building”. I’ve been doing this for 10+ years and trust me, “link earning” serves as a constant friendly reminder on how to ethically get links to your site.
How do you earn links?
Earning links is very simple. Just create really good content that people want to link to and share. That’s it. You can earn links by creating super informative blog posts, infographics, free downloads, white papers, and anything else your target audience will find extremely useful and valuable.
Of course, some links are better, and thus harder to get than others, such as a link from the home page of a website, a link from a .edu site, a link from a .gov site, or any links from much more authoritative websites. The key is to get lots of them from more authoritative sites, and to get them naturally.
Types of Links:
The two main types of links are text links or image links. If you’re earning a text link it’s best to occasionally mix it up. Some of your text links should be your website’s company name linked to your site, or target landing page, some of your text links should include your target keywords, and some of them should be the actual URL of the page you’re linking to. You may not have too much control over the types of links you earn, but if you do, just mix it up.
If an image is linked to your site, try to optimize the file name and alt tag of that image by including your target keyword. This will send a signal to Google, helping them understand what your page or site should be ranked for.
One last thing about linking, you should also link some of your own web pages to other web pages in your site. This is called internal linking and can work pretty well.
There’s probably a whole bunch of things we could discuss for hours with regard to earning links, but this is just a beginners guide, so for now, we’ll stick to the basics. And remember to earn your links, don’t build them.