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An introduction to link-building for SEO

Author's avatar By Chris Soames 02 Dec, 2010
Essential Essential topic

The top 10 link-building techniques

Two of the most common questions I'm asked as a consultant is, "How do I get more links?" quickly followed by, "is there a quicker way of doing it?". Quite often clients expect link building to be something you outsource or there is a "tool" that does it for you. Unfortunately this is far from the case.

During this blog post I want to quickly look at what I see as the top level methods for link building. In future posts I'll look at best practice for each of these. In the meantime, I invite you to add to the methods and also add any insights or experiences you have.

Creating amazing content

Looking at the various ways to generate links, there is one thing common between them - they all rely on  content. But not just any content, it has to be exceptional, awesome, amazing which means that for the audience it's:

  • amazingly useful
  • amazingly funny
  • amazingly sad

Simple! The better that content is, the more links you are likely to gain as a result for it. But not simple to achieve in practice. With the growth in popularity of social sharing in Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In it's relatively easy to get a "social mention" but relatively hard to get a quality link.

Understanding the psychology of Link-building

So before you try any of the linkbuilding techniques below, you need to think carefully why anyone would bother linking to you at all. See Dave's article on the psychology of link-building and why most link-building efforts fail. The conclusion is that Link-building is not a narrow SEO activity. It's not just link building, its brand building, customer engagement, conversion boosting.... and even more... Its about the core of marketing, customer engagement. Time to understand your customers & be creative!

The implications for your link-building

Think about your link building & SEO techniques used in-house or via your agency. Are they ticking the obvious boxes and likely just doing things the same way as your competitors?

A bold & in my opinion correct move would be to re-think how you approach SEO moving forwards.

Outside of a yearly onsite audit / recommendations, natural search should now be built-in as a core part of your everyday digital marketing. Without content, whether that is entertainment, educational or just plain useful you cannot hope to connect and engage with your customers online. You should consider what your audience would want & crucially want to share. You should then use this content to distribute it where your audience "hang out" online. Then participate with them in these areas, add value, be useful.

The links will come as a result of distributing that content and making it good enough in the first place that people want to share it and blog about it or comment on it etc. Each type of link building above offers huge opportunities on their own, imagine using content to join them all up and use campaigns to manage your presence in each, suddenly link building is no longer a task for agencies or "the geeks in the corner" but a fundamental part of your marketing.

Top 10 Link Building Options

Finally, here are my top 10 techniques which I'll give more tips on in future posts:

  1. Blogging / Guest Blogging
  2. Forum Marketing
  3. Social Bookmarking
  4. Press & Article Release Distribution
  5. Video Marketing
  6. Podcast / Audiobook Marketing
  7. Book / ebook / Online Magazine / Slideshow marketing
  8. Competitor Link Steal
  9. Directory Submissions
  10. Social Networking

Granted there are tactics in each to optimise each method but the opportunity with the above is to open up SEO into the wider marketing team (copywriters, designers, traditional marketers, digital marketers). Traditional marketers understand content, customer engagement & without really knowing it they have become crucial to becoming successful at search. The campaigns & creativity they are used to from traditional advertising & direct marketing tactics are now relevant in a new space (online) and with some new rules.

Author's avatar

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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