A note on link cleanup
Some SEOs not only need to build good links, but need to get rid of bad ones as well. If you’re performing link cleanup while simultaneously building good links, just keep in mind that a stagnating or declining “linking domains over time” graph is completely normal. You might also want to check out Link Explorer’s “Discovered and Lost” tool to keep track of exactly which links you’ve gained and lost.
See your discovered and lost links
If you didn’t see the number of backlinks come in that you were aiming for, all hope is not lost! Each link building campaign is something you can learn from. linksexpert If you want to improve the total links you earn for your next campaign, consider these questions:
Did you create content that was 10x better than anything else out there?
It’s possible that the reason your link building efforts fell flat is that your content wasn’t substantially more valuable than anything else like it. Take a look back at the pages ranking for that term you’re targeting and see if there’s anything else you could do to improve.
Did you promote your content? How?
Promotion is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of link building, but letting people know about your content and convincing them to link to you is what’s really going to move the needle. For great tips on content promotion, visit Chapter 7 of our Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing.
How many links do you actually need?
Consider how many backlinks you might actually need to rank for the keyword you were targeting. In Keyword Explorer’s “SERP Analysis” report, you can view the pages that are ranking for the term you’re targeting, as well as how many backlinks those URLs have. This will give you a good benchmark for determining how many links you actually need in order to compete and which websites might be a good link target.
What was the quality of the links you received?
One link from a very authoritative source is more valuable than ten from low-quality sites, so keep in mind that quantity isn’t everything. When targeting sites for backlinks, you can prioritize by how authoritative they are using Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics.
Beyond links: How awareness, amplification, and sentiment impact authority
A lot of the methods you’d use to build links will also indirectly build your brand. In fact, you can view link building as a great way to increase awareness of your brand, the topics on which you’re an authority, and the products or services you offer.
Once your target audience is familiar with you and you have valuable content to share, let your audience know about it! Sharing your content on social platforms will not only make your audience aware of your content, but it can also encourage them to amplify that awareness to their own networks, thereby extending your own reach.
Are social shares the same as links? No. But shares to the right people can result in links. Social shares can also promote an increase in traffic and new visitors to your website, which can grow brand awareness, and with a growth in brand awareness can come a growth in trust and links. The connection between social signals and rankings seems indirect, but even indirect correlations can be helpful for informing strategy.
Trustworthiness goes a long way
For search engines, trust is largely determined by the quality and quantity of the links your domain has earned, but that’s not to say that there aren’t other factors at play that can influence your site’s authority. Think about all the different ways you come to trust a brand:
Awareness (you know they exist)
Helpfulness (they provide answers to your questions)
Integrity (they do what they say they will)
Quality (their product or service provides value, possibly more than others you’ve tried)
Continued value (they continue to provide value even after you’ve gotten what you needed)
Voice (they communicate in unique, memorable ways)
Sentiment (others have good things to say about their experience with the brand)
That last point is what we’re going to focus on here. Reviews of your brand, its products, or its services can make or break a business.
In your effort to establish authority from reviews, follow these review rules of thumb:
Never pay any individual or agency to create a fake positive review for your business or a fake negative review of a competitor.
Don’t review your own business or the businesses of your competitors. Don’t have your staff do so, either.
Never offer incentives of any kind in exchange for reviews.
All reviews must be left directly by customers in their own accounts; never post reviews on behalf of a customer or employ an agency to do so.
Don’t set up a review station/kiosk in your place of business; many reviews stemming from the same IP can be viewed as spam.
Read the guidelines of each review platform where you’re hoping to earn reviews.
Be aware that review spam is a problem that’s taken on global proportions, and that violation of governmental truth-in-advertising guidelines has led to legal prosecution and heavy fines. It’s just too dangerous to be worth it. Playing by the rules and offering exceptional customer experiences is the winning combination for building both trust and authority over time.
Authority is built when brands are doing great things in the real-world, making customers happy, creating and sharing great content, and earning links from reputable sources.