With Google’s Hummingbird update, marketers like you need to focus your time and efforts on finding and implementing conversational keywords and providing valuable insights in your content marketing pieces. But that’s not it. You also need to be building up a cache of relevant inbound links. These links will build your authority and help you out-rank your competition for keywords you’re both targeting.
What is a relevant inbound link?
It’s any hyperlink that brings a visitor to a page on your website from another website. As for the “relevant” piece, that means that the website linking to you has some sort of contextual correlation with your business and content that the search engines can easily identify.
Traditionally, the more inbound links you have coming to your site the better, but, now quality is more important than quantity. For example, if you’re an organic farmer and you have a blog where you talk about what’s in season and what local restaurants you provide your produce to, it would make sense for the restaurants you mention to link back to your site because of the clear geographic and contextual connection. That’s a relevant inbound link.
These relevant links are what you want coming to your website. They are connected on many levels, making the correlation stronger. This connection allows the search engines to weigh it heavier than an irrelevant inbound link. Using the same farmer example, if a startup video game company links to your article because they modeled a carrot in a game after one they found it on your Flickr account, that’s not as relevant. It’s still better than nothing, but not as powerful as the first example. The more relevant inbound links you have, the higher you will rank. Especially if these inbound links are coming from authoritative websites in your space.
What is an authoritative website?
Any website that already has an established audience that trusts their opinions on industry-related matters can be considered authoritative. Technically speaking, authoritative websites are powerhouses that have the most relevant inbound links because they have the best, most valuable content available for free. So what do people in their audience do? They engage. They share their content. They comment on posts. And yes, they link to it.
These inbound links are votes of confidence. By linking to an authoritative website, you’re saying to your audience, “I appreciate you reading my article. To further drive my point(s) home, you should see what this expert had to say on the same, relevant topic. I think you’re really going to enjoy reading their content. So much so, I’m willing to send you away from my website for a moment, but I hope you’ll come back after you understand my point to finish my article”.
You want other marketers to know you’re linking to their content, so give them a shout-out to inform ‘em. Usually a tweet, short email, or comment on their post will suffice. Most marketers are extremely appreciative of this because they know these links can have a significant impact on their rankings and traffic.
How do you generate more relevant inbound links?
You have to start by blogging, and blogging often. I’m talking weekly. Our friends at Vertical Measures published a cool infographic that shows a statistic from industry maven HubSpot:
“The average company that blogs gets 97% more inbound links.”
After you’ve got a solid base of content on your blog, you need to continue creating high-quality, valuable content and pitching it to authoritative figures in your industry, asking if they will allow you publish it as a guest post in their busy editorial calendars. This exercise has traditionally been a painstakingly-long, time-consuming process. There’s a lot of effort that goes into this. You want to find the right websites to link back to yours, otherwise you’re doing all this work for very little impact.
You have to seek out people in your industry who are authorities, reach out to them via phone or email (the latter usually works better), butter them up by complimenting a recent post and offering your unique take or spin on it, then pitch them on a guest post idea and provide them with examples of previous guest posts on other blogs. All of this, just to get in the door. Once you both agree to move forward with the relationship, you have a lot of correspondence to lay down the guidelines and set the delivery and publication dates. Finally, after you write the article, provide it to the authority, and they publish it, you’ve achieved your goal…1 RELEVANT INBOUND LINK! (Make sure you promote the article via social media, mentioning the authority who published it)
You might be thinking, “is all of this worth the one, single link?” In my honest opinion, yes it is, 1) because the cascade effect that your site can see by one link on a high profile site could be tremendous. It could make a difference of hundreds, if not thousands of new unique, targeted visitors coming to your website every week, month, or year (especially if the content is evergreen)! What owner of a brick and mortar store wouldn’t want that? And 2) Each new relevant, inbound link you create coming to your site from an authoritative website is one more link you didn’t have before you started. Just like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.
In your ongoing efforts to rank higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages), you can ensure success by creating quality content and building relevant inbound links from authoritative website. And unlike some search engine optimization tactics, getting quality inbound links to your site has everything to do with the content you create and nothing to do with an algorithm named after an animal.
Now for the best part: BoostSuite has a brand new feature that makes building relevant inbound links, wait for it…easy.
Keep an eye out for our next post as I will go into more detail on this feature and demonstrate how you can use it to grow your inbound link cache!