10 Ways to Rethink Link Building

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:: Christy Belden, LEAP ::

Poor link building. Once the bastion of search engine optimization, it continues to come under attack by Google – and for good reason. Over the years, many SEO practitioners have used misleading, black hat techniques to acquire links and move up in rank. It wasn’t uncommon that white hat SEO practitioners would have to compete at much higher levels to combat bad link building practices. Not so any more with the updates over the past two years.

How can companies adjust with the “new” set of link building rules? Here are 10 ways you can begin to link build differently.

Build your link profile from big to small

Link building used to be quantity over quality. With quantity, websites achieved a lot of links from very niche sites. These sites can only send traffic on occasion and very little traffic at that. The better method now is to go after broader websites, which have more traffic. Casting a wider net will help you land more traffic and drive search ranking.

Content, content, content

The creation of quality, relevant content is the cornerstone of any link building program. Content can be created both on your website or as a separate piece that lives off your website. The more people like the content, the more they will read it and share it – musts to drive links and traffic. Content does not have to be text, although in some cases text is preferred. Content can be photographs, video, infographics, ebooks – the list goes on.

Create authority

With the information that passes on the Internet, it is hard to decipher what is the best information. Companies need to lead in the ‘expert’ arena. By providing a consistent voice on topics appropriate to your company – via content, social media, PR – it will help distinguish the content you produce and help the chances of your content being shared.

Provide opportunities to share content

If a company is producing the quality, relevant content mentioned above, it is highly valuable. Thus, companies need to make sure, on their website, it is easily sharable. Placing social media, social news, RSS and email sign-ups for your content makes it very easy for those reading the content to share it. It is extremely easy to implement and should not be overlooked for your website.

Distribute content

“If you build it, they will come” does not apply to link building or a website. A brand or company must tell as many people as they can about their website. One of the ways to do that is through distribution of content. It is not enough to create it and allow others to share it; companies must evangelize their content to their advocates and new customers. Content can be shared via email, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine), social news sites (Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon), industry sites, blogs, aggregation sites and many more. Types of content, where it is distributed and frequency should be tested to determine which means of content distribution work best.

Get others to talk about you

Why do the hard work when others will do it for you? Promoting a product or service to distributors, such as bloggers, will help increase the visibility of a company’s offerings. And, while promoting the product or service, companies an request bloggers link to their website for link building.


Google+ can provide a very necessary means to build links. Using Google+ to establish authority on a website or content via the “rel=author” tag helps content to appear higher in search results. Distributing content via Google+ is a great way to indicate a company is associated with a particular topic and help drive traffic back to the site. Using all of the tools Google and Google+ have to offer – Google Places, ratings and reviews, and so forth – can help improve the ability for users to link out to a company’s website. It is not a coincidence Google search results favor Google+ pages and attributes.


PR can go a long way in driving back links to a company website, in particular high page rank websites. The ability of PR specialist in generating news and connecting with journalist makes them extremely valuable asset to a company’s link building campaign. Traditional journalist writing articles on the Web have a large established audience. A link within an article written by a journalist is truly the holy grail of link building.

Online press releases are still a way to drive back links. However, the press release must be newsworthy. This does not mean only a company’s biggest announcements will work online. However, general information is not press worthy. Topical information surrounding a company can best be used in articles, ebooks, whitepapers and the like. Thriving companies have news occurring all the time. They should harness the power of news to build links and traffic.


Media placements are a great way to drive links to a website. Media, via banner ads, have been used to drive traffic and links to a website. Now, paid search and social media advertising could be used to create links to a website. Also, media does not have to promote a website. It can promote other pieces of content and help drive links in that manner. For example, paid search can be used to promote a company video on YouTube or an ebook for download. This method may be short lived.

However, the goal to build awareness and help jumpstart some of the above activities is not.


If a company has video assets, they should make use of YouTube for link building. An optimized YouTube channel and video description should contain links back the company’s website. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Therefore, placing links on videos within the space absolutely help in driving links. There are other video placement sites that should be considered as well. Since YouTube has a large potential to drive links, it is imperative to effectively optimize the assets within the channel.

Link building is not dead. We just need to switch the focus from building links to our websites to driving traffic to our websites. This switch in an activity will change a companies thinking and actions but ultimately result in the same thing - more links, more traffic and the movement of strategic keywords up in the SERPs.

Christy Belden has worked in marketing for over 12 years, specifically in digital marketing for the last 7 years. Christy's current position as Vice-President of Media + Marketing at LEAP allows her to work with clients on all of their digital marketing needs: SEO, PPC, Social Media, Digital Media, e-Commerce/e-Business Marketing, Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing. She has also run campaigns in traditional media channels: Radio, Print, Television, Out-of-Home and Movie Theater advertising. Christy is an adjunct professor at Spalding University where she teaches courses on digital marketing.

Christy Belden speaks on digital marketing. She has also been published in several trade publications on the subject. She is a contributor to the LEAP Agency blog and Logic & Magic publication.

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Military Packaging 08-27-2013 3:06 PM

Thanks for the great tips. We are doing most of what you have listed, except for Instagram. Is Instagram only effective for certain industries? We are a provider of military packaging, export packaging, corrosion protection, moisture barrier bags and a variety of other protective packaging solutions. Do you think Instagram would work for our line of business?

Christy Belden 08-27-2013 4:04 PM

Thanks for the comment. GE, Cisco, Fedex and Maersk Lines are all great examples of B2B companies with Instagram content. I think your products would make for very interesting subject matter on Instagram. I would think of showing the benefits of the product in unique and interesting ways which appeal to your audience.

MarcusC 08-27-2013 4:11 PM

Great ideas on how to flesh out a modern link building strategy, although this seems to be more of a standard content distribution strategy. It makes you really wonder if Linkbuilding is dead and Content Development and Distribution is the new strategy.

ScottD 08-27-2013 7:09 PM

Christy - didn't a recent Google update target the over use of press releases in creating back links? It seems I read that somewhere in the last few days.

Raam Anand 08-27-2013 10:47 PM

Christy - Great piece of content. Well written for today's "post-SEO" scenario. It is good to educate people on what's working and what's not, especially in today's economy where everyone and their 'dog' owns an SEO-Company! That's the reason I started 'TheSpeakingTree.org' - a movement against unethical marketing.

seo specialist 08-28-2013 4:41 AM

This definitely a new approach in building links, basically people tends to see the fact that link building encompasses some benefits of branding when used right with social media platforms and it activates the course of engagement too.

It help you with getting traffic to your site, if you have a links on highly reputable sites, you definitely will enjoy some link passive juice, even if they are no do follows, and link building helps to boost your online popularity as well.

Christy Belden 08-28-2013 7:29 AM

Scott - Yes, press releases should be nofollow links. I think your keyword there is "over use". I still use press releases, although it is not at the frequency it once was. They help drive traffic and I have found they still help in driving keyword SERPs.

Austin SEO 08-28-2013 1:11 PM

Thanks, Christy for a well-written break down.  However, I am not sure I agree that things are really easier for white-hat ethical SEO providers; we still find it is challenging to promote great content online efficiently after Google's recent adjustments. Even qualified websites and content links were demoted by Google and we lost some great back links because of that.  We of course should all strive to continue offering quality over quantity.

Merchant Account 08-29-2013 9:51 AM

This is a fair article for novices. I would have been impressed much greater if you had gone even deeper into the topic of Link Building, and you had actually named some of the strategies or lingo. There isn't anything honestly new or refreshing about the avenues you've mentioned above. For the caliber of audience, I assume, websitemagazine.com is trying to appeal to, this article is lacking greatly in value. I should want to be salivating for more information at this point, and yet, I'm feeling let down and thinking this was a waste of my time. Because, it reads more like a list of tips or reminders. There isn't any real meat in it. Please give me more value next time.  

The difference between your website and mine is, customers come to my site to find and buy tangible products. When I visit your site, I'm looking to find knowledge I'm willing to pay for. It's your job to make me believe and feel this is the website with the knowledge I need and missing.

Web Design Quote 09-13-2013 4:19 AM

Thanks Christy for the tips. Still unsure about the PR links.

Enviro Equipment Blog 12-16-2013 1:48 PM

"Using Google+ to establish authority on a website or content via the “rel=author” tag helps content to appear higher in search results."


Is it possible to use Google's authority tag for a company blog that has no actual author (i.e. when you use your company's name as your blog's author)?

SamO 01-07-2014 3:52 AM

Christy Belden really good specialist in SEO! Thanks for information.

list 12-03-2014 10:36 AM

If a company is producing the quality, relevant content mentioned above, it is highly valuable. Thus, companies need to make sure, on their website, it is easily sharable. Placing social media, social news, - See more at: www.websitemagazine.com/.../10-ways-to-rethink-link-building.aspx

job vacancies 12-03-2014 10:49 AM

These sites can only send traffic on occasion and very little traffic at that. The better method now is to go after broader websites, which have more traffic. Casting a wider net will help you land more traffic and drive search ranking. -

Rd - Windows Genuine Advantage 12-25-2014 2:57 PM

Back in the day, the top guys would just use tools and point thousands of links to their websites within a very short period of time. Making it easy for them to make money but difficult for the average webmaster to compete, despite possibly having a better site. So I like how things have turned out.

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