Even with Penguin 4.0 running in real-time, links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors. While there are literally tons of over-complicated link building strategies (IFTTT Networks) sticking to these three simple types of links that will help you rank higher, attract more traffic, and increase leads.
While we are not diving into the specifics of each type of link building, this will give you a checklist of link building strategies to brush up on.
1. Foundational Links
Foundational links aka "pillow" links are created to establish your business as a brand while setting the stage for more powerful links types to come in the following months. Here are three commonly used types of foundational links:
Social business profiles can be created on big sites like Facebook or lesser known niche specific sites. Services like Knowem make setting up a number of profiles quick and simple. Even if you don't want to use a service, visiting their site can give you a long list of sites you can manually create a listing on.
Citations are great for business whether they service one specific location or not. Creating citations allows you to create links on trusted or niche specific sites using very natural anchor texts, often just a naked URL. In 2014, Bright Local put together a directory of citations sites by niche and it is a great place to start.
Niche or Geo Relevant No Follow Links
Ever heard of blog commenting for links? Guess what, it still works. All you need to do is find a handful of niche/geo relevant sites and leave a well-written comment. Just add 10-20 comments per month on related blogs and even if they are no-follow, you still end up with a ton of relevant referring domains.
2. Outreach & Editorial Links
Since Google started counting links as a ranking factor, there has not been a time in which editorial links were not effective in boosting a sites ranking. There are a number of ways you can go about getting editorial links, here are just a few:
The Skyscraper Technique
Named by Brian Dean, skyscraper link building simply refers to the practice of creating superior content and then promoting that content to those who have linked to an inferior or outdated piece of content on the same topic.
Broken Link Building
The premise of broken link building is simple, crawl sites that you would like to get a link from in search of broken external links. When you find one, use archive.org to find out what the old page they were linking to was about. Create new content on the same topic and then let the webmaster know about the broken link and your replacement content.
Resource Page Link Building
A true classic, use a search operator like "niche keyword" + inurl:links and you can come up with a long list of sites to reach out to. Then simply ask them if they would add a link to your site and if you happen to have a few sites, you could offer to link back to them from a third site. Don't overdo the link swapping or it may be viewed as a link scheme.
Private Blog Networks
While the sheer mention of a PBN is enough to panic some white hat SEO evangelists, it would be an injustice to not mention them since they can be so effective. If you have never built a PBN, I suggest building and testing one on a throwaway website. You may be shocked how effective and long lasting a well-built PBN can be for sites that you are willing to risk using.
3. Guest Posts
Before leaving Google, Matt Cutts said that guest posting was being targeted as a link scheme. Sites like MyBlogGuest, which promoted guest posting at scale, fell victim to Google's changing view on guest posting but people posting on quality blogs made it out safely. As a matter of fact, quality guest posts continue to be an effective means of driving referral traffic and building trust and authority within a website. Here are 3 types of sites you should target when creating guest posts:
Huffington Post is a perfect example of an authority blog. They cover a broad range of topics but they site as a whole has enough trust and authority that a link from them can positively impact rankings.
Niche Specific Blogs
Topical relevance is more important than ever before to Google. As such, promoting your business on tightly focused blogs can be beneficial. Let's say, for example, you are a plumber. You could share some tips for winterizing pipes on a water restoration blog. The two are closely related and even if the restoration company blog is not overly authoritative, the niche relevance will still work in your favor.
Geo Specific Blogs
If you have a business servicing a town or local area, posting on other sites that service the same region can be beneficial. A natural starting point would be for the local plumber to post on the local restoration company's blog, but that is only a start. Local newspapers, local event sites, and community forums are often overlooked but effective places to post. Yes, I know a forum isn't a typical guest post, but you can create a thread and give a detailed tutorial, it will work just as well.
While many will complain about Penguin and the countless other updates Google makes every year, I am excited by them. I mean, look at just how simple it is to put together an effective link building plan now that so many spam tactics have been rendered useless!