Trying to establish inbound links ranks as a challenge for a large majority of search markers, due to a variety of factors. To increase your website’s visibility in the eyes of Google requires building a great inbound link profile. However, accepting links wherever you find them can lead down a slippery slope that earns your website a bad link penalty that will set your SEO efforts back weeks or months.
With the release of Google’s now infamous Penguin algorithm update, the process of building inbound links has become more simplified but also more difficult to navigate, especially for entrepreneurs new to the inner workings of SEO. If you’re unsure about your website’s current SEO strategy or need a few ideas of where to start, considering using these 10 safe inbound link building sources.
As established search marketers will tell you, “.edu” domains rank as some of the most authoritative and valuable inbound link sources your website could possibly obtain. Schools and universities easily check the two boxes Google holds most important when determining the value of an inbound link – is the website authoritative and credible. This makes linking to educational sites completely risk free, and a boon to your website’s overall inbound link profile. A great way to acquire educational links is to offer a scholarship and then reach out to individual institutions.
As with .edu domains, government sites offer the kind of authority and credibility Google loves, making an inbound link from a “.gov” site highly valuable for SEO purposes. However, getting a link from these types of websites can be difficult. Consider sponsoring a public event and becoming a visible member of your community as two possible ways of generating these types of inbound links.
Industry Specific Directories
Admittedly, the reputation of website directories isn’t stellar considering that many existing ones were de-indexed by Google during the initial Penguin algorithm update. However, not all directory websites are created equal. Yahoo! Business Directory and the Open Directory Project are two examples of trusted, high-quality, curated directories that rank as strong additions to your inbound link profile. If you can find industry specific directories that match your business’ field, make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to place a link.
Industry Related Forums
Similarly, if you can locate forums related to your industry, you can use them to your advantage. Keep in mind, however, that your goal when using forums is to interact with others, rather than solely fixate on collecting inbound links. Make sure to participate in discussions to help build your credibility among forum members and add valuable insight on the topics at hand. Add your name, title and website URL to your signature.
By establishing that you’re an expert in the field, forum members will start to approach you when they have a question that you can answer with an in-depth blog post you can write and publish on your website, then respond to the question with a link to the post. Not only will you begin to build brand identify, you’ll also improve your inbound link profile and increase traffic to your website.
Industry Related Blog
Outside blogs related to your industry offer a great opportunity to bolster your inbound link portfolio. You can offer to write a guest post or become a frequent contributor or columnist.
Contributor or Sponsorship Page
Many nonprofit organizations feature a “sponsorship” page or something similar that recognizes businesses that have made a contribution or donation in the past. While these types of inbound links will cost you some kind of financial commitment, they’re usually lasting and highly authoritative.
Social Media Platforms
With all of the cat videos and humblebragging, it’s easy to forget that links posted on social media websites also pass authority, though a significantly lower amount when compared to more traditional websites. Participate on as many social media platforms as you can. While the inbound links are nice, the real benefit comes from the brand building a successful social media campaign can provide.
Ask your best clients for testimonials, and then see if they’d be willing to post a small blurb about your business on their website. Not only will this provide an additional inbound link, the word of mouth testimonials provide can prove invaluable for any business.
Platforms like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) provide business owners an opportunity to find a voice in media publications. Reaching out to a reporter working on a story in your field of expertise and volunteering some information could provide you with some quality PR and a juicy inbound link to your website.
RSS directories offer a safe place to build links, and, in most cases, are incredibly easy to obtain.
As long as you provide valuable and relevant content for your target audience, posting a link back to your business’ website on any of the sources listed above should keep you safe from any penalties handed out by Google. As you continue to develop links, make sure to expand your sources and diversify the types of links you develop. Your links need to appear naturally in the content, and the more varied your efforts to organically embed links the better off your inbound portfolio becomes.