With so many search engine ranking factors, it can be a challenge to decide where to spend your time, money, and resources.

While every factor deserves your attention, one remains more important than the rest: inbound links.

The strategy you employ today ain’t the same one you used a few years back. Travel back in time three to five years and your inbound linking strategy was likely driven by the following:

  • Quantity of links, NOT quality.
  • Massive keyword anchor text.

Those days are long gone, as link quality and relevance is more important. If you get caught up in quantity and anchor text, there is a good chance this will work against you in the form of a Google penalty. Is that a risk you are willing to take?

What Should You Do?

You already understand the importance of securing quality inbound links, and no one wants to spend huge piles of cash on unnecessary advertising. Even so, you may not know everything you need to about improving your link profile. While you can create great content and hope for the best, this isn’t typically enough. You need to do more.

My first suggestion is to get a handle on what keywords you rank for,and more importantly what your competitors rank for. SEMRush is a great tool to get a quick idea and you get a limited version out of the gate.

Before we launched our business dashboard startup Dasheroo, we blogged every day, publishing content more generally focused on data visualization. We wanted to drive traffic prior to launch and begin to get known for being a dashboard solution. Did we do that? You bet and I highly recommend it. But, we were astonished by what terms we were ranking for, and it wasn’t the direction we wanted to go.

We took a good look at a long list of keywords and phrases our competitors were ranking for using SEMRush; what the average monthly search volume those keywords were getting using the Google Keyword Planner tool; and compared where we ranked for those same keywords. Then we set out to develop our SEO strategy for ranking for those same (and additional!) keywords.

SEMrush Data

Using powerful tools Dasheroo can track where we stand versus our competition for number of keywords, amount of traffic and how many common keywords we have.

Now we provide valuable content around the keywords we want to be known for. We’re actively climbing the ranking ladder for those keywords (it doesn’t happen overnight so be patient) and organic traffic has doubled in the past two quarters.

There are many strategies to consider, with these three among the most effective:

1. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

With the right social media marketing strategy, it won’t be long before you find others linking to your website and blog on a more regular basis.

Your goal is to form relationships with people who are interested in your company and what you have to say.

Maybe you have a product or service geared towards college career departments. Use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to connect with people in this space, such as career advisors. You don’t have to “hard sell” them. All you’re trying to do is forge a relationship. So follow them on Twitter, Like their Facebook page, connect with them on LinkedIn.Over time, as you become more comfortable with one another, they may become more willing to hear you out and share your valuable content and views, often via a link to your website.

Use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to make managing all of this easy.

Yes, relationship marketing with an eye towards link building takes time. However, the results can be astonishing.

2. The Power of Blogging

If you don’t have a blog, stop now and create one. With the help of WordPress, for example, you can have a visually appealing blog up and running in no time, and for free.

Once your blog is populated with high quality posts, those that prove your expertise, you can do a bevvy of things, and we’ve had great luck with all of these tactics to drive inbound links:

  • Link out to companies that you want to receive a link from.
  • Make it known to others that you are linking to them from your blog (a simple email will do).
  • Conduct interviews with industry professionals, knowing that they are likely to link to it from their website or blog.
  • Create an infographic from a survey you do or from outside surveys to illustrate a point.
  • Write case studies that detail the success of your clients.
  • Write an in-depth book review.
  • Host a webinar.
  • Offer a white paper.
  • Offer free tools and guides.
  • Quote industry leaders in articles and link back to them.
  • Create a “16 Online Tools Your Company Can’t Be Without” type of list.

When you publish a flattering case study of a client, they’re likely to link back to it. When you include an industry influencer’s quote in an article they could link to it and/or even post it to their enormous social media following. This is good publicity for them. When you announce a webinar, others may link to it as a means of sharing with their audience. When you publish a list and link to each entity there is a list of sites who could link back to you.

Your goal with each type of content is to provide so much value that others want to link back. You get the point – content is a very much needed marketing tool.

3. Publish Content Outside of Your Blog

Most of your time may go into creating content for your blog, but you don’t want to stop there.

Ask to get an article published on another site that has a killer domain authority rank. Sites that publish content often have a program for contributed authors since they don’t typically have the staff to keep up with what they have to publish. And who better than you has the expertise in your industry?

At Dasheroo, over 6% of our traffic comes directly from contributed articles, however that also has a direct effect on our Google Search ranking growth. A win-win all around!

Bottom line, make sure you write quality content, link back to your site from your company name in your bio and you link to your site from keywords you want to be known for. Inbound links from quality sites gives you a better your chances in the search results.

Final Thoughts

With so many ways to secure quality inbound links, it can be a challenge to settle on only a few techniques. But rather than spread yourself too thin, experiment with the three ideas above.

What other strategies have you used to achieve success in getting links?