Even with all the talk of "content marketing is the new SEO" and "don't build links, build relationships", most marketing managers and SEOs know full well that link building is what makes or breaks a site's search engine visibility.
Unfortunately, link building has suddenly become extremely time-consuming. The days of submitting your site to thousands of low quality web directories or getting your press release syndicated around the web -- and getting a boost in your organic search traffic-- are long gone.
These push-button techniques have been replaced by resource-intensive strategies like email outreach and PR.
What a difference an update makes, huh?
Fortunately -- if your business riles on search engine traffic -- you don't need to quit your day job to land high-quality links.
First, what to avoid
There are two common link building mistakes that I see time-crunched marketing managers and DIY SEO small business owners make all the time.
First, they tend to do what takes the least amount of time. For example, because it's relatively easy, many small business owners still submit articles to article directories. Not only are article directory backlinks no longer effective, but Google now mentions them in their list of link schemes. You're actually better off not doing any link building at all than getting links from article directories, blog comments, press releases or other grey or black hat techniques. With Google on the rampage, these types of links won't help, but they can hurt you.
Second, they haphazardly hire an SEO agency to take care of their link building. While there's nothing wrong with hiring an agency (they often do great work), you need to be extremely careful about who you hire. Otherwise you may be paying someone that's doing more harm than good. But if you do find a good fit for your business, an agency can save you a ton of time and energy on your SEO. Not to mention the connections and expertise they bring to the table.
Now that we have these two mistakes out of the way, it's time to discuss some practical strategies you can take advantage of.
Help a Reporter Out
Help a Reporter Out (often shortened to HARO) is a service that brings together journalists on a deadline and people like you who want media mentions.
When you sign up for a free or paid plan, HARO will send you 3 emails per day. Each email will list journalists looking to cover stories in industries like technology, fitness and lifestyle. All you need to do is look for a good match for your business, read the requirements and send them your pitch.
The best part about HARO is that -- even though you won't get mentioned 100% of the time -- when you do, you'll be landing links from major authority sites like the The Huffington Post and industry-specific blogs.
Infographic One Stop Shopping
There's no two ways about it: developing, designing and marketing an infographic takes a ton of time.
But it's one of the few white link building strategies out there that can be outsourced from start to finish. You can use an infographic design agency that also handles the time-consuming outreach element of an infographic marketing campaign.
In fact, infographic development agencies often have exclusive connections with journalists and bloggers that they can tap into for authority placements. This type of one stop shopping isn't cheap, but it can save you boatloads of time vs. developing and promoting an infographic on your own.
Tweak and Promote Your Existing Content
It's tempting to hit up Google Trends to try and find the "next big thing" for your next content marketing campaign. But as you know, developing a new piece of content isn't something you can do in an afternoon.
You'll usually find a much better ROI by re-evaluating the content that you already have on your site and making strategic improvements. For example, let's say you have a superb blog post about Pinterest marketing from 2012. As you know, there have been a number of important changes to Pinterest over the last year. Rather than creating a new post about those changes, why not integrate them into your existing content asset?
And you can use the time you saved to do the dull -- but critical -- email outreach that makes content marketing effective.
Local Link Building
If you work as part of a business with a strong physical presence -- for example, a brick and mortar business or a site that serves a specific region -- you can usually get links easily by reaching out to sites that talk about your area.
For example, let's say that you ran a site that's aimed at residents of New York City. A quick search for New York City Blogs revealed a number of sites that exist for the sole purpose of linking out to NYC-focused blogs, like this one (DA54):
You can also get local backlinks from local chambers of commerce, local web directories and by guest posting on other blogs in your area.
If time has held you back from building quality backlinks, I hope this article helps steer you in the right direction. Although these techniques take some time, they're not nearly as time consuming as some other white hat link building strategies like broken link building or guest blogging.