Are links doing more harm than good? With the rules for link building constantly changing, it can be hard to know what’s a smart link building strategy and what will land you in hot water with Google.
Last year, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, John Mueller, surprised the SEO world with his pronouncement that link building, once considered essential to SEO, was no longer advisable.
Cue shock, confusion and chaos. Once the dust settled, it’s clear that links themselves aren’t dead. In fact, they can still be very valuable. The type of link is what matters. Links are a critical part of Google’s ranking algorithm because links convey trust, credibility, and authority. In order to create great links, you’ll need great resources and great content.
Why Real Estate is Dominating Online Link Building and Content Marketing
One industry you may be surprised to learn that’s killing it in the link building department? Real estate.
The digital house hunt is real, with the majority of buyers finding properties via online search and 34 percent using a mobile or tablet website or app to access properties, according to the National Association of Realtors. Savvy brokers, agents and property managers are finding new ways to create valuable online content that attract house searchers, especially those who are searching for property in parts of the country (or even another country!) where they do not currently live.
Julian Walker is a London-based agent with the British property company Spot Blue, specializing in properties in Turkey for British vacation homes.
“While the market for vacation homes is strong, we’ve had to adjust to how we target customers and sell these homes,” said Walker. “With overseas real estate, you can’t just pop by an open house on the weekend to have a quick look around. The vast majority of the hunt will be conducted via the computer, so smart link building strategies are key to connecting with the right prospective home buyers.”
Here’s how agents at Spot Blue and other top brokerage firms are building authoritative links to better connect with prospective clients — and what your business can do, too.
Build Quality, Authoritative Linking Power with Content Marketing
There’s no denying content links are the strongest and most authoritative option for linking back to your website. Real estate and property companies are increasingly emerging as media companies in their own right, creating content around cities, communities and lifestyles to attract prospective home buyers. For example, U.S.-based real estate company Movoto builds out city and community pages with creative content like a St. Louis restaurant guide (that’s garnered 350,000+ views and counting) geared towards millennials.
Takeaway: Get creative about the content you share. It doesn’t have to be identical to the products or services your company offers. Depending on your industry niche, you could build guides, white papers, and listicles that align with your customers’ unique interests. Don’t ignore the power of guest blogging, either.
Target the Right Resource Pages on Authoritative Sites
Yes, simply submitting your website to a link building directory won’t get you very far. But what if your link was included on high-quality resource pages? That’s exactly what real estate agents and property managers do with university-affiliated off-campus housing resource sites. For example, the University of Pennsylvania’s Off-Campus Services department runs a website dedicated to off-campus housing; listings are exclusively for the Penn community and can only be accessed with student login identification.
Philadelphia-based property managers can contact Penn’s Off-Campus Services department to have their listings added and linked back to their website. Property managers don’t need to limit their thinking to local listings, however; schools often offer comprehensive listings to help students find housing during summer internships in other cities. Wake Forest, for example, runs an “Intern Housing Site” with resources for Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and more.
Takeaway: Target resource pages for authoritative sites in your industry within your local community, be that veterinary care resources or health and wellness resources. Take a page out of the real estate playbook by looking for natural partnerships with colleges or universities, too. Receiving authoritative links from university websites (.edu and .ac.uk) will strengthen the relevancy and authority of your website, too.
Use Link Bait to Your Advantage
Link bait is content that’s designed to maximize clicks through catchy headlines and beautiful images. Link bait also has a well-earned negative reputation — it’s associated with articles that general lack substance but get clicks anyway thanks to the ultra-catchy headlines (“click-bait”). So why then am I recommending link bait? Like certain SEO tactics, the concept itself is neither good nor bad — it’s all in the execution. Real estate agencies know this, and successfully use this tactic to showcase destinations to prospective home buyers. For vacation homes, a list of top celebrity vacation destinations is sure to generate clicks (who can resist a little celebrity voyeurism?), but also get would-be second homeowners thinking about where they’d like to own a vacation home.
Takeaway: Don’t shy away from catchy headlines and listicles. Use link bait to your advantage by creating content that aligns with your brand and share accordingly. Just be sure there’s substance behind the headline and these articles are one component of a well-rounded link building and content marketing strategy.
Yes, building links can do more harm than good, but only if you build the wrong ones. Submitting your website for inclusion in a long list of website directories won’t get you anywhere; being part of an authoritative page of local resources will. The same goes for links gained through content.
A poorly written article that’s been hastily researched (or worse, contains plagiarized information) is a waste of time; it won’t be shared on quality sites and you’ll fail to gain any “link juice.” High-quality content will produce the high-value, low-risk content-based links that build your online authority and boost your Google rank.
Real Estate Agent House Key Photo via Shutterstock[“source-smallbiztrends”]