If you’ve just started working on your SEO, perhaps using Google’s official starter guide, you may already be aware of the link factor. Links are one of the ways that the Google algorithm tells whether a site is something they want to display highly in search results. Think of it like a virtual recommendation or seal of approval – the more you’ve got (from the right people), the better Google’s impression of you.

Generally, it’s desirable to have links back to your website from relevant, good quality sites. This is known as back linking. But how do you get other website owners or administrators to add a link to your site? And how do you get them to put it on a page where it’ll be surrounded by interesting, relevant content? You can, of course, get to know the people who run the websites you’d like to be linked from, perhaps from networking online or in real life. You could offer to write a guest post for them – but that could mean putting in a few hours’ work, and having to conform to their writing standards. You could (although you should NEVER, EVER) buy links from a shady internet provider – but that could mean destroying your site’s rankings forever if you end up being blacklisted by Google for dodgy links.

There’s one way you can create backlinks to your site in relatively little time, although you do have to put some thought and care in to it. By commenting on other people’s blogs, articles and forum questions, you can make your own link. Depending on the platform and the commenting functionality they’ve got in place, this might mean hyperlinking your username, hyperlinking part of your comment text, or placing a hyperlink in your comment text itself. But there are important rules to follow if you want site owners or managers to approve your comment (and therefore your link).

  1. Say something constructive.

Make sure that your comment really adds to the discussion that the article is trying to spark. Consider asking a question about something that the author has raised – and thanking them if/when they respond. If you agree with them, don’t just suck up and tell them how smart they are; mention what in particular you liked about their blog.

  1. Become a regular

Comment on more than one blog, or more than one article, on the same site. Then, set up alerts for your favourite blogs, perhaps by using an online tool such as Feedreader. Next time they write something good, try to be the first person to leave a thoughtful comment.

  1. Respond to people who reply to your comment

If another person (not necessarily the author) replies to your comment asking for clarification or commenting on your opinion, make sure to respond (though be careful not to get sucked in to an online fight!) This will help show the moderators you’re a real person who wants to add to the conversation, not just a spammer.

  1. Make sure you balance out comments with other sources of links

Don’t rely on comments only for your link building strategy. Make sure you’re writing content that’s compelling enough to be shared on social media. Look in to guest blogging every once in a while.

A note about ‘nofollow’: Many blogs and commenting systems these days automatically add a ‘nofollow’ attribute/tag to links in comments. This is a little invisible code that tells Google not to follow the link, and therefore not to give credit (or ‘link juice’) to the site that is being linked to. You can check whether the site you want to comment to allows ‘dofollow’ comments by right clicking on an existing page with comments, and clicking ‘View Source’. On the source page, you’ll need to Ctrl+F and search ‘nofollow’. However, it can still be worth commenting on blogs that don’t allow ‘dofollow’ links. For example, some bloggers have noticed that they’ve received referral traffic – i.e. real people have clicked on the links they’ve posted. 

Feel like you’re a bit out of your depth with all this link building stuff? Have a squiz at our blog on the basics of SEO for financial services businesses. And as usual, if you’ve got any questions, feel free to send us an email or leave a comment below.