Link building’s getting tougher than ever these days.

That shouldn’t concern anybody who’s been doing it right, of course. Natural, ethical backlinks are worth their weight in gold and a massive credit to hard-working, creative link builders who understand the value of a properly-placed link.

Panic also spread last week when prominent social site Digg was delisted by Google

But there’s no doubt ‘old school’ link building’s getting harder to pull off. A number of sites were penalised by Google at the start of the year for buying advertorials on newspaper websites – the papers were also punished with a massive hit in their PageRanks.

People may have thought their link was safe as it was associated with the name of a prominent newspaper, ignoring the fact that these backlinks were still ultimately paid for. Regional and national titles are still smarting from a serious SEO black eye.

“The thing is that 90% of all links happening on the internet are being paid for, this makes a massive problem for Google,” comments search expert David Naylor.

Panic also spread last week when prominent social site Digg was delisted by Google, although it later turned out to be an accident on Google’s part. Google was trying to veto a spammy link, only for the Webspam team to accidentally delist Digg.

On the ground though, at the time, a number of people (justifiably) were wondering if that was the end for social link building.

So, how do you create an ethical ‘newspaper’ backlink that won’t come back to haunt your site in the future? Here are four ways to creating an ethical link profile for your site:

1: Aim For An Editorial, Not An Advertorial

It’s easy to see the allure of buying an advertorial on a regional or national newspaper site. Not only are you (or were you, as is the case now) getting some powerful backlinks back to your site, you also had the pleasure of having your article featured on a page with an instantly recognisable, authoritative name.

If you want to be featured by a publication ethically, then spend some time building contacts with the people that work there. Media sites, whether regional or national, will have contact details for reporters, writers, editorial and more.

Build up a media list in your address book and build positive relationships with news sites, bloggers and others that could potentially write news about your business and its activities. Keep them abreast of important movements in your company (without swamping them) to increase your chances of future publicity.

2: Build Positive Relationships With A Media Pack

Make what you have to say worthwhile

If you’re going to want those contacts to write about your company then you’re going to have to make what you have to say worthwhile.

It’s worth creating a media pack to attach to your introductory email which sums up who you are, what your company does, samples of your content and more. It would also be wise to construct it as a .PDF file so it’s as easy to read and access as possible.

There’s also the advantage of a .PDF being a smaller file size than a .ZIP or .RAR file. Anything larger than 1MB in size attachment-wise will likely be ignored by the recipient and be sent straight to the junk folder.

Include assets that can be used straight away if the pack impresses and somebody wants to write a story about your business. Include images, for instance, and conduct an interview with a senior member of the company who knows how the industry works. Attributable quotes and a different point of view on the industry will give writers a new, fresh angle for a story and encourage them to write.

3: Keep Press Releases Short And Sweet

A number of agencies use press releases as a link-building method, and will insist on releasing two a month over a high-quality service such as PRWeb and others.

We’d advise caution with this as not only is it costly, but unless you have two or three impressive pieces of news to publish on a regular basis then it may prove to be more harm than good.

Think of the recent advertorial controversy we mentioned earlier. What’s to stop Google from classifying press release links as paid in the future, and targeting those that release press assets that don’t really say anything? They can also harm your overall brand in search results, if all people find when they search for your business is a number of spammy releases.

Press releases can be handy for building backlinks, but they’re far more effective if they say something and are targeted toward the right people. Make sure you’re writing a press release that’s short and sweet, and gets the information across to people as quickly as possible.

Distribute it to the right people in your industry. Sites like the Daily Mail, for instance, have business and money sections. Email your press release to the editors responsible of those sections, giving them the information necessary to cover your story and company.

4: Spread Your Content With Valuable Social Links

Use your social profiles to build your own online community of fansWhen creating your contact lists filled with people in your industry, journalists, industry bloggers and more, make sure to complement it by following the same people and other influencers on social media channels.

Social media is a more immediate way to build positive relationships with people, and can give them an instant insight into your content as soon as you publish it. Sharing it with the right people will expose it to a wider audience – especially if they decide to share it themselves.

Also use your social profiles to build your own online community of fans that read your content and will be likely to share it with their friends and family. A good social strategy combined with a powerful content sharing strategy can build you strong, ethical links in the long-term, and enhance your natural link portfolio.

We can help you to find out more about the world of link building, and provide you with the right search strategy to improve traffic to your site and boost your online presence. Contact Webpresence today to find out more.