If you tried to sum up search engine optimization as it is early in 2018, you would need to use two phrases: “quality content” and “link building.” Along with mobile optimization, content and backlinks are the most important ranking factors today. While creating good content and optimizing a website for mobile are straightforward processes, getting backlinks is a much murkier landscape.

Link building is challenging for many businesses. There are too many ways to do it wrong. Discerning them from the good techniques can be very difficult. Submitting your website to directories can be completely fine, for example. But it can also get you into trouble. According to FireStarterSEO, a search optimization company, “several of these directories could be some part of the 500+ penalized by Google or even worse, part of the 90+ banned by Google.” And that can’t lead to anything good. So let’s see what are the legitimate ways you can build links in 2018.

Do Original Research

If you want people to link to your website, you must give them a reason. Releasing run-of-the-mill articles with little to no original information or insight might be good for your keyword game, but it will do nothing for your link building. You need to create content that other websites will link to as the source of the information they use in their content.

This technique is effective, but it has its drawbacks. The type of content that has that density of exclusive data and insights is often very hard to produce. You will need to invest a lot of resources into it. If you manage to pull it off, however, this type of content will be a key asset for attracting links. And even though creating more than a few pieces of it a year will be expensive, the pieces you create will attract links for a long time. So, set aside a budget for research, surveys, and original analysis.

Write Guest Posts

Guest posts work well on two different fronts. If you manage to have your post published on a high-traffic website or blog in your industry, it will be a great promotional tool for you and your business. Guest posts can increase your reach and help you become more visible in your industry.

When you write a guest post, however, you will probably be allowed to include a link back to your website. Some websites will let you include a link to your content. Others will tell you to add it to your bio. Either way, guest posting is a sure way to build backlinks. Just be sure to do it with reputable, high-traffic websites. And never submit a guest post that contains subpar content.

Visual Link Magnets

If you want to create content that gets many shares, create an infographic. Infographics get three times more likes and shares than any other type of content. As a whole, visual content is the best-performing type of content across many of the most important metrics.

Visual content that is best for link building combines strong visual design or storytelling with solid data. Infographics are popular because they are information packed in a visually appealing package. Videos perform well because they can convey information using narrative and visuals. Good videos and infographics will attract links for the information they contain as well as the way the information is presented.

Hunt for Broken Links

Looking for broken links on other people’s websites is a time-honored link building strategy that is still relevant in 2018. The basic premise is simple enough. You find broken links on other people’s websites. You then contact the website admin or editor and let them know that you found broken links and have content they can link to instead. Sometimes, they will replace the existing links with your links.

This strategy depends heavily on you having the type of content other people will link to. It also depends on your ability to search a lot of websites for broken links. While they are tools that help with the latter, you will still need to write actual content for the former. That means that hunting for broken links is only as good as your ability to create quality content is.

Having a lot of backlinks to your website will help it rank better. But link building is an SEO activity with few good shortcuts. You will have to put in a lot of effort and resources into getting backlinks. Still, because a lot of it relies on having good original content, at least you can work on your content strategy and link building strategy at the same time. That way, you will have your most important SEO factors covered.