While building links to English content has been widely discussed, the same cannot be said about non-English markets. Moreover, international link building practices can vary significantly across different countries and cultures, with much of that knowledge confined to local communities.
Success in one market may not necessarily translate to success in another. As a result, you may encounter link opportunities that violate Google’s guidelines, tempting you to compromise ethical link-building practices to achieve results.
The Prevalence of Paid Links in Link Building
According to Google’s guidelines, purchasing or selling links solely to improve search engine rankings is considered a form of link spam. The only exception is when the link is identified with a “nofollow” or “sponsored” link attribute.
However, many link builders engage in practices that go beyond this guideline. Unfortunately, this is a common experience among industry employees, and some of these practices may even directly violate Google’s guidelines.
The notion of paying for links seems logical since passing link equity is a significant objective of link building. However, it’s ironic that you may have to pay more to acquire a link that Google may penalize you for.
The Guest Posting Conundrum
Guest posting is a widely used link-building strategy worldwide. Still, it often involves paid article placements that violate Google’s guidelines by allowing link equity to pass without being tagged as sponsored. On the other hand, free guest posting can be done in two ways. First, establish yourself as a credible and authoritative figure in your niche, which is a best practice regardless of location; second, post on user-generated content (UGC) websites, a widespread practice in Indonesia. Although the links obtained are usually followed, the exposure and potential SEO benefits, including E-A-T and the hint of nofollow, make it worthwhile.
Exploring the business model of ” media packages” on large websites
Continuing the discussion on link and guest post buying, another option that may come up is “media packages.” This is a service provided by large websites to sell their advertising space to other publishers, typically with strict terms and conditions. These may include:
- The link is active for only one year
- The post is labelled as sponsored
- The link is a “nofollow” link
- The article is not being featured on the homepage or blog category page
- Payment is required in advance
- A turnaround time of over a month
With these conditions, the approach is now considered a “white hat,” as the links and articles align with Google’s guidelines.
Leveraging Relationships in Your Niche for Link Building
Your ability to build relationships and network in your industry can significantly impact your link-building success. Acquiring links and coverage becomes much easier when you have established connections with publishers and journalists in your niche and beyond.
However, this crucial aspect of link-building needs to be addressed in English content, where the sheer number of websites, bloggers, and journalists can be overwhelming. In contrast, smaller markets offer limited link prospects, which can be an advantage for link builders.
Here are a few implications of building relationships in your niche:
- You can engage in more sophisticated link exchanges with your connections, which can be highly effective if done correctly.
- Your connections can provide valuable insights and information about your industry, informing your content and link-building strategies.
- Your connections can be a source of ongoing link opportunities and referrals, helping you to expand your network and reach new audiences.
The Struggle for Followed Links in Certain Countries
Some countries are still in an era where getting a “followed” link is a miracle. Even with the introduction of new link attributes like “sponsored” and “UGC,” some big media houses still stick to using the “nofollow” attribute for all external links. This is likely due to the fear of Google penalties for violating their link-building guidelines.
In these countries, the risk of passing link equity where it shouldn’t be is a significant concern for link builders. This makes link-building much more challenging, requiring more creativity and strategy to secure high-quality links.
The Role of TLDs in International Link Building
Choosing the right top-level domain (TLD) can significantly impact your link-building efforts and brand perception among your target audience. According to Sebastian, your TLD choice can also affect the reception of your outreach efforts.
In South America, having a generic TLD (gTLD) instead of a country-code TLD (ccTLD) can be crucial when building links beyond your home country. For instance, many prominent Spanish sites in Argentina prefer a .com domain, making their link-building efforts relatively easier.
The impact of cultural sensitivity on successful international link building
It’s essential to consider language and cultural differences when conducting outreach in different countries. More than merely using the correct language is required for successful outreach localization. It would help if you also adapted to local communication styles and cultural nuances, including the level of formality in emails. Even if you’re fluent in the language, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with local terms and expressions to achieve the desired impact. This is especially true for English, which varies significantly across different English-speaking countries, and even more so for other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese.
The global knowledge gap in SEO practices
One crucial aspect of successful outreach is communicating effectively with your target audience. However, webmasters’ SEO knowledge level can vary greatly depending on the country.
Many webmasters are well-versed in link building in some developed markets like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. However, webmasters may have some knowledge in other markets like Italy, India, and Argentina but need to be more experienced. In these cases, using SEO terms may still be effective.
However, link-building knowledge may be needed in other countries like the Balkans and Germany. It’s important to avoid assuming that the person you’re reaching out to has any solid understanding of SEO.
Moving Beyond Email: Exploring Other Outreach Channels
Although email outreach is the go-to method for many, it’s not always the most effective means of communication worldwide. For example, in Indonesia, an email is still a viable option for initial introductions, but it’s better to use apps such as WhatsApp for follow-ups. In Thailand and Vietnam, email outreach could be more effective, and instead, social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger are recommended. In China, WeChat is the preferred communication method, which often involves exchanging voice messages. However, to get ahead in your outreach efforts, it might be worth considering making phone calls as a part of your strategy.
In conclusion, link-building strategies and their effectiveness can vary greatly depending on your target country or region. It is essential to consider local cultural and linguistic factors, TLD choices, and communication preferences to increase the success rate of your outreach efforts. While some best practices may apply across the board, it’s crucial to tailor your approach to your target market.
To improve your international link building efforts, consider our monthly SEO packages to help secure links from high-quality media and websites. With the right approach and tools, you can succeed in link building, no matter where you’re targeting.