Linking schemes have definitely become frowned upon these days, what with Google and other search engines declaring quality content king. For brands caught participating in unfavorable linking strategies, the consequences, such as delisting from Google, can be severe and have a massive negative impact.

That said, inbound links are still an important part of building your online empire. If you want to secure a high page rank for searches common to your business, your brand, and your products, you cannot afford to neglect link building. The question then becomes how you can gain quality inbound links without getting dinged by search engines.

The good news is that there are several ways to go about increasing your links in both planned and organic ways without raising Google’s ire in the process. Here are a few effective strategies you might want to try.

1. On-site blog

For the purposes of SEO, there are few better ways to increase authority, visibility, traffic, and conversions than with an on-site blog. However, you can do more than prove your expertise and build a following when you create your own blog. A blog is an excellent platform for encouraging link sharing.

Blogging provides you with the opportunity to share your knowledge, experience, and passion for your profession with an audience, offering added value to current and prospective customers. It also helps you to secure a position of authority within your field and gives you the opportunity to optimize content with keywords that can make your posts more easily searchable.

In addition, blog content is like a tent-pole for linking. Plenty of blogs and media outlets are searching for quality content they can share with readers, and when you produce content that is interesting, entertaining, and engaging, you are more likely to find others reposting and linking back to it.

2. Guest blogging

As mentioned above, many bloggers could use some help when it comes to populating posts. You might want to offer your expertise by providing free content as a guest blogger. You’ll gain two major benefits in the process.

Not only will you secure links back to your own website (via byline or in the text of the article), but you’ll also get access to the readership of other blogs, potentially increasing your visibility, traffic, and followers in the process. If you choose wisely, this could be an excellent way to gain high-quality links and targeted traffic.

3. Updated link sharing

Certainly you can make deals with other websites and blogs to share links, as in you post their link and they post yours. In some cases this can be a great way to get the quality links you need to catch the attention of search bots and boost your rankings, traffic, and so on. However, if you’re looking to push an agenda of organic linking, think about what you might accomplish by linking out to other products or brands you like via your blog without necessarily asking for links in return.

You could then contact the product or brand owners to let them know that you are promoting them so that they can share your content, including a link back to your page. Don’t forget, you can also search for unsolicited mentions of your website, brand, or products online. If a link isn’t included with these mentions, contact the person who posted the mention and request that a link be added.

4. Sharable content

When content is reposted and shared, you could enjoy a flood of inbound links that grows organically, especially if a blog post or other content goes viral. You can encourage this by creating sharable content.

Short-form posts, infographics, videos and other types of bite-size content are likely to have the most sharing potential. However, more traditional blog posts are not without options for sharing. A good place to start is with easy-share options like buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

5. PR opportunities

You might be surprised to learn that real-world activities can become opportunities for online link building. Any time you’re planning a PR blitz with a product launch, a charity event, or community outreach of some type, make sure you push online press releases, post info on your blog and social media accounts, and promote as much in the virtual world as you do in the real world. The odds of spreading your links increase when you promote newsworthy items.