To rank competitively on Google you still need links – they’re one of the most important factors involved in ranking a site naturally on Google.
What is Link Building?
A simple definition of link building is a process of acquiring other websites to link to your website. All business owners, marketers, or businesses should be keen on acquiring as many quality external links as possible to drive traffic to their website, and crucially, increase their website’s authority.
So, why build links? Backlinks help you rank better on Google and other search engines. While Google considers over 200 ranking factors to determine the order to rank web pages for keywords. Additionally, the ranking factors and their influence on the ranking of websites are constantly changing. However, backlinks remain a main ranking factor with enduring influence on the ranking of web pages.
As such, link building is one of the main search engine optimization tactics. They signal to Google and other search engines that your web page and, by extension, the entire website is a quality resource for the particular keywords you are targeting. In this regard, the more quality backlinks your website has, the higher the rankings it will accrue over time.
However, link building is not a matter of getting any run-of-the-mill website to link to your website. There is the right way and wrong way to link building. Businesses and individuals interested in the long-term viability of their website should pursue natural link building. To this end, you should undertake steps to earn your backlinks rather than purchasing them or using manipulative tactics. Manipulative practices, also known as black-hat SEO, can temporarily or permanently get your website banned from search engines.
That said, organic and natural link building is a time-consuming and challenging process. This is especially the case for high-quality backlinks. Quality links from authoritative websites such as Wall Street Journal are few and hard to earn. However, they are the best types of links to yield the highest impact on your rankings. Conversely, links from new websites will not have a massively positive impact on your website.
In this guide, we will cover all aspects of how to build quality links that will yield a positive impact on your ranking without violating Google’s terms and conditions.
Keep in mind that you cannot avoid link building if you want to rank well in organic search engine results pages.
The Importance of Link-Building For SEO
Link building is crucial for SEO as Google considers links a critical ranking factor. Google has stated that webmasters can improve their website rank by increasing the number of top-quality authoritative websites that link to their webpages.
Consider this; we have a site selling mountain bikes and related equipment. We’re competing with other mountain bike vendors around our location. Google will look at the link popularity of our website to determine how to rank different competing web pages.
The above example gives a basic visual explanation of the importance of link building. However, Google goes deeper when determining the value of the backlinks websites have. The ranking algorithms Google uses considers:
1. The authority and trust the linking pages,
2. The content optimization and SEO of the linking websites, and
3. The anchor text used when linking to your site.
High-Quality Content And Its Importance?
Before we learn about link-building tactics, let’s cover some foundation information first.
If you’ve done some reading about SEO, you’ll notice many guides emphasize creating high-quality content. There is a reason for this approach to SEO; quality content makes link-building far easier because it’s the content that’s shared.
Webmasters are constantly searching for quality materials with valuable information to link and direct their traffic to. Very few webmasters will link to your product pages, homepages, or shopping cart.
When it comes to content, however, the devil is in the details. You cannot simply stuff links and keywords throughout your content. Creating top-notch articles and blog posts involves creating content that is helpful enough for authoritative website owners to link to your site.
It is also essential to distinguish between content marketing and link building.
Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content (blogs, articles, videos, or infographics) to drive traffic to your site and move customers through your marketing funnel. The goal of content marketing is to acquire new customers.
On the other hand, link building is the process of attracting other blogs or websites to link to your website to improve your rankings on search engines. Search engines crawl the website looking for the links between web pages across the web. The engines determine the validity of the content and, after that, determine where the web pages should rank in search results.
That being said, the foundation of link building is creating and publishing high-quality content. Below is the process of creating link-worthy content.
And In-Depth Read On Everything About 10x Content
What Is High-Quality Linkable Content?
We’ve noted that having linkable quality content that is well-crafted can help you build links to your website. So, what qualifies as quality content? Let’s define what quality content entails
- Must be accurate and provide well-research information,
- Speaks directly to the target audience,
- Copy must be well-written,
- Has up-to-date content that covers the topic of interest completely when publishing,
- Contains supplemental graphs, images, infographics, or videos to support the copy, and
Succeeding in creating content that meets these five qualities requires that you start creating your content with in-depth research. Without proper research, you won’t create exceptional content that will form a solid foundation for link building.
The Fundamental Elements Of Successful Link Building Strategies?
There is more to link building than meets the eye. And it’s not just in the complexity of the tactics used to deliver results.
For instance, when creating your link-building strategy, you need to remember that not all links are created equal. Additionally, certain vital elements determine your success.
In a nutshell, you shouldn’t build links blindly.
This means that you need to have an intricate understanding of what a quality link looks like and invest your efforts in attaining the quality links that will yield a positive impact on your website’s rankings.
Below are some of the primary elements you need to focus on while developing your building links strategy to help you understand what a great link profile should look like.
1. Contextual Links
The most valuable links are those that are most likely to be clicked. Additionally, frequently clicked links tend to have the most significant impact on your rankings.
Using PageRank, Google measures the value of every link. Furthermore, its updated ‘reasonable surfer model’ measures the probability that a web page reader might click a specific link depending on the features a link has.
Contextual links, which are links incorporated into the body of a web page within the content, are usually higher quality and the best quality links you can acquire. They are the key to any successful link-building endeavor.
2. A High Number Of ‘Followed’ Links
One function or PageRank is to filter out links that will not influence the site’s rankings.
Webmasters can attach different attributes to the links they add to their content. For instance, you can attribute a link as nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links.
The most commonly used attribute is the rel= “nofollow, which tells Google not to crawl that particular link as the webmaster does not want the two websites to be associated with regard to ranking.
On the other hand, the Rel= “sponsored” attributes shows that the particular link has been paid for (and, therefore, PageRank should not use it for ranking purposes).
Rel= “UGC” indicates links are user-generated content such as links from comments and forums. The UGC attribute shows that these links have not been placed through an editorial process and can be manipulative.
‘Followed’ or ‘dofollow’ links are links that have no attribute attached to the link that is meant to prevent PageRank from considering the link as part of the link profile. Technically, there are no dofollow links, but instead, there are links without a Rel attribute.
A good link profile should have a higher number of dofollow links sourced from quality sources.
3. Editorially Placed Links
As the name suggests, Editorial links are links to your website that a third-party webmaster chooses to use without your input. They don’t add the link in exchange for money or any other incentive. Additionally, you did not add these links to improve your rankings.
Editorial links are highly powerful links. Google highlights in their guidelines that any links that do not fall under the editorial links category can be deemed unnatural.
4. Focus On Links Originating From Unique Referring Domains
A stellar link profile is one with many unique referring domains instead of links from a few websites.
Your strategy should focus on tactics that earn links from websites that have never linked to your site before to your website. This will increase the number of unique links your domain accrues.
Experts in the SEO industry report that having links from more unique domains can boost a website’s ranking position. For instance, some reckon that more often, when he sees a site ranking higher despite having a lower authority, that site will have a more robust ratio of linking root domains than their competitors.
5. Strong Topical Relevance
Strong links are the links that come from content and websites that are topically related to your website. Pursuing topical relevance is a good way of ensuring you are not building links just for the sake of it. It ensures you are attracting and getting the right links.
At their core, links exist to navigate users from one page to another across the internet. It is natural for a webmaster to link to websites covering related topics in the content or across the website.
Why would you direct your users to a web page that is not topically related to your content or website? You wouldn’t. Keep this consideration in mind when link-building.
A good way to think about it as you seek link opportunities is to question whether you would pursue a linking opportunity if Google did not use external links as a ranking factor.
If you’d still pursue the links, chances are you expect the website to send quality referral traffic to your website or increase the brand’s authority or awareness. In such as case, the website is topically relevant to your audience.
If you would answer no, it is a good indication that the link isn’t relevant to your business.
If you’d not pursue such a linking opportunity, it indicates that the link isn’t relevant or related to your site.
6. Use A Mix Of Natural Anchor Text
An anchor text is a text that highlights the link to another web page. Typically, webmasters reference an article title, brand name, or even simply states ‘click here’.
However, Google does hold anchor text in high regard. Their crawling algorithms use the anchor text to learn more about the web page a link refers to, influencing the overall ranking on SERPs.
That said, Google has made clear limitations to using anchor texts. For instance, optimized anchor text (anchor texts that use commercial terms or the main keywords) violates their guidelines. Excessive use of optimized anchor texts or commercial terms can contribute to poor ranking or even manual action.
Ensure your link profile contains a natural mix of anchor texts with no obvious use of optimized anchor texts.
Link Building Strategies Leading Webmasters Use
Proper link building does not involve the creation of coded links. It’s a manual process involving old-school human-to-human marketing. You promote your webpage to other webmasters to acquire a link.
To ensure you have meaningful and enduring value, the links should be relevant, editorial, and useful to the site users.
A link should be relevant to the linking page and site, topically related to the context in which the link appears, at the discretion of the linking site, and offers value to the website audience.
If these three elements guide your link-building process, you’ll acquire valuable links that benefit your search engine ranking and long-term marketing.
Now, the big question is, how do you secure quality links. There are many link-building methods and tactics out there you could use.
Below we’ll explore some of the best tactics you can use to secure quality links. Typically, you’d want to create valuable resources and, consequently, attract links. To this end, consider content marketing, creating valuable resources, and participating and contributing to your community.
Links Through Resources
Creating resources that your industry finds valuable is a fantastic tactic to secure links.
Online resources can vary from tools, curated lists, complex guides, studies to providing often-needed documents.
The value proposition, in this case, is simple and straightforward: create a web page that caters to your community, market, or niche by providing valuable resources.
To guide your content creation process, perform backlink analysis, keyword research, and competitor analysis to determine your community or niche needs.
After you’ve created the resource page, promote the page across your niche and communities. Focus on and target pages and sites that link to similar content and niche resources.
Follow this simple guide when implementing resource link-building:
Step #1: perform niche research and identify a gap.
Step #2 Analyze interest and the available linking opportunities.
Step #3: Create a valuable resource, concentrating on providing user value.
Once you’ve created the resource, perform targeted outreach. Make our message clear, explaining the value of the resource.
There are variations to this tactic that change the promotional aspect or simplify the process. Variations include:
- Updating dead or old resources to obtain existing links
- Promoting your resource to site owners who already link to a similar (but inferior) resource,
- Finding broken links, informing relevant web admins, and suggesting your resource, and
- Starting with a new outreach campaign to reach out to existing users of the existing but under-performing resource.
Link-Building Through Content
Contributing your expertise by creating content for relevant blogs, websites, and publications is another effective link-building method.
In this case, you provide valuable content in exchange for a link to your website.
Types of content that play well into this tactic include:
- An interview
- A blog post
- A video
- An infographic
- Or news coverage
The process of acquiring back links by contributing content involves:
Step #1. Indentify publications, blogs, or industry/niche-specific news sites.
Step #2. Develop content ideas, and pitch your content to appropriate contacts within the organization.
Step #3. Create the content.
Step #4. Edit the content following their guidelines.
Step #5. Send the content for publication.
Step #6. Work with the editor on any changes.
Step #7. Monitor the results after content publication.
Sharing your content this way will give you an opportunity get back links to your site. The links can be part of the writer’s bio and/or an embedded resource within the content.
This link-building tactic is best used to target high-authority websites. It’s slower and more involving but has the potential to earn you impactful links and high visibility.
During the process, you will also foster great relationships, build a reputation, and establish an audience in your industry.
Link-Building Through Community
Being active in your comminuty will also boost the visibility of your website and earn your quality links in the long run.
Businesses, regardless of their size, cannot operate in a silo. As you build relationships in your industry, you should promote your site as well. This approach will naturally earn links.
This link-building approach requires one to take the process seriously and make a genuine effort into building relationships and being involved in your community. It’s not something you can manufacture just to get links. You need to be active in your community and participate in the events to earn links.
Common community link-building methods include:
- Host contests or giveaways.
- Attend or host an industry event.
- Provide a scholarship.
- Partner with other businesses.
- Present at meet-ups, conferences, tradeshow, or meet up.
The steps to follow for this link-building strategy include:
Step #1. Identify current conversations and engagements in the community and where your company can add value to community members.
Step #2. Analyze your business’s associations, partnerships, events, and relationships, and identify link opportunities.
Step #3. Reach out to industry and partner sites as needed and request links that make sense.
As you can appreciate, this is a slow process of accruing links, which is a long-term tactic. Identify any way your company adds value to your community, and therein lies linking opportunities.