This article focuses on things you need to know about link building—what it is, why you need to do it, and how to be successful at it. Knowing these things is essential, given that link building is one of the most critical elements that influence search engine optimisation (SEO).
A study by Brian Dean and company at Backlinko that analysed one million search results on Google confirms this. They found that Google uses links from other domains as a factor in ranking websites. This means that the more sites link to yours, the higher your website ranks on the search results. That’s top search visibility for your brand right there.
Since we’ve got a lot to cover about link building, it’s best to get the ball rolling.
The Fundamentals of Link Building
Let’s begin with a clear and straightforward definition of this marketing strategy. Link building is the process of increasing the number of good quality links that other websites link to your own.
There are a couple of ways to make this happen, one of which is by earning links naturally. In this technique, your content and SEO marketers work together to create optimised content. Hopefully, this can encourage other sites to naturally link to your content because they see it as something valuable for people on the web.
The opposite of natural link building is manual link building. This tactic involves reaching out to prospects who may be interested in you producing guest posts and publishing the said content pieces on their website. This is a win-win situation since you’ll be including a link to your page within your guest post while allowing your prospect to publish useful content on their website.
The Importance of Link Building for SEO
Backlinks—or links that come from external sites to yours—are one of the primary building blocks of SEO.
The idea behind building links is to use them as a means to simultaneously attract more visitors to your site and improve its authority. Each time you create quality, linkable content, you’re contributing to a positive experience for search users because of the helpful information you provide them.
For Google and other search engines, having high-quality backlinks on your pages means that your site contains quality resource for their users. Thus, search engines will rank your content higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Beyond SEO, here are other things that can happen when you practice good link building:
- You build relationships with other businesses/sites—As mentioned, you can build links by reaching out to other site owners with a guest post offer. Your guest post may be in the form of an infographic or other pieces of valuable content.
Although you’re doing it to point people back to your domain—remember, your guest post contains links to pages on your site—you’re also doing external publishers a great service. Essentially, you’re sharing your knowledge and expertise about a particular subject or topic so that users of their websites can see and benefit from it. This alone indicates that you’re someone they can trust, with whom they can build a mutually beneficial partnership.
- You can boost your sales—Getting external links does not only improve your website ranking, but it also helps increase your referral traffic. Referral traffic pertains to when visitors land on your site by clicking on your links from another site instead of Google search.
This means that with referral traffic, it’s safe to assume that users are coming from a website that may be relevant to your business or industry. Once they reach your site, you’re already presented with an opportunity to turn that visit into an immediate sale with a customer, who may even do repeat business with you in the future.
- You’re able to build your brand—Having websites link to your content only means that they see you as a reliable source of news or information. It’s an affirmation that you’re an industry expert or thought leader, which can only mean that the products, services, or ideas you represent are equally good. With this kind of authority, you can be well-known and respected in your niche, allowing your link building efforts to turn full circle.
- You widen your audience reach—Websites that share your content have a different set of audience from that of your own. With your content appearing in several different domains, the number of people you’re able to reach automatically expands.
This is especially true if your content gets shared by key influencers in your industry who have already established a large following. Plus, given the status that influencers enjoy, their followers are more likely to agree that your content or business is worth checking out.
- You get a good return on investment—Investing in link building can bring benefits for the long term. As long as your links are out there, your referral traffic can keep coming in. What this means is you don’t have to build new campaigns every time to make your investment work for you. On the contrary, you simply make link building a continuous process and watch your website perform well consistently.
How to Build High-Quality Links
Now that you know the importance of link building to SEO, it’s time for you to learn the general step-by-step method of building high-quality links.
- Identify your goals
As mentioned, getting links is designed to help you build your site’s authority, as well as attract more referral traffic. Before launching your campaign, it should be clear to you which of these two goals you want to focus more on, as obviously each one will require a different set of strategies.
If you’re more interested in brand reputation, you’ll want to target high-authority publishers that people already know and trust. Getting your links from them would prove to be more valuable for your site’s authority than if you were to link to low-quality sites.
However, if your goal is to generate referral traffic, you should be looking at being featured on websites that get a lot of hits or views so their visitors may eventually come to your site.
You’ll probably want to stick to the second goal if you’re just getting started with link building, and then reserve working with top publishers as you continuously build your content assets.
Part of your goal setting may also include choosing your niche. By focusing on a specific niche, it will be easy for you to pitch your content to publishers, with the assumption that you’re an absolute expert in that niche. It will make them want you to contribute content for them, and then you can leave your link on their blog.
- Research and analyse what works for you
At this point, you should start identifying your potential publishing partners. Some instances will call for you to look for possible blogs where you can guest post first and then write your content next instead of doing it the other way around.
The reason for this is that you want your publisher to get invested in your piece by having a say as to what angle they want you to cover; not to mention that it’s easier to tailor your content when you know which audience you’re writing for.
This technique works if you want to build a relationship with valuable people, such as publishers that have a high domain authority (DA), traffic volume, or industry leader status. That said, make sure you weigh your options, taking into account the resources it will entail from your end vis-à-vis the advantages you can gain from the guest posting opportunity.
- Create compelling and valuable content
Truth be told, not all content is created equal. Just because you’re producing one piece of content after another, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically land valuable backlink opportunities. That said, you’d want to choose your content carefully. Some of the top link-generating content types include the following:
- Visual assets—Some examples include charts, infographics, and images. These content pieces are easy to link to and can be used as stand-alone content.
- Listicles—These posts offer tips, techniques, and other useful information in a numbered list. Because they’re easy to read, websites like sharing them on their blog.
- Original content—This pertains to data or statistics that you gather by doing your research, conducting a survey, and the like. The originality of your content can be very enticing for publishers that they’d want to cite your data and link to you.
- In-depth or ultimate guides—These types of resource contain comprehensive details about a given topic, making them attractive for content creators and publishers.
This step involves promoting to blogs and websites so they can discover your content and link to it. You’ll be needing the contact information of either the editor or the webmaster of a given site, and then communicate with them regarding a potential submission.
Here are some tips that make for a successful link building outreach campaign:
Choose only authoritative sites that can positively impact your search rankings. The higher the authority of a website, the more valuable the backlink from that site is.
Reach out to sites that link back to your competitors, as there’s a chance that the said website would also agree to link to you.
Check the sites where your competitors guest post. Again, any website that has published your competitors’ work might open an opportunity for you to get a backlink as well.
- Request links for sites that mention your brand. Sometimes, a website may mention you or your piece of content without linking to it. You’ll then have to find those earned mentions and request the site to link to you.
Tools of the Trade
Link building does come with many moving parts, so you’ll need some tools to make your campaigns easier to coordinate or execute. Here are some of the most effective tools for link building in no particular order:
Ahrefs is useful for when you want to know which sites are linking to your competitors but are not linking to you. Just type in the URL of a competing page you wish to check, and Ahrefs will generate a report on every backlink to that page.
If the page you want to build links for isn’t up yet, Ahrefs will also let you see the competing domains by reporting on the best-by-links pages on the web.
Either way, Ahrefs’ backlink index can help you find link building opportunities that your team can explore.
BuzzSumo has heaps of capabilities, such as its Content Analyzer that lets you see how many links a piece of content has earned. This can then help you identify the kind of content that websites want to link to.
Further, you can use BuzzSumo to find influencers that shared your competitor’s content so that you can reach out to them, too. Another nifty feature here is Brand Mentions, which notifies you if someone had mentioned your brand without putting a link to your site.
Last but not least, BuzzSumo can quickly find the most recent links to your site, so you’ll know how your website or content is performing.
BuzzStream describes itself as software for link builders. It identifies prospective influencers that you can reach out to, along with their contact info, so that you can send your outreach message directly from the platform.
This tool also lets you manage your link building campaigns from start to finish and even in between those stages. As such, BuzzStream lets you set reminders, so you get notified whenever you need to do follow-ups with your prospects.
It also has a feature called Custom Fields that allows you to indicate the status of your outreach, which can be handy if you need to delegate tasks to someone in your team.
- Moz Link Explorer
A lot of marketers who are into link building use Moz to check on competitors. Once you put in their domain or URL in the Link Explorer, you can see up to 50 domains with a link back to your competitors all at once.
It also shows you the linking page’s DA, plus the anchor text used—both of which can help you learn more about the link profile of a particular site so you can improve on their link building strategy.
This tool also allows you to see if any of the links pointing to you may be damaging to your site, so you can disavow them and keep your site’s positive rankings.
Majestic SEO doesn’t fall short on giving you essential information, such as how many external sites and referring domains are linking to you, as well as anchor text analysis. The best part is it breaks down everything for you in an easy-to-digest manner, complete with visuals to make your reporting tasks a little more exciting.
Mistakes to Avoid
Given how links are one of the website ranking algorithms that Google uses, you’ll want to be able to build links the proper way. That said, we’ll give you a rundown on the top mistakes to avoid and what you can do instead to maintain or improve your site’s traffic and authority in search engines:
- Linking to sites with a bad reputation—It doesn’t reflect well on you if you’re linking to sites that duplicate content, publish low-quality resource, or practice illegal link building techniques. Keep track of your backlink profile to make sure that you get links only from trustworthy sites.
- Buying links—Google has several systems in place to track if you’re buying links from bad sources, which can be a ground for your site to get penalised. These spam links are not natural, so you may only be attracting low-quality traffic. It would be much better if you hire a freelancer, instead, to help you create quality content or guest posts that you could place on other publications with a link back to your page.
- Inaction in removing toxic links—Toxic backlinks refer to those that are irrelevant to your niche or business, and therefore, should be removed from your site because they don’t add any quality to it. You can use relevant tools to analyse your backlinks, and then request Google to take them off your site.
- Being too aggressive in link building—Google doesn’t like it either when you’re building tons of links all at the same time. The assumption is that it’s easier to get more links from low-quality sites than it is to get a few quality links from authoritative sites. Best to build links slowly but surely.
The Relationship Between Quality Links and SEO Success
The tactic of link building can determine how search engines view the quality or trustworthiness of your website, so it’s only right that you dedicate your time and effort in this particular aspect of SEO.
Acing your link building strategy can be difficult at first, so it pays to have a partner in building quality links for your site as you execute your SEO campaigns. SEO UK offers expert services built from years of carrying out the best practices and ideas in the search ranking industry.
Inquire about our SEO and link building strategy for your business!