- What is link building?
- How backlinks impact SEO and search visibility
- Tactics to improve your link building success
- Potential consequences of toxic backlinks
Did you know that there are over 200 Google ranking factors?
Given that Google dominates the market share, it’s important to keep up with their algorithm updates and adhere to best practices to improve your chances of ranking highly in search engine result pages (SERPs).
According to Google, one of the most important ranking factors is link building. In fact, it sits in the top three most important ranking factors for the search engine.
Websites without any backlinks will struggle to gain organic traffic and rank highly in search engines, with these links essentially being votes of confidence for your website.
By acquiring these links, you’re informing Google that your content is trustworthy and have other websites to vouch for that. Ignoring the importance of link building could be highly damaging to your website, so marketers and web owners must devise a solid strategy to help gain high-quality links.
Although link-building can be time-consuming, it is essential for any effective search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign. However, automation and mass-production of backlinks are black-hat SEO methods that marketers and web administrators should avoid at all costs.
Instead, adhere to white-hat practices that focus on outreach and consist of well-constructed, which tends to consist of writing compelling emails to other site owners. You will usually need to offer something in return, such as positive feedback about their product or service, create a piece of content for their site or exchange links.
Although it’s a kind of give-to-receive method, it’s popular and effective. Altering your link-building approach could help boost your traffic and conversion drastically, which would enhance your overall link building campaign.
That said, if you are a total SEO beginner and are learning how to build links for the first time, it can be challenging. Even if you’re a link building professional, you might want to discover some new, more effective tactics, given that there are dozens of approaches you can take.
In this guide, you will learn how to build links with strategies and tactics that are still effective and will help you earn those top-ranking positions.
We’ll also cover methods that could see you wasting time and resources and potentially harm your organic visibility.
We will share quick win tactics alongside those that need a little more time and planning, but that can truly help you to get those “can’t buy” links.
What is Link Building?
Link building is a crucial part of any effective SEO strategy. It refers to the process of acquiring links from other websites and pointing them towards your own to improve your site’s search visibility.
Although it is arguably one of the hardest ranking factors to succeed at, it’s one of the most rewarding if you get it right.
Are you still confused by how it works?
When one website links to another, it tells Google that the website is trustworthy and deserves to rank higher in SERPs for relevant keywords. For example, suppose you have several high-quality links pointing towards your site and an impressive backlink profile. Then, search engines such as Google should rank your website higher in SERPs, leading to improved visibility means more traffic and potentially higher conversion.
However, not all links are created equal, and backlinks that come from an untrustworthy site could actually harm your website’s search visibility.
When trying to build a healthy backlink profile, don’t cut corners and use black-hat tactics. Although some link building strategies are difficult to implement, following white-hat practices will ensure Google doesn’t penalise you later.
Importance of Link Building For SEO
Link building is an integral part of SEO as it helps search engines determine how well a page should rank in SERPs and help establish your brand as an authority in your niche.
However, link building takes time and effort. Hence the reason why those who manage to execute link building strategies successfully have a significant edge over the competition.
Websites with successful link building strategies tend to experience robust traffic growth and revenue increases, which is why it’s essential to dedicate a considerable portion of your SEO resources to link building activities.
The main reasons why you need an effective link building strategy for SEO are:
- To rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs)
- Allow crawlers to find new pages on your site quicker
- Establish your brand as credible and trustworthy
- To potentially benefit from targeted referral traffic
Although link building is (really) hard, you need to make sure you are executing tactics that could give you a competitive advantage – we’ll show you how you can go about achieving that in this guide.
How to Improve Link Building Success
Typically, an outreach approach would contain only one website that you want to promote, right? But what happens when you also include or recommend other similar (and notably more popular) websites?
Include Recognisable Websites in Your Approach
Let’s say you’ve written an incredible piece of content for a fitness instructor website and want to gain some backlinks to this project. Instead of simply approaching other web admins with your piece of content and a single link, why not include a range of various other popular websites for them to feature? These shouldn’t be competitor sites, but sites in the same niche – perhaps name brand fitness equipment or supplements that will be instantly recognisable.
Chances are, the people you’re approaching have never heard of your website and are therefore more reluctant to cooperate as it requires more effort to investigate what the website is about.
However, by including other recognisable websites in your approach, your unknown website will instantly be identifiable – at least by theme.
By including your website among high-quality brands, you’re increasing the likelihood of recipients assuming by association that your website is of the same quality and are therefore more likely to agree to link to it.
Simply by putting your website near well-liked sources of content, you will increase the chances of your website being viewed more favourably.
With that being said, the critical point here is that quality content will always be the deciding factor. Websites that have poor design, poor user experience and poor content won’t necessarily benefit from this tactic. So when it comes down to it, links still have to be earned.
Ensure your website is deserving of backlinks before even attempting an outreach campaign. If you’ve already been using outreach to build links and aren’t seeing a very effective return, then try recommending some popular sites along with your own and see your success rate rocket.
Create A List of Responsive Targets
One link building tactic you could employ is to reach out to websites that you could provide a testimonial for on their products or services as they are more likely to be feature links to your site on their website.
Make sure these websites are:
- Relevant to your niche
- Featuring existing testimonials
- Offer products or services that you would actually use
To get started, write a list of products and services your business is already using or could use. If you’re struggling, cheat a little and look at popular tools or services in your niche.
When reaching out to other websites, make sure that the content on their site is closely related to the topic’s featuring on your site.
Another strategy that can help you build your topical relevance is to receive backlinks from highly reputable websites, which will inform Google and other search engines about the reliability and credibility of your site.
When building your backlink profile, it’s vital to ensure you are establishing relationships with similar high-quality websites to ensure quality links. Why would you take a link that is not topically related to your site? A bunch of random low-quality links pointing towards your site will not reflect well on your website.
Contextual link building is the process of acquiring deep links that have the biggest impact on how search engines decide relevancy and uniqueness.
They enrich the user experience, resulting in lower bounce rates and longer retention, which Google rewards. In addition, if another site links your website at an appropriate place in their own content, this will help build user interest to explore the linked page.
Contextual links help users and crawlers piece together one subject or topic.
Leverage Link Building Communities
Leverage the power of link-building communities that appear on sites such as Facebook, Linked In and Quora, where content marketers go to exchange link-building tactics and opportunities.
If you leverage the power of these communities, you could:
- Boost your organic traffic
- Increase the total number of unique referring sites
- Rank among the top targeted queries for all new blog posts created
- Improve your domain authority
However, remember that link equity is directly connected to the Domain Authority (DA) of the site that has agreed to link to your website.
What is Domain Authority?
Domain Authority, or Domain Rating, is a metric created by Ahrefs to demonstrate the strength of a website’s backlink profile on a scale of 0 to 100.
The higher the number, the more authoritative the link, meaning that linking to a small website or blog with a DA of 30 is less valuable than a high-quality link from a credible site such as Wikipedia or BBC News which have a DA of 90+.
If you receive a backlink with a high DA score, the “link juice” from that site is passed on to your website.
Potential Consequences of A Bad Link Building Strategy
We strongly recommend avoiding black-hat link building tactics as you risk having toxic links pointing towards your site, which could negatively affect your SERPs position and organic traffic.
If you get penalised by Google for your backlinks, this will reduce the PageRank score, which decreases the chances of your content being found. However, keep in mind that highly toxic backlinks could result in having the linked page removed from the search index altogether.
After Google changed its algorithm, toxic backlinks have a higher impact on search visibility and website performance now than ever before.
When building a backlink profile, you should consider:
- Google Webmaster Guidelines to ensure you don’t violate the terms of the agreement
- Stay abreast of algorithm updates to avoid a drop in site rankings
If Google determines that you have violated its Webmaster Guidelines and penalises your site, it could take months, even years, to recover from the impact.
Adhere to white-hat best practices and use tactics that won’t flag your work as spam to build a successful link building strategy.