If you don’t know what link building is and why it’s crucial for SEO, then this guide is for you.
In layman’s terms, link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from other websites to your own. Okay, yeah, you probably know that, but why are they so important?
This is because relevant links serve as indicators (like a vote of confidence) to search engines that other websites consider your content to be valuable, relevant, and authoritative.
Therefore, when a website links to your content, it’s essentially giving your website a “vote” in the search engine algorithms, which says, “this content is worth paying attention to”.
In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), link building plays a crucial role. In fact, great link building is one of the most important SEO best practices.
This is because search engines have TONS of content to look at, so instead, they use backlinks to determine a website’s relevance and authority.
This is a very generalized statement, but there is more of a nuance to this. Generally, the more high-quality backlinks a website has from different unique referring domains, the more likely it is to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Link building effectively provides businesses with a scalable way to increase their website’s visibility and online reach. As much as link building is often taken as a “Black Hat SEO” approach, this is not actually the case, and it has been proven to lead to more website traffic and revenue.
Link building and visibility in search go hand in hand, so it makes sense that link building can also be a viable strategy for businesses looking to establish themselves as an authority in their industry. This goes hand-in-hand with building brand awareness.
What this means for you… link building is essential to any SEO strategy and should be given proper attention. Don’t let link-building be an afterthought. Instead, make it a priority.
The Role of Link Building in SEO
Search engines use links as a way to understand the structure of the internet and how it works.
The correlation between backlinks and higher rankings is well-established.
Third-party SEO companies like Ahrefs and Moz have developed their respective Domain Rating and Domain Authority systems to analyze the backlink profiles of websites.
These are assessed on a logarithmic scale from 0-100, with 100 being the best.
Studies have demonstrated that websites with higher domain scores (stronger backlink profiles) continually rank higher in search results.
Two different main types of backlinks play a role in SEO. Home page and blog post backlinks.
Both types of backlinks contribute to the overall ability of a website to rank well.
Typically websites will mainly have home page links. These links will usually have branded anchor text (the text including the link). For example, most of my homepage backlinks will have anchors like “Splinter Economics”.
On the other hand, blog post backlinks will be highly relevant to the individual blog post. For example, if you had a blog post on the “best protein bars” you would naturally want links to the page with anchors like “protein” and “snacks for bodybuilding”.
Acquiring both types of backlinks is important for building a diverse and natural link profile.
Having a natural link profile is definitely something search engines look at, so putting in the time, energy, and resources will be highly beneficial. Virtually all SEO experts will back this up.
While building links is not the only factor that search engines use to determine rankings, it is important and should not be overlooked in any SEO strategy.
The Impact of Backlinks on Search Engine Rankings
Both the quantity and quality of backlinks have an impact on search engine rankings.
As we mentioned having a large number of backlinks is crucial. However, having a high number of low-quality backlinks can actually harm a website’s search engine rankings. This is because search engines have become sophisticated enough to recognize low-quality links and can penalize a website for having too many spammy links.
It’s highly important to focus on acquiring high-quality links rather than just many low-quality ones e.g. links that can be bought in bulk on Fiverr.
Not all backlinks are created equal. There is a difference between “good” and “bad” links.
“Good” links are those that come from authoritative and relevant sites. They often come about as a result of having an awesome content marketing strategy in place that other websites want to link to.
High-quality content does attract links. There’s no doubt about it.
“Bad” links, on the other hand, are often the result of manipulative link-building tactics and can come from low-quality or irrelevant websites.
Too many bad links indicate an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. Therefore, it’s important to focus on acquiring good links and avoiding bad ones for a successful link-building strategy.
You may be wondering how you actually build all these high-quality backlinks that can have such a huge impact on your website. Well, we have got you covered!
Strategies for Acquiring High-Quality Backlinks
With link building, it can often feel like the hardest part is starting. Especially given that you know it may take a long time to see results from your link-building campaign.
Fortunately, there are a variety of link-building techniques that can be used to acquire high-quality backlinks that move the needle. Some of the most popular link-building techniques include:
1. Guest posting on authoritative and relevant niche websites
2. Creating infographics and distributing them to popular blogs. These are highly linkable assets.
3. Participating in online communities and forums e.g. Quora
4. Creating shareable content such as case studies and statistics posts
5. Reaching out to influencers who you’ve included in link bait posts
6. Offering to write testimonials or reviews for other websites
7. Leveraging social media marketing to promote your content and attract backlinks the organic way
8. Using a service like HARO or Qwoted to get featured in high-authority publications
9. Work with an expert SEO consultant
Creating valuable and relevant content is crucial for organic link-building. When you create content that is truly valuable and relevant to your target audience, other websites are more likely to want to link to it.
This is true, but it is very generic advice.
Attracting backlinks organically is very hard, so utilizing outreach techniques is a more effective approach.
Reaching out to other websites for link opportunities can be a great way to acquire high-quality backlinks. However, it’s important to do this effectively and professionally. When reaching out to other websites, it’s important to personalize your message and clarify why linking to your content would benefit your audience.
Additionally, being patient (but also persistent) is important when reaching out to other websites. Building relationships with other website owners can take time, but it will ultimately lead to valuable link opportunities.
If you can adopt some of these link-building strategies, the google algorithm should be willing to reward your website with improved online visibility.
So, does link building cost money? That’s up to you. You can invest heavily, or go down the manual, budget route.
Unethical Link-Building Consequences & Practices
If you have any experience in the SEO world, then you will probably be familiar with “Black hat” link-building tactics.
Black-hat link building refers to methods of acquiring backlinks that violate search engine guidelines. These tactics include automated backlinks, participating in link farms, and using scraping software to generate links.
These methods may result in a short-term boost in search engine rankings, but they can lead to manual penalties that result in lower rankings and loss of earnings.
Penalties can range from a temporary drop in rankings to being completely removed from search engine results pages. Additionally, penalties can be difficult and time-consuming to recover from. You may even have to work with an SEO agency that specializes in penalty recovery (this can be very expensive).
To avoid penalties, you should focus on ethically acquiring high-quality backlinks. This includes creating valuable and relevant content, building relationships with website owners in your industry, and adhering as much as possible to Google’sguidelines.
It’s also recommended to regularly monitor the backlinks pointing at your website and to disavow any bad links that may have come about resulting from a negative SEO attack.
Diversifying a Link-Building Strategy
Relying too heavily on a single link-building tactic can be risky. For example, suppose a website’s backlinks primarily come from guest posts. A change in search engine algorithms or advice to websites regarding accepting guest posts could result in losing a significant number of links.
In this case, a significant drop in search engine rankings can be expected, harming the website’s organic traffic and income.
Diversifying your link-building strategy can help mitigate the risks of relying too heavily on a single tactic. By using a variety of tactics to acquire backlinks, you will immediately reduce the dependence on any single source of backlinks.
Additionally, a diversified link building strategy can help a website to acquire different types of backlinks. This makes it much websites fat resilient to the constant changes in search engine algorithms.
To diversify a link-building strategy, you should opt for various tactics.
My personal recommendation for an easy go-to-market link strategy that fits businesses regardless of size and industry is:
- Be Active on HARO (respond at least daily). This is the best way to acquire high-authority links.
- Write Guest Posts. Find high-traffic niche sites and send emails proposing articles to them.
- Niche Edits. This is tricky, but these links are insanely valuable (they are contextual, and the pages are already indexed).
Feel free to dabble in other techniques, such as content syndication and writing link-bait posts. However, if you keep these three techniques as your core focus, you will see great link-building results.
The Future of Link Building
As you know, nothing in the future is guaranteed.
However, we can be sure that SEO will be around for a long time.
The evolution of search algorithms is no exception. Google is always tweaking its algorithm to better understand and rank websites, especially with new trends like AI writing.
Algorithm updates in the last decade have already had a sweeping impact on link building. Due to the changes, people have seen devastating ranking losses and huge gains.
Always stay up to date with the latest algorithm updates and consider how they affect your link-building strategy.
Emerging link-building trends will likely involve Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. These technologies can help you analyze and identify link-building opportunities. Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush have already started to adopt this!
Natural and organic link-building methods will continue to be favored by search engines. They are only becoming more sophisticated, so detecting manipulative practices is far easier.
The Role of Internal Linking
Internal linking is crucial to SEO.
While internal links don’t carry the same page rank weight as external links from other websites, they are still vital to a well-rounded strategy.
If you are unfamiliar with internal linking, it’s essentially just a means of linking to other pages within the same website. Say, for example, you had two articles about fat loss and muscle building, then linking the two pages makes a lot of sense. So, to put it simply, internal linking helps with the structure and hierarchy of a website, allowing Google to discover new content and understand the relationships between different pages.
Internal linking is often overlooked in link building, but it’s important in advising search engines about your website.
Additionally, internal linking helps website owners to distribute “link juice” throughout a website.
Link juice is simply the amount of “page rank” a page holds. So by linking to other pages on the website, you can distribute ranking power from your strongest pages to your weakest pages.
Another benefit of internal linking is that it can positively affect user experience. This is because people visiting a page on your website will find it easy to navigate to other helpful pages on the website. This is the best way to provide visitors with more information and resources, in turn keeping them engaged.
It can help search engines to on a website. This can help to improve the website’s overall search engine visibility.
You need to be logical and deliberate with your internal linking strategy. Make sure you are linking to the most important blog posts from the homepage and deeper pages from the main pages.
Finally, your internal links should have an extremely descriptive anchor text so that people on your website and search engine crawlers can understand the context and relevance of the linked pages.
Now you know… link building is core to any SEO strategy.
Acquiring high-quality backlinks consistently from authoritative websites improves your chances of ranking for highly competitive and commercial keywords.
Ranking moves the needle for you in terms of attracting more traffic, conversions, and, ultimately, more money. Understanding the benefits of link-building will be key to your digital marketing success.
So, in conclusion, link building is and will continue to remain important!