Link building is a crucial part of a solid SEO strategy and understanding link building is necessary to understand SEO as a whole. This practice, if done correctly, is considered to be one of the most effective ways to improve your SEO, particularly because it focuses on generating direct and referral traffic. However, it should be noted that if link building is done incorrectly (in spammy or illegitimate ways) it can result in your website getting banned from search engines all together. In this blog post, we’ll go over the basics of the what’s, why’s, and how’s of link building.
So what exactly is link building?
Essentially, link building is the practice of generating links from external websites to the website you’re trying to promote. Backlinks are crucial in SEO because it’s the primary way search engines like google find your website. In this video by Matt Cutts from google, Matt says, “When you do a google search, you’re actually searching Google’s index of the internet.” This index is created by digital robots called “spiders” that go from web page to web page, gathering information and strong links to help people find what they’re looking for. Link building helps create stronger paths for spiders to crawl, which in turn allows google to find your web pages easier. This whole process is why the internet is also called “The Web,” because spiders crawl these links, connecting them to the web!
Why should I build links?
We have established what link building is, and that it is important, but why is it such a big deal? Link building helps your website on multiple fronts. First, and arguably most important, backlinks are one of the primary metrics that search engines use to determine a website’s rank in their algorithms. Second, a link to your website from another website is a very effective way to generate direct traffic, and finally, a good link building strategy helps your website build good relationships with other websites.
It should be noted that all links are not created equally. The value of any given backlink is determined in part by the “PageRank” of the page that contains the link. A link on a page with a good PageRank is substantially more valuable than one on a page with a poor PageRank. Content relevancy is also an important factor when determining the value of a link. A link to a cooking blog would not be valuable on a music review website, but that same link could be quite valuable on a website that sells culinary equipment.
Similarly, Domain Authority plays a big part in determining the value of a backlink. Domain Authority, commonly referred to as DA, is a ranking system created by MOZ that predicts how likely a domain is to show up on a Search Engine Results Page, or SERP for short. Now, officially a DA score doesn’t influence Google’s algorithm, but it can be a great way to figure out how effective your SEO is. Domain Authority is scored on a logarithmic scale from 1-100, and the higher your DA score, the higher your chances of being on the first page of google. Your DA score is measured by a variety of factors, such as the amount of links on your website and the quality of those links. DA is best used as a comparative metric, rather than the end-all-be-all of your website’s health. In the context of link building, learning website’s DA can help influence where you should try to get linked from.
How do I start link building?
If link building is all about generating backlinks, it seems fairly reasonable to think that one of the best ways to do it is to have website that people would want to link to. Easy, right?
Starting a link building strategy can feel daunting, but if you keep link building in mind, it can become a natural extension of content creation in general. Producing high quality, memorable, and interesting content is critical in any link building strategy. In order to figure out what kind of content you should be making for your website, Yoast suggests making a list of websites that appeal to your desired audience. There are plenty of ways to make link-able content for your target audience, such as making a long, well researched beginners guide to a certain topic, deep dives or informative series, as well as hyper specific content for niche interests.
Link building can’t and shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. By nature, it requires the cooperation of at least two different websites, so don’t be afraid to reach out to other websites within your industry and negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement. A great example of this is sending a sample of your product to a separate company, having them write a review on it to post on their website, and you post a link to said review on your website. This way both websites have backlinks, and now have introduced new potential clients to your website. BUT, it should be noted that this territory specifically is where link building can get dicey. Buying links is an especially dangerous way to go about link building because Google views these links as illegitimate and can get your website blacklisted. However, as long as you don’t buy links, and make good quality content, you’ll likely stay in Google’s good graces.
Good and Bad Link Building Techniques
With link building being as old and important as it is, there have been some proven techniques that have developed. We have also learned what techniques don’t work. Buying links is against google’s terms of service and can get your website into serious trouble, but that is not the only link building technique that is frowned upon. Guest blogging on a seperate website can be a great way to generate backlinks, but if the blog post is shallow and off topic that link could do more harm than good. The SERP algorithm is very smart and will notice if your traffic looks spammy, so be sure to avoid linking only to your website’s home page.
Good link building takes time, effort, and outreach. A tried and true link building method is Link Reclamation, which is finding broken links on websites, reaching out to the website operator and suggesting they substitute their broken link with a relevant link from your website. This is a fairly straightforward link building strategy, and when done well will generate quality backlinks. A strategy that can be very effective but more difficult to achieve is the Skyscraper Technique. This involves finding a high performing resource for a keyword that you would like to rank for, and creating an improved version of the content. This can be anything from rewriting an article with more links, creating a well researched infographic, or adding videos to an article or web page. There is no guarantee that creating this new and improved content will result in more backlinks, but generally speaking, making superbe and well researched content will help your website’s SEO.
Does social media count?
Yes! In this day and age, having any kind of marketing strategy will include some form of social media presence. This can be a great thing for link building as well, because not only can you put links to your website on your social media pages, you can also more effectively share your content with your target audience. A strong social media presence is a great tool for increasing brand awareness, and a great source of backlinks. If you cultivate a larger audience through social media, you will get more eyes on the content, and therefore, the more likely your content is to be shared. This visibility will show your amazing content to people who may include a link to your article as a source on their website. Always encourage your followers to share your content, and post regularly!
Link building as a practice isn’t going anywhere, even if the rules change every few years. It helps generate new, engaged users for your website, and it helps search engines find your content.It also establishes you as an authority in your field and helps develop your relationship with your existing customer base or audience. A thorough understanding of what link building is is critical to understanding how SEO works, and how to improve your own SEO.
As a digital marketing company, we are always looking for new opportunities for link building for ourselves and our clients. If you want help improving your SEO, or have any questions, send us a message or give us a call!
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