What is link building?
Link building is the procedure for getting other websites to link to yours, and it’s vital to your overall SEO strategy.
To get started with an effective link building plan, you’ll first need to produce quality content for your website that someone might actual find value in linking to. When someone links to your valuable content, you earn a backlink or link from the linking website back to yours.
Link building has a number of benefits, including:
- Exposure for your brand to a broader audience
- Builds up your website’s domain name power
- Helps boost your performance in search results
Why does a link building strategy matter for your business?
There are numerous advantages in undertaking a link building strategy. As I mentioned just a bit ago, link building can help extend the reach of your content and your brand by getting it in front a bigger audience. It also helps boost your ranking and search engine optimization, which we’ll dig into in a bit more detail later.
As you can see by this list of 200 Google ranking factors, backlinks, as well as a number of related details about their quality, comprise a good percentage of the list.
To help you get started and begin earning high-quality backlinks, we’ve compiled some important info you need to understand to be successful.
Let’s kick things off with a backlink building checklist.
Backlink Building Checklist
In just a bit, we will explore a few popular and effective backlinking strategies but first I want to provide you with some insights into some factors that determine that quality of the link.
Understanding the following factors that contribute to the quality of a backlink is critical in link building. Search engines could potentially penalize your site if your backlink profile doesn’t meet Google’s standards. Even if you don’t get penalized, you will see little to no value from low-quality backlinks. Here are the number of things you need to be aware of as you begin to roll out your backlink strategy.
Authority of Referring Page
The level of authority Google attributes to the page from which the backlink is coming will have a significant effect on the impact of the link on your site’s SEO.
Some SEO companies’ research reports show that the power of the referring page will likely outweigh a number of other ranking factors.
Authority of the Linking Domain
The backlink’s quality is also determined by the Domain Name Authority of the referring site. This is the main URL for a website. For example, the domain you are on now is anthonygaenzle.com. The page you are on is anthonygaenzle.com/link-building-techniques-definitive-guide/. Make sense?
If you are in the marketing field, for example, a backlink from a branded or popular website like contentmarketinginstitute.com could have a considerable impact when compared to a backlink from a new blog with little authority and virtually no traffic or history, or worse, a really horribly design, low domain authority site.
Source: Moz (data pulled from anonymous website)
Relevancy of the Referring Site
Another important factor is the relevancy of the content on the site linking back to your site.
Let’s assume you own a website about clothing. You run a test using the Moz tool or maybe SEMrush (we’ll let you pick) and you find a backlink from a site about ore mining. No matter how high in authority that ore mining domain might be, it’s of little value when it comes to linking to your site because there is little to no relevancy.
Backlink Location on the Page
Web crawlers inspect where the backlink is placed inside page’s content. Is it embedded into the footer region, a page widget, or it is planted firmly within the body copy?
Backlinks buried in the sidebar and footer section of a website won’t influence ranking as much as backlinks found in the center of a piece of content will influence ranking.
Backlink Anchor Text
The highlighted text area of a link makes it distinct from other words in articles. This is referred to as anchor text.
Anchor text is an important ranking signal, and one thing you want to do is make sure the anchor text linking back to your site varies. If you have 100 backlinks to one page and each of them is from the same anchor text, Google may view your efforts as potentially involving some shady business.
Naturally Placed Backlinks
Search engine bots will analyze how the originated on a site. Was it self-generated, did the site owners drop it into the publication?
The goal is to have natural backlinks that give the impression that the site-owner just really loved your content and thought it added value to the content they (or their team) crafted.
How to kickoff your backlink strategy and earn links
Now that we’ve laid out a lot of the groundwork and defined a lot of the things you need to understand before kicking off your backlink outreach strategy, let’s dive into some techniques that work.
To start earning high-quality backlinks, try the following tactics.
Guest Posting with a Little Twist
Guest blogging was proclaimed dead by former Googler, Matt Cutts, sometime around 2014. Since then, lots of articles have been written about how the practice still lives on, and I agree. There is still a lot of value in guest blogging. The trick is how to get good guest blogging gigs. Here’s an article I encourage you to check out about how you can find great guest blogging gigs, how to do outreach, and how to get accepted.
Broken External Link Building
This involves finding links on other websites that are no longer working and making the ask for a backlink to your content added to replace the broken link. Broken external link building includes three necessary steps:
- Locate an applicable broken link on a high-quality, relevant site
- Create content that’s similar (preferably better) than the original resource which is now broken
- Ask the website owner or editor if they would be willing to replace the broken link with your new link
As long as the content you’ve created is high-quality and relevant, there’s a good chance the site owner or editor will accept your request.
Resource Pages and Sites
Lists are great. These are pages that have curated lists of resources to what they consider to be the top external websites representing the particular type of resource they are referencing. For example:
This is a very popular strategy for building links. So much so that SearchEngineLand.com, a few years back, cited a survey showing that it came in #2 on a list of link building tactics that SEO pros thought were the most effective.
If you’re conducting a search for relevant resource pages, here are a few formats that might help you connect with the right content.
- “Keyword” + inurl:links
- “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful links”
Content Repurposing and Syndication
Create content like infographics and openly offer the embed code for others to share. Site owners can grab the code, embed it on their site, and they have an original-looking infographic right there. That infographic is linked back to your site, so there you go!
You can also take content like blog articles that performed well and repurpose that content into things like video, infographics like I just mentioned, images and more and link back to the original piece.
The goal here, no matter what route you take, is to make your content work for you.
Crowdfunding and Charities Sites
This option gives you the opportunity to build backlinks while also doing good. Many non-profit websites are willing to add links back to websites owned by the people who contribute.
Another great way to grab a link is to create content for a charity of non-profit website. Often, non-profits don’t have large marketing budgets. Thus, when someone offers to create a piece (or multiple pieces) of content for free, they’ll gladly give you a link back in exchange for you creating the content.
I don’t recommend doing a lot of this. Especially if you’re gaining a link solely based on your donation. Technically these are classified as paid links, so don’t overdo it.
Network Site Third Party Referencing
Try gaining links from places like forums, Reddit, Quora and so on. These types of places offer great ways to promote your thought leadership and market your website, as well as potentially gain a few links.
If you are going to get involved in any of these efforts, though, make sure you’re prepared to really be a part of the community. Simply going around dropping links all over the place isn’t going to cut it. Gaining from these types of sites takes a lot of time and effort, but the return can be very much worth it.
Reddit backlinks begin life as nofollow links, but there is tons of info out there about how the number of “upvotes” and other factors involved in Reddit’s algorithm can cause those nofollow links to be converted to dofollow links.
Add Link in Email Signature
An email signature is just a block of text used to offer the receiver with your name, current email address, contact information, and a website link. The beauty is that it’s super easy and doesn’t require much work at all on your end to get it setup.
While search engines won’t technically look at this like a backlink and add it to your profile, people receiving your email will often click on it, thus leading to increases in traffic back to your site.
Local Business Listings
Local listings are easy ways to gain backlinks. And for businesses that rely on local searches for business, they can be critical important (but that’s a whole other article).
The beauty here is that you can visit a site like Yelp or Google My Business and setup the page yourself. Drop in your website’s URL, go through all of the required confirmation and approval steps, and off you go.
A few extras to add to your backlink strategy
DO insert long tail keywords when link building
Long tail keywords contain more words than a typical keyword. For example, a typical keyword might look something like “best burgers.” A long tail version of that might look more like “where are the best burgers and fries in Lancaster.”
These types of keywords are a lot more specific, and they can help you rank for searches that don’t have such a high keyword difficulty, which is an estimate of how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword. Long tail keywords also help with semantic search, which is related to voice search. When you speak to Siri, Alexa or whatever virtual assistant you prefer, you typically won’t say “best burgers” and leave it at that. So, long tail keywords help you optimize your site for voice semantic search.
Source: Voice search using Siri virtual assistant on Apple device
DO increase social visibility for your page
Social sharing can help route more traffic to your page and encourage readers to link back to your content from their own social media profiles. We recommend embedding share buttons for all major platforms at the top/bottom of your page, as well as dropping in a social media sharing plugin that pops up on each of the articles you share.
Not sure about the value of social media when it comes to SEO? Check out this article on the Impact of social media on your SEO efforts.
A few things to avoid in developing your backlink strategy
DON’T mention the same keyword repeatedly
This is called keyword stuffing (or, irrelevant keywords), and it’s been shunned by Google for a number of years now. Keywords are certainly important to help your pages show up in certain and rank appropriately, but when you begin stuffing them in and adding them in irrelevant, unnatural was, Google will take notice. And that’s not good. Switch up the way you incorporate keywords into your articles, and make sure they are there for a reason, not just because you’re trying to get them in as many times as you can.
DON’T look for purchased or sponsored links
One easy and efficient way to gain links is to simply purchase them. That being said, we don’t recommend you putting all your time and resources into this method. Purchased links will likely have a rel=” sponsored” label in the event you’ve got a compensation-based agreement, and Google won’t see those links as valuable. Another thing to consider, if you have paid links on your own website, it’s important that you add the rel=”sponosored” label. While Google hasn’t explicitly said it will penalize sites that don’t do this for paid links, we recommend erring on the side of safety.
So, there you have it. Your guide to doing linking building the right way in 2020. Hopefully this article has shed some light on why link building is essential and how you can ace your own link building strategy to boost your SEO efforts this year.
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