Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks for the purpose of increasing a domain’s presence in the search engine result pages (SERPs) and therefore generating organic traffic to the website. For example, if Site A has a page that Site B finds useful for their audience, Site B will link back to Site A – creating a backlink.
One of Google’s Important Ranking Factors
In Google’s eyes, this backlink is a vote of confidence from Site B to Site A. The owner of Site B has most likely spent many hours maintaining their site and will not add links to just any other website’s content.
The vested interest of a website’s owner to link out to valuable information is why backlinks make up so much of Google’s algorithm. One of the strongest correlations between a site’s position in the search engine results is the number of linking domains.
You may be thinking, “Perfect! I’ll just make a hundred or so sites, link them back to my main website, then be sitting at the top of google looking down as my competitors battle for the second position.”
Not so fast there, SEO wizard! In 2012, Google launched an update to their algorithm (known as Penguin) that penalized sites with spammy backlinks. This made it clear that not all backlinks are of equal value and that real value comes from the authority of the backlink domain, as well as the page itself.
How to Determine Page and Domain Authority
There are many tools available that highlight the authority of an individual page or domain. My favorite is Moz’s Link Explorer. On a 1-100 logarithmic scale, the tool provides a readout on the authority of the page and domain.
In general, highly-sought-after and valuable links come from University (.edu), Government (.gov) and news publications. The higher the domain and page authority, the more valuable the link becomes.
Relevancy is another major factor for the link’s value. For example, if you have a landscaping business, but are building links on websites that are devoted to authentic Italian recipes, Google might be confused in what your site is about, and question the relevance of your links.
With that said, you can be tangent with your content. Let’s say you are that landscaping company and put together a piece of content on “the history of turf management in sports” – you could, potentially, land valuable links on University pages (.edu’s) that talk about turf management for their related degree programs.
Sure, your website sells landscaping services, but that doesn’t mean your content isn’t valuable for other (less-related) websites to add a backlink. Win-win for everyone!
Backlinks can play a larger role than just increasing a site’s search result presence. They can also send referral traffic to your site as well as increase brand awareness. Earning a link on a high-trafficked site can bring in thousands of organic visitors to your site that might not have been aware of your company previously.
Often overlooked, link building can be used to not only increase search engine rankings, but also place qualified traffic right into your sales funnel.
How to Acquire High-Quality Backlinks
So, now you know why backlinks are important and what dictates their value, but how do we acquire this sacred currency of the Internet?
You may have built some links organically through brand mentions or content already published on your site. Take a look at your backlinks using a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic to see what’s working for you.
Additionally, look at your competition to see what strategies or keywords are working for them. It helps to review not only who you think your physical competitors are, but who is most likely to share related keywords.
Quick Wins for Link Building
Struggling to secure backlinks consistently? Try searching for unlinked brand mentions. The benefit of these mentions is that you bypass the hardest part of link building: getting a different website to talk about you.
To perform this strategy, use a Google shortcode:
“your brand name” -site:yoursitesdomain.com
If there are any sites out there talking about your brand without linking back to you, the Google results will populate with a list of opportunities to begin outreach. Once you have compiled a list of opportunities, send the webmasters an outreach email with your request.
A good way to stay on top of these unlinked mentions is setting up a Google alert:
This way, anytime someone mentions your brand name in the news, you’ll receive an email allowing you to check for an associated link.
Creating Content Assets to Build Links
Although unlinked mentions typically have a high return on investment, there’s a finite amount of them out there. For this reason, we’ve found producing relevant content (linkable assets) is the most effective way of securing long-lasting links.
By producing useful content on a variety of related topics your company can get links on pages that it wouldn’t be able to otherwise. The most effective styles of content in 2018 are the following:
- List Posts
- “Why” Posts
- “How to” Posts
While link building may seem like a straightforward afternoon project, it’s quite the opposite. Before jumping into your own link building endeavor, it’s essential to put together a link building strategy. Without a strategy, it will be easy to get lost and hard to know when you’ve hit (or missed) established goals.
Top 100+ Link Building Resources
Ready to immerse yourself in the world of link building? Here are over 100 links to the best resources on link building training, blogs, tools, and more. The compiled toolkit of resources will provide further insight into industry leaders, tools, tactics, best practices and case studies.