Creating high-quality content does not necessarily mean it will rank high, even if it’s perfectly understandable to search engines. In order to rank higher than your competitors, you need to establish authority for your website. And how exactly can you do that? Well, you will have to earn links from other authoritative websites and grow an engaged audience that will strengthen the power of your content. Quality content and links are some of the most important SEO ranking factors, and this guide will show you how to create a strong link-building strategy, even as a complete beginner.
Link building refers to the process of getting hyperlinks from other websites to lead back to your site. Hyperlinks (more commonly called links) are used by visitors to navigate between different pages on the internet, while search engines use them to crawl the web. The engines will crawl both the links between separate pages on your website, as well as the ones between two different websites. Of course, not all links are created for the sake of SEO ranking. Many of them are placed on a web page with a different purpose in mind, and getting a chance to acquire links you didn’t ask for is one of the best things that can happen to your SEO strategy.
Google uses links as one of the three main ranking factors, so excluding link building from your SEO strategy can seriously damage your website’s performance in SERPs. When you put enough effort into making your content link-worthy, you increase the odds of getting other websites to link to yours. And whenever a website gets a fair amount of links connected to it, Google and other engines see the links as votes. The more votes a website gets, the more likely it is to rank higher in search results.
There are three ways you can build links for your website:
As mentioned above, there is a way to get earn links without having to do anything on your own. However, in order to get people inclined to link to your website, you will have to work hard to create outstanding pieces of content. Moreover, even if the content is amazing, there has to be a way for it to reach relevant audiences, and that is where promotion kicks in. If you do a good job promoting the content, you will increase the chances of having the pages linked to other authoritative websites.
Besides working hard on the content and waiting patiently for organic links, you can also reach out to other website owners asking them to link to your pages. Of course, in order to have them say yes, you will need to present them with a good reason to do so. Basically, you need to show others how they can also benefit from promoting you.
Let’s take a look at some of the most practical examples you can include in your strategy:
However, have in mind that suggesting cooperation does not necessarily mean that your idea will be accepted. Random website owners or managers are not that easy to persuade, and before you get in contact with them, make sure your proposal is truly worth accepting. Be ready to face rejection, but also remain persistent and confident in the value of your content.
Being able to go on a website and place a link yourself is the perfect strategy, but it is only possible with some of the following categories:
However, links of this kind are not valued very highly by Google, and on top of that, there is a risk of them being treated as spam. But even though they won’t give you a particular advantage when it comes to SEO rankings, they can help your business get discovered by more relevant visitors which is a benefit on its own. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, adding your link to directory sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp will not transform your SEO rankings, but it may bring in more paying customers to the venue.
Diversifying your efforts is a great idea, but there are some techniques you should avoid by all means:
Even though there are no clear indications that help search engines discover paid links instantly, there are some clues that help them discover patterns that indicate dishonest behavior. Once a website is caught purchasing or selling links, it will have to face serious penalties that lead to significantly lowered rankings.
Getting into a seemingly fair link exchange where someone links your content on one of their pages and then you do the same on your website may seem like a great idea, but in reality, it can also get you in trouble. Namely, Google is openly against excessive link exchange, and doing it massively can trigger link spam alarms. Even though doing it on a small scale can go unnoticed, make sure this is not the main strategy that you’re looking to employ.
Even though we cannot know for sure how Google measures the quality of a link, there are some widely accepted guidelines to follow:
Whenever you’re strategizing on the site where one of your links should be placed, go for a source that belongs to the same niche as your business. Links from websites that share a topic with your site are much more likely to bring value than those coming from seemingly irrelevant sources. For instance, if you own a fashion store, you will have more benefits from linking to a reputable fashion blog than being linked to a source that is focused on cuisine.
By now, you are aware of the fact that Google sees third-party links as votes, but it is important to know that not every link is valued the same. Therefore, linking to a newly founded food blog is not the same as having your link posted on a highly authoritative website such as The New York Times. Moreover, there is also a big difference between being linked in an article that gets tons of views, shares, and external references, and one that basically remains unnoticed. Each page has its own authority, i.e. its own number of votes, and you need to take that into consideration before linking your website to it.
The amount of authority that can be transferred to your link from a website where it was placed depends on the chance that the link is going to be clicked by the people visiting the site. In order to increase the CTR (click-through rate) of your link, you need to try to have it placed in the content block of the page, and within that block, it should be positioned as high as possible.
In case you aren’t already familiar with the term, anchor text is a clickable part of the page’s content that links to a different page, and oftentimes it briefly describes the topic of the page linked. And what matters the most - Google takes the words that comprise the anchor text into consideration while trying to understand what the linked page is about and how it should be ranked. In order to help the anchor text and the link itself seem natural, it is best to let the website owner formulate it according to their preference.
Now that you have a better idea of how to put link-building ideas into practice, let’s take a look at some of the most effective strategies you can benefit from:
Creating linkable pieces of content is one of the best ways to create a solid ground for external linking. Basically, whatever your niche may be, you could benefit from creating informative assets that others will wish to share on their websites. For example, you can share useful tutorials, guides, infographics, industry surveys, studies, and other items that your audience may find interesting. And if you find it hard to come up with a plan on your own, you can always analyze your main competitors in order to find inspiration.
The moment you create high-quality assets with high linking potential, you need to make sure someone will discover the content and actually decide to share it.
As a website owner, there are three main options you can focus on in order to promote your content:
Approaching a website owner with an offer to create a quality piece of content for free, only asking for a link in return, is one of the most effective link-building strategies out there. However, before you try to get the attention of the leading blogs and websites in your niche, work on building some kind of portfolio by partnering with lesser-known blog owners who are not as likely to reject you. From then on, you should gradually work your way up to bigger names that have more authority in the industry.
Link building is one of the most valuable skills you could learn for the sake of higher rankings on Google, and even though it seems too complex, mastering it can give you long-term benefits. Thanks to all the information that you’ve just learned, you are ready to begin taking actionable steps toward a functional strategy that will boost the performance of your website.