Few SEO topics cause the fear and anxiety that link building does.
Once upon a time, all a site needed was a lot of inbound links from other domains — the more links, the better. Then Google and other search engines got wise to sneaky search engine optimizers gaming the system and hampering search engine user experience.
Fast forward to today, and the idea of building links still strikes fear into the heart of some digital marketers.
But it’s time for SEO pros and marketers to take a deep breath and return to the link-building game. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to master the art of link building and skyrocket your content’s SEO.
What is Link Building?
At its core, link building is acquiring high-quality inbound links from other websites. Why does it matter so much? Because it’s one of the foundational layers of SEO.
Links are a primary factor in how search engines like Google evaluate and rank websites. When a website links to yours, it signals to Google that your site is credible and trustworthy. Because of that, websites with a strong backlink profile tend to have higher search rankings.
Internal vs. external
Link building encompasses both internal and external links. Each serves a unique purpose.
- Connect pages and posts on your website
- Help you guide visitors to your most important pages
- Establish a relationship between your content
- Help search engines find and index your content
- Help you build an internal content ecosystem
External links (or outbound links):
- Connect you with other credible brands and sources
- Show search engines how your content relates to other pages
- Pass ranking power
- Boost the ranking and reputation of your site
No-follow vs. do-follow external links
No-follow links tell search engines not to pass any ranking signals onto the page you’re linking to. In other words, they pass on the website traffic without endorsing the site. A good use of a no-follow link would be when you’re linking to a competitor for context. You benefit from using their credibility without passing ranking power onto them.
You’ve probably already guessed it, but Do-follow links do pass on link equity to the destination page. Do-follow links are extremely valuable to search engines. They enhance page rank, improve website authority, and attract more visitors to your site.
Things to consider with your link-building
Search engines no longer reward spammy link-building or over-optimized anchor text. But they do still recognize and reward relevant links.
If you stick to these tips, you will put your efforts on the right track.
Here are a few other things you can do:
- Familiarize yourself with Google’s quality guidelines as outlined in its link schemes.
- Consider your audience’s interests and buyer’s journey when you build links and guest posts. Is your content relevant to the site where you want to place a link? If not, then don’t build that link or write that guest post. Google has gotten very smart in understanding relevance.
- Create content that influences and advocates; customers will want to share and link to it on their own sites. That takes time, research, preparation, and resources. Don’t skimp on your content creation.
Strategies For Earning More Links
All the above information is good to know, but maybe you are looking for specific next steps. No problem.
We’ve got you covered with the below ideas for building more and better links.
Be a podcast guest
To get significant benefits from the podcasting craze without launching your own show, start hustling for interview spots on other people’s podcasts.
John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing says:
With each podcast you’re on, you’re generating more backlinks for your website. Podcast hosts often post show notes and transcripts on their website to accompany each episode. You and your business’s name will be tagged in all of the content for your episode, creating backlinks and driving more traffic to your website.
Of course, you get even more than backlinks for your contributions to another person or brand’s show. You’ll get social promotion and mentions.
You can also see better results than you would from running an ad.
Here’s what Liam Martin, co-founder of Time Doctor and co-organizer of the Running Remote Conference, had to say on the topic when he appeared on The B2B Mix Show:
I’ve done about 300 [interviews this year]. We realized that, when you look at the ROI, putting me on a podcast for an hour or an hour and a half… It works out. It’s actually cheaper than Facebook ads.
Build pillar pages
Pillar pages, cornerstone content, hub pages — whatever you want to call it, this type of content attracts links.
HubSpot defines pillar pages as pages that go in-depth on a single topic that you build additional detailed content to support. Think supporting, internally linked blog posts, infographics, podcast episodes, and other types of content.
The depth of a pillar page makes it sound a lot like an ebook. That similarity may have you already thinking about ways to gate it. Drop the gate if you want to use this page to collect backlinks. The beauty of a pillar page is that it is (or should) be so informative, useful, and authoritative that other people want to link to it.
If you’re not sure about dropping the gate, offer a downloadable eBook version of the page for people to take with them.
A thoughtful approach to guest blogging gives you backlinks and helps build your reputation as a thought leader.
To get the most value and avoid penalties from your guest posts, ask yourself the following questions before you pitch a guest post:
- When you look at the site, does it look appealing and well-designed, or is it a mess with tons of pop-ups and ads?
- Are other guest posts well-written, or are they sloppy, obvious attempts at mass backlink acquisition?
- What is the site’s domain authority? The higher, the better.
- Does your target audience read this blog? Even if the site has a lower domain authority, it may be a great guest blogging opportunity if your audience spends time there.
Pitch your content as a resource
If you have a fantastic pillar page, awesome podcast, or stellar infographic, start emailing people about them. Think beyond your email marketing list, too.
Do some one-to-one outreach with other site owners who can use your content as a supporting resource.
Do a little research to find out where your competitors’ content receives backlink love, and reach out to those sites about your brand’s content. If your content is more recent or in-depth, use it as a selling point to get people interested in linking to it.
Work on unlinked brand mentions
Don’t you love it when you look at your brand mentions report and see new, positive mentions? Those mentions are great, but they’re golden when they are also linked back to your site.
You’ve already won half the battle when a site has mentioned your company or content. Your next step is to reach out to win a link.
Some important things to keep in mind when asking for the backlink:
- Don’t be too annoying or pushy. Nothing turns off a busy marketer or site owner more than three weeks of follow-up about linking back to your site.
- Don’t request links that aren’t useful. You won’t reach out to sites with negative mentions. Those mentions are meaningless in the big scheme of things. If the site mentioning you has a low domain authority or your audience doesn’t really spend time there, don’t waste your time pursuing the link.
- Add value to the interaction. If you can help the author or site owner with any other information or help, do it. Being helpful makes your request more likely to get addressed.
Avoiding Pitfalls in Link Building
Link building can be a double-edged sword if you don’t wield it correctly. And there are some link-building myths out there to watch out for. Here are the most common mistakes marketers make:
Quantity over quality
When you’re link building, it’s not a question of “how many” links you can get. Some marketers make the mistake of accruing too many backlinks at the expense of quality. Always prioritize linking to relevant sites that build authority. A few high-quality backlinks will have a more significant impact than a bunch of low-quality ones.
Not diversifying anchor text
Over-optimizing the same keywords or phrases excessively can raise red flags for search engines. And that can negatively impact your search engine rankings. Always use a variety of natural anchor texts that align your content with the linked page.
Low-quality backlink practices
Boosting your SEO should never come at the expense of your content and website’s quality. Spammy link-building practices create backlinks for the sole purpose of boosting rankings, regardless of whether they’re providing actual value. Link farms, paid links, or excessive reciprocal linking can result in penalties from search engines. Those penalties can lead to losing visibility, ranking, and deindexing.
Time to Link Build Like a Pro
Now that you’ve got the fundamentals down, it’s time to implement these strategies to link build your way up the search rankings! If you’re still struggling or would rather outsource to experts, ClearVoice is ready to help. Our SEO solutions and expert SEO specialists will help you execute high-level link building strategies that boost your search rankings.
Connect with us here to get started.