Link building is an essential part of overall on-page SEO. This plays a huge role in driving organic traffic for your website. A great thing about it is that very few spend their resources on getting strong backlinks. This opens an opportunity for your website to exploit.
In this piece, we discuss what link building or backlinking is, the common strategies that you can use, and bad practices to avoid.
Why is Link Building Important for SEO?
For understanding link building in SEO, we need to go back to Google in its initial days. In the beginning, Google ranked pages using the PageRank algorithm. One of the crucial factors in determining the rank was the number of pages linking to that particular page.
The idea behind this is simple – if an external site is linking to your content, then it must have some value. Other than this, an external site does not have any incentive to provide a link. Therefore, these links are seen as external votes about the credibility of the content.
While Google’s algorithm has changed substantially over the years, this key idea remains the same. To this day, Google highly values external links. This is a key factor in determining the rank of a page in the Search Engine Results Page.
Every Link Doesn’t Have the Same Value
Initially, Google’s simply looked at the quantity of the links in its algorithm. This is quite easy to abuse and that’s exactly what people did. Many users either bought links or created spammy websites which linked back to their page.
Google quickly realized this and evolved its algorithm over time. The tactics that used to work earlier have no impact today. In fact, building links this way will actually have a negative impact on your website.
How to Find High-Quality Links
Now you know that few high-quality links have more value than many low-quality links. The question now remains is how to determine the
- Site authority: The quality of the backlink depends on the site it’s coming from. For example, a link from Forbes is going to have a much higher value than a link from a random blog.
- Relevancy: The relevancy determines whether the link was organically placed or not. For example, if you run a software company, then you are unlikely to be relevant for a beauty blog.
- Use of anchor text: An anchor text is another way of determining the relevancy of the link. Let’s say you run a travel blog and the anchor text to link to your website is “best travel blog”, it will be highly relevant and valuable.
- Dofollow links: Dofollow links are seen as an endorsement from the website that provides the link. On the other hand, nofollow links convey that the link is not an endorsement. Dofollow links are generally considered to have a higher value.
- Editorial links: Editorial links refer to those links which are organically placed in the content. These links will have a higher value than the ones which are randomly inserted into a website.
Developing a Link Building Strategy
Link building requires a good amount of time and effort. Before starting the process, it’s important to clearly identify your goals and the need for a campaign.
What is Your Goal for Link Building?
Link building is similar to any kind of marketing campaign. You want to find advertisers who will link to your website and share it with their readers. In order to select these advertisers, you need to finalize your motivation behind the same.
Let’s say your goal is to get more customers to buy the services you are offering. In this situation, the most valuable links will likely come from affiliate marketing sites that have an established user base.
How Much Time Do You Need?
Just like anything related to SEO, link building campaigns are not successful overnight. This will require months of effort to see positive results. At times, even despite building good links, you might not be able to tell a clear growth trend.
Due to this, you should have clarity on the amount of time you have. Along with this, you should also factor in the following:
- The difficulty of the target keyword.
- Quality of links you want.
- Authority of your domain.
- Competitiveness of the industry.
This will drastically impact the amount of effort a link building campaign will require. Let’s say you are a marketing firm and only have a runway of four months to run a link building campaign. In this situation, you should know that link building is unlikely to yield results in such a short time and look for other strategies.
Which Links Do You Want?
The quality of links plays the biggest role in link building SEO. You want to get as many high-quality links as possible. Before starting your campaign, you should perform a link analysis. The free Link Explorer tool is great for this.
You should also conduct competitor analysis to determine where the links for your competitors are coming from. This will give you a good idea of the quality you need to beat.
Additionally, you should also determine the content for which you want to generate the link. Let’s say you are a service firm. In such a situation, you will likely want to get links for your home page or services page. On the other hand, if you run a news blog, then you might want to link to a particular post.
This process can be difficult to execute on your own. It’s a good idea to find an SEO firm that provides link building services in India.
Outreach for Link Building
Once you have answers to the questions above, it’s time to start implementing some link building strategies. There are many different ways of approaching this.
Here are some of the most commonly used techniques:
Find Good Link Targets
The first step for any link building outreach is finding good link targets. These are the domains that you would want to approach for getting links.
There are many different factors that you need to keep in mind:
Step 1: Narrow your niche
You need to clearly identify the niche you are writing on. Quite likely, you already know your niche at this stage. One thing you can do is find the web pages within your website and question the niche that each page belongs to.
Step 2: Understand the target audience
Ideally, you should already know your target audience before you create content. At this stage, you need to further narrow down to specific web pages. Let’s say you run a traveling agency. Naturally, your audience will consist of tourists. You can further narrow it to international and domestic tourists.
Step 3: Create a list of targets
Once you have a niche and target audience, it’s time to start finding other domains which write for the target audience. Let’s say the audience you want to target consists of domestic tourists. In this case, the goal would be to find travel bloggers with a domestic following.
Step 4: Find domain metrics of sites
Once you have a list of targets, you need to determine the authority of those. Remember, when it comes to link building, quality matters much more than quantity. Getting many links from low-quality sources will have little impact on your website. You can use the free Ahrefs Website Authority Checker for this.
Step 5: Find their likeliness to link
Obviously, you would want to get a link from the domains with the highest authority. However, they might not want to link to your page. For example, if you run a small business, then it’s unlikely that Forbes would write about it. Therefore, at this stage, you need to narrow down on the targets that are likely to link to your domain.
At this point, you should have a list of good link targets who are worth contacting. You should find their contact information and contact each one.
Replace Broken Links
Broken links refer to a link that redirects to an empty or non-existent website. You can find broken links through SEO audit. This is one of the best strategies for link building.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 2: Run a check for broken links using these extensions. Create a list of all the broken links that you can find.
Step 3: Find appropriate alternatives for these links in your domain. For example, if you run a travel blog, then a broken link on pets is likely going to be irrelevant for you.
Step 4: Find the contact details of the website owner and drop them an email. In this email, you should highlight the broken link and provide a link to a web page on your website.
Conduct Link Reclamation
Link reclamation refers to updating links that already exist. Let’s say a website has provided a link to a blog on your domain. However, this page no longer exists. In such a situation, you should write to the website owner and inform them of the same.
The website owner will be willing to update the link as it will positively affect their domain as well.
Requesting links is a great strategy if you already have an established brand. Let’s say a resource page has included the name of your website for the best travel blogs. However, they have not provided a link to your blog.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many websites use the content without attributing the source. For example, you might have developed an original infographic that others are using. You can easily do a reverse image search to find out the usage.
In these cases, all you need to do is reach out to them and request a link. As they have already referred to your blog, they are likely going to add a link when requested.
Promote Your Content
Even if you have written good, high-quality content, it is irrelevant if potential readers actually get to access it. In today’s day, millions of people are writing content on different platforms. It’s very important that you put as much value on promoting as you do on creating content.
Promoting content does form an important part of link building SEO. Depending on the content, you can use anything from Facebook ads to influencer marketing.
Best Forms of Content for Link Building
The idea of an external vote behind link building remains the same. Even if you contact a website owner with a link to your web page, they are unlikely to reference it unless it adds value.
The focus behind link building for SEO should be on creating high-value content. This can take different shapes depending on the nature of your website. Here are some of the best forms of content that are commonly linked.
This includes images, infographics, or videos. This is one of the best content to create for getting external links.
Generally speaking, audio-visual content is seen as high-value content. These provide a chance to engage with readers that cannot be achieved through text. Additionally, this is a form of content that is truly unique.
Another website cannot convey the information in your infographic through text. The only way to do this is by linking it to your content.
Original research is another goldmine for link building. If you provide something truly unique, then this gives an incentive to other websites to link to your content.
Original research can be done in any field. Taking the example of travel blogging, you can conduct research on the percentage of tourists that prefer different locations. As adding data will add value to any content, it will give a huge incentive to other bloggers to refer to your site.
In-depth guides are a great way for building links due to the depth of information provided by them. Different segments of the guide can be linked to in various blogs.
For example, this guide can be linked to an article on overall SEO or more specifically, in an article about developing a link building campaign.
Link Building Practices to Avoid
Knowing the practices to avoid is just as important as knowing the practices to follow. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines prohibit these bad practices. These are also known as black hat linking.
These practices can attract algorithmic penalty through Google Penguin or even a manual penalty directly enforced by Google’s representative:
This was a commonly used tactic back in the day. As it sounds, you would pay a blog owner to include a link to your content. Due to the widespread abuse, Google has developed to detect these.
Link trading refers to adding a link to your content in exchange for a link to your content. There is a lot of debate on the effectiveness of this strategy. These are unlikely to have a positive impact on your ranking and it’s best to avoid it.
Link building is one of the best ways to improve the overall SEO for your website. It can be quite difficult if you don’t follow the right strategies. Here’s a quick recap of everything we discussed above:
- Few high-quality links have much more value than many low-quality links. Google’s algorithm is quite advanced and it can filter out low-quality, spammy links.
- To start, you need to find appropriate link targets. This means websites that serve your target audience, have good domain authority and will be likely to link to your content.
- You should also find websites with broken links and websites that use your content without providing an attribute.
- You should reach out to the owners of these websites and request the addition of a link to your website.
- Apart from outreach, you should focus on creating high-quality content which consists of audio-visual content, independent research, and in-depth guides. This will prompt other websites to directly link to your content.
For your ease, we have created an SEO template that you can use for your link building for SEO campaign. You can find the Google sheet here. You can also download the Excel version here:
– Practics.in team
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