A successful search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign should always include developing an effective link-building strategy. Links play a vital role in SEO. Without them, you can say goodbye to high rankings. That being said, trying to build an effective link-building is no easy task, particularly if you are just starting. Following these tips will help you hit the ground running and get off to a great start.
What is link building?
Before we get started with any tips and strategies, let’s take a look at what link building is and why it’s important.
Link building involves obtaining links to your pages and content from other websites. While you should be adding links to your pages, including internal links to other pages on your site and outbound links to other websites, that’s only the foundation.
The cherry on the top, from an SEO perspective, is getting links to your content from other sites (more on that later). Links play a vital role in today’s SEO landscape and help you to increase your visibility in search engines.
In the early days of the web, link building was all about quantity. The more links you had, the higher you would rank in search engine results. Nowadays, that’s all changed. The name of the game these days is quality. Google prioritises websites that offer quality links over quantity.
No matter how many links to your website you might receive, if they are not coming from quality sites, it won’t make much difference. Since Penguin came to Google, ‘black hat‘ techniques that seek to manipulate search engines are no longer effective.
Continuing to try and participate in schemes, such as paid links, that seek to manipulate Google’s algorithms will only make matters worse. That’s why ensuring your links come from quality, authoritative, and trustworthy sites is now more important than ever.
Why is an effective link-building strategy important?
Developing an effective link-building strategy is extremely important for SEO, particularly if you want to gain higher rankings and increased visibility. Apart from the fact that links help the crawlers to find content on the web, it also helps to boost your authority and relevance.
Originally, PageRank was the revolutionary way of determining the authority of a website. It works in a similar way to references. The more links (or references) you receive, the better the quality of your page (or publication). However, not all links are treated equally.
Not all links were given the same equal footing. Instead, PageRank worked depending on how authoritative a page was. The higher a page rank was, the more clout a link received. For example, a link from a webpage with a rank of 6 would have much greater authority over a link from a webpage of only 3.
Then, the more links you receive from higher-ranking pages, the better. These links from higher-ranking pages passed on authority to your page too. As a result, the rank of your page increases too.
Back in the day, PageRank was everything. Now, there are a lot more factors that influence a webpage’s ranking in search results, including RankBrain & E-A-T. But PageRank is worth mentioning first as it got the ball rolling and is still the foundation of Google’s algorithms.
Research by Backlinko found that the top result in Google has as many as 3.8x more backlinks than results 2-10. The same research also found that a website’s link authority strongly correlates with higher rankings.
So, how do you build an effective link-building strategy?
Tips for building an effective link-building strategy
Develop an effective content marketing strategy
One of the best strategies for developing effective link-building is by creating content that is of high quality and value. If you are creating quality content on your site, others are more likely to link to it.
If you are already following the inbound methodology, you should be providing meaningful and relevant content that appeals to your customers. After all, content marketing is an integral part of inbound marketing.
As well as that, quality content helps to:
Creating quality content helps to endorse your site as an authoritative source within the industry. The more authoritative a source, the better the ranking position. Other websites will be more inclined to link to your site as well if you have a higher authority ranking.
One way you can create an effective content marketing strategy is by developing your buyer personas. You could also use Sinek’s golden circle to provide informative and high-quality content that makes your content stand out and resonate with your site users.
Guest blogging is one of the most popular strategies for developing an effective link-building strategy. Guest blogging involves writing a guest post for publication on a third-party blog. Guest blogging is effective as you can include a link to your site.
Usually, blogs that accept guest articles will have guidelines for you to follow when writing and submitting your article. Blogs that are open to accepting guest blogs will state how you should write the article within these guidelines, and how many links they permit.
A lot of guest blogs may be open to accepting guest articles, even though they don’t explicitly say they do. Even if a blog doesn’t have guidelines, it may still be worth reaching out and seeing if they would be interested.
When contacting guest blogs, come up with some suggestions for blog topics or articles relevant to their site. It could also be that a guest blog has an existing content schedule, and so many provide you with an article to write.
The only downside to guest blogging is it can take time to write exclusive content for other sites. Sometimes, it may not always be viable to continue writing for guest blogs, particularly if you already struggle to develop quality content for your site.
You should make sure the site you are writing a guest blog for is authoritative. Google’s toolbar used to provide PageRank scores, but as the toolbar was discontinued and Google no longer shares PageRank scores, you’ll have to use other tools instead that provide similar results.
Tools such as Semrush and Moz can provide you with similar scores based on domain authority and page authority.
If you don’t have the time or resources to develop a guest blogging strategy, outreaching is another strategy you could use. Much more time-consuming as opposed to guest blogging, outreaching involves contacting websites to request a link.
Outreaching does not require writing guest articles. All that’s involved is:
- finding suitable sites that are relevant to your audience
- seek out high, or higher, authority websites
- write an effective email that outlines how your link provides value
Developing an effective content marketing strategy is vital for outreaching, as you need to provide something worthy of linking to. In particular, longer blog posts and infographics are the best content when it comes to outreach.
To give you a start for whom to outreaching, look for those within your niche who have mentioned your target keyword within their content, or those who link to similar topics to yours. That way, you stand a much better chance of gaining successful outreaching opportunities.
Make sure you follow these best practices:
- Make each outreach email personalised
- Short and sweet is better
- Explain why linking to your content is beneficial to them
- Give them the anchor text for the link
Use tools, such as Content Explorer, to find possible outreaching opportunities.
Share on social media
If you are not very active on social media, you are doing your linking-building (and brand) a big disservice. Sharing content on social media is a good way to keep followers updated and engaged with your brand. It’s also a fantastic way to reach new audiences.
You should be sharing content on your social media sites regularly. The more you share on social media and build your following, the more chance people will interact and share your content. But how does this impact your link-building?
The more people who become exposed to your content, the more chance of it being linked to from other sites. Posting content, such as news, updates, events, and the latest content, are all good suggestions to develop your social media pages.
Here are some tips for increasing the reach, engagement, and shares with your content:
- Focus on developing posts around your topic, not just your brand
- Create polls, Q&As, and contests
- Share other people’s content
- Respond to comments and brand mentions
- Post visual content
- Include hashtags
- Reach out to influencers
To make sure your social media posts get the most engagement, you should post at your optimal times. Sproutsocial has some insights into the best times to post on social media, including the days of the week and time. However, you may find your own optimal times differ.
Repurpose your content
If you already have an extensive library of content on your site, you may find it worthwhile to repurpose some of it. Repurposing your content helps to reach new audiences and improve your organic visibility.
Repurposing your content involves taking your existing content, either parts or the entire piece of content and expanding its reach. Repurposing content involves transforming the existing content into a different format.
There are plenty of ways you can repurpose your content too. From creating visually stunning infographics to providing your article in video format, there are lots of ways to start getting creative. The human brain understands visuals over text and is more likely to remember.
Videos can be uploaded onto YouTube and can be shared on social media or embedded into a web page. For creating infographics, use tools such as Canva or Piktochart that help you to easily create and style visually appealing graphics. You can even share the content on your social media pages too.
Seek out broken links
Broken links are, unfortunately, inevitable with any website. Broken links happen when a webpage (or site) is no longer available, a URL has changed, or a site structure has changed without a redirect causing a 404 error.
Broken links are something that should be addressed as quickly as possible. Not only are they bad for your user experience, but they also negatively impact your SEO. If you want to keep your bounce rate down and stay on the good side of Google’s crawlers, bad links need to be fixed.
However, broken links will sometimes slip under the radar or may go unnoticed. That’s why another effective link-building strategy is to search for broken links on other sites and suggest that the broken link be replaced with a link to your site.
There are lots of handy tools you can use to find broken links, including Ahrefs broken link checker. Just enter the domain or URL and all the hard work and effort of searching is done for you.
Once you have a found a broken link, get in touch with the company and ask if they can replace it with the correct link to your site. Not only does it help out the website with the broken link, but you could get some nice link juice too, helping to boost your authority.
Monitor your backlinks
We’ve already mentioned that not every backlink to your site is beneficial. Some backlinks can hinder your website’s authority. That’s why it’s important to look at your backlink profile and monitor your backlinks.
Semrush has a tool that allows you to analyse your backlink profile. Use the backlink analytics tool to keep a tab on:
- The number of backlinks to your site
- Source page title and URL
- Authority score
- Referring domains
- Top pages
- New and lost backlinks
- Referring domains by authority score
Make sure you regularly monitor your backlink profile to avoid any spam or negative websites that could be detracting from your authority.
It is worth mentioning about nofollow links as they affect how search engine crawlers can find content as well as impacting the authority a page receives. Adding the nofollow attribute to links means you won’t be endorsing it. As a result, PageRank (or authority) will not be passed over to the linking page.
It also tells Google crawlers not to crawl the linking site either. Nofollow links should be used if you don’t want to endorse a site. It doesn’t prevent anyone from using the link though, and you will still provide referral traffic.
Developing an effective link-building campaign is something that cannot happen overnight. If you want to work at building a strong backlink profile, you need to continuously work at seeking opportunities to gain links, as well as provide a quality content strategy. It may take some time, but once you start ranking higher in search engines, you’ll be glad of the benefits it can bring!