Popularity; being well-liked is important to some people. It’s also important to businesses. Generally, one can assume that if a business is popular that it is good and provides a valuable service or product. But, is that always the case?
If you can make a thousand people say you’re the most popular person, are you really the most popular person? If you can create a system to have a thousand websites link to your website, does that mean your website provides the most valuable information? That was something Google and other search engines had to fix when link-building was at its height of popularity.
If you own a website and have undertaken any sort of SEO over the years, you’ve likely heard the term ‘link-building’. When SEO first became a method of marketing, link-building was one of the most important tasks an SEO professional would undertake.
As with many things, some took it too far and all of a sudden directories build specifically for link-building were created. People began offering link-building services and the entire process could be automated for $10 to $100. Those who didn’t understand the reasoning behind getting links to a website never cared where the link came from, they simply wanted more links. Because of this, links became diluted.
Although link building got a bad rap, it’s still an important part of the SEO process. But, even as was the case back then, it’s important to seek quality links to your website and/or to help links develop naturally.
Why Links Are Important
52% of digital marketers say that link building and brand mentions directly impact organic search rankings. (Aura)
The idea behind link building stems from popularity and authority. If your website is popular, provides authority in your industry and has relevant topics, people will like it, share it and link to it.
This signal shows Google and other search engines that your website is valuable and valid and can help in ensuring your website ranks well for popular keyword search terms.
In addition, if your website is linked to from another website, that’s another avenue of traffic for you.
Both of these can help increase your SEO rankings. So, in turn, link building is still good for SEO. But more importantly, it’s good for your website traffic and to gain potential targeted leads.
How Google Uses Backlinks
Google and other Search engines use links for two fundamental reasons:
- Discover new pages – The first is to help them discover new pages for their databases. Every time your website publishes an article or a blog, the search engine needs to find it before they rank it. If your internal linking system is well-structured and you have a good XML sitemap, this might be easy. But, the more websites that also link to this content, the easier and quicker it might be for the search engines to find.
- Determine how a page should rank – Search Engines also use links to help determine how a page should rank for a particular keyword. A link can be seen as confidence about the content and information that is to come.
It’s important to keep both of these linking fundamentals in mind when you begin to build links for your website.
SEO Link Building Builds Domain Authority
It’s otherwise known as link-juice and is one of many ranking signals used by Google and other search engines to determine the validity of a website for a specific keyword phrase.
Having websites point back to your domain improves your domain authority. It provides search engines with a signal that your content is worth linking to. In turn, if you’re generating website traffic from these links, this too can help with your SEO.
65% of marketers claim that domain authority is the most important metric in determining a backlink’s quality. (userp)
Link metrics are calculable. There are programs designed to help you determine the quality of a website and link from that page. Alternatively, you can seek out new links by hand. But, it’s not wise to rely solely on link metrics alone. Natural links may not have passed your link metric test; however, they can prove to be invaluable. The same goes for a link that actually drives valuable visitors and potential leads to your website.
Benefits of Link Building for SEO and Beyond
Link building should be a task on every SEO professional’s to-do list.
Yes, because it helps with SEO and ranking on search engines. But, and perhaps even more importantly, the real benefit of additional links is more indirect.
1. Builds Trust and Authority
When someone links to your content, it’s their way of saying they trust you enough to share you. This influencer traffic is an important citation for your website. The more industry authority you can have, the more serious your website will be taken. Consumers today are looking for trust signals before they make a connection with a business. This comes from testimonials, citations and authoritative content.
2. Builds Branding and Brand Visibility
The more your business is mentioned elsewhere, the more known your brand will be. You might not derive a sale from a link; however, there is a subconscious act of knowing that takes place and the more a person sees your business name or website, the more likely they are to subconsciously begin building trust in your brand.
3. Improves SEO and Rankings
Links (and domain authority) are used as a ranking factor for SEO. If you’re looking to increase your ranking for a specific keyword phrase, ensure you have good content related to this keyword and then begin sourcing links to this content.
4. Gets Content Indexed Faster
When you create good content, it’s important that the search engines can find it. Having your own website and others link to it will help ensure search engines will find it, spider it and index it faster.
5. Increases Search and Referral Visitors
Not only will improved rankings bring additional traffic to your website but a well-earned link on another niche or popular website can increase targeted visitors to your own website. Remember, great links are for more than just SEO; they actually provide website traffic and leads for your business.
6. Increases Leads
While some think about link building primarily from an SEO standpoint, when you curate links for the benefit of actually building business, this is when you really win. There are local websites, directory websites, resource websites etc. that people visit every single day. If you have related content, or a related link, you could actually earn business, rather than just link juice. And, that’s the real point, right?
7. Builds Relationships
The very act of sourcing out related links to your website could help you build business relationships.
Link Building Example for Mortgage Broker
As an example, let’s imagine you are a mortgage broker. You can list your business in local directories. Perhaps you exchange links with fellow mortgage brokers across the country as part of a referral network. You may have a link on your main company’s website. As you start to create good content (video, podcasts, articles and blogs) you may find that people begin sharing your content. Now, think about places where your content could naturally live:
- Real estate agent websites
- Home design websites
- Home builder websites
- Real estate lawyer websites
- Financial planning websites
The link authority from any of those types of websites would be good. But, the visitors to those websites likely have a vested interest in your service. So, if your content is excellent and authoritative, if people begin to trust your brand, you can use this opportunity for more than just the link juice. You can use this link to actually generate visitors and business leads.
And, that’s why, when it comes to link building, good content is always stressed. Know your audience. Know your target. Know their target keywords and ensure that your content is authoritative, different and relatable.
Natural vs Curated Backlinks
A natural link is one that happens more by accident. You haven’t done anything to secure the link; rather, someone has liked something on your website and has chosen to link to it from their own.
A curated link is a link you have specifically requested. Maybe this is on a local website or an industry-leading informative website. Maybe you have created relative content for a related industry.
Both natural and curated links can be valuable for your business and for your website.
How to Get Natural Links
- Have good content – this is the best advice for when you want to get links to your website. Have well-written, easy-to-read shareable content on your website that is unique from what a person could find anywhere else. Answer questions. Have a unique solution to a common problem. Update your blog regularly. Make your content so good that people want to share it or source it on their own websites.
- Write guest blog posts – find niche websites and request to write a blog or article for them. Be sure to include keyword rich backlinks to your own website when applicable.
How to Curate Good Links
- Link Requests – It’s ok to ask for links still; you just want to be sure that you’re asking for links on a quality page that isn’t a ‘link building’ page. If content is related and your website would be a valuable resource, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Directories – Local or niche directories provide a valuable service for visitors. So, ensure your site is listed if related and that your profile is properly filled out.
- Social Media – Keep your social media profiles up-to-date with a link in your profile. You can also use your own social channels to share your good content. Others might pick it up to post on their own website, thus creating a natural link!
5 Popular Link Building Tactics to Try
- Have good content including video, infographics, images and articles – content is king, queen and everything in-between, especially when it comes to links. Having content that is shareable and digestible is always a good idea when it comes to link building.
- Guest blogging – Find related websites and ask to have your content featured. Be sure the content you provide is unique and answers a question or solves a problem in a way that is conducive to both that website and your brand.
- Build links from broken links – the Internet is filled with links that no longer work. If you have content that could fit, you could ask the webmaster to link to your content instead. This involves a lot of research and work but can be invaluable to your success in the long run.
- Secure valuable media coverage – With free online platforms like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) you can engage directly with journalists. Simply sign up and start receiving media opportunities directly related to your niche. Simply respond to relevant journalistic opportunities with your expert quotes, thoughts, and opinions. This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective link building tactics.
- Research who links to your competition and request links – This is usually stage one of link building. Research the competition and find similar link building opportunities.
Does Link Building Still Matter in 2021?
Whether you are new to SEO and link building or have been doing it for years, if you’re reading this article, you know link building is important. How to build links and where to get them from is always changing; however, the idea behind links has always been the same. It’s when you try and find quick wins that you begin to steer yourself in the wrong direction.
Gaining high-quality links for your quality content hasn’t changed. It’s the cornerstone of any link-building campaign, and always has been. It’s just become harder (or more clear) to find what constitutes as a high-quality link.
White hat link building strategies are good for any website. But, this opportunity takes research, effort and time. The benefit will pay off. Good link building is building for tomorrow, not this instant. Isn’t that the case with content, too?
While the landscape for link building is always changing, one thing remains unchanging. The benefits of producing quality content will never go away. The benefits of quality links will never go away.
How Can We Help?
Good quality backlinks to your website have large, often hard to measure, impact on your website’s SEO and authority, yet are often hard to obtain. Contact our Link Acquisition experts if you need help strengthening your backlink profile or creating shareable, unique content that is worthy of a link.
Editors Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.