The world of SEO is changing a lot, and Google keeps updating its algorithms. So, it’s hard to tell what techniques still work, and what ranking factors matter the most.
One ranking factor that we’re sure of is backlinks. The more backlinks a web page gets, the more often than not the better its’ SERP rankings.
But now you might wonder —
What are backlinks? Why do they matter? And how do I build quality backlinks for better SEO rankings?
In this guide, we’ll answer all those questions and more.
Let’s get to work.
What is Link Building in SEO?
Link building is the practice of getting pages to link to your website from another domain. If a web page contains a link leading to your website, it counts as a backlink.
There are many ways to build quality backlinks and improve SEO, but most of them are hard and competitive.
Still, the process is worth your efforts when you see the results new backlinks can bring to your SEO.
The Importance of Link Building for SEO
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for SEO. We would say it is in the top 3-4 factors in ranking high within Google.
Unlike any other ranking SEO factor, marketers can’t lie or fake their backlinks.
If your competitor has a page with low-quality content, it won’t get lots of recognition from others. But, a webpage of yours that provides much more value and better solutions may get dozens of backlinks.
Want to know why?
When one page links to another, it passes what’s called in the SEO world as “Link Juice.”
Link juice serves as a signal telling Google that a page contains related information about the link. When multiple web pages from other sites link to your page (Google ranks web pages), your site can trigger enough signals (think of it as a vote) to claim the higher rankings depending on the keyword difficulty (KD).
Search engines want their users to benefit from the best search results for a user query. So, when a page gets thousands of backlinks from other quality websites, it most likely deserves a high result or even the first spot in the the search results.
That’s why you should get started with link building as of this moment.
What Makes a High-Quality Backlink?
When it comes to link building, not all new backlinks are the same. Some links are better than others, and some are worse or downright terrible (we’re looking at you link spam!) In fact, some backlinks can hurt your SEO rankings and cause you to lose rankings if you are not careful.
There’s a variety of reasons why that might happen.
So you’re probably wondering —
What makes high-quality backlinks? And how can I know if the backlinks I’m building will help my SEO?
Here are five things that Google considers when it comes to backlink quality:
This one is true to a large extent, but not always.
Google prefers relevance between the industry and content of the two websites. Because as we said earlier, links count as votes.
So, it’s not reasonable to have plumbers acquire new backlinks from lawyers — or vice versa.
But at the same time, if CNN links to your business website or article, you’d still get a boost in your rankings.
Google prefers backlinks coming from trusted authority websites. So, the more trustworthy the website linking to your pages, the higher the quality of the link.
If Google views the source of a link as untrusted or shady, you may not see any ranking improvement…or even worse, a big drop.
The algorithms may even associate your website with low-quality sites and cause you to lose your credibility. That’s why you should focus your efforts on getting links from high authority websites that are trusted.
Avoid suspicious sites and link building networks at all costs.
3- Incoming Traffic
It’s no secret that the purpose behind link building is to improve SEO. But still, backlinks can always be a reliable source of referral traffic.
A single link may not drive a lot of monthly visitors to your websites, but a hundred backlinks most likely will.
So, your focus should be on websites that are alive with traffic or engagement that can drive some of it back to your site.
4- Non Reciprocal
Link exchanges used to work in the past. But thanks to Google’s continuous updates, it’s a dead strategy in today’s SEO and frowned upon.
Ranking algorithms are smart enough to recognize link exchanges between websites.
It’s okay to have a link exchange from time to time. But if many of your links are reciprocal, Google will smell that and hinder you from getting to the first page.
5- Anchor Text Selection
Backlinks with specific anchor text for your page or company name will bring good results and looks natural.
On the other hand, a high volume of constant ‘exact match’ money keyword anchor text (and of lower quality) could kill your rankings.
You’ll most commonly hear of ‘generic’, ‘natural’, ‘branded’, ‘naked’, ‘exact match’ when reading about types of links.
Therefore, links like “Operation Technology” or “How to Make a Blog Post go Viral” look natural. You can mix in ‘exact match’, but you should be very conservative. The safe bet is to mix in ‘branded + keyword’ along with ‘natural’ and ‘company name’ over time along with some generic (‘click here’, ‘read more’).
Should You Buy Backlinks?
The short answer is —
No!..if at all possible. Sometimes, you will find inclusion fees to directories that are still good, but for the most part, you should steer clear of sites promoting the purchasing of links.
We understand that buying links might be an attractive solution — especially if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to do, it saves you time, and you’ll most likely to get faster results. But, if you are buying links, don’t purchase in mass quantity.
Yet, link schemes violate Google Quality Guidelines and may get you penalized.
It may take time for Google to recognize the links you’re buying. In fact, the strategy may work for a few months or years before you get caught.
But once the algorithms notice unusual activity with your link building, all your efforts to build your business may be over, especially if you get sandboxed by Google.
5 SEO Link Building Strategies to Outrank Your Competitors
There are a lot of ways you can build backlinks to your website and outrank your competitors.
You may have even heard or read about them online.
But some of those methods are outdated, while others don’t really work.
That’s why we decided to provide you with the best five link building strategies to help you start moving to the top page of search engines.
Let’s dive in.
1- Publish Content Worth Sharing
This is the number one link building hack everyone should know about.
If your content is of low quality and doesn’t deserve sharing, all of the tips below won’t matter. No one is going to want to share your content, even if you pay them to do that.
So, before you start reading about effective link building techniques, ask yourself —
Is the content I’m creating worth sharing? Do people find my ideas valuable?
Work on quality before quantity. And always listen to your audience to find ways of improvement.
2- Look for Broken Links Online
This is an easy yet effective method to build backlinks links to your website. It consists of looking for URLs online that no longer link to valid pages. Then, contact the site owner and ask them to update the broken link with a link on your website that works.
There are many reasons why a link becomes broken. Maybe the site it links to is longer available, or perhaps the URL got updated or deleted.
And of course, webmasters don’t check links on their sites daily. So, they’d be happy to update their broken links while linking to new identical resources that provide value.
You can use a browser extension to help you find broken links for the websites you visit.
Once you install it, it will tell you which links are broken whenever you visit a page.
3- Create Images and Infographics
Blog posts are interesting enough as they contain detailed explanations and examples. Yet, images and infographics are more popular, and they spread faster.
There are lots of mobile apps and websites to help you create cool visuals to add to your posts.
Here are the most popular ones:
Once you create your visuals, you can start sharing them on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc. And you may also pin them to Pinterest and gain a few links back to your site.
Hint: make it easy for your readers to share your images via multiple social media sites. To do that, you can add sharing buttons to your articles using plugins for different CMS.
4- Guest Post on Popular Blogs in Your Industry
Every editor is happy to have experts share their knowledge through writing at no cost. And most professionals struggle with attracting new audiences and growing their business.
That makes guest posting is the ultimate win-win digital marketing situation.
To find guest posting opportunities online, search on Google for:
- Keyword + “contribute to”
- Keyword + “write for us”
- Keyword + “guest post by”
- Keyword + “guest post”
- Keyword + “submit an article”
You’ll find endless sites in your industry that are accepting guest posts. But first, read the conditions and guidelines to make sure you’re on the same page.
After that, it all comes down to having creative guest post ideas and writing a good proposal.
5- Participate in Interviews and Podcasts
Podcast hosts are all about bringing new stories and insights to their audience. They’re always on the look for the next surprise guest who might help them make an impact on their audience.
And that can be you!
If you’re starting out, it may not be the easiest thing to do to be invited for podcast appearances.
People don’t know you, and they aren’t aware of your expertise.
So, start looking for podcasts in your niche where you might have new ideas to share. Then, send a personalized pitch to the host showing them that you’re an expert in your industry.
Once a few realize how qualified you are, they’ll be happy to invite you over and over again. And that will open the door for endless opportunities on other podcasts.
Sum it up
Follow the tips in this link building guide and you’ll generate hundreds of quality links to boost your rankings. But, just like with any other growth process, consistency is key.
And always remember, creating content worth sharing is the first step towards a successful business.
Looking to grow your business online with SEO? Start by requesting a free SEO audit to get your score today, and contact us for help and additional information about how we can help.