Link building is one of the most important aspects of a successful SEO campaign. Its popularity among SEO specialists has been increasing in the past years and, looking at the latest trends, it’s not likely going to change in 2020.
However, what used to work in link building in the past, may not work for link building specialists anymore, as the competition has grown bigger.
Link building, if it’s to be effective, is not a simple task. It requires building connections, allocating sufficient financial resources and, in some cases, being equipped in some technical knowledge as well.
Let’s talk about the importance of link building and SEO, some popular link building tips and techniques, and what should be avoided in the process.
What is link building?
Let’s start with the basics. Link building means acquiring links from other websites to your own website or to that of your client’s. The more high-quality sites link to your website, the better it looks for Google. This means Google’s algorithms recognize your site as a valuable source of information in a specific niche.
Let’s say you want to promote your company’s website. Your company is offering IT support services in Paris, France. How to make your site more visible for Google users? Apart from onsite SEO, you can start building high-quality links. In the past, having excellent content and great support with onsite SEO could have been enough. Nowadays, with millions of websites competing to be at the top of search results, your website may never be recognized by Google, even if you have the best content out there.
You may have the biggest expertise in IT support in the whole of France and share it regularly on your site. Sure, it might drive you some traffic, but definitely won’t be enough to make it to the first page of Google. That’s because there are thousands of other companies offering IT support, who have already recognized the power of successful link building.
So what makes link building effective? Let’s analyze the most popular SEO link building techniques.
Link building strategies
Let’s make it clear: the best links are natural links. If you provide valuable, informative content on a specific topic in a specific niche, you may get natural, high-quality links without spending any time or resources on link building. However, as we’d just established, great content cannot guarantee success anymore. SEO strategists around the world work hard on building high-authority links, which makes online marketing and SEO campaigns that much more difficult and competitive.
The most popular technique is – and has been for a few years now – guest blogging. This means contributing a post to a high-authority site in your niche, which will include a link to your site. In exchange for high-quality content, the site will post it and keep the link (your goal is to keep it dofollow as opposed to nofollow). In the case of our example company offering IT support in Paris, you could provide a guest post with an overview of best IT support companies in the Paris area and link out to the company’s website. Other guest posts can be informative texts or news pieces about the benefits of IT support, trends in IT support, etc. In other words, whatever your audience might find valuable and whatever could drive organic traffic.
With increased competition on the market, webmasters have started charging a fee for accepting guest posts. To increase your chances of getting your article posted, you need to provide a top of the game blog post or accept the fee. Guest posting is where your social and negotiating skills come in. For a smooth link building process, it is a good idea to work on good relations with webmasters. More often than not, webmasters offer a higher price and it’s up to the link building strategist to try to bring it down. If you promise to deliver great content regularly few will say no to your request about reducing the price per post, at least a little bit.
Blog link roundup
Link roundup is a summary of top content bloggers share with their audience. It can be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Theoretically, this is an easy way of getting your link in. Bloggers look for interesting content to link out to, so they will be more open to considering linking to your content for free.
Yet, with so much competition, you need to produce really great content and it won’t hurt to actively look for bloggers interested in roundups and pitching your texts to them.
As you can see, this technique also involves building contacts. With time, as your brand becomes more recognized, you may be contacted by bloggers directly and not the other way around.
Infographics are highly shareable assets loved by webmasters. Visual content is popular among users and can provide valuable information in a facilitated, more digestible way. It is also easy to get your link in. In this technique, however, great content alone won’t do. In order to make your infographic worth sharing, you will need to work with an experienced designer who can do wonders with any text, no matter its quality.
Broken link building
This technique can be a bit tedious but it can get you great link juice. As the name suggests, you need to look for sites with broken links, contact their webmasters and propose your link instead. As simple as that. However, before you send an email, make sure the link you’re suggesting will be of real value and relevance.
Link building tools
There are many link building tools on the market but we would like to discuss our two personal favorites: Ahrefs and Ninja Outreach.
Ahrefs.com allows you to check the quality of any website. For link building, you should focus on such metrics as organic keywords and traffic, as well as the quality of referring domains. Are they some spammy, created just for the purpose of link building sites, or are they high quality, internationally recognized and read by many users online platforms, like Forbes or Entrepreneur? With Ahrefs.com you will not only see the numbers but you will be able to check who’s linking to the competing websites in your niche and use this info to contact them. Reaching out to websites which are eager to link out to other sites increases your chances of getting a link yourself.
Ninja Outreach makes contacting potential websites much easier. You can create any email template you want and send it to a list of candidates. You can make a list based on a specific niche, such as marketing or fashion. Once you select the list, you hit send and your email reaches multiple website owners at once.
Important note: make sure to create a good template so your email doesn’t end up in their spam box.
Link building: what NOT to do
Not every link to your website may bring you satisfying results. In fact, some links can bring your site down or even result in a Google penalty. In order to stay on the safe side:
- Avoid spammy sites (always use a tool like Ahrefs to check the site quality).
- Do not link out to your site in articles that are completely irrelevant to your niche.
- Do not spam webmasters with the content they are unlikely to accept.
- Do not stick to one type of keywords (using a variety of different keywords: branded, exact match, long tail, naked URL will increase the chances of your website ranking well for any search queries from the users in your niche)
Link building takes time and patience but it gets easier as you develop relations, improve your content and figure out what works for your niche and what doesn’t.