To the average outsider, link building seems intimidatingly complex. You’ll be in charge of linking to your site with a delicate balance of visibility and branding subtlety, working with high-profile publishers, and dodging Google penalties at the same time. It’s a service that costs thousands of dollars a month to administer if you’re working with an outside agency, so it’s clearly not something you can do yourself, right?
Start building links if you’ve never tried before
The truth is, while link building is complicated, it’s also accessible, even if you’ve never tried the strategy before.
What is link building?
Let’s start with an introduction to what link building is. As the name suggests, it is a way of building links in a digital environment. With the right approach, you can link to external publishers and other websites, pointing to various pages on your website.
Develop SEO and DA
The most obvious benefit is that the link serves a functional purpose, creating more paths that people can use to find your site. But it is also important for search engine optimization (SEO). Getting more links and staying connected to more authoritative sources will increase your domain authority (DA), eventually helping you rank higher in search results and driving more traffic.
Link Building helps new businesses
Links are especially powerful for startups and startups, as they don’t have a lot of authority or a lot of web presence to work with initially. It is also valuable here because it is inexpensive and accessible, which means that you can use it even if you are working on a limited budget.
There are many possible ways to approach link building. Some people try to get as many links as possible in the most natural way possible, creating attractive content on the site and hoping that people will link to it. But it is much more reliable to create links manually yourself, as long as you are building them in a proper and Google compatible way. More on that later.
The benefits of link building
No doubt that link building is valuable, at least when it’s done right. But where does that value come from? What makes this strategy so effective?
- Traffic. First, there is the potential for generating traffic. Getting a link to your site on the right article, with the right editor, could possibly send thousands of visitors to your site each month, or even more. And because the link is functionally permanent, it could keep sending recurring traffic to your site for months or even years.
- Search classification. Most people discover link building as a tactic when researching SEO. Link building is not the only element necessary for an SEO strategy, but it is one of the most important. Along with on-site content optimization, coding optimization, and technical improvements, it can help your site rank higher in the SERPs and ultimately get more organic traffic.
- Building visibility and authority. Link building can also be valuable for visibility and building subjective authority and reputation for your brand, especially at the highest levels. Simply mentioning your brand in an article, or connecting with the right editors and authors, can be a boon to your entire company.
Black hat link building and possible penalties
Link building isn’t always straightforward. Google does its best to penalize websites that violate the experiences of its users. If they think you are sending spammy backlinks, outright promoting yourself, or trying to manipulate their ranking algorithm, you will face a penalty.
Link building tactics that are intended solely to manipulate search rankings, and that have little or no value to average users, are known as “black hat” tactics. They are also considered unethical.
But do not worry. There are many ways to link correctly, and as long as you improve user experiences, you will be in good shape. The simplest tactic is to write high-quality content for an outside publisher, while linking to your own content on the site as a trusted source.
Prerequisites for link building
Before you start link building, there are a few things you will need in place first.
- An established website. You can’t link to a place that doesn’t exist. If you want to get the most out of your links, your website needs to be functional, secure, mobile-friendly, and easy for users to navigate.
- Good content on site. Also, you’ll want an archive of high-quality written content on your website. This will help establish your site’s domain authority and will also serve as valuable material that you can use as a destination for your links. The better your content is on the site, the stronger your links will be.
- Social media profiles. Social media is the best place to promote your content on and off the site. It’s also a great way to connect with other authors and reach new publishers.
- Author profiles. Your business may have an amazing brand created for it, but it’s not always ideal to write it as a business. Instead, you may want to write content as individual authors, with author profiles that you can create over time.
What makes a link effective?
What makes a link effective?
In terms of SEO, you should consider, at a minimum:
- Domain authority. The higher the publisher DA, the more valuable the link will be.
- Value for the reader. If the link is valuable to the reader in some way, such as giving them additional information, that is helpful.
- Context and location. The link must be relevant to the article and must be one of several links to a variety of sources. It shouldn’t stick out unnaturally.
- Appropriate anchor text. Anchor text can be optimized for your target keywords and phrases, but not to the extent that it makes the link appear unnatural. The text should blend in with the rest of your content.
In the long term, you will also need to consider:
- Editorial diversity. Repeated links in the same editor have diminishing returns. It is helpful to work with as many editors as possible.
- Link diversity. It is not good to link to the same pages over and over again; try to target a variety of different pages on your site.
- Frequency and volume. If you create too many links too fast, it could result in a penalty.
Starting with your first links
You can’t climb to the top of the SERPs overnight. In fact, some companies spend months or years developing their brands long enough to start ranking higher. SEO is a long-term strategy that requires commitment and patience.
Still, the journey begins with a single step. Try to work with an accessible, low-risk editor to create your first links. Look for local publishers and small publishers in your niche, and reach out to publishers with content ideas that your audience will love.
If they like your presentation and you have the opportunity to write for the editor, take the opportunity seriously. Write the best article you can, place your link carefully (and in a way that is beneficial to users), and comply with the requested edits you receive.
Building your influence
Next, you will need to start networking and building your influence. As you start to appear in more editorials, you will naturally get more writing opportunities and your readership will grow. It will be easier and easier for you to appear featured with new publishers and build your presence.
As you do so, keep up with your old relationships with publishers – new publishing opportunities can always come in handy.
Work with an agency
Although link building is accessible and understandable even for amateurs, it can also be prohibitive in terms of time and monetary costs. Getting started with link building takes a lot of work, especially if you don’t already have a writing team and established relationships with publishers. This is why you should work with a link building agency, a team of professionals who already know what they are doing and can help you get the best results.
No matter what happens, link building has the power to transform your business. If you’re not already using it to support your SEO strategy or drive more referral traffic to your website, now is the time to start.
Image credit: jonathan borba; pexels; Thank you!