Since its inception, SEO has continuously impressed marketers and brands by producing attractive results across industries.
Whether you own a salon or a supermarket, SEO can help you increase foot traffic to your store and also attract inbound traffic and leads for your business.
However, search engine success is not an event. It’s a process that consists of various steps, stages, and components.
Link building is one of the most important components of SEO. In this blog, we are discussing link building in detail, starting from what link building is, why it matters, how to do it right, and everything in between.
So, if SEO is your goal, this blog is for you!
What is Link Building?
Going by the definition, link building is the process of increasing the number of hyperlinks directed towards a website. And speaking of SEO, link building is often considered one of the most crucial parts of the process.
As a website starts gaining more backlinks, search engines such as Google may view these links as votes of confidence in favor of that particular website.
Search engine algorithms are more likely to prioritize websites with stronger backlink profiles compared to those with weak backlink strengths.
In other words, if reputable and authoritative websites are linking to your content, search engines may consider your content more valuable and relevant for specific search terms. As a result, your website or web pages may occupy higher positions in the SERPs.
The Significance of Quality Backlinks
Not all backlinks are created equal.
While working on a link-building campaign, quality matters more than quantity.
In fact, most SEOs recommend going for fewer backlinks from authoritative and credible websites than building hundreds or thousands of backlinks from low-quality sources.
For this reason, the quality of backlinks acts as a deciding factor for search engine rankings.
Role in SEO Ranking Factors
Link building plays an important role in determining where your website ranks in SERPs. It is one of the top-ranking factors that largely influence your search rankings.
When search engines crawl and index websites, they assess the quality and quantity of backlinks to determine a website’s credibility and authority.
Link Building’s Evolving Importance
Although backlinks have always been important for SEO, over the past few years, their importance has evolved.
Earlier, quantity often used to be capable of outweighing quality. As a result, a number of black hat SEO techniques came into existence and gained popularity.
However, cut to 2023, search engines have become more sophisticated in their algorithms and don’t let websites with poor-quality links pass to the top.
Types of Links
Moving forward, backlinks can be of different types. Here’s a list of backlink types that every SEO must know of.
Do Follow Links
Do follow and no follow are two of the most popular and talked about backlink types. Primarily, the ‘follow’ nature of your backlinks can largely influence its search rankings.
Speaking of do-follow links, these are the backlinks that allow search engines to follow them and pass link juice to the linked page.
As a result, these links are always prioritized over no-followlow backlinks.
No Follow Links
Contrary to the do follow links, no follow links signal search engines to not follow the link or pass link juice to the web page it is pointing to.
While both types of backlinks have their place in the SEO process, do follow are always considered more valuable.
What is Anchor text? Why is it important?
Every time we add a link to our content, we make sure to add it to a word, phrase, number or sentence.
For example, in the above screenshot, the link has been placed on the phrase “Learn more about SEO optimization.” This phrase is the anchor text.
Speaking of why anchor texts are important—they offer context to readers and search engines.
Also, arguably, using relevant anchor texts/phrases may help boost SEO rankings.
Internal and external links
These are other types of links that a piece of content can have.
While internal links connect different pages on the same website, external links are outbound links that lead to other websites/resources. In simpler words, an external link from your website is a backlink to the website that the link leads to.
Optimal internal and external linking is important for SEO. They help boost referral traffic and also strengthen the backlink profile.
Best internal linking Practices for SEO
Maintaining a proper structure of internal links is considered a good SEO practice as it allows search engines to crawl and index your website efficiently.
Additionally, website managers can improve their user experience by strategically placing internal links.
An optimal internal linking structure helps distribute link juice to important pages on your website; hence, it should be an SEO priority.
Link Building Strategies & Development Process
Link building is one of the most important parts of the SEO process. Making a website rank higher in the SERPs can involve a number of link-building techniques working in line with a robust strategy.
In the following sections, we highlight the popular and effective link building strategies along with how they can be executed.
Keyword Research & Content Creation
Using your content to build quality links is one of the best link-building practices.
But how to do it?
The process starts with goal setting. Before launching your link building campaign, make sure to set certain goals that you wish to achieve through keyword research and content creation.
For example, keyword research can help you come up with actionable, high-volume, low-competition keywords/anchor texts that you can use in your guest posting campaign.
Similarly, a list of easy-to-rank keywords can help you optimize your guest posts to make them perform better in the search engines.
By setting certain goals, marketers can be able to make the most out of their keyword research efforts.
Outreach & Relationship Building
Like most businesses, the SEO industry also has a strong online community. Individuals and businesses who actively participate in SEO projects can often get the chance to meet and greet with fellow SEO professionals, virtually or physically!
While these meetups can help you build life-long partnerships and professional relationships, one doesn’t always have to rely on these events.
From launching an outreach campaign to keeping in touch with host bloggers you have partnered with in the past, everything can contribute to your search engine success.
When you think of link-building as a relationship-building practice instead of a mechanical marketing process, your chances of achieving search engine success increase.
Advanced Link Building Strategies
Moving further, there are a number of advanced and nascent link-building strategies that marketers can execute. In the following sections, we are sharing some of these key link-building strategies that can create lucrative SEO results.
Content-Driven Link Building
In the previous sections, we discussed guest posting. While it is one way of building backlinks through content, here’s another effective way of attracting high-quality links—creating high-quality content.
Now the question arises—what is high-quality content?
Often times web admins create and publish content pieces to maintain activity on their websites. While this idea is good, it should not be the prime motive behind publishing a piece of content.
When we say high-quality content, we are talking about elaborative guides, comprehensive blog posts, informational eBooks, and other useful pieces of content that add significant value to the reader’s life.
Let’s understand this with an example.
One website manager publishes a blog titled “7 Tips to Writer Better Cold Emails,” and its competitor website publishes an article titled “A to Z of Cold Emails: Everything You Need to Know!”
Going by the title, it’s safe to assume that the latter article may have more in-depth information about writing and sending cold emails than the former.
High-quality content that offers unique value to the readers does two things for our brand:
- Helps us build a reputation as an industry leader(s)
- Attracts other website managers to incorporate our valuable insights into their blogs, along with a backlink
Although building links through leadership content can be a multi-layered process, the crux is creating “high-quality content.”
Influencer and Authority Link Building
In the current internet marketing scenarios, engagement and consistency attract the most rewards.
Whether you are creating regular blog content or posting on LinkedIn, with consistent efforts in the right direction, you can start seeing traction and results.
The same holds while exploring link-building opportunities.
If you have launched an outbound link-building campaign, you may need to connect with a number of internet marketers and website managers in your niche. However, all of them may not respond right away.
This is where your patience will play a role.
As you try to get a link from an influencer or blogger’s website, be prepared to connect with them on social media and learn more about their business/blog/website, interests, way of writing, and other factors.
This information will help you engage with the content they share on social media. So, even if the engagement is one-sided today, they may notice your comments, messages, emails, and engagement in the future.
This can help you build long-lasting partnerships in the SEO industry.
Link Reclamation Strategies
Have you ever come across a blog that links to another blog or article that does not exist?
In most cases, this happens when the website or its content has been moved to a different web address. However, it still leaves the host website linking to a broken link.
It can impact the SEO health of the linking website. But this could be a great link-building opportunity for us.
As the page this website is linking to is broken, we can create a web page parallel to the missing URL and approach the host blogger to replace the broken link with our fresh link.
This is one effective way of link-building that can work wonders.
How to do this?
The easiest way is to use the Rankwatch link checker tool and analyze your target website’s outbound links.
The idea is to explore these links and find out any broken links in its outbound link profile.
This can help us unlock a world of quality link-building opportunities, significantly boosting our SEO efforts.
Reverse Engineering Competitor Backlinks
Here’s another winning link-building strategy.
If you know your direct competitors who are ranking for your desired keywords, it’s best to reverse engineer their backlink profile.
This can easily be done by using Rankwatch’s Link Analyzer Tool.
Simply visit the website, paste the competitor URL you want to analyze and click “Explore Backlinks.”
This will present you with a detailed backlink report, sharing insights on which websites link to your competitors.
How can this help us?
By tracking our competitors’ backlinks, we can unlock a pool of websites that accept guest posts and offer backlinks in one way or another.
While all of these websites may or may not respond positively, some of them may. Even with the minimal conversion rate, at the end of the campaign, we can accumulate a good number of qualified backlinks that have contributed to our competitors’ search engine success.
This is one of the simplest, most straightforward, and most effective ways of link building.
Measuring Link-Building Success
Once a link-building campaign is over, it’s crucial to track its success and efficacy. There are a number of parameters that can help marketers figure out whether a campaign has succeeded or not.
For starters, let us look at some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that signify a link building campaign’s success or failure.
Top Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Consider
As most SEOs suggest, the domain authority of your website may not directly impact your website’s SEO. However, it can still impact the results of your SEO campaigns.
With an air-tight implementation of an effective link-building strategy, SEOs and web managers can procure a high domain authority for their website(s).
This not only helps in SEO but also helps attract clients and customers.
Apart from that, a website with a higher DA is usually a more desirable target for link-building campaigns. So, if you are building a blog to generate revenue by allowing bloggers to publish guest posts, a higher DA can help you secure better deals.
If the DA of your website has gone up after your link-building campaign, it’s safe to say that the campaign succeeded.
When we publish a guest post on a popular website, our chances of receiving referral traffic from this website increase.
However, if the website lacks traction or isn’t optimized for the search engines, it may not receive enough traffic to direct anything to your website.
Receiving referral traffic from your guest posts is usually a strong indicator that your link-building efforts are reaping results.
Adjusting Strategies Based on Metrics
Here’s the next step. Once you have observed and analyzed the results from your link-building campaign, you can pinpoint the areas where more efforts and optimizations are required.
This is the time when you make the required changes and create a more robust and smarter SEO plan that is designed to perform.
For best results, make sure to improve on the shortcomings of the last link-building campaign.
Audit of Existing Backlinks
As we said earlier, the quality of your backlinks largely determines your SEO results.
For example, if your website has a large number of backlinks coming from low DA sources, search engines may consider this a negative sign. The primary reason behind this is that websites with a lower domain authority may often lack credibility and authenticity.
As a result, backlinks from lower DA sites are often outweighed by those from higher DA websites.
To make sure the links pointing to your website are credible and qualified, you can run a backlink audit.
The purpose of this audit is to analyze the authorities of the websites that are linking to your pages.
Rankwatch’s Backlink Checker tool can help carry out this process.
Relevance Assessment & Authority Analysis
Here comes the second criterion for audit—while DAs of websites linking to your target pages matter, the relevance of these websites is equally important.
For example, a healthcare website linking to your machining tool business may not pass link juice. In fact, if this backlink comes off as unnatural, it may weigh down your website’s performance in the SERPs.
To avoid such concerns, it’s crucial to regularly analyze your website’s backlink profile and keep it clean by disavowing unwanted and suspicious links.
Links From Restricted Websites
Sometimes, due to a poor link-building strategy, and sometimes due to a bitter competitor, your pages may start getting backlinks from restricted or ‘A’ rated websites.
Now, here comes the catch.
No matter how high the authority of these websites is, if they link to you, your website may fall prey to search engines’ suspicion. Also, getting backlinks from restricted category websites can throw your backlink relevance out of balance.
And the end results can be brutal, as these backlinks can make the perfect recipe for failure for any SEO campaign.
Link Removal or Disavowal
Fortunately, there is a way to get rid of these unwanted links.
Whether you come across such backlinks during a regular link analysis or after your website falls down in the SERPs, Google and Bing link disavow tools can always help you.
To do this, you can visit the respective webmaster consoles and navigate to find the disavow tool.
For easier understanding, here’s a step-by-step procedure for disavowing links in the Google Webmaster Tools console.
Step 1: Create a list of links to disavow
Open Notepad on your computer and paste the domain names that you want to disavow.
Here’s the format for pasting:
If you wish to disavow a subdomain (sub.domain.com), use the following format:
Step 2: Upload your list
Go to the Google Disavow Links page.
Select a property from the property list, click the upload button and select the file containing the list of domains you wish to disavow.
After the file is uploaded successfully, Google may take a couple of weeks to disavow these links.
Avoiding Common Link Building Pitfalls
When done right, link building can help your business achieve organic leads and qualified traffic. However, when things go south, your rankings may fall to the ground.
To avoid such concerns, it’s advisable to steer clear of certain link-building mistakes. Here are the common pitfalls to look out for.
Say no to black-hat tactics
Welcome to 2023—the time when black hat SEO tactics cease to produce results.
In fact, once your website is found using black-hat tactics, it may lose its existing rankings. Hence, the best way forward is to create great content, add incredible value to your users’ and readers’ lives, and build long-lasting relationships that also provide you with qualified backlinks.
What’s the thing with ethical SEO?
If you wish to make sure your website grows in the SERPs and retains its high position in all (or most) situations, you must ensure you build a strong SEO foundation with qualified links.
While qualified and authoritative backlinks can boost your SEO efforts in the long run, poor links are only good for trying to fool the search engines—the bitter part is they may create short-lasting or no results at all.
In fact, when you expose your business website to black hat SEO tactics, you make it vulnerable to Google’s strict actions against unethical SEO practices.
To keep your business and website safe from such strikes, make sure to keep your marketing efforts clean and white!
Link-building has gone wrong!
As we discussed above, marketers can employ a number of unethical ways to build backlinks. While these practices may (or may not) produce temporary results, they expose your website to Google’s policy violation strikes in the long run, resulting in a complete exclusion from Google’s indices.
To keep your website safe from such concerns, make sure you don’t fall for these unethical link-building practices:
- Aggressively buying backlinks
- Prioritizing domain authority over niche relevance
- Using link-building/blasting tools
- Link bartering
- Bribing for backlinks
Apart from these, there are a number of unethical link-building practices that have always been looked down upon by every search engine. As website managers and SEOs, it’s our responsibility to steer clear of these practices.
Link building was, is, and will always be an important aspect of website SEO. However, doing it right is crucial for creating desired results and keeping your website safe from penalties.
In this blog, we discussed link-building in detail, covering nearly everything an SEO may need to know. For more information and exciting SEO news, stay tuned to Rankwatch!