Improving your SEO strategy is a continuous process that involves many different aspects. However, these improvements involve more than just creating a responsive website with intuitive designs and great content carefully created through keyword research. Link building campaigns also play an important role in improving your website’s SEO and digital presence.
Search engines pay more attention to the links in your content than most site owners understand. Web crawlers use links to gain a better understanding of how different pages relate to one another. However, not all links are equal, and spammy link building techniques will have the opposite effect on your SEO success.
Successful link building campaigns can show search engines how relevant your content is. Your site’s relevance is an important metric when it comes to your rankings in search engine results pages. Quality link building strategies can improve your online presence and website’s authority, which, in turn, leads to more referral traffic.
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What is a Link Building Strategy?
Link building is an important SEO strategy that relies on the creation of a network of links pointing to other websites or content to provide more context and value to the reader. This process simultaneously strengthens the site’s authority in search engines.
Becoming an authoritative site will improve your rankings in search results, get you more referral traffic and create a strong digital presence for your business.
Good link building strategies consist of both internal and external links. An internal link embedded in your content will point to more content on your website. This is a great way to give your target audience more valuable information you already have available. This will also keep your audience on your website for longer, which directly impacts your SEO and digital presence.
External links come from other websites and are often referred to as backlinks or inbound links. Having high quality backlinks pointing to your content from other websites is a great way to gain referral traffic. Using high-quality links within your own content that points to another web page with valuable content is also a good way to network with other prominent websites and gain referral traffic.
However, a search engine’s algorithm doesn’t just consider the number of links added to your content. They also evaluate the link’s position, quality, anchor text, and other factors to determine whether the user-generated content is relevant and valuable.
Link building is an effective way to improve your online presence because it establishes your business as an expert in its field. This comes with many additional perks such as referral traffic, increases in backlinks from other websites, increases in brand awareness, and more.
Link Building Vs. Off-Page SEO
The term off-page SEO is often used in conjunction with link building. However, it’s important to understand that these are two different concepts. Off-page SEO refers to all search engine optimization strategies that occur beyond your website.
While this concept can include link building, it also has other strategies that form part of the concept. These can include your social media presence, brand mentions, and other forms of content marketing.
With link building strategies you don’t only focus on off-page SEO as internal linking campaigns also play a role. Internal linking doesn’t count as off-page SEO as it occurs within your website. As such you have complete control of the process as you can make changes or improvements as needed.
With off-page SEO the amount of control you have is much more limited. An effective link building strategy takes into account both on-page SEO as well as off, by using internal and high quality backlinks.
Why Are Links Important to Your Digital Presence?
The internet is basically a web of interconnected documents, hence the term world wide web. For this web to work successfully, we use links to connect various articles and documents to each other. These connections allow users to navigate successfully between various pages, sites, images, files, and videos.
Search engines need these links to crawl the internet effectively, and rank websites. In the past, crawlers indexed websites alphabetically and therefore didn’t rely too much on links.
However, at that stage, there were still a limited number of websites, so this strategy worked. Now, there are too many websites for this process to work successfully. Although the number of websites changes every second as new ones are created, there are more than one billion websites currently active.
With this large number of websites, and new ones popping up all the time, an alphabetic approach is no longer effective. The process changed and took advantage of the interconnectivity of sites to determine the path that web crawlers follow and the PageRank algorithm from Google was born. This also helps web crawlers to gain a better understanding of the page’s content and how it relates to other content on the internet.
PageRank considers a number of factors to rank websites in search results. These factors include the value of the content, keyword research, and links. When it comes to links, Google takes a very academic approach.
In academics, the more citations an author receives, the more authority they have in their respective fields. Similarly, the more links a page receives the more relevant it is to the topic covered. This improves the website’s digital presence and leads to more referral links.
18 Benefits of Link Building
Link building holds many benefits for growing your online presence.
These benefits include, among others:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Providing a recurring income
- Boosting domain authority and ratings
- Building credibility
- Boosting online visibility
- Increasing referral traffic
- Building brand authority
- Creating better revenue opportunities
- Increasing website traffic
- Reducing bounce rates
- Raising SEO scores and site metrics
- Building relationships through link building outreach
- Delivering more valuable content
- Ensuring consistent conversion rates
- Identifying new opportunities
- Improving your trust score
- Collecting more email subscribers from referral traffic
- Gaining more social media subscribers from referral traffic
How Are Your Links Evaluated by Search Engines?
Search engines like Google consider several different factors when ranking web pages in search results. Among these factors is link evaluation. Just stuffing your content full of links is not good enough to improve your online presence.
Creating a linking strategy takes careful consideration and planning. Here are a few of the considerations you should bear in mind when planning your strategy.
Number of Links
This is one of the first factors that Google looked at and it established the basis of the PageRank algorithm. The number of links pointing to a page clearly demonstrates its popularity and value.
This still remains an important consideration when search engines evaluate links, however, it’s no longer the only factor that influences your strategy. You may be thinking that you can just pay to get websites to link to your content and that will immediately boost your rankings.
However, that’s no longer the case as the quality and relevance of these links play another role in the process. This means receiving links from irrelevant or unreliable websites can have the opposite effect.
Diversity of Links
Search engines believe that the more sites that link to your content reveal a much greater authority than having the same single website linking to you. Having link diversity is important in your strategy as it shows search engines that many different websites find value in your content.
Context of Links
Web crawlers have come far and can understand the context around your links. As such, they’re able to gauge whether the context around your link is relevant. This means that just adding random links for the sake of having external links in your content doesn’t work. The links you use and the content surrounding them should be related and provide value to your target audience.
This also relates to the position of your links. Having a link included within the main content of your page is much more likely to receive clicks than simply adding a link to the page’s footer. Placing your links strategically demonstrates editorial intention which receives greater value as a result.
Use of Appropriate Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text of your links that can also be used to create better context about the page being linked to. The anchor text can be a keyword or a short description of what types of content the link points to. Using an exact keyword match in your backlink anchor text is a good way to reinforce the authority of that term.
However, this should be done sparingly as using this process multiple times in the same article will make it appear unnatural to Google. It may even point to black hat backlinking strategies which can penalize your SEO.
Reliability of Links
Google will see your website as more trustworthy the closer you are to reliable sites. Google added TrustRank to its algorithm to take this aspect into account. Search engines consider trusted sites as ones trying to build a safer and more relevant experience for their users.
This is determined by the domain’s age, use of security certificates, quality of the content, and other factors. By linking and receiving backlinks from these trusted sources, you establish reliability.
Effective Use of Outbound Links
While both outbound and internal linking are essential parts of a successful strategy, backlinks carry a higher weight when evaluated. After all, you saying your content is great is one thing, but when other web pages say the same thing by linking to your content it’s much more valuable.
While adding links to other pages within your content isn’t as valuable as earning high quality backlinks, it’s a good way to demonstrate your page hierarchy to Google. As such, it’s important to remember to use external links within your content. This is especially true if you point to trusted and authoritative sites.
Link Gain Speed
In the early days of link building, many black hat techniques were used to quickly gain backlinks to content. This included the use of link building farms and even buying and selling backlinks. However, Google has reinforced its algorithm to combat these techniques and penalize their use. As such, Google evaluates how quickly you gain backlinks.
Nofollow Vs. Dofollow Links
There are mainly two types of link attributes you can use, known as nofollow and dofollow. Many website owners don’t realize the importance of using these attributes or what they mean.
Adding a nofollow attribute to a link shows web crawlers that they don’t need to follow the link or attribute any authority or transmit any link juice with that particular link. This is good when citing dubious websites that might negatively impact your rankings and online presence.
Link Building Techniques
When you start to put link building strategies into practice, you should keep in mind how your links will be evaluated by search engines. At the end of the day, you want your linking strategy to improve your online presence and not detract from it. Let’s take a look at some of the techniques you can use when creating a successful link building process.
Creation of Digital Marketing Assets
Content marketing forms an important part of your link building strategy. Before you can start focusing on link outreach, you first need to ensure that users will find value in your content. If users don’t like what they see or if it’s irrelevant to them, they’ll just leave which will increase your bounce rates.
By creating valuable content you’ll attract more visitors to your site and when you start adding shareable assets this increases the shareability of your content. By doing this, you’ll create more opportunities for external websites to link to your content.
Digital content that has a high sharing potential includes both interactive and visual assets like:
- Posts with lists
- Interactive content like quizzes
- Research results
Finding Backlink Partners
Earning backlinks isn’t entirely within your control. However, you can improve your chances by building relationships and connecting with other external websites. You can earn more backlinks by connecting with closely related websites and proving the value of your content to them.
However, finding these backlink partners can be difficult. Because link quality is important, you can just run a general search and connect with the first result that appears. You need to consider their domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) when connecting with potential partners.
When reaching out to potential partners, don’t take an aggressive approach by simply asking for backlinks. The point of a partnership is to form a mutually beneficial relationship. As such, you should offer to help with a problem or demonstrate how you can contribute to their content strategy.
Use of Guest Posting and Co-Marketing
Once you’ve started a relationship with a partner, you can look at how to generate links. Guest posting and co-marketing are two of the most common link building techniques.
Guest posting, as the name suggests, consists of creating a guest blog post that’s relevant to your partner’s website. Your partner will then allow you to insert links to your content, effectively becoming backlinks.
Another way that you can improve your online presence through link building is through co-marketing. In this case, you and your partner create materials such as e-books or other tools together. Both partners then market the product and include backlinks to each other’s web pages.
Investing in Press Relations
Gaining links on news portals or press sites can be extremely valuable in your strategy. These sites tend to have a very high authority on search engines and they tend to reach many regular readers. Earning backlinks on these platforms can help boost your digital presence tremendously.
The easiest way to add this to your strategy is through a press office. A press office has advisors that already have relationships with news outlets. They can then pass on any valuable information or achievements related to your brand to the press who can then include links to your content where relevant.
Discover Mentions Without Links
Google and other search engines take notice when brands are mentioned, even if this occurs without a link. While these mentions don’t convey authority, they can demonstrate the popularity of your brand. This is included when search engines rank your content.
However, to benefit even more from mentions, it should link back to your site. As such, you should look for brand mentions as part of your link building strategy. Once you find mentions without a link, you can reach out to the creator and request that they add a link to your website.
Google Alerts is a great way to discover these mentions, and with a friendly approach, you’ll have a good chance to get your link added.
Redirecting Broken Links
Broken links are a fact of the internet. Websites frequently update their content, change their URL structure or make other changes that lead to broken links. However, this means that when a user clicks on the link, they’ll get a 404 error.
This not only frustrates the users but also costs you valuable traffic and affects your digital presence. As such, it’s important to redirect any broken links to ensure they point to the relevant content even after changes have been made.
Accept Only Reputable Backlinks
As we mentioned, not all backlinks are good. While you may be tempted to accept any backlink you can get, especially when starting your linking strategy, this may turn out to be detrimental.
By accepting backlinks from dubious or spam sites you can actually negatively impact your rankings. As such, it’s a good idea to carefully evaluate the links you receive and reject any dubious backlinks.
Learn from Competitors
Any good digital marketer knows how important it is to keep track of your competitors. This is also relevant to your link building strategy. It’s important to evaluate where the backlinks of your competitors are coming from, especially if that competitor is ranking higher than you.
Not only will this show you where you can improve your own content to rank better, but it will also give you an idea of how their linking strategy works. Now, you can consider implementing a similar strategy within your own link building process.
Earn Reputable Backlinks Through Good Content
Content remains the king when it comes to search rankings. Creating good content with a lot of value for readers is by far the best way to grow your linking strategy. Your content should address questions that your target audience has, even if they didn’t know they had them.
If your content provides value, is well-written, and helps your audience, there’s a much higher chance that other websites will see the value and link to your content.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Research
Research is an essential part of content creation and link building. Good keyword research can help you create content that’s valuable and ranks well in search engines.
Research also helps you identify gaps in the market that your content can cover and the best ways to present your information to your audience. By conducting thorough research you can create blog posts, images, guides, reports, and more that establish you as an authority on a topic.
Focus on Earning Editorial Links
When you’re planning your linking strategy you should focus on earning editorial links. These are links that you earn organically. In other words, the website’s owner noticed the value in your content and regarded you as an authority so they’ve linked to your content without you asking for it. The best way to earn editorial links is by blogging with a purpose and carefully planning and researching your content.
Building Links Through Email Outreach
When it comes to creating a well-rounded approach to backlinks, no brand should rely solely on requested backlinks. That being said, requesting backlinks is a good way to round out your strategy.
However, one of the challenges with requesting backlinks is that marketers of prominent and reputable brands might receive hundreds of linking requests. This can be too much for anyone to respond to, and your request might go unnoticed.
However, by creating an intelligent email outreach campaign for backlinks you can improve the chances of your request being noticed and honored. This can improve your digital presence while also leading to more referral traffic.
Here are a few tips to build links through email outreach:
- Target the right brands: choose brands that fit with your industry, brand, and audience
- Keep emails short and sweet: remain to the point and clearly convey your message
- Craft a good subject line: you only have a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so make sure you do so with a catchy subject line
Measuring the Success of Your Link Building Strategies
When creating a link building strategy to improve your online presence, you need to be able to monitor the effectiveness of your strategies. Stumbling around in the dark and hoping your strategies are working is not the best way to go about things. By monitoring your strategies you can see what’s working, and which areas need to be improved or adjusted.
Here are a few of the factors you can track to ensure that your link building campaign is successful:
- An increase in referring domains
- An improvement in your search result rankings
- An upward trend in organic traffic
While these metrics can all indicate that your link building strategies are working, it’s important to note that these won’t happen overnight. Patience is key in a link building strategy and it might take a while for you to notice any changes in these metrics.
Typically it can take between 3-12 months for brands to start seeing an improvement after implementing a link building strategy to improve their online presence.
Link building is an important process to improve your digital presence. However, for your link building strategy to be effective, you need to focus on creating high-value content that firmly establishes you as an expert in your field.
Once you’ve done this, you can start linking to your content as well as that of other websites. You can also start networking with other brands and earning high quality backlinks to drive more traffic to your website and establish a positive online presence.