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You’ve heard of link building before. Maybe you even kind of know what link building is.
But do you know how to make link building work for you?
If you want to develop a link building strategy that will send your rankings soaring, this is the article for you.
Here we’ll cover:
What is link building?
Why is it important for SEO?
Link building metrics to watch
Link building tactics to get you started
If you want to increase your site’s authority and reputation while rising in the search engine rankings and getting more traffic, keep reading.
Link building is the process of getting a link on another website that points back to your site. These inbound links are called “backlinks” and serve the purpose of improving search engine visibility.
There are several ways to build backlinks like content marketing, resource lists, outreach, and broken link building, among others. We’ll cover some of these tactics later in this article.
Link building helps with your SEO because the internet is built on links. When you get links from authoritative sites, your site is going to be seen as authoritative, too. Plus, links drive referral traffic and help build relationships.
Google and other search engines use links to not only discover pages that are new to the internet but to also help decide where those pages should rank in search results with all the other pages about a topic.
After search engines have crawled your pages, the content will be added to their indexes and they can then determine if your page deserves to be ranked for relevant keywords.
As you can probably guess, search engines don’t just evaluate the content on your page to decide where you rank. They look at several SEO ranking factors. Google alone has about 200 of them!
Link building can have an enormous impact on where you rank. If your content is high-quality and you have high-quality websites linking to you, you’re more likely to rank well.
Google uses backlinks as a measure of confidence about your page.
But, not all links are created equal.
If you have many backlinks from web directories or sites known to send spammy backlinks, your rankings will suffer.
Google’s link building ranking factors have developed over time and a series of trial and error.
In the early days of SEO, you could simply put your keywords in a footer at the bottom of your page.
Since early search engines only based rankings on the content of your page, this would help your page rank for those keywords. Of course, we know that technique now as “keyword stuffing” and it’s frowned upon.
When Google came onto the scene, they used a PageRank algorithm that not only looked at your content but how many other sites linked to the page.
With the subsequent Penguin updates to their algorithm, Google has refined the focus from link quantity to link quality.
This means that, in addition to having great content, you need to cultivate trust in your site to provide great content, thereby increasing the number of sites linking to your content.
In this section, we’ll walk you through link building metrics to help you evaluate the potential benefit of a backlink as well as basic and advanced link building tactics you can use.
Link building metrics will help you figure out the value of a potential backlink to your site. This is useful in helping you decide whether or not to pursue a link building opportunity.
Domain strength speaks to the value of a domain. Moz calls this Domain Authority, but you may see it referred to as Page Authority, too.
Domain or page authority are good metrics to check because backlinks from sites with high scores in these metrics are more valuable. Links from high-quality, high-authority sites will pass those qualities to your site through backlinks.
You’ll want to track the domain strength of the sites you’re seeking backlinks from as well as your own domain strength.
Number of Links and Linking Root Domains
Both the number of links and the number of linking root domains is important to your link building efforts.
Remember, we’re going for quality over quantity, though.
The number of links you’ve accumulated is useful for measuring the success of your link building campaign and seeing how you stack up against competitors, but a small number of backlinks from strong domains is going to do more for your rankings than a lot of backlinks from spammy sites.
Even more important than the number of backlinks is the number of linking root domains.
Linking root domains are the number of unique domains that link to your site. So, three links from a single domain would be counted as three links, but only one linking root domain.
The number of linking root domains to your site matters more than the total number of links because Google views it as a better indication of your site’s popularity.
Is your SEO suffering from bad links? We can remove and disavow bad links to benefit your SEO.
As we mentioned earlier, there are several different ways to get backlinks to your site. The right tactics for your link building strategy depend both on your industry and the resources you have available to you.
In this section, we’ll cover link building tactics that can be used by most sites in most industries.
Guest blogging is exactly what it sounds like: you reach out to other sites to see if they will publish a post by you on their blog. It’s a common and widely-used way to do link building.
However, the content has to be high-quality. Google has been penalizing marketers who exchange backlinks for over-optimized, low-quality content.
Ahrefs offers up a great way to find guest posting opportunities. Simply search for topic + intitle:”write for us” to uncover guest posting opportunities on any number of sites.
Of course, as Ahrefs points out, that’s what everyone is doing.
They recommend just reaching out to relevant sites and pitching your guest post ideas, regardless of whether or not the site has a “write for us” page.
Broken link building is a simple link building tactic that involves researching relevant sites for broken links and creating content similar to the one linked in the now-broken link. Then, you reach out to the people linking to the dead link and offer your non-broken link as a replacement.
You get something and the site with the broken link gets something.
So, how do you find broken links?
Backlinko suggests using a tool like Check My Links or LinkMiner to ferret out broken links on any page. Then, you can reach out to the site with the broken link and pitch your replacement.
To get more mileage out of this link building tactic, you can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer or Ahrefs’ Broken Link Checker to see everyone linking to the missing page you found.
From there, just reach out to all of them and offer up your working page.
A lot of the time, sites will mention you without including a link back to your site.
Similar to broken link building, you can find these mentions and reach out to the sites that are talking about you without including a backlink and ask them to link to you.
Again, Ahrefs is a great way to find these kinds of mentions. Using the Ahrefs Content Explorer, you can search for mentions of your brand from nearly 1 billion web pages.
Once you find the pages that mention you but don’t include a link, you can filter your list to include only one article per domain and highlight the linked domains. Then, just export that list and start reaching out.
Reverse Image Search
Along the same lines as the basic mentions tactic we talked about earlier, if you publish things like infographics and charts, you can do a reverse image search to find sites that are using those assets without linking back to your site.
Creating high-quality images to help people better understand the concepts you’re talking about is a great way to get backlinks.
Visual content uses images, infographics, memes, videos, and more to create an engaging content format that is easier to absorb than a wall of text.
When you consider how people process information, creating visual content just makes sense.
The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Not only that but 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. That’s science.
You can use science to your advantage by creating visual content. Then, be sure to use the reverse image search tactic above to get those backlinks!
Once again, Ahrefs offers a great technical SEO solution to link building with its Link Intersect feature.
With Link Intersect you can find out which sites link to your competitors. Then, go after those sites to get backlinks of your own.
As an alternative to guest posting, you can get backlinks through giving interviews. Try participating in “expert roundup” type posts or appearing as a guest in blogs or podcasts about your area of expertise.
There’s also HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You can sign up as a source on their site and answer questions on topics you’re knowledgeable about for journalists seeking quotes for stories.
According to most SEO experts, link building is one of the more difficult aspects of SEO. With the tactics included in this article, you’ll be able to get started with link building quickly and easily, and boost your SEO!
Need help developing your link building strategy? Digital Marketing Agency develops white hat link-building strategies that foster natural incoming link growth.