- 16 min. read
Jessica BonacciContent Writer
- Jessica is a Google Analytics certified Digital Video Analyst at WebFX. She has created over 100 videos for the WebFX YouTube channel (youtube.com/webfx) in the last two years. Jessica specializes in video marketing and also loves content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and many other aspects of digital marketing. When she’s not creating videos, Jessica enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and watching movies.
Would you build a store somewhere with no roads leading to it? Of course not. Customers wouldn’t be able to get to your business or even know it was there — unless they’re an exceptionally adventurous off-roader.
Links are like the roadways of the Internet.
They provide a path that both users and search engine crawlers can use to find your site. To create these pathways, you can use an SEO technique called link building.
What is link building?
Link building is a method for earning links from other websites to your website. These links help users and search engine crawlers find your site.
Additionally, gaining links from reputable websites causes Google to see your site as reputable as well, improving your search engine rankings.
Keep reading or watch the video below to learn more about what link building is, why it’s important for your SEO, and how to get started with building links.
What is link building?
Put simply, link building is the process of getting other websites to link to yours, and it’s crucial for your SEO strategy. Building links helps users and search engine crawlers find your content, and the quantity and quality of links to your website impacts your search engine rankings.
To get started with a link-building strategy, you’ll need to create valuable content related to your business, products, and services. When someone links to your valuable content, you earn a backlink, or link, from another site to your own. Link building exposes your brand to a much larger audience — and it builds your site’s domain authority, which can boost your performance in search results.
Why does link building matter for your business?
There are a lot of benefits of link building.
As I said before, link building gets your content and your brand in front of a larger audience. It also helps boost your SEO strategy, which I’ll explain later.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you run a tech company, and you write a post on your website about the new software you offer.
Through link-building techniques, which I’ll also discuss later, a popular industry news site links to your post on their website. Now, people who read and trust this news site see the link to your website. If they click on it, they have the opportunity to learn more about your brand.
People clicking on that link signal to search engines that your site has some great content, and it can help push it up in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. You might even earn some new leads and sales from the increased traffic.
You may be asking, what is link building in SEO and how does it help my strategy?
Link building is key for your SEO strategy, which leads us to the next section.
How does link building help your SEO strategy?
Link building for SEO is a crucial component of your strategy. Backlinks tell search engines that people trust your site. They act as votes of confidence that your site is useful and deserves top rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
The relevancy of your content is a determining factor of how your content will show up in SERPs, but earning backlinks from reputable sites will also help your site appear higher.
We may not know all of the ranking factors Google uses in its algorithm, but we do know that links are at the top.
But not all links are equal. This is where link equity comes into play.
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What is link equity?
Link equity, which some people like to call “link juice,” refers to the value that gets passed on from a site when they link to you.
Different sites have different values due to this thing called domain authority. Domain authority gives you an idea of how trustworthy your site is to search engines. It’s a numerical value from 1-100, so the higher the number, the more trusted your site is.
While it’s not necessarily used by search engines to determine your website’s position in the SERPs, domain authority can help you figure out which sites will pass on more link equity from backlinks.
These sites have spent years building up trust with consumers and earning lots of links to their articles. I think it’s fair to say they’re industry leaders. If the New York Times links to your site, it’s going to pass on a lot more link equity than a link from a personal blog because it has a higher domain authority.
This isn’t to say that you should be disappointed about links from smaller websites. Your audience may frequent smaller, niche blogs.
But just remember that different sites have different values to search engines when you’re creating your link-building strategy.
Let’s recap. So, high-equity links can help increase your website’s ranking. This can put you above your competition in search engines, getting you valuable traffic that can turn into leads and actual revenue for your business.
Ok, so I’ve covered the basics, but how do you build links for SEO?
5 link building tips: How to build links
1. Create content that adds value to your site and related sites
Before you can start building links, you need content that motivates people to link to you. If you’re a tech company, don’t just stop at a quick 100-word explanation of your new product. Share an in-depth post that details what it can do, make a video explaining its features, add photos, and build up the excitement. Your content should get people as excited as you are about what you offer. Unique, valuable content increases the likelihood that people will naturally link to your site — without you having to ask them.
2. Research competitors’ content and backlinks
Wondering how to check backlinks from your competitors? We’ve got you covered.
Competitor research as a link-building technique is two-fold. First, you’ll want to look at the topics competitors write about online.
Then, see if you can identify any gaps or areas of improvement. Did a competing tech company write about industry development, but leave out major details about how it works? Take that opportunity and run with it. Write a new in-depth piece about this new development and explain how it works. Include a video and photos to add context and make your piece stand out online. Creating comprehensive content will position you as an industry leader and help you invite natural links to your website and blog.
Next, you’ll want to look at who links to competitors’ content by using backlink tools.
Ahrefs offers a free backlink tool that allows you to monitor your competitors’ backlinks. If someone links to a competitor’s site — and you offer an even better resource — chances are, they may link to your site too.
3. Research sites in your industry or niche for link building opportunities
A Google search can reveal sites in your industry or niche that can link to your site. For instance, a quick search on Google for “technology blogs” returns a list of blogs in that niche. Consider making a list of relevant sites and blogs you’d like to link to your website. You can also track specific articles for outreach, which we’ll talk more about later. Don’t get discouraged if large sites don’t link to you right away. As your link-building strategy gains momentum, you’ll attract links from a variety of reputable sites in your niche. Looking to get started?
4. Promote your content
A critical component of your link-building strategy is content promotion or outreach.
Without content promotion, you may earn a few natural links, but outreach is your golden ticket to link-building success.
After you’ve compiled a list of sites you want to link to you, reach out to relevant blogs, influencers, journalists, or other industry professionals. Be sure to explain why your content is valuable for their readers, and invite them to share and link to your website.
You don’t have to stop there.
Share your content with your audience. Use channels that you already have available to get your pages in front of potential linkers.
Do you use social media?
Share your recently published blog posts with your followers.
Do you have an email newsletter? Send new content, along with your business updates. The more people who see your content, the more likely they are to read, share, and link to your pages.
5. Never, ever buy links
Never, never ever. Unless you want your site removed from the Google search results, which you don’t. It may seem like a cheap and quick way to build links, however, these links are often extremely low quality. Thus, it can actually hurt your ranking because it violates Google’s guidelines.
If you buy links for your website, Google could penalize your site, bumping it way down in the SERPs or removing it entirely, and that will definitely not drive leads or sales for your business.
Especially considering that over half of the web traffic is a result of organic searches.
If you did purchase links, you can remove them using the Google Disavow tool. However, it’s crucial to use this tool correctly. Disavowing the wrong links can hurt your SEO.
Google says you should only disavow links if both of the following statements are true:
- You have a Google penalty
- You’ve had an influx of spammy links that you paid for
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FAQs about links and link building
Bonus! Got more questions about link building? Browse these FAQs:
What are black-hat links and why do people build them?
Black-hat links aim to trick Google.
In other words, people figure out ways to control backlinks in an attempt to rank higher in SERPs. Black-hat link building methods of control include:
- Buying backlinks from sites or web directories
- Reciprocating links with several sites (I’ll link you, so you link me)
- Buying sites to start a link farm
- Creating fake profiles to post links
- Posting spam comments with links
While not illegal, these types of links are certainly malicious because they take away the worth of backlinks, and Google has gone through great efforts to punish black-hat link building by dropping those sites from the SERPs altogether.
In other words, black-hat link building might bring short-term benefits — your site might rank on the first page for a week or two — but soon after your site traffic will drop off, and you might even get penalized by Google.
That’s one of the reasons link building for SEO is so valuable and takes a long time. It’s natural and can’t be bought or forced!
What are natural backlinks and how can you build them?
Natural links are backlinks your site has earned from other sites, either without any interaction or by reaching out to sites and asking for them to link to your content.
These are the type of links that count towards your page rank. Earning recognition by gaining natural links is perhaps the best way to build awareness for your brand.
With natural links, you’ll appear higher in SERPs and become well-known within your online community.
Some links will earn you more recognition than others due to the amount of trust they have. These types of links are considered high-quality if they come from influential people in your online community. The best technique to build natural links is to create quality content and then promote it.
Promoting your content can be as simple as:
- Posting it on your blog
- Adding a link to it on your social media page
- Or submit it to a site as guest content
Even just interacting naturally within your online community can act as a promotion. You’ll become known as an expert in your field, and users will travel to your site to learn more.
Gaining mentions and reviews from customers is a bit more roundabout, but it is another way you can create links. The better the reviews you have for your services, the more people are likely to notice, the more they’ll talk about you, especially if they are satisfied with your services.
They’ll be likely to mention you in conversations outside of just the standard review sites.
The way to build natural links using reviews is to:
- Read the reviews you have already received. What are people saying? If any reviews are negative, see where you can improve your services. If the reviews are positive, figure out what parts of your services users like and see how you can make them even better.
- Ask customers to review. After a customer has purchased your service, ask them if they wouldn’t mind spending a couple of minutes to give a review on the experience. Not all customers will provide a review, but simply asking your customers for reviews will generate more than if you didn’t.
Similar to reviews, you can build natural links by asking friends, partners, and your community’s influencers. This is just a method to get started building backlinks, so don’t stick around asking for too long.
The best way to build natural links is still to create content. Valuable content can generate natural links on its own.
Once you are known for producing good content, people will start looking to you for information and creating natural links to your page without you even having to ask.
What are links?
Links, also called hyperlinks, are HTML objects that allow users to arrive at new locations or pages when they click on them.
What does a link look like?
The recipe for a link uses a URL and anchor text. The URL lets users navigate to a specific page, while the anchor text is what they’ll actually click on.
You can think of the Internet like a city. The site pages are buildings and hyperlinks are roads connecting them.
This example shows the importance of links for navigating the web.
Without them, pages would be left isolated — and searchers and search engines would struggle to navigate your site.
With links, users have a GPS route to get straight to where they want to go, whether that be to more information on your page or to sites with information you recommend. In fact, that’s the difference between internal links and outbound links. One keeps the user on your site, and the other sends them off to other places on the web.
What do you use links for?
You can use links to give more in-depth information about a particular point of your topic.
For instance, if you had a section in your article about the theory behind teleporters, in that section, you could include links to articles explaining what teleporters are and why they’re prevalent in today’s culture and the most recent theory about how they would work.
In other words, whenever you link to a URL, put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask yourself:
- What would I want to see when I cursor over this link?
- Does it make sense to see this link with this anchor text?
- What kind of link would I actually follow?
These questions help you determine which links are relevant and what kind of anchor text they should link to. The link must make sense contextually to be in your article attached to any particular anchor text. Boiled down, your anchor text should tell your audience a little about the link.
What is the difference between internal links, inbound links, and outbound links?
Internal links are a great way to guide users through your website pages.
These types of links stay within your site, never leaving it. They’ll direct users to other relevant content you provide on your site.
Internal links are great for organizing the information on your site so that users can get to it quickly and conveniently. It’s also a great way to guide users to information that’s similar to what they’re already reading.
Outbound links, on the other hand, are links that go from your website to another website.
Outbound links lead people away from your site. Use them when you want to site or recommend additional information from knowledgeable sources.
Inbound links are the opposite of outbound links. They’re links that lead to your site from someone else’s site.
They’re important because they act as a recommendation from another source that tells a completely different audience that your information is useful and trustworthy.
When a site has many inbound links, Google takes notice of this and ranks to site higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Link building for SEO is so important in Google’s eyes since your site is seen as trustworthy. In addition, when other sites link to yours, it creates an inbound link, also known as a backlink.
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Using all five of these link-building strategies will set you on a path for getting relevant and important links to your website and improving your site’s ranking, helping you get more valuable traffic for your business’s website.
Understanding how to build links for SEO will help build your website up as much as any type of content can.
What strategies do you use for link building? Let us know in the YouTube comments!
For more videos covering link building and SEO, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. See you next time!
Jessica is a Google Analytics certified Digital Video Analyst at WebFX. She has created over 100 videos for the WebFX YouTube channel (youtube.com/webfx) in the last two years. Jessica specializes in video marketing and also loves content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and many other aspects of digital marketing. When she’s not creating videos, Jessica enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and watching movies.
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