Link building is one of the most important parts of any search engine optimization plan. Without links from trustworthy and diverse sources, it is difficult to rank well on search engine results pages.
But there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to building links. You could focus on writing great content that builds links naturally. Or, perhaps you could try guest blogging and email outreach to other sites. You may even decide to buy backlinks (big hint: don’t).
So how do you decide the best approach for your website? The answer is, of course, by trial and error. Because a strategy that works well on one website may perform poorly on another. You must be willing to learn rapidly, measure what’s working and what’s not, and change course when you need to.
But feat not! There are some techniques that you can use on almost any website. We’ve collected together some of the most successful link building ideas that you can start exploring today.
Link Building and Search Engine Optimization
You can think of SEO as being both content and link building. Both parts are of equal importance. Without great quality content, you’ll find it difficult to grow natural backlinks. And without relevant backlinks, you will not achieve a high rank on search results pages.
Great content, in the context of the web, is content that is shareable and linkable. It is content that not only answers a visitor’s query, but compels them to share it with others and link back. Infographics and original research are key examples that you might consider.
Linkable content is key to ranking well in Google and other search engines. This type of content naturally captures links over time. New links often lead to a stronger ranking. And a stronger ranking leads to more traffic, and so even more backlinks. A perfect feedback loop!
But it’s difficult to get content to enter such a perpetual growth machine. And even more difficult to maintain this over time. SEO is a competitive landscape and other websites will try to produce better content than you can. It’s for this reason that you need a clear link building strategy.
Types of Content That Drive Links
Certain types of content attract more links than other types. So you should aim to focus on creating content that will attract links from credible sources. If you spend your time writing non-evergreen blog posts, you will be unable to attract many links back to your website.
The most obvious way to attract links is with content marketing. This includes blog posts and ebooks, but you should focus on evergreen content – the type of content that is relevant for many years. Timely content, e.g. about current events, may attract attention in the short-term, but is unlikely to slowly attract links over time.
But content marketing is not the only tool you have. Publicity is another great example. A link from a news website is valuable for your site, since news websites are trusted and high-authority. Reach out to reporters in your industry with a compelling story, and they may link back to your business in their article.
Some websites and products can also generate link-worthy pages without any editorial effort. For example, a social network can generate a profile page for each member. Such pages are linkable, because they are relevant to a particular person or idea. And they are freely created through routine use of your product.
Should I Buy Backlinks?
Link building is a difficult and time-consuming task. It can take a long time to see good results. So it may be tempting to outsource or to buy links from other websites or ‘link building’ services. You may often see packages where you can buy X number of links for $x dollars.
While buying links may work in the short-term, it is a very bad idea. Google and other search engines routinely penalize sites that buy links. A penalty from a search engine will see your website fall rapidly on search results pages.
In fact, you should avoid using any dubious technique that could result in penalty action from Google. You’ll find such techniques called ‘black-hat link building’. Black-hat link building is doing anything that is designed to game a search engine, rather than best serve your visitors. It includes buying links, using PBNs and creating artificial link farms.
Natural links from a wide range of trustworthy sources is the best foundation of any link building strategy. It can take a long time to establish this level of authority, but it has a huge payoff in the end. So, avoid blackhat techniques, follow best practice and be extremely patient.
Link Building and Guest Blogging
Guest blogging can be a great way to build links back to your website. This is where you write content for related websites in your industry, for a similar audience to your one you are targeting. It can be a great way to drive traffic to your website and give your brand an online presence.
Links should not be your main goal when it comes to guest blogging. Like your own on-site content, you goal should be to write relevant and shareable content.
Most blog that accept guest posts will allow you to link back to your own website. Links to other relevant content on your site can be hugely valuable, both for readers and SEO. Since you are writing the content, you also control the narrative and can link from the most relevant keyword you are targeting.
To get started with guest blogging, list out the key blogs in your industry. You want to ensure that each blog is relevant and has good domain authority. Filter out a few blogs you wish to target. Approach each site owner with a detailed proposal for content, explaining how it benefits their audience.
Part of link building that is often overlooked is preservation. Once you’ve secured a link, you will want to keep that link for as long as possible. A long-term link cements the authority from one site to another.
But, links can become deleted or broken over time. A website may rework or combine content, which results in your link being removed, for example. It is a good idea to monitor your backlinks, and reach out when these issues arise. A polite email could be all it takes to get a link restored.
More commonly, links become broken because of changes you make on your own website. If you change your URLs, for example, your backlinks may now link to 404 pages. Although Google may still consider this a positive backlink, it is not a good user experience.
To avoid broken links, ensure you are correctly redirecting URLs as your site structure changes or as you rework content. If content has moved, you should ensure that your website returns a 301 Permanent Redirect. If content has been deleted, you should ensure it returns a 404 Not Found.