With 5.6 billion searches made through Google every day it’s easy to get lost in search engine results without a concrete SEO strategy. In order to thrive in this digital world, it is essential to understand and implement high quality campaigns that drive traffic—and sales—for the long term.

And it’s no secret that link building is the most important SEO skill to have under your belt if you want to rank higher in search results and increase your search engine traffic.

What is link building?

Link building is the process of acquiring links from other websites that direct traffic to your website, and is a critical tool in driving referral traffic and improving your site’s authority.

There are various techniques used to build links but one thing is for sure, if you can master the art of building high-quality links, you can put yourself leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

But why?

While Google’s algorithms are complex and ever evolving, there are two key reasons why links remain a critical factor in how search engines determine which sites rank for which keywords.

  1. Google discovers content by following links.
  2. With more high quality links to it, your site will rank higher in search results.

Links are a signal to Google that your site is an authoritative source worthy of ranking highly.

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Content is king

Before you start building links take a step back and make sure you have relevant, useful and valuable content. You don’t want to generate links only to have visitors bouncing away because they’re disappointed with the content—it will damage your ranking. Here are a few tips for free:

  • Create a content marketing strategy.
  • Write clever headlines that appeal to searchers and describe content to search engines.
  • Identify opportunities to improve user experience on your website.
  • Write great copy for your audience.
  • Use appealing images to illustrate content—a picture can speak a thousand words and be used for link building.
  • Keyword optimise content so it displays in relevant search results.
  • Checklists, cheat sheets, ebooks and resources can also be valuable SEO tactics.

The role of authority

The quality of a link is also determined by the linking domain’s sitewide authority. An authoritative link is one coming from a site that is trusted by its audience, visitors and Google, likely because they regularly publish high quality and verifiable content.

For example, a link from a mainstream news site will have a far better impact than from an unverified, unknown blogger.

Low quality links can be damaging to your website’s reputation when it comes to search engines and negatively impact your search engine rankings.

While authoritative links can be more difficult to attain, they are well worth the effort.

Types of link building

Essentially there are two types of links that you want to build:

  • Earned links Links where external sources opt to link to you of their own accord.
  • Created links Links you include in your content or bio when you have a guest blogging strategy.

Here are our tips for building some key links that will boost your SEO rating when done well.

Investing efforts into building internal links will help both visitors and search engines to navigate your website, find new content and discover how all your content is related.

There are two main methods for building an effective internal link structure:

  1. Including relevant internal links to your own content whenever publishing new content.
  2. Regularly update your older content by adding links to newer, relevant content.

Guest posting is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in the book—and it’s relatively simple. Essentially, guest posting is when you offer value to site owners by writing an article in exchange for a link back to your website.

It’s well worth investing the time to identify relevant and authoritative sites as you can soon establish a diverse and authoritative inbound link profile. To do this effectively, you must:

  • Identify relevant sites that accept guest posts
  • Pitch and create great content
  • Create a bio or profile that helps with link building and lead generation.

Be mindful of some red flags when guest posting as they can mark the link as spam and potentially negatively impact the authority and ranking of your website.

  • Someone is paid to publish the post
  • The site exists solely to publish guest posts
  • The site is unrelated to yours
  • The post contains exact match anchor text.

Building links through online mentions and reviews is possibly the best way to generate organic links to your website.

Putting your product, service or offering in front of relevant influencers or bloggers can generate an influx of traffic to your website from their respective audiences and followers.

Encourage reviews and make it easy for them to find, mention and link to your website in their content. Be sure to express gratitude for the mention and if they haven’t linked to your website already, politely ask if they can. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

On the flip side, you can be the one providing the review of a product or service you have recently purchased. Reviews take advantage of what links are designed to do: cite useful information, show credibility and demonstrate confidence in another site. If you provide another website with a positive review, chances are they will link to your website to show their potential customers who is providing the glowing recommendation.

Leverage the relationships you have been building over time by asking business partners and clients to provide links from their website or other digital content to your website.

Remember that relevance is crucial; links from sources within your niche or industry will be more favourable than those from unrelated sites.

If a customer expresses a positive experience ask them to share their feedback online and include a link to your site. Even if they don’t have a huge following, a link is still created. You can even reciprocate by sharing their post with your audience.

Online directories list businesses in a particular niche, category or location by providing a link to the business’ website. For example, if you own a restaurant and want to improve your chances of being found online based on your location, you can opt to list in local business directories. Or if you specialise in legal services, a niche directory will better serve your online presence.

Being listed in online directories can generate traffic to your website and the more organic traffic your website receives the more it signals to search engines that your site is relevant and useful.

Directory and business listings can be free or sometimes come at a cost. Either way, before you agree to list your business and website link, be sure that the source website holds authority.

Dofollow v Nofollow links

Links can also be categorised as:

  • Dofollow links pass link authority and SEO rank on to the website they are linking to.
  • Nofollow links are marked with HTML code indicating that the site owner doesn’t want to pass authority and rank to the website they are linking to.

When it comes to improving your SEO, you ideally want to build ‘dofollow’ links wherever possible as websites providing these pass on their authority.

Cheating is a no-no

Link building can take time but be patient—shortcuts can have detrimental results and negatively impact your long term SEO results. Google will reward you for earning links and not buying them with better search result ranking. Here are a few of our tips for what not to do.

  • Purchase links While a search engine can’t decipher earned vs. paid links by simply viewing the link itself, there are clues it uses to detect indicative patterns.
  • Exchange or reciprocate links While it is acceptable to exchange links with business partners and clients, it is unacceptable enter into such practices with those you have no affiliation with.
  • Low quality directory links A number of pay-for-placement web directories will attempt to legitimise themselves with varying degrees of success.

You are what you E.A.T.

Think of link building in terms of ‘you are what you eat’. If you can build links from websites that are deemed expert, authoritative and trustworthy, then chances are your website is going to see an influx of relevant traffic and better rankings in search results.

If you see the value in building links to improve your website’s SEO but need a little support getting started, contact our friendly team for an obligation free chat. We can assist you with anything from developing your SEO strategy through to implementing tactics that will generate you the results you want to see.

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