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Link building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. If you are doing it correctly, you can’t guarantee a specific return rate and the entire process can take quite a few hours to properly deploy. But off-site SEO, specifically link building is one of the best ways to improve your search rankings! So how can you stay ahead of the curve in link building? How can you build backlinks on your website? Backlink building strategies must constantly evolve as search engines make regular algorithm updates that change an SEO or digital marketers tactics. But that doesn’t mean you always have to play catch up. There are some foundational principles that translate well across the winds of change in the SEO world.
Follow along as we cover:
- What is link building?
- Types of link building strategies
- How to build quality backlinks on your website
Let's dive right into some of the most commonly asked questions about link building!
What is Link Building?
In simple terms, a backlink is an incoming link to your webpage. When one website links to another, that’s a backlink. According to Moz, having backlinks on your website helps search engines analyze popular web pages, but also the site’s trustworthiness and a page’s overall authority.
In most cases, trustworthy websites are going to link to other trustworthy websites Search engines, like Google, Bing or Yahoo, have fine-tuned their algorithms so they recognize a site’s growing link profile. Backlinks not only help a brand gain traction, but also attention from potential customers and traffic from search engines.
"Backlinks at their most basic function show search engines what resources are trustworthy and useful. If your article, infographic or web page has a lot of backlinks it generally means that other sites think it is a helpful and credible resource they want to share with their readers."
- Katrina Reger, Digital Marketing Strategist
Different Types of Link Signals Explained
Quality backlinks send link signals to search engines and are some of the most critical factors when it comes to ranking in search. SEO and digital marketing professionals are often left wondering how search engines assign value to backlinks. To be frank, we don’t fully understand the exact way search engines assign metrics to links, but we can look at some of the following factors to determine how it’s done. Here are a few ways search engines look at link signals:
- Anchor text. Know when you see a words on a page that is hyperlinked? That is referred to as anchor text. Anchor text is one of the strongest link signals that Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or other search engines use for ranking websites. If links point to a page that contain the right keywords or phrases, there’s a likely chance this page is going to rank for those words. For example, if a link simply says “click here”, a user doesn’t tell you where the link is sending you. If the phrase “Download Our Free Ebook Now”, the users are aware that link is directing them to download an ebook.
- Social sharing. In today’s day and age, most content is shared through social media platforms. While social links are viewed in a different way, search engines pay attention to them. However, backlinks are a more lasting way to affect your website’s ranking in search.
- Topic Specific. Many SEO professionals believe that receiving a backlink from a topic-specific, or industry relevant, community sends strong link signals to search engines. For example, if you sell tools, and a hardware store links to your website, that will send a stronger link signal to search engines than if a beauty parlor linked to your site.
Types of Link Building Strategies
Gaining quality backlinks on your website isn’t a cut and dry process. There are many ways to go about receiving quality links to your site. Here are a few of our favorites:
Outreach Link Building
Outreach link building is done by an SEO professional who personally reaches out to bloggers, works with another organization on a piece of content or submits their site to a directory. This method can take quite a bit of work, as with each person you contact, you must offer a value proposition on why backlinking to your website will be in their best interest.
Also called “natural” editorial links, this type of backlink is given by a person or another site who wants to link to your content or company pages. Backlinks like this don’t require action from an SEO, outside of them or members of their digital marketing team creating amazing content that people want to link!
While this type of link offers the least amount of “link juice,” they still have their value. Self-created backlinks are generated by blog comments, guest book signings or form signatures. However, many search engines will devalue this type of link and penalize sites that aggressively seek self-created backlinks. Often times, people look at these links as low-quality and spammy.
How to Build Quality Backlinks on Your Site
"Each backlink received from a reputable, relevant website is like a positive vote for your website in the eyes of search engines. I've seen quality backlinks work wonders in boosting the search rankings and traffic of many websites, and believe that acquiring them is one of the most powerful things that can be done for a website's SEO."
- Drew Harden, Blue Compass President
Now that we know what backlinks are and the main backlink strategies, it’s time to figure out how to build quality backlinks on your website. Realistically, building backlinks on your site is much easier said than done.
Produce Content That’s Valuable
While it may seem obvious, high-quality content is a very important piece of the backlinks puzzle. No matter if it’s webpage copy or a piece of content marketing, content plays a huge role in an organization’s SEO strategy (which includes backlinks). Creating content that’s unique, high quality and provides the user with the answer they’ve been looking for is more likely to get you a quality backlink than a piece of content that is incohesive or a sales pitch.
Guest posting on a blog can be a time-consuming way to build backlinks on your site, but very beneficial. If you’ve developed a relationship with a different organization, write a blog featuring them or see if they would feature you in their blog. By doing this, the other brand will likely link to you from their site and share your blog on their social media channels.
Scale Your Link Building Efforts
They say if you shoot for the moon, you’ll land in the stars. While this may sound like a great idea when building backlinks, it’s important to scale your efforts to match your capacity. The goal of link building is to get more people linking back to your site, but if you spend ninety percent of your time trying to get links and ten percent of your time producing content, then it’s unlikely that you’ll gain the quality backlinks for which you’ve been looking.
Also, are you spending time trying to get links where it’s valuable? Back to the tools example, if you’re posting on a discussion board where carpenters are discussing tools they use in their trade and one of them links to you, not only will this help your link signals, but it’s also relevant for other people who may look at that discussion board. This can help you get more links.
We touched on this earlier, but this may be one of the hardest ways to build links for your website. To get editorial backlinks, you must be able to provide immense value. Value can be provided by including charts, images or quality screenshots to solidify the points you make. Furthermore, you can link to blogs that have authority to offer readers more value. When you mention others in your article, send them a thank you email. This will help encourage them to link back to your content.
Need Help With Your Backlink Strategy?
Building up quality backlinks is no easy task and is a big part of an SEO strategy. We at Blue Compass are experts in the field of SEO, but we still need to devote hours of work to improving our strategies and acquiring quality backlinks. Because of these hours of research, our team are experts in many areas of digital marketing. Interested in learning what we can do for you and your digital presence? Reach out to us today!