When I think of SEO, I imagine a road map connecting towns, cities, villages, and other destinations. Some of these connecting roads are freeways, carrying heavy traffic between major connections at speed. Others are quiet country roads taking people along more convoluted journeys. However, some routes are simply impassable and best avoided. Understanding how these road networks work is essential to reaching your journey’s objective.
Link building works on precisely the same principle as the road map. It provides a connecting point between your website and the internet’s primary “transportation” hubs, including search engines, major publishers, and niche interest sites. If you don’t build that link (road) network, you may find it challenging to become an online destination.
Link Building for SEO
Link building remains an essential component of any SEO strategy. Without any incoming links, referred to as backlinks in the SEO industry, your website cannot be reached, explored, and mapped by major search engines like Google. Therefore, you must build solid backlinks when launching any new website project.
However, just like that old roadmap, some of those routes that link to your website are better than others. And some may not only be impassable; they may actually prevent your site from being found.
Some Links Are Better Than Others
The best backlinks for SEO purposes come from sites with “high authority.” As the name suggests, high authority sites are considered more trustworthy by the major search engines and therefore carry more weight in terms of SEO influence. As such, backlinks from high-profile newspaper and magazine websites are more valuable than lesser-known blog sites. In addition, sites with .gov or .edu domain names also carry considerable authority.
There are several tools your SEO team can use to identify high-authority sites. Ideally, they should aim to generate backlinks from websites with a domain authority of 40/100 or higher. However, this doesn’t mean that linking to a site with a lower domain authority has no value, as it may still create a lot of direct traffic.
Relevancy Always Wins
As with virtually everything else in marketing, relevancy always wins the day. Google’s algorithm loves backlinks from high-authority sites featuring content relevant to your website. Moreover, there is evidence that backlinks from irrelevant pages may ultimately damage your rankings on the major search engines.
Google also prefers “natural” links. These are links that add value to the browser and have not been inserted solely for the purpose of SEO. On this point, when producing content, it should be written first and foremost for human engagement. Google can recognize overly optimized content for SEO purposes and punish it accordingly. It’s also worth remembering that search engines will never buy your products or services. Therefore, finding a balance between SEO and user-friendly content is always important.
Never Pay for Links
Paying for links is the SEO equivalent of buying an email list. So please don’t do it.
In the early days of SEO, buying links on sites, typically referred to as link farms, was a common practice. However, as the industry has evolved, this is now considered a hazardous strategy. Paid links and other “black hat” strategies like cloaking and keyword stuffing are now considered “spam” by the major search engines and may result in your site being removed from the rankings.
“Old School” SEO strategies are so dangerous that many modern SEO agencies have built significant businesses on the back of rectifying old practices.
How to Acquire Links
Acquiring links starts with producing website content that high authority sites find useful and want to share. If you are not creating relevant, engaging, and timely content on your website, you should start sooner rather than later.
It’s then a case of sharing this content as widely as possible. This starts with good old social media and email marketing. But it also includes personal outreach. Remember, link-building works both ways. It’s considered good practice (and good manners) to offer reciprocal links.
There is also considerable value in writing guest posts for sites that are relevant to your business. Your partner network is a great place to start offering this content. It’s also worth reaching out to your local media outlets and offering free, expert-led, non-salesy content. Remember, even the smallest of local newspapers has the potential to reach a global audience thanks to the internet.
Because link quality can make or break your SEO strategy, nobody wants outdated or broken links on their website. So another good outreach strategy is to locate obsolete or broken links on third-party content and offer fresh and engaging content as an alternative link.
The relevancy of your backlinks can be improved with careful use of your “anchor text.” This is the snippet of text your link is connected to. Relevant anchor text highlights precisely what your content is about to the search engines. It will also increase the chances of an individual reader clicking on your link. While you will have little control over your anchor text when a third-party high authority page links to you, you will be in complete control of any guest content you produce.
It’s also considered good practice to include at least one outbound link to relevant content sources. This is the online equivalent of providing an external source for your content. In an age of “fake news” and disinformation, this adds credibility to your pages and highlights your expertise. Google notices and appreciates this sign of credibility as much as your potential customers do.
Another great way to generate backlinks is to share high-quality infographics. Infographics enable you to share detailed thought leadership in a highly visible and easily consumed graphic format. Online publishers love sharing useful infographics and virtually guarantee widespread inclusion of your backlinks.
Don’t Forget Internal Links
Internal links are links to your own content. These links are important because they create relationships between your content and help search engines understand which pages on your site cover a similar subject matter. They also enable users to discover more of your content, improving the stickiness of your website. In this respect, you can think of your internal links as the grease between the cogs of your site, helping people discover and navigate your content with greater ease and efficiency.
Link building is just one element of a successful SEO strategy. To learn more about how the search experts at emfluence can help you improve your website’s visibility on the major search engines, contact us today at email@example.com.