Taking on the SEO for your website is a big task. The to-do list includes everything from keyword-rich content to building a link network with other websites. Often, link-building is mentioned, but it is not always fully explained. What is link-building, and why is it so important? Let's dive into the interesting task of building a legitimate link network - including which techniques to use and which ones to avoid.
Why are links so important?
Link-building is how your website is established as a legitimate authority among other websites. There are two types of links that are important to SEO; on-site and off-site. On-site links are those where you link to other websites. This can increase the validity of facts and news that you share. Off-site links are those on other websites that link back to your website. This indicates that your site may be an important or trustworthy source of information used by others.
Link-building is the practice of cultivating more off-site links leading back to your website. However, a good network of on-site links to your pages and outside pages can also be healthy.
How does link building help with SEO?
Link building helps with your SEO by establishing "authority". An authority is a website that is more trusted, provides better information, gets more traffic, and has more qualifications than other websites. This is why you will see a Family Handyman article before a repair guide on a personal blog, or why some personal blogs outrank brand blogs - if their articles are more backlink-worthy.
How are links used by search engines?
Links are explored by search engine crawlers as they index and re-index the internet. A link on an outside website back to your website is one "authority" point in your favor. It can also help website crawlers discover your pages if they are new and not yet indexed so a rank can be assigned.
What is link building?
Link-building is the practice of creating more off-site links that lead back to your website. This can be done in a great many ways; some good, some bad. Black-had link building is a known problem and websites that use it are often swatted by Google's next algorithm update. White hat link-building tends to be mutual, useful, and transparent.
Good link building or white hat
Good link building usually comes from two sources: Great content and brand partnerships. Guest-posting, for example, was the first known and approved method to intentionally build your off-site links. White-hat link building means that your methods are focused on providing value, rather than simply getting your links out there. This includes affiliate links on one end of the spectrum and compellingly linkable infographics and data charts on the other end of good, white-hat link building.
Bad link building or black hat
Bad link building, or "black hat" methods don't offer value, just links. The first type of black hat link-building was purchasing a spot on link-list sites; web pages that were nothing but a list of links to create one "point" on the backlinks ranking system. As you can expect, Google swatted that method and it's been penalized for over a decade, now. Watch out for anything that resembles link buying or links that offer no value in the context where they are found.
What's a link building campaign?
A link-building campaign is often a marketing campaign based on partnerships. Affiliates, influencers, and partner-brands can all share links between each other's websites or one brand might make a "tour" style run with a sequence of partnership promotions. By being transparent in your campaign partnerships, it becomes legitimate to trade references and links between brands, websites, and audience followings.
Another of link-building campaign is a thought leadership content series shopped out to high-level content publishers. This is great for authority positioning, but with more finite content promoted to a more exclusive audience - better for B2B brands targeting decision-maker readers.
A third type is an infographic campaign, pushing to create linkable content with data that will be useful to link by other brands.
Qualities of a great link building campaign?
A great link-building campaign is one built with value-adding at its core. Why is your link present on another website? What value does clicking your link offer to the reader? Making sure these questions have an answer with every link you build is the key to a great link-building campaign. Brand partnerships and affiliates often offer the best avenue to create value as you go.
Each off-site link addresses a new audience, so consider the needs and interests specific to each of them. One might think of your brand from an automotive perspective, another from a parenting view. Every link should provide value to those most likely to read and click.
What's the process for getting started with a link building campaign?
Getting started on a link building campaign can be tough. Here's how to get started.
How do you find sites to link to?
When seeking link-building partners, think synergy. Buying links from big publishers is not cost-effective (and a little black-hat). Instead, reach out to brands your size and smaller, and to influencers on the rise. Consider which brands and audiences might find your product interesting, useful, and a nice addition to their existing content collection. Who can you offer thought leadership to? Who might host a few expert guides and how-tos? Then consider which kinds of brands you might host links from for your audience, in return.
Send a few hundred emails, the worst can happen is no answer at all. You're sure to find more than a few interested brands and influencers to link-build with. After all, they need links, too.
Who should you reach out to at those companies?
When you reach out, contact the head of their marketing team. White hat link-building campaigns are usually a team effort, both partners referring readers to the other. This means the other marketing team is also looking to build links, so will be the most receptive and able to respond to your offer.
Where can I get help with link building?
If link-building doesn't come naturally to you, you don't have to tackle it alone. Digital marketing experts like Eternal Works can help you with the design, outreach, and completion of your link-building campaigns.
Link building tips and key takeaways
What is the most important thing to remember about link-building? It's teamwork. Link-building is about building relationships with your partner brands and influencers. White-hat link building is almost always done in pairs or groups, where brands with synergistic business models work together, share an audience, and boost their respective SEO page rankings at the same time.
Schedule a call today to review your link-building status and begin planning your next link-building campaign.