In the realm of SEO, link building can be key to your success. Link building is one of the many factors that Google, and the other search engines, take into account when figuring out where to place you on the SERP.
According to Google themselves:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Link building is the process by which you get other websites, preferably high ranking websites with great authority, to link back to your website, thus bestowing upon you some link juice that bolsters your SEO campaign. Think of links as lifelines, the higher the quality of link, the stronger the lifeline.
Google’s ever changing complex algorithm favours websites with high quality links as they consider backlinks to be one of the determining factors for how to rank your website. These links signal to Google autobots that your website is worthy of being ranked high up on the list, because if high authority sites want to link to you, then you must be authoritative yourself.
Thus the more backlinks you can acquire, preferably high quality links, the higher you will find yourself in the search engine rankings.
How to determine a high quality link from a high quality website
Not all links are created equal, and that is due to the domain authority of each individual site that you link to.
Sites like Search Engine Journal or Neil Patel, for example, are the holy grail of links if you’re trying to make waves in the SEO sphere, because they feature on page one of the SERP. A startup digital marketing agency, by comparison, trying to establish a foothold will barely make a dent in your rankings.
But high quality links can be hard to come by. Which is why you have to box clever if you want your external link building strategies to work. Also, you will have to use third party software to figure out the quality of a link, because Google won’t tell you.
Some of the most popular link analysing sites include:
These tools work to establish the quality of a link using Moz’s Domain Authority tool. This tool determines the trust of each website by looking at both onsite and offsite SEO data, and assigns each website a score between 1-100.
Bear in mind that Domain Authority is not linked to google and it bears no resemblance on how a site is ranked in the SERP, it is more a convenient tool that should be used to assist your link building efforts only.
The other difficulty in determining a high quality link is defining what is ‘high quality’, as it is a subjective term that differs for every industry.
A few good rules of thumb to determine a high quality website include:
- High traffic
- Has editorial staff who review content before publishing
- Ranks for keywords in your industry niche
- Offers value to readers
- Considered an authority in your industry
- Relevant to your niche and your readership
Simple link building strategies that can work:
- Guest blogging or posting on relevant high authority sites in your industry.
- Create high quality content that other websites find appealing and benefits their audience too. If you create content that people will naturally want to reference and link to, you will find yourself much more appealing. However don’t expect high ranking websites to find your content overnight, ensure you SEO it and share it far and wide, promoting your content via your social channels, tagging anyone you think might find it useful. Create content such as:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Evergreen content
- Q&As with thought leaders in your industry
- Influencer marketing. Ask for help. Like anything in life, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. So bite the bullet and put yourself and your content in front of key influencers in your industry who might be able to get you the links you’re after. Send your content to them, or link to them via your social channels, try and start a conversation rather than just cold emailing or hitting them up out of the blue. No one likes to be ambushed by a complete stranger asking for a favour.
- Ask for referrals close to home. Use your own network to create links, people you know ie friends and family in your industry, business colleagues or others who are relevant. If you have a connection, leverage it and ask your network to link to your site from theirs. However remember that you are trying to build your authority here, so having a bunch of unrelated, seemingly random website linking to yours could look fishy in the eyes of Google, so try and stick with people within your own industry.
- Ask for relevant anchor text. The text that the website uses to link through to your website should be relevant and if possible, include the keywords that you want to rank for. For example, if your website is a digital marketing agency, having the link come from a keyword anchor text such as ‘SEO’ or ‘link building’ are natural choices that will help boost your ranking.
- Don’t ask them to link to your home page. When you’re building links, make sure the links are going somewhere relevant. It’s hard for search engines to rank your site accordingly if the link you get just goes to your home page.
Unfortunately most of these factors are out-with your control, so you also want to create high quality internal links too.
Internal links count as well
High quality links might seem like something you can only achieve from external websites, but linking internally, to help the search engine spiders navigate your website, will also work to your advantage. Plus you will have control over the keyword anchor text and the pages that you link to.
To get your pages to rank:
- Do your keyword research. Use tools such as Semrush or Ahref to figure out what keywords you want to rank for, and use them to guide your internal link building.
- Link your pages using keywords. Link your content on your various pages using the keywords that you want to rank for. Not only will this make your site easy to navigate for the search engine spiders, but it will also help your readers find their way around too.
- Use a sitemap for your website.