It is a well-known fact in the field of SEO that link building is among the essential aspects of a successful SEO strategy. A closer look at the link building reveals that it involves a variety of different skills including sales, content creation, psychology, programming, and marketing.
If driving a lot of traffic to your site is one of your main goals, then it is crucial that you have a powerful link building strategy. In this article, we take a close look at what is a backlink and how to build quality links to your site in a way that maximizes the benefits while mitigating the associated risks.
Let’s dive in.
What is a backlink?
Also referred to as inbound or incoming links, backlinks are created when another site creates a link that points to your site. The process of getting backlinks is called link building. Links help users navigate between related web pages.
Some traditional ways of building links include link magnets, link bait, and link-buying.
Link magnets are aspects of your website that make others naturally want to link back to your site. Your site’s UI and UX can be link magnets. Link bait is highly valuable website content that other websites are naturally inclined to link to or reference even without being requested to do so. Examples of link bait are viral videos, evergreen guides, and in-depth research on a particular topic.
Simply put, link-buying is obtaining incoming links for money. According to Google, link-buying also includes activities such as offering services or goods in exchange of links.
Unnatural links are deliberately created, tracked, and paid for. They are monetized through monetization scripts, influencers, CPC campaigns, and affiliate programs. These links have tracking parameters and appear in sponsored/paid content. They are present in outbound redirects and a site’s code among other techniques that can be mapped.
What are the benefits of backlinks?
Backlinks should be adopted as they have significant benefits. Effective link building is a skill that every webmaster needs to learn if their site is going to achieve a good measure of success. Google considers high-quality backlinks when ranking pages. However, it’s crucial that you build non-spammy links to avoid being penalized and drawing the following benefits: develop a strong brand authority, steer referral traffic to your site, and improve brand recognition and exposure.
1. Develop a strong brand authority
When a popular or authoritative websites link to your site, it’s an indication to both Google and your online audience that they should pay attention to your brand. Backlinking to your website creates an association between the well-established site and your brand, an association that serves as a form of social proof. Backlinks improve your brand’s visibility and boost its profile in your industry or niche.
2. Steer referral traffic to your site
Search engines are not the only source of traffic to your site. You can also generate a large portion of all your site traffic from referral traffic; that is, traffic from inbound links. A good inbound link from a top site can drive traffic to your site for years. Moreover, referral traffic is highly targeted but, unlike paid search, you receive quality without huge CPC costs.
3. Improve brand recognition and exposure
Visible links in online content are easily identifiable. When a consumer repeatedly notices top online content linking to your site, they create a powerful association between your brand and content about that topic.
Even if a reader doesn’t click a link with your brand name anchor text, they will still register your brand name in their mind, which improves brand recognition and increases the likelihood of positive interactions with your brand.
What are the risks of backlinks?
Everything has two sides. Effective link building is not as simple as creating as many backlinks as possible. A poor backlink strategy can end up backfiring because of the following risks.
- Link farms. Building link popularity through link farms was an easy way to boost your SEO in the past. Nowadays, it can get you in deep trouble with search engines.
- Bad links. In addition to ruining visitors’ user experience, broken links also damage your SEO. Google’s web crawlers penalize pages with bad links.
- Spammy links. These links can cast an ugly shadow on your site’s entire backlink profile that has likely taken a long time to build. Steer clear of backlinks from irrelevant websites with ill-fitting, random anchor text.
How to identify quality links
The quality of backlinks varies greatly. Some offer many benefits like improving your SEO and referral traffic whereas some add no value and may even leave your site worse off. It is therefore imperative that you focus on building high-quality incoming links. The following are some of the most important identifiers of a good quality backlink: the source is relevant, the source is trustworthy, it is an in-content backlink, and it directs a lot of traffic.
1. The source is relevant
Search engines aim to steer users to the most relevant pages so evaluation of backlinks takes into account the relevance of the source. Google considers various levels of relevance including the relevance of the content in which the link is contained, the relevance of the page, and the relevance of the site with the backlink.
2. The source of trustworthy
Search engines and users give the highest value to links from sites that are most trustworthy. To establish the trustworthiness of a site, search engines use a variety of trusted seed sites such as The Huffington Post, Reuters, and Wikipedia. Links from these sites are given a higher TrustRank because it’s hard to get links from them.
3. It’s an in-content backlink
In-content backlinks are located in a block of text. Search engines give the highest value to these links, which are typically editorial. Links that an author includes early in a content piece are presumably the most important. Links appearing in content found in prominent areas of the page are considered to be of higher quality than those appearing in sidebar or footer content.
4. It directs a lot of traffic
This aspect of link building is often overlooked. Long before search engines used backlinks as a PageRank factor, the primary purpose of links was to direct traffic to the linked site. At their core, links should add value to webpage visitors by directing them to other pages with relevant content.
Tips to attract backlinks
Here are some essential tips for effective link building.
1. Generate powerful content to encourage natural backlinks
Your audience is likely to link back to your site when you create content that they find immensely valuable. Offer a fresh perspective, tease your audience, and share a firm but educated opinion on controversial topics. In addition to blog posts and infographics, consider creating landmarks such as whitepapers and comprehensive guides.
2. Identify tops sites in your industry
Identify popular and authoritative sites by searching them on Google and connecting with the content authors on social media sites. Blog directories that list the top sites in various industries are also useful.
3. Exercise caution when using reciprocal links
When using reciprocal links, it is imperative that they are contextually relevant. Make sure the links create value for your audience by linking them to high-quality resources. Also, keep in mind that this is a supplementary rather than the primary link building strategy.
4. Ask for keyword-based anchor text
Anchor text refers to the text in the link that is clickable. Monitor incoming links to your site and request the webmasters of the sites backlinking to your website for anchor text that matches your keywords.
5. Link building with social media
Link building through social media isn’t a new concept. But many fail to benefit from its full potential. it’s one of the most affordable link building strategies and can be valuable even though the connection is not apparent.
6. Guest post on relevant sites
If you write good content, there is no shortage of blogs that will publish your guest posts. The site you guest post on should be pertinent to your field or niche. Create compelling, professional, well-written content that adds value to readers.
7. Create a relationship with influencers in your field
Links from highly recognized personalities in your industry and niche can significantly boost your SEO and drive a lot of traffic to your brand. Successful brands develop a relationship with influencers by reaching out to them through email or social media.
What not to do
There are a number of mistakes that you need to avoid at all cost. Some of the common link building mistakes to avoid include the following:
- Spamming other webmasters for links: It hurts your reputation and reduces your chances of getting inbound links you deserve.
- Creating a network of sites for the sole purpose of linking back to each other. This is a sure way to attract penalties from Google.
- Purchasing links only aimed at improving your PageRank. Google discourages this in its guidelines.
- Reaching out to sites that not relevant to your industry or niche. This leads to high bounce rates on your page, which pushes your site down rankings.
Conclusion: link building feeds in your growth strategy
For your link building strategy to be effective, it is imperative that you should always target your link building strategy at directing fresh and inspired visitors to your site. A higher ranking on Google should be the incidental side effect. The healthiest way to think of link building is as a means of reaching out to other relevant, trustworthy websites to generate natural traffic from those sites.