One of the many activities involved when running a search engine optimisation campaign for a client, is link building. What does it mean, though? Let’s explain.
You may have heard of the phrase link building or backlinks or linking strategy, and you are wondering what it's all about. Perhaps you are thinking it is some fancy chain link fence thing; sadly, you’d be wrong.
What is link building?
Link building is creating what we call backlinks to your website. Let’s say you have a website about your range of novelty bowties. You have spent a lot of time creating great content on your website, and we’ve optimised the website well for both search engines and human readers.
Now comes the link building part of the SEO. So perhaps we find a website with a list of the best novelty bowtie manufacturers. We ask them nicely to add your website link on their list of links. They do, and now you have a link from that website to yours.
Why build backlinks?
Google sees a backlink like the above scenario, like a vote. The third party website wouldn’t link to your website, unless they thought your website was credible, interesting and they saw value in it.
This in turn tells Google that your novelty bowtie website is valuable, and they should display it in search results. Now let’s imagine you have a competitor which has pretty much an identical website. The only real difference form an SEO perspective is the amount of links.
Your website has 15 backlinks pointing to it, and theirs has 65 links pointing to it. Put simply, Google will consider their website more important and more popular than yours. Their job is to show the best websites to humans when they search for novelty bowties, so it is likely they will show your competitors bowtie website before yours.
This means they will likely get more visitors to their website, and sell more of their novelty bowties.
Not all backlinks are equal
That’s a very simple example, however. It gets way more complicated than that. Let’s say out of those 65 links they have, 30 of them are from irrelevant websites, say a gardening blog, a travel website in Africa and a bunch of links from some spammy looking pages.
Those links aren’t important as your link form the article about the best novelty bowties that we started this example with.
It gets even more specific. Say that some of the links anchor text (the words they use to link to your website) are phrases like bathroom supplies Adelaide or personal lawyer perth. That is, they are irrelevant to you, and have nothing to do with novelty bowties. These links are also considered less valuable in Google’s opinion.
How to build backlinks
As you can imagine, there are a plethora of different ways to build links
The main four methods of link building are;
These are the crème de la crème of links. This is when you have a resource on your website that some other website owner felt was so valuable they just added a link to your website, without you ever asking.
These are the best type of backlinks, because they take less work for you to do any form of outreach, and they look more natural. Let’s say you’ve written a guide to choosing Christmas bowties. I may link to it with the words ‘great guide to xmas bow ties’ and someone else may link ‘Article on festive bowties for Australian men’.
The best way to earn these backlinks, is to create unique resources, and fantastic content. For example, you could write a lengthy blog post on your business blog about the history of bow ties, or create a video series of people showing their favourite bow ties.
Ask yourself what sort of content would you link to? That’s a good start to get your creative juices going.
This is a popular method of backlink building. Guest posting is where you approach someone or some brand with a blog, and ask if you can write an article or blog post for them. In exchange, your ‘payment’ in a way is a backlink to a page of your choice, a great number of benefits of blogging exist.
Guest posts are a real win-win because the other website gets great content from an expert in bowties, and that gives them something interesting for their readers and website visitors to read.
For writing that guest blog post, you in turn get a backlink, which may bring some of their audience to your website, and also hopefully give your SEO a little boost by providing another quality backlink.
Related link building
This is where you find an article like the example at the start, and you approach the writer to include a link to your website. You can do this by searching ‘great bowtie websites’ on Google, and then clicking on each site, and if appropriate, hunting down the writers or website owner’s contact details, and approaching them.
Another method is approaching suppliers or customers and asking for a link. Say the fabric supplier you use for your bowties has a list of websites for retailers. Ask that you be included. Maybe you have a local blogger who wears your bowties; ask them for a review on their blog, or even just a link on their ‘Fashion websites I like’ page.
Although a very manual process, this tends to be on the easier end of the link building spectrum. Citation building is the process of making sure as many valuable business directories and sources have your correct contact details.
Tracking the results
The last step amongst all of this, is keeping track of the results in a file, or steady stream of reports. Maybe a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, to start with, showing when the links appeared, and their URL’s.
As you become more advanced with your link building tactics, you will want to start including the third party website domain authority and trust flow, etc. That’s a more advanced article for another time.
Wow, link building is a lot of work
Indeed, link building is a lot of manual work. Whilst there are plenty of offers out there ‘Submit to 900 directories for $3’, these tend to be spammy methods that can actually harm not help your SEO.
In an ideal world, you dedicate some time every month to link building, or engage a company such as ours, to do this for you as an ongoing commitment.
There is a very high chance that your competitors are already doing this, or may start doing this in the year ahead. You want to ensure you do a better job than that other novelty bowtie website.
Link building done effectively is a great method to improve your SEO, and help you get your website on page one of relevant searches.
It’s not a get rich quick system however, and requires ongoing manual effort.
Look to start your link building by focussing on the four areas of link building;
- Citation building
- Related link building
- Guest posting
- Earned links
Taking some time to address each of these, and tracking the results, will ensure your long term success. All the best of luck!