The Definition of Link Building
What is “Link building”? Link building is an SEO term for the process of getting other websites to link to a page from your own website in order to earn a higher spot on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Search engines give preference to quality over quantity, it’s more important to get a few quality links than dozens of poorer ones. The key to getting authoritative sites to link to your site or blog is to consistently produce relevant, top-notch content that naturally lends itself to being shared, commented on, linked to, and shared.
Why Are These Links Valuable?
It’s all about relationships. When Google sees your content is linked on pages across the web, the search engine recognizes that your brand deserves more respect. That translates to a higher rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, it isn’t the number of links the bots find that’s most important, but rather the value of the links. Having your content shared in a post with just two or three views won’t generate as much buzz as connecting with a website that consistently has hundreds, preferably thousands, of views from unique visitors every month.
Let’s say you’re running a business that sells lamps and lighting. You’ll get noticed faster, and rank higher, by building a relationship with someone like Ardy Zara — who has more than 111 million in sales on his Amazon sales.
Building Relationships, One Link at a Time
While linking to very popular sites won’t automatically vault you to the top of the search page, it will help because a good webmaster (the person who manages site content) always checks out the people who are driving traffic to his or her site. If one of these webmasters comes to check you out and finds relevant, superior content that would benefit their readers, they will probably ask if they can repost your articles. If they find that you have relationships with other influencers in a common market or industry, they may even ask if you’d be willing to allow them to write a guest post. Score! That’s a win-win for both of you.
Building these online connections isn’t difficult, but like every lasting relationship, it takes time and thought. To get the most of that investment, focus on linking from your site to other websites that have a natural relevance. In other words, a cookware company who links to a blogger who consistently posts healthy recipes makes sense, whereas a cookware company linking to a government agency that monitors seismic activity doesn’t.
How to Get Started
Make a list of 10-20 influencers you think would make great link partners. Not sure how to get started? Use free tools like BuzzSumo, which helps you “find key influencers to promote your content,” Followerwonk, which helps you find influencers on Twitter, or Traackr, which is an influencer marketing platform.
Here are some other ideas to start the conversation:
- Introduce yourself or join existing conversations in forums.
- Comment on blog or social media posts — Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and YouTube.
- Include links in your content to popular experts.
- Ask for permission to repost all or part of a stellar article on your own site.
- Reach out to bloggers, inviting them to write a guest post or review your offerings.
- Send a brief email to other webmasters with excerpts showing why you think their readers would enjoy your content.
- Build out your online business directory listings to inspire browsers to visit your website for more information.
- Whether you use one of the above suggestions or all of them, remember to add only the links that add value for your readers. Keep in mind that the text you hyperlink is important, too. To get the most out of your backlinks, include your top keywords for the article or page. For example, don’t link to general phrasing like “read more.” Instead, link to keyword-rich phrases.
Don’t Forget the High-Quality Content
Now that you know what link building is and why you should use it, remember that success depends on high-quality, relevant content. Period.
In fact, you can work until the cows come home, but you’ll never build long-lasting relationships or rank at the top of the search engine results unless your website content is extraordinary. In the same way that you cannot gain and keep online customers unless your web hosting service delivers 99.9% uptime, you cannot sustain quality, traffic-driving relationships unless your quality content excites and resonates with audiences.
As Moz.com puts it, “All link building campaigns must start with something worth linking to.”