The Importance of Backlinks in Your SEO Campaign
The SEO landscape is ever changing, but link building will always be an important aspect. Today, it’s more important than ever to build a high quality link profile for your website. Links are one of Google’s go-to signals when it tries to determine the relevancy of a website. It is one of Google’s top 3 ranking factors, as they have announced it publicly about a year ago.
Link building is a complex art form, but here, we’re looking to make it as simple as possible and break it down to digestible bites that will help you grasp a much clearer picture. The practice itself, involves many different skills, such as content creation, programming, sales, psychology, marketing, only to name a few. Most people can run high quality campaigns, if they learn through the right materials. Building your link profile is a long, time consuming process, but the payoff is very much worth it. So, if you’re ready to learn, then let’s get down to it!
What Exactly is Link Building?
Link building is the process of linking other relevant websites to your own, through hyperlinks. As you probably already noticed during your browsing sessions, links are what you and search engines use to navigate between individual webpages on a website.
Acquiring links for your website can be done with many different techniques that vary in difficulty. But their importance in a SEO and online marketing strategy is undisputed. In fact, the job of most SEO experts revolves around the link building process. It is the hardest and most time-consuming part of their jobs, so it’s not something to take lightly. Through it, you can put your website way in front of the competition and have it achieve your goals.
The Use Of Links
As I mentioned, a search engine uses links to navigate between webpages and discover new ones. It also uses them to rank the importance of webpages, which is why we care so much about them. Through links, search engines crawl the web and extract the content on them and add it to their indexes and then determine the site’s quality. They check if it can be ranked to relevant keywords that users search for. In reality, when you’re searching for something on the web, you’re not actually searching on the web. You’re searching in Google’s index of the web, but it’s only as much as it can find.
If you want to know the weight of an average human, then you just type it into the search bar. Once you hit enter, Google will run through its indexes and find the hundreds of thousands of pages that include the targeted keywords. Once it has this large batch of website, Google determines which page to put up front by asking questions. It’s kind of like a job interview for webpages.
It asks, “How many times does the page include the keywords?”, “Are the keywords in the title?” “Does it have any images?”, “Is it a well-built or a poorly built website”? And about two hundred more questions. Depending on what answers it gets, Google will give it a rank.
Within this process, links are used as signals that are like votes of confidence and trust for a webpage. They are given by other people who trust the website enough to link it to theirs, which is one of the most relevant signals they can look at if you think about it. But since SEOs have cleverly manipulated search engines and linked their website to thousands of other non-relevant ones, Google had to improve its algorithm.
Google doesn’t care that much about the number of links a website has and looks at the link quality instead. In fact, if you’re linking to too many websites that are non-relevant to yours, you’re risking a penalty. Google’s focus on quality is getting more sophisticated every year, so investing time into getting high quality links is the best option for anyone who’s looking to do SEO on their website. The authority of the website you’re linking to matters more than almost any other ranking factor.
We don’t know the algorithm Google uses and the variables it takes into account. A lot of SEO is a guess game, but one thing is for sure, links still play a major role in the algorithm. So, at the end of the day we do know enough to make our SEO efforts better and more efficient.
Links are Not Equal
Links are not equal the same way as some individuals are not equal within a company. The secretary’s role isn’t equal to the director’s role, while others rank lower on the chain. If a website has a large following and a solid backlink profile, it means that it represents the interest of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. While a blog that just started out doesn’t have such a huge followership, thus it gives less valuable links. The core differentiating factor between the values of links is based on a website’s authority.
What’s The ROI of Link Building?
As I already said it earlier, links are among the top 3 signals that search engines take into account when ranking a website. So, the more high quality websites and links point to your website, the more likely it is that it will rank well. But link building also has a lot of other returns in the process that pay off faster than your page rank.
If a website points to one of your pages in an article, the chances of their readers visiting your site is pretty good. A good link from a website with plenty of regular visitors, than you’ll instantly get a dose of interested visitors to your website. With more traffic on your site, the chances of you making a sale and having your website achieve its goals is higher.
Outreach and Relationships
Building your link profile, requires you to reach out to many websites in your industry and ask them if they would like to cooperate with you. Even if we don’t look at it from a link building perspective, connecting with others in your industry is a highly valuable effort. Building such relationships are incredibly beneficial for your business and can help you gain more clients and partners in the long term.
Building Your Brand
Brand building is important if you want to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Many on the most valuable link building techniques are also awesome for brand building. Content creation for example will help you establish a truly solid brand image and have your target audience come back for more. By publishing valuable data, you’re increasing the chances of your company becoming well-known in your industry.
The Kind Of Links Should Attract
There are two common types of links that you’ll want to attract to your site; editorial links (natural links) and outreach links. Editorial links are mostly provided for the quality of content you have, while outreach link building requires you to send emails and reach out to other webmasters. There are numerous techniques to do both. Just remember that it’s always quality above quantity when it comes to link building.
Editorial links are every SEO’s dream, because you don’t have to ask anyone to give them to you, they just come naturally. Website owners give them to you, because they are using your awesome content as a resource. You’ll eventually have influential bloggers and website owners linking to a high quality and sophisticated content piece that they found very useful. So, the best way to get editorial links is to take your time and create highly valuable content.
A lot of SEOs do outreach link-building. It is one of the most common forms of link-building efforts. SEOs search for other websites within the particular niche and send emails to the site owners. They ask them for a link. Sometimes website owners give links for free, for a guest blog or for money in some cases, even though Google seeks to shut down any paid link building schemes. In short, contacting people who are relevant in your industry and have websites is a solid way get your sites some highly valuable links.
A good way to combine these two methods is through guest posting. If you have good content on your site and ask another authority site owner whether you could write a guest post for them, there’s a good chance you’ll get a valuable backlink.
The Kind Of Links You Don’t Want on Your Site
There are a bunch of bad ways to do SEO. Those are called black hat SEO techniques that might boost your ranking for a short term but will end up getting you penalized one way or another. These techniques aim to fool a search engine into thinking that your website and content piece is actually relevant. Google is constantly hunting for websites that use such practices and strike them down every time. So the type of links you don’t want to use are:
- Embeddable widgets
- Infographic embeds
- User profile pages
- Forum signatures
- Not moderated blog comments
- Hidden texts
In short, you avoid any links that are not editorially given and any link building techniques that seem shady.
Common Link Building Strategies
Here are some of the most common link building strategies that SEOs use. They are all based on some pretty simple concepts.
Content Marketing and Guest Blogging
As I said, high-quality content attracts the most links. If you have some valuable data you want to share or a unique angle from which you would like to approach a topic, the chances are high that you’ll create some valuable content.
You can either create:
- Tutorial Videos
- How-To guides
- High Quality Photos
- Data Visualizations
- Audio Logs
- A podcast
Having valuable content in any of these forms has a great chance to make your site popular eventually and earn you some well-deserved backlinks.
Guest blogging is one of the ways to enforce this way of link building. It’s the process of reaching out to site owners and asking them whether you can write them one of your awesome posts in exchange for a backlink. Guest blogging is becoming a more common link building tactic. Though it shouldn’t be used only as a means of gaining a backlink, because Google might strike you down if they think that you’re spamming. But if you create awesome content, than most reputable website will gladly accept a guest blog.
Getting Your Customers To Link To You
If you have good friends, people you always work with and loyal customers who love your company, they can help you develop your backlink profile. They can either write testimonials with a link to your site or you can send graphic icons that they can use to link back to your website. It’s the same as having customers or employees wearing your branded T-shirt.
Create Content That Inspires Sharing
I cannot stress the fact that valuable content is one of the main ways to get people’s attention and backlinks. If you have produced something good, people will naturally want to share it and feature it on their websites.
There you have it. An accurate description on the main concepts of link building and how it’s done. There are numerous strategies that you can leverage to build a more solid backlink profile, all of which we wrote about in a previous article. You should check that one out too!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading through this long explanation and that we’ll see you again soon!