Link building is one of the fundamental SEO ranking strategies, and perhaps the most difficult to implement. Here’s an overview for 2019.
If you’ve ever done any SEO work, the term link building probably makes you shudder.
Link building has been vital to success but mysterious in execution throughout the history of SEO. The backlink, as a type of citation, is one of the central ways search engines rank content. If many other pages link back to one page as a resource, it must be an authority and should rank.
In the early days of search, links were an effective way to rank content. The technology that evaluated the quality of links paved the way for Google’s dominance.
However, most marketers were (and are) just plain confused about how to get quality backlinks. In theory, you should get backlinks when you create a high-quality piece of content that earns citations.
But in reality, you can create that type of content only to have it languish in a Catch22 of obscurity. You need it to rank so it will earn backlinks but it doesn’t rank – because it doesn’t have any backlinks.
To earn links, you end up marketing your marketing material. Today the most common strategy is to develop a network of collegial (but not competitive) sites. You guest post for them (and perhaps they for you) with an agreement to allow backlinks.
In other words, link citations that result because your content is known, trusted, and authoritative are still rare. This is hardly surprising considering the sheer amount of content being produced today.
While your business might – in truth – just want to create a page that advertises your offer, you can’t expect that type of content to garner links. As a tactic, link building must be part of your informational marketing strategy.
Here’s a review of the three types of linking you need to know about.
Internal linking are links within your website domain that you have total control over.
For an example of internal linking, look up 4 paragraphs. When we link to the informational marketing page, we’re executing an internal link.
Internal linking does have an SEO impact. Here are the main points to consider:
- Use your keyword target in the hyperlink text, but don’t overuse exactly the same phrase. Mix up variations; use the phrase naturally in the context of the sentence.
- Create links with the user in mind. Help them find further information on important topics. Avoid creating links just for SEO.
- Create a hierarchy of pages where you link back to your main informational page for a particular topic. This tells search engines this is the most important page on your website pertaining to this topic.
These are links you earn and/or manufacture that have the biggest impact on your SEO.
External backlinks are about two things. First, you need to create content worthy of being cited. Excellent content is mandatory for this strategy.
Second, you must promote this content. You’ll need to make contacts and develop relationships with people willing to do reciprocal linking. You can also find many sites that accept guest blogs where you can embed a link.
External backlinks can have big impact on rankings. Here are the main points to consider:
- Have a plan and resources for creating high-quality content. Use professional writers and designers. If it’s not worth linking to, your content is missing the point.
- Use social media to make connections with influencers who might amplify your content. A great tactic is to mention them in the article then reach out them directly and ask them to share or create a link.
- Search for non-competing websites you can contact and propose a guest posting relationship. Likewise, write guest posts on authoritative publications like Forbes or Inc. (or those that relate to your industry).
There was a time in the recent past when you could buy links or add links to websites clusters (called link farms). This would allow you to generate a lot of links quickly.
This illegitimate practice (called blackhat) is now a serious mistake that can result in penalties that remove your entire domain from search results.
Another blackhat technique is spam emails that attempt to garner as many connections for linking as possible.
Blackhat tactics are ineffective because link building today has almost nothing to do with quantity.
Search engines look for authentic citations from authoritative sites. One such link is more valuable than 100 blackhat links.
Don’t engage in blackhat linking. Consider:
- Linking is about quality rather than quantity. In fact, a large number of low-quality links will hurt your SEO.
- Solicitations from link building services are often blackhat. If they promise you a lot of links fast, avoid them.
- Linkbuilding is difficult and time-consuming. You’re better off not being proactive about links if you’re looking for shortcuts.
Keep that last point in mind. Getting backlinks takes time, effort, and long-term commitment. If you’re trying to rank a new piece of content for a competitive keyword phrase, you’ll need to secure several high-quality backlinks.
In some cases, your best bet is to simply create the best content you can, then promote it without spamming people. In time, you may catch the important links needed to land you on page one of search results.