The years may pass, but the blueprint for off-site SEO strategy remains the same: link building matters. Effective link building strategies have always been vital to improving keyword rankings. But as Google becomes even more particular in evaluating the quality of the links to our websites, earning links the right way is even more important this year.
Expert content marketers don’t sit around and wait for other webmasters to shower them with quality links; they do the hard work of constantly pitching amazing content. There is always room to make progress with link building for your own site, and you should head into the new year with a robust link building plan.
A smart approach to link building will incorporate multiple approaches to earn new links. But the foundation of all smart link building—and all profitable SEO strategy—begins with fresh, original content.
Link building is the process of earning links on other websites in order to improve your site authority. Links are like votes of confidence and trust. The more backlinks you have to your website, the more likely Google is to see your web pages as authoritative and trustworthy.
The below infographic explains the process of link building with more detail.
You can try to work your way to valuable links without decent content or research. But the best way to get high-quality links with minimal pain, and to earn a lot of links that are more relevant to your goals, is just what your mom always told you: Do your homework.
Great content won’t land if it’s aimed at the wrong target audience. Prior to seeking out backlinks, you need to understand not only what, but who matters to the success of your website. Who are your ideal users? What keywords do they use? Who makes up your target market? Lastly, how can you ensure that of all the web pages a SERP might present to them, they are compelled to choose yours?
Once you understand your target audience, you’ll have a good idea of what other relevant websites they consider to be quality content. This will not only teach you who your competitors are, it will introduce you to potential allies—major publications, bloggers, and site owners with niche, industry-specific focuses—many of which might be seeking new content like guest posts, blog posts, infographics, or new links in existing content.
To earn backlinks from other websites, you’ll need to have valuable, high-quality content that lives permanently on your own website. Amazing content on your site matters for more reasons beyond link-building. Smart use of keywords and keyword phrases is good for SEO. All of this adds up to being considered a trustworthy site in the eye’s of the right people and in the all-seeing eye of Google.
Don’t have the content you need on your site yet? Then your website won’t be ready for link building until that content is created. High-quality content is engaging, informative, and contextually relevant. Google knows when backlinks seem artificial and misplaced, therefore the best link-building tactics will always prioritize providing useful links to site visitors.
Here are some content development ideas to get you started:
Keep in mind that your link building process will be easier when you have a strong seo content strategy in place. Make things easier on yourself by building an arsenal of content assets that you can be constantly promoting in your link building outreach. If you find yourself using the same web pages on your website for link building over and over again, other webmasters may not see your content as valuable to their audience
These link building strategies are considered the “best” for a few reasons.
First, they do link building the right way: By using original content to earn links. Second, they are all Google-compliant strategies, meaning Google will see the link building as organic and not spammy. Lastly, they bring value to all parties involved: Your own domain, the linking webmaster, and your shared target audience.
Guest blogging is by far one of the best link building strategies available to webmasters. With guest blogging, the relationship between you and the other site is made explicit. The other site welcomes you as a guest blogger, often posting a writer’s bio for you or prefacing your post with an explanation to its readers. Guest posts are typically unpaid, and writing a guest post will usually mean working with your target site from the get-go.
To start earning guest blogging links, pitch sites that have “write for us” invitations on their blogs or websites. However, you can also pitch sites that don’t. You might be surprised how many other site owners and publishers are looking for great content and are open to offer link building opportunities to other webmasters.
Once you’ve published some guest posts, you can use your existing work to demonstrate your potential. A previous guest post for a similar site will reassure a webmaster that you’re an authority when it comes to offering valuable content.
Link building and public relations go hand-in-hand. Promoting your content assets to local journalists, writers, and publishers through manual outreach is another easy way to get links. If you create engaging content that provides value to users, journalists may want to include it in their coverage!
You can also use public relations strategies to offer your industry expertise to journalists or writers looking for expert insights or analysis. If you don’t yet have a public relations manager or team, sign up for HARO. Writers specifically use this tool to seek out experts looking to weigh-in. With daily emails to your inbox based on your industry, connecting with journalists and writers couldn’t be more simple.
There are also SEO agencies that offer HARO link building and will handle all pitches and outreach for you. It’s a very effective way to get links from authoritative websites that are otherwise hard to acquire.
Creating and distributing press releases throughout the year that announce any major product launches, company updates, or recognitions can also help you earn valuable links!
For local and small businesses, getting your site listed across local and online directories is one of the easiest (and most affordable!) ways to start earning links to your website. Also, Google looks for consistent information across these local citations when determining whether to rank your web pages in the Google Map Pack and other location-based searches.
Getting your website listed across a network of directories through a local SEO service is the best way to do this quickly and efficiently. However you should also make sure your claim your local business citations on these popular sites:
“Broken link” link building is a somewhat niche, but very effective strategy. It involves offering resources to “fix” broken links on other sites.
Webmasters don’t want broken links on their sites, of course, but things change on the internet. A link that once went to a helpful resource can become broken when that resource disappears or changes its URL.
That can create an opportunity for you, provided the resource is relevant to your niche. You can point out the broken link to the site’s webmaster and can helpfully offer a similar resource that is hosted on your own site.
The tricky part is finding broken links, but there are link building tools that make this easier, including the Backlink Analyzer in your SearchAtlas dashboard. If you’re interesting in learning more about the broken link building strategy, here’s a tutorial video with some helpful insights.
The oldest content marketing strategy is word of mouth. In the internet age, word of mouth lives online. Having a presence on message boards and social sites is an easy way to build your business’ reputation, and it can also help you build high-quality links.
One great way to build links on message boards is to answer questions and help people. Link to relevant resources on your own website as you reply to the people who need your help. Be aware that some message boards have rules about promoting businesses and websites. The goal here is to be helpful and earn some quality traffic, not to spam links in comment sections or message board threads.
For some websites, users aren’t just the customers — they’re the creators. That’s certainly true of social media sites (which we’ll discuss at more length in a moment), and it’s also true of sites like YouTube and Pinterest and other internet forums. Take advantage of these sites. Create content and post photos, writing, and videos — and ensure that they lead back to your site by using the proper tags and, where permitted, links. Post your products on sites like Product Hunt and maintain a social media presence.
Social media sites do plenty of good for businesses by allowing them to keep in contact with customers and monitor feedback. But to make proper use of social media, don’t just post blindly. Develop content that is relevant to your site visitors by using strategies similar to those you apply to creating offsite and onsite content.
Focus on timeliness in particular: In the world of social shares and tweets, attention is fleeting. But fortunately, social media sites provide tools that will help you stay on top of what is timely. Look for trending hashtags and try to create posts that are of-the-moment.
Most of these sorts of sites have not been central to link-building strategies in the past, because the links gained (if any) are generally “nofollow” links. However, not all links on these websites are nofollow links, and the users who see your posts on those sites may find them helpful and choose to share them to their own network.
You never know what will lead to a link, but the first step is getting someone else who finds your content valuable. So the more eyes on your content, the better.
There are now awards programs for almost every industry out there. There are awards for products, services, workplace culture, sustainable initiatives, local businesses, and more! Winning awards has so many benefits beyond links back to your website. They are assets that you can utilize in your own branding and marketing in the long-term.
Not sure where to start? Here are some great multi-industry awards programs that you can consider applying for to strengthen your own employer brand:
Sharing your expertise offline can still have a major impact on your digital growth efforts online. Being a speaker at a conference or event often comes with a bio, mention, and link back to your website on that conference’s website or promotional materials.
Getting the opportunity to speak at a conference isn’t a walk in the park. It requires industry expertise, strong brand presence, and a well-crafted speaker application. If you are just starting out, look for smaller or more local events that are in greater need of industry speakers. Then as you earn more speaker slots, you can aim for bigger and better opportunities.
Using your time to do unpaid work like this within your niche can generate more than just good press and networking opportunities — it can also generate more relevant links, social media mentions and visibility, as well as recorded conference talks that are shared and distributed to multiple audiences.
To get started, look into the major conferences and events in your industry and start putting some strong conference pitches together.
There are more podcasts than ever before, meaning lots of podcasts hosts who are looking for guests to feature on their shows.
Reach out to those podcasters who are looking for industry experts or voices. Often, they will include a guest bio and sometimes even a link to your website in their episode descriptions or show pages.
Doing the right thing is often rewarded. Just as businesses that sponsor local little league teams often get their logos printed on uniforms, there are ways in which donating money and time can advance your link-building goals.
Simply donating money is often enough: Many charities and other organizations link to their donors on their webpages. Volunteering and donating can also lead to good press, which may include links to your site from newspaper websites and news blogs.
Finding opportunities to put these strategies into practice has never been easier. Use search engines, including charity-specific ones like GreatNonprofits.org, to track down opportunities. Local businesses should focus first on location, and all businesses should keep their reputations and target demographics in mind. Choose worthy causes that will be popular with your customer base.
Link swaps are generally looked down upon by Google and are considered more of a “grey-hat” strategy. However, there are other ways you can work with other brands in your industry for cross-promotional opportunities. Guest blog swaps, social media collaborations, and even influencer partnerships can all lead to links as well as general brand building. Think about the value that you can bring to other brands, and do your best to leverage those strengths in your own outreach efforts.
Perhaps the simplest of all link-building strategies, turning mentions into links involves doing something pretty simple: Asking for a link. But in this case, though, you’ll be asking people who already respect your website.
Use search engines to find mentions of your company, organization, or website and check to make sure that mentions by writers or bloggers include links to your website. If they don’t, send a polite email requesting that they be linked. See what happens! Sometimes, this simple outreach can turn into a more robust partnership.
Make no mistake: You have your work cut out for you.
Link building takes patience it takes, resources, and time. But high-quality, contextually relevant links will do wonders for your improving your site authority and your keyword rankings overall. If you keep at it, you can build a stronger link base for your website and gain an edge in what is arguably the single most important area of SEO.
In the long term, you’ll know that your link building efforts were worth it. However, we understand that not all brands have the resources or in-house team to be actively pursuing link building. Working with a reputable agency like LinkGraph to outsource your link building can help you focus on other areas of your business. If you’re in need of link building services, reach out to our team!
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