Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their site’s authority.
Why build links? Google’s algorithms are complex and always evolving, but backlinks remain an important factor in how every search engine determines which sites rank for which keywords. Building links is one of the many tactics used in search engine optimization (SEO) because links are a signal to Google that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation. Therefore, sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings.
There’s a right way and a wrong way, however, to build links to your site. If you care about the long-term viability of your site and business, you should only engage in natural linkbuilding, meaning, the process of earning links rather than buying them or otherwise achieving them through manipulative tactics (sometimes known as black-hat SEO, a practice that can get your site essentially banned from the search results).
That said, natural, organic link building is a difficult, time-consuming process. Not all links are created equal: A link from an authoratative website like the Wall Street Journal will have a greater impact on your rankings on the SERP than a link from a small or newly built website, but high-quality links are harder to come by.
This guide will teach you how to build quality links that improve your organic rankings without violating Google guidelines.
Remember, link building is imperative in achieving high organic search rankings.
Link building is important because it is a major factor in how Google ranks web pages. Google notes that:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Imagine that we own a site promoting wind turbine equipment that we sell. We’re competing with another wind turbine equipment manufacturer. One of the ranking factors Google will look at in determining how to rank our respective pages is link popularity.
While the above example provides a general visual understanding of why link building is important, it’s very basic. It omits key factors such as:
For a more in-depth explanation of how PageRank is calculated, read through these resources:
The most important concept to understand is that, as Google says, you’re more likely to have your content rank higher for keywords you’re targeting if you can get external websites to link to your pages.
There are a number of link building strategies used to get external websites to link to yours:
It can take a while to build a lot of links, but be patient, and remember that shortcuts like buying links are against Google’s guidelines and can be devastating for your SEO. Don’t take chances.
There’s an easy, underrated way to build links to the pages you’re attempting to improve search engine rankings for. And it’s a method you have total control over: Internal link building.
In attempting to get a Web page to rank, there are a few key factors to consider:
These are all elements we can’t control in attempting to get other sites to link to us. We can, however, control all of these elements in linking to our own pages from our own content. We can:
Building external links to your site is important, but in focusing more of your efforts on the optimization of these internal links you can build quality in-bound links with rich anchor text to the proper pages, which will provide you with an unparalelled ranking boost (for free!).
So how do you go about building these great internal links? Well, you can set up a system for interlinking your pages in a few easy steps:
The execution of the third item is key. You need to be sure that you’re linking to the right pages with the right anchor text. Here are a couple quick tips for carrying that out effectively:
This one’s pretty simple, and can be used for multiple purposes:
To do this, you simply need to map the keywords you’d like to target to the most logical pages. So, let’s say we have three pages to choose from:
Since the turbine rotors page definitely seems to be the best fit for our “wind turbine rotors” keyword, we’ll align that keyword with that page.
We can similarly match “wind turbine parts” and “wind turbine shaft” with the corresponding pages. In a spreadsheet, this might look something like this:
As you can see, each page is associated with mutiple keywords. By making this document available to all of your content writers, they can quickly see which pages are targeting which keywords; they can also instantly check your SEO wireframe to see which keywords have been targeted (with a simple ctrl F!).
Need more help with SEO? Check out our comprehensive SEO Basics guide.