Is link building still relevant to SEO?
Before we get stuck into link-building strategies, let’s recap what they are and why they’re relevant. Link building belongs to what is often called off-page (or off-site) SEO: activities you do to boost your search engine ranking that aren’t directly to do with your website. So, not keyword research or optimizing your videos (though we have guides on how to do that as well).
Instead, link building is all about getting other websites to link back to yours – you may have heard of this as “creating backlinks.” The more websites link to yours, the more trustworthy and authoritative it appears to a search engine. And so, the higher you’re likely to rank in the SERPs (that’s search engine results pages, to you and me). The more advanced your link-building journey, the better – algorithms are ever-changing and now tend to focus on quality links, not quantity.
Ok, so you’re convinced. Great news! Now we’ll get down to the details and show you how to do some effective link building.
What are the most effective link-building strategies?
There are a trillion different link-building strategies out there, but not all of them will be effective. Here are five straightforward ideas to get you started.
1. Guest blogging
The oldest trick in the book of link building, but still one of the most effective. Guest blogging simply involves writing a post for a different blog – preferably one that’s high ranking. Do some research first to understand these blogs’ audience, tone of voice, and typical topics, then pitch your idea to them as an expert. If you can write a post for another site and link to your own (in your author bio, for example), you’ve instantly boosted your authority, reach, and the number of visitors.
2. Broken link building
We’re not talking about your own broken links (though you definitely need to fix these), but taking advantage of broken links on other websites. Say you write about coffee, and on a particular website you find an anchor text reading “Vietnamese coffee beans.” You click the link…and get a 404 error message. Now, if you just happen to have a post about Vietnamese coffee beans on your blog (or want to write one), you can contact the owner of this website and suggest they swap out the broken link. No one wants to link to non-existent content – you’ll be surprised how often they’ll say yes.
3. Make the most of social media
Though experts like BrightEdge suggest SEO is much more effective at driving traffic than social media (1000% more, in fact), you can use social media to work for your SEO. How? As a link-building strategy. Not only can you share your own content to boost your link profile, but you can also connect with brands and bloggers you admire – increasing your chances of a guest blogging slot or organic editorial backlink.
4. Use infographics
Infographics are super popular and a great link-building asset. Not only do they attract more viewers than standard blog posts (37.5% more, according to SEO expert Neil Patel), but they’re far more shareable. Reach out to related websites and ask if they want to share a link to your infographic. Or consider using paid promotion through a social media network like Facebook or LinkedIn.
5. Repurpose your content
Gaining natural editorial backlinks (that’s a link that’s not paid for or specifically placed by you) from high-authority sites is the ultimate goal of any link-building strategy. You can achieve the chances of this by making your content as widely useable and compelling as possible. Conducted a poll? Turn it into an infographic. Made a great infographic? Consider turning it into a short video. Repurposed content (especially the interactive kind) can also be syndicated or backlinked on content-sharing websites. This strategy is a bit more advanced, but worth investing in if you have the time.
How NOT to do link building
Finally, a quick word of warning for those who feel this might be all too much effort. Remember how we mentioned quality not quantity earlier? Yep, that’s because Google loves quality too. If you’re ever feeling tempted to just go purchase a whole load of backlinks, be aware that it’s an expensive and risky business, it’s against Google guidelines so you could get penalized. Equally, try to avoid link stuffing on forums, blogs, and so on. These links will often earn you nothing more than a “nofollow.”
Instead, try out a few of the simple link-building strategies above. It does take time and effort – you’ll not see your rankings soar overnight. However, in combination with other elements of your SEO strategy, getting quality backlinks is a very effective way of boosting your search engine ranking over the long term.