Behind only quality content, content is always king, high quality link building is arguably the most important SEO ranking factor. So it’s no surprise that companies and SEOs put a lot of effort into building backlinks. I stress the term high quality, because the majority of link building that goes on is not high quality in my opinion. So what exactly does link building entail?
Link building can be both technical SEO and content SEO. It usually involves public relations, partnerships, and communication. In simple terms, link building is the process of getting another website to link to your website. This can be done naturally or it can be done strategically.
Why is link building important?
Link building is important because one of the most important ranking factors that Google uses to determine how and where to rank your page in Google search results. Acquiring backlinks from authoritative domains can be very beneficial for your company.
For SEO purposes, search engines crawl two different types of backlinks. A dofollow link and a nofollow link. A dofollow link simply tells the search engine crawler to follow that link, whereas a nofollow link does the opposite. So if you’re receiving a backlink from another website, a dofollow link is preferred, since a nofollow may not be crawled at all, though Google has recently announced that using nofollow is now seen as a hint, not a directive.
Beyond just getting a link from a high-quality website, there are a lot of additional factors that Google is looking at to determine how high quality that link is. The links that appear in the body of content with related anchor text are some of the highest quality backlinks you can get. For instance, if a news outlet covers a story on your company and links to your web page with text that is related to your core business, that is seen as a high quality backlink.
Link building research
When crafting a link building strategy, research is one of the most important factors. You’ll want to know exactly what type of link building you’re going to be doing, what websites and blogs you’re going to be focusing on, how you’re going to reach out, and what you’re going to offer.
Link building is certainly not easy. If you’re asking someone to insert a link to your website you better have a good reason why they should do so.
Let’s look at some different types of Link building strategies.
Link Building Strategies
This is not an exhaustive list but rather some of the most common link building strategies.
Mentions – using a tool such as Mention to find all mentions of your brand name and then reaching out to that webmaster and asking if they will link to your website because it will be beneficial to their readers.this has a higher success rate since they are already talking about your brand name and are familiar with your company.
Lost backlinks – this technique involves using a tool such as SEMrush or ahrefs to find backlinks that you have lost, for whatever reason, reaching out to the particular website or blog owner and asking if they can add back the backlink. This has varying degrees of success because maybe they removed the link on their own or maybe the link was broken, which takes us to our next method.
Partnership building – This is the most common form of link building. General outreach to bloggers and webmasters in your industry. Just like any other outreach, its success depends on how targeted the outreach is, how enticing your offer is, how relevant your content is to their audience, and so on. NinjaOutreach and BuzzStream can be great tools for mass outreach, though I’ve always chosen to do it manually.
Since I’ve had pretty good success with this method in the past, I’m going to share with you some things that have worked well for me in the next section.
Broken links – this method is very tedious and has a lower success rate than the previous methods. For this method, you use a tool such as ScreamingFrog to crawl a website with related content and find broken links. Once you find a broken link that is linking out to a piece of content that is similar to a piece of content on your website, you reach out to the blog owner and ask him/her if they want to replace the broken link with your new link.
HARO – HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and provides writers with daily opportunities to be featured in high quality articles. Each day you receive an email with stories that reporters are working on and if you are an expert on any of the topics, you respond and have a chance to be featured in the article. This doesn’t always guarantee a backlink, but they usually make it clear whether or not they will link to you.
Guest posting – guest posting is one of the most common forms of backlinking and involves writing a guest post to be featured on another website. Within that guest post you will ideally link a few times to specific pages on your website. This is okay as long as you’re not paying to post the guest. Google has recently said selling paid links on blogs is against its webmaster guidelines.
Partnership Building Outreach Template
Here is an email template that has worked well for me in the past. One important thing to note is that you usually need to offer a link swap, or a way to drive traffic back to their website as well. Nobody wants to do anything for you for free. Before I include the template, lets talk about the steps that lead up to it.
- Build a spreadsheet of 5 target pages that you want to build link to and save it in Sheet 1
- On Sheet 2 (if doing manual outreach) build a list of target blogs and keep track of the URL, website name, DA, contact’s name, and contact’s email.
- Once you have that information, you can create a mail merge directly in Google Sheets.
My name is Derek, and I’m reaching out on behalf of [Your Company].
I wanted to see if you’d be interested in exploring ways we can collaborate on content sharing between your blog and [Your Company]. I’ve been reading [WEBSITE/BLOG] for some time and have noticed a lot of content overlap. I think we could benefit from driving our audiences back to relevant content where applicable.
Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further.
These are just a few link building strategies but the best strategy is always to create high-quality content and share it with an interested audience so that they will naturally build backlinks for you.
Derek is a digital marketer based in Boston, Massachusetts with almost a decade of hands-on SEO experience. He finds it meaningful, challenging, and exciting to develop, test, and implement new SEO strategies. When he’s not auditing websites and optimizing content he’s usually backpacking and exploring new cultures.