You may have heard about it: link building or the art of getting backlinks to your website. It’s everywhere, in each article about digital marketing strategy, yet you don’t fully understand what it is or why it’s so important.
They tell you to build links to your website, but they don’t explain why, what type of links, or even how. Let’s dissect the data so you can understand it.
What is link building and why it’s so important for your marketing strategy
As its name indicates, link building is the process of getting new links to your website from other sites. And that is why these links are called backlinks.
Links are one of the main factors considered by Google and other search engines to rank a website. The logic is simple: if many sites point at one, the latter must be good.
However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. It’s not enough to mine the internet with URLs to your homepage and Google knows that.
For example, placing a link in the comment section of a blog post about dental surgery to a fashion trends website shouldn’t be your strategy, especially when in the article there’s no mention about fashion at any time.
The means don’t justify the ends, they say, and it’s true. First, you’re annoying the readers of that article. Second, you’re not getting any value by doing that.
It’s the relevance what makes a link powerful, as well as the domain rate and the authority of the page. On top of that, they’re not only links what you should aim for but prospects that end up on your website and, hopefully, become customers.
The idea behind is making your site a place of relevant content and getting more authority. This is considered off-site optimization, as it happens outside of your website.
Start by doing a backlink analysis of your competitors
Before starting to place links like there’s no tomorrow, you should plan it first. You need to come up with a strategy.
And what better example than your competitors? As they have already taken the lead, you just need to follow them.
Find where in what websites they place their links and how they do it. Once you have understood the pattern, it’s time for you to fly solo.
But how to do a backlink analysis of your competitors?
There are many ways and some include specific tools such as AhRefs, Moz or Sistrix, but I will show you how to do it in an old-fashioned way.
Google or any other search engine will help you in this task. Type a keyword that defines your business. For example, accounting services. Soon you will get a list of all your competitors.
So now you know that they are also ranking for the same keyword. Try to scroll down, go to the second, third, fourth page until you get almost to a place where you feel you’ve seen opportunities to link.
Now try to come up with a variation of the keyword or getting a more specific one, for instance, online accounting or accounting for freelancers. You will soon see pages where your competitors might be linking from and so can you.
I recommend you to add the name of your competitors to those keywords, so you can also get more niche results.
There’s nothing older than yesterday’s newspaper, so I recommend you to search for link opportunities in the last year. You don’t want to be that annoying person commenting on a post from five years ago to promote your business – although rules are meant to be broken.
When searching on Google, right below the search bar, click on ‘Tools’, click on the drop-down menu ‘Any time’ and select ‘Past year’.
Now that you know what your competitors are doing and how to find link opportunities, it’s time to try yourself.
Find the right link placement and anchor text
When you start building links, and as I said, you must have a strategy. The goal is to bring SEO value to your website. So, where you put your link and the anchor text matter.
But what is an anchor text? It’s the clickable word you use to link or the keyword in a hyperlink. The best practice is to have the keyword you want to rank your website in the hyperlink.
You may not always have to the opportunity to hyperlink a specific word or set of words, but to put the URL. Yet, try to put your keyword next to it or close.
If you manage to have an anchor text, ideally use an exact match keyword. For instance, language school will be the exact match keyword, while an anchor text such as read more about our language school will be a partial match one.
Where you put your link in an article is also very important. Let’s say you get someone to write a review of your language school. In this case, there will be a difference if the link is in the footer, in a sidebar, or inside the content – preferably on the first paragraphs.
As the search engine of reference, Google will consider more likely that readers click on the link inside the content rather than those in sidebars, in the footer, or even in the comment section.
But hey, don’t underestimate the possibility of commenting on blogs to build links: finders keepers, losers weepers.
Focus on relevancy and avoid spam
Let’s be honest, nobody wants to get their blog full of comments like “check out my website”, and nobody wants to read them either.
That being said, you should aim for relevancy. Don’t ask anyone to write on their site about your product and link to your website. Do it when it makes sense.
Articles that talk about the top 10 e-commerce platforms for interior design are a good idea to link to your furniture online shop, but not a blog post about bakeries in Paris. Do you see what I’m talking about?
It’s important that both the site and the link work together. So, no matter if you get a link from a paid article or by commenting on it, make sure that it’s relevant for the reader.
Remember users came with an intention towards that article and a non-related link won’t make them click. This leads us to spam.
Many companies opt for tactics that move between the thin line between spam and black hat SEO (aka, bad practices that can be penalized by Google).
A link for the sake of it it’s basically spam. The author of the article doesn’t want, neither the readers. It will most likely end up being deleted as they create noise.
On top of that, Google is getting better at detecting this type of spammy links. Try to stay relevant but also to add – with your link – to what the article is about.
With regards to both, relevancy and spam, you need to pay attention to the other outbound links on that page. You should do this for two reasons.
The first one is whether Google will perceive that your link is relevant to the content of the page as in line with the other links.
The second reason has to do more with value. If the authority of the page is a cake, the number of links will be the portions in which is distributed. The more links you put to your website, the more you will divide its value.
Opt for link baiting by providing value to earn a link
Even though the term link baiting may sound fishy, or even scammy, like luring people to content they don’t want, it’s totally the opposite.
Link baiting is creating value so you can show others that your website is worth it to be visited. You are making the internet a better place where knowledge is shared and everyone learns from each other.
It’s been proved that link baiting is the most effective and more popular of the white hat strategies. Why? Because that’s what Google is about: offering content, knowledge, and value.
At the end of the day, it has more to do with content than link building. You are surely trying to get a link, but you’re also acting as a guest blogger. Therefore, you’re not building links but earning them.
Let’s say you make a comment on a very general blog post about Spanish politics. So, you come with up unique information about their political system, data from surveys, or even an infographic with the political parties and their proposals, you are creating an extra value that the blog post didn’t have.
People who read the article will enjoy your comment as you’re providing more content. The author will keep your link because you’re not deliberately putting a link but explaining that if one wants to know more they should visit your site.
Link baiting is about in-depth research and showing that you actually care about sharing knowledge with others.
Now that you know how to start doing link building – or link earning if you prefer – it’s time to research new places to get links from.
Do you need help with that? Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m sure we can find a link-building strategy tailored to your needs.