The Internet has trillions of links. They are running constantly, connecting sites and people to websites that provide information, products, and services each user is seeking. Also known as “hyperlinks,” links are clickable sections of text on a web page that redirect a person to another webpage.
Links can also be in the form of an image or button. Which sites link to you (and how they link to you) are important factors that can increase website traffic and search engine rankings. Building quality links has the potential to increase your bottom line.
The Emergence of Google and PageRank
In the early years of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keyword usage became the simplest and quickest way to rank a website. SEO practitioners relied heavily on keywords. They were unnaturally placed all over content in an attempt to increase ranking. At first, it was successful. It’s now been identified as a redundant and dishonest technique known as keyword stuffing. This “black hat” SEO approach was able to rank keyword phrases though the page didn’t have quality information.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s partnership led to the development of Google in 1996. PageRank (developed and named after Page) became Google’s earliest ranking algorithm. Its primary purpose was to use links between webpage as a signal for ranking. According to the archived “About page” in Google:
“PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.”
However, the PageRank patent document may be too technical for most readers. Instead of focusing on its technicalities, we should turn our attention to how this algorithm evaluates each link. Then, we can build them effectively and avoid penalties from Google.
Why Build Links
Links are critical to every website’s existence. They are essential aspects of SEO, marketing, building relationships, and developing your target market. There are two important reasons why we should be concerned with using links:
- Links are primarily used for online navigation. They direct users from one web page to another. High-quality links are a signal to Google (and other search engines) of trust, relevance, and authority.
- Search engines (like Google, Bing, and Yahoo) regard links as a “sign of confidence” from one website to another.
Organic searches are a major factor for website traffic. Optimizing your website for search helps improves SEO performance.
How to Build Links and Increase Ranking
Marketers must learn about link creation and how to build them strategically. However, links should point to a web page with valuable information (important industry information or something that’s useful to the reader/searcher) to make it worth a backlink.
Each new year, it is time to evaluate and update SEO techniques and marketing techniques. As business owners, we want to equip our campaign with the latest knowledge and algorithm changes. By doing so, we’ll boost our clicks and conversions and increase profits.
Here’s how to create lasting, quality links:
- Use Relevant Links – Relevant links are completely different from viral link strategies. Viral links are partly called “cult of distraction” because they focus on trivial more emotional- and reaction-based triggers. Links from irrelevant sites are not useful and do not cultivate shares from your target audience.
Readers are more likely to share useful content through relevant links because they want to disseminate information through social media accounts. Viral links focus more on quantity. However, website ranking is not about the number of links found in your content anymore. In fact, Google algorithms shy away from rewarding quantity-based link search results.
Viral and “link bait” strategies are largely irrelevant. Focus more on providing content with links that provide your readers with useful information. This effectively encourages your audience to return to your website, bookmark web pages, share content, and link to your website.
- Focus on Building Relationships – High-quality links can build a lasting relationship with your target audience. A 1990s algorithm allows you to link to your competitors, but Google and other search engines have changed — and so should your SEO strategies.
Today, linking to your competitor’s website makes no sense whatsoever. Instead of giving your competition an advantage, build strong relationships with people who can relate to your niche. This winning strategy brings both current and potential customers to your site.
You can also attend conferences and industry shows to network and connect with the customers you desire. Cultivating relationships means learning how to listen — and listening — to our potential customers.
- Be the Site You’d Like a Link from – Look at sites you respect and emulate. Do your pages have the same kind of authority and useful content? Are you considered a leader in your field and promote yourself as such? By making these changes, you can expect other sites to start linking to you.
- Link Reclamation – As your website gradually becomes as an online authority in your niche, people will notice and mention your pages. However, mentioning your company name alone does not mean those users/readers link to your site. To reclaim a link, send people an email who talk about your service or product, asking them to link back to you.
This simple strategy is effective and works well. Take for instance; a person mentioned you in their blog or review — it means they liked something about your company. Sending them an email does not only flatters them; they’re likely to respond to you and grant your request.
- Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is another way to drive traffic to your website. Although you can write blogs on your own website, posting on other sites that have a huge following provides the opportunity to draw more traffic. Many bloggers and marketers consider guest blogging as an “almost free” promotion.
You can get valuable links by writing fresh, engaging, and relevant blogs for online publications. To be successful with your guest posting, only publish your articles with quality, high-profile websites. This is a give-and-take endeavour because the time and effort you spend writing a great article will (ideally) be rewarded with links and traffic back to your website.
Here is how to choose a blog for guest posting:
- Domain Authority (DA) – Choosing sites with high DA can help you increase your ranking in search engines. MOZ is a helpful tool that determines the DA of a website.
- Trust Flow and Citation Flow – Trust flow determines the trustworthiness of a website. It shows the number of trusted domains linked to it. Citation flow predicts how influential of a website based on the number of URLs linked to it.
- Alexa Ranking – Alexa helps check global ranking of a specific website.
- Backlinks – Link Explorer or SEMrush helps separate quality blogs from spammy ones.
- Outreach – One of the most effective link building strategies you can use involves outreach. This technique encourages contacting the target audience in your niche and introducing your content to them. However, there are times when this effort does not require any content at all. You may only need to promote your business, brand, products, services, or anything worthy of a link.
For example, many people are linking to ahrefs.com because of its useful tools. Ahrefs is efficient for startup businesses and entrepreneurs. It tells you the tools you can use to a demographic of people (marketers or business owners) because they help identify and resolve specific issues.
You can use this information to reach out to entrepreneurs and startups. If they are satisfied with it, they are more likely to use you as a reference in their future article. Also, reach out to people who mentioned your target keyword in their blogs and those who have linked to similar articles on the same topic.
Here is a short guide for effective outreach:
- Define What You’re Offering – Whether it is a product, service, or piece of content, defining your offer can help make an emotional connection with your audience. Take for example:
“In the factory, we make cosmetics; in the drug store, we sell hope.” -Charles Revlon
Your goal is to determine what needs you want to fulfill when reaching out to your audience. Offer the bloggers something valuable to their audience.
- Find an Audience through Smart Prospecting – Once you understand what you are offering, determine the prospects who can relate to it. For example, if your product is targeting “young moms,” find a list of websites that women in that demographic visit.
- Consider People and Algorithms – Outreach is not only creating great content. Your target audience needs to find it on the Internet. While Google algorithms play an important gatekeeper, many businesses tend to overlook bloggers as gatekeepers in outreach efforts. Consider the potential barriers bloggers might have when sharing your blog posts. Offer valuable and embeddable content so that the blogger does not need to alter your blog post in order to add your link.
- Do Outreach – When writing another blogger, keep it short and respectful. Your message should should show value and express your overall goal. Your call to action must be short and simple. Address the blogger with his/her proper name (e.g. “SUPER Blogger” not “superblogger.com”). Use PR & Outreach Tools to track and improve your outreach.
Link building is part of a strong SEO and online marketing campaign. A professional SEO agency can help you create a successful link building strategy. Local SEO Search has the best local SEO campaign in Canada and will help create a strategy that increases your chance of becoming successful in your niche.