6 Foundational Elements Your Website Needs If You Want More Inbound Links
So you want your site to rank above your competitors, and you want your users to find your website whenever they search for a product or service you offer.
You probably already know that link building is one of the most important factors for success here. Google evaluates the relative “authority” of domains and pages within them based on the quality and quantity of external links pointing to them, then uses that authority as part of its calculations when deciding which pages to rank for a given query.
But how are you supposed to get started, especially with a new site that has practically zero authority?
My recommended approach to link building involves a heavy dose of what’s commonly called guest blogging, or guest contributions to external media outlets. The idea is to contribute content to publications in your niche or industry that will benefit them and their audiences, while also benefiting you in a number of ways — one of which being a link to your website. It’s a perfectly fair exchange of value that works wonders for link building campaigns.
But to successfully engage in link building via guest authorship, you need these six foundational elements first:
1. Strong, linkable content. You want to build links — but where on your website are those links going to point? There are some cases where a homepage link will feel natural, but if you’re just getting started, it’s better to work with strong, specific content-rich pages on your site. Ideally, you’ll be citing some kind of original information, like a statistic from a survey you created, or detailed information about a client you provided services to. This will help you build stronger, more valuable, more contextual links in the content you create, but will also make a better impression to all the new visitors you get through referral traffic.
2. Guest author profiles. On your blog, you should have clear, established guest author profiles for each of your contributors. Most publishers don’t want to accept content from businesses or organizations; they want contributions from real people who are experts in their space, with an existing archive of quality, high-performing content. Seeing a name, a face, and a short bio attached to your blog posts will make it easier to convince publishers to work with you on guest contributions.
3. A social media audience. The more visibility you have on social media, the more publishers are going to want to work with you — it means the content you share from their website will reach new audiences. A large social media audience is also helpful for distributing your blog content further, so you have a higher chance of attracting natural inbound links. You can build your network from scratch by reaching out to more people within your industry, engaging in on-topic conversations whenever possible, and joining in group pages and communities.
4. An understanding of link building best practices. Are you familiar with best practices for building links? If not, now’s the time to read up. You can’t just shove a link to your site into a blog post and expect to reap any benefits; you need to carefully consider how that link is placed, the other links you’re including in the post, how your publisher will view the link, and what value it’s going to offer readers. You don’t need to be a technical expert, but you do need some baseline familiarity here.
5. A plan. When first starting, any link is probably going to be a helpful link, but if you start without a plan, you’ll quickly find yourself confused about where to go next. Before you build your first link, sketch out a plan for how you’re going to grow over time. For example, how quickly do you plan to rise to high-authority publishers? How many links do you want to publish per week? What demographics are you going to target, and what kind of publishers serve them?
6. An initial publishing opportunity. Finally, you need an initial publishing opportunity. Once you’ve gotten your name featured on multiple publication outlets, you’ll find it easier to prove your value to new potential publishers and nose your way into bigger and better opportunities. But finding those first few openings can be exceptionally difficult. Choose a publisher highly relevant to your niche, or a local outlet eager for new contributors. Then, reach out and try to form a personal relationship with the editor, and give them the best pitch you can.
These initial ingredients should be all you need to build your first few dozen links. It may take a few weeks to go through the editorial process with each publication, but once those links are firmly established, you should see a jump in your website’s authority and organic search rankings.
Don’t forget that link building is only part of the equation, though — you’ll also need technical SEO to improve your website’s structure, and a keyword optimization strategy that can help you cut through the clutter. Still, with a strong link profile backing your SEO campaign, you’ll find it much easier to increase your organic search traffic.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!