Link building isn’t just a “good” SEO tactic — it’s an essential one if you want your company to reliably increase its rankings in search results.
Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. If you build links in a way that violates Google’s policies on linking, you could face a manual or algorithmic penalty, setting you back further than where you started.
So, what is a newbie link builder to do?
If you’ve never engaged in a link building campaign before, don’t worry. There’s a learning curve here, but with patience, practice, and commitment, anyone can become a suitable link builder.
Understand the Basics
First, you need to understand the basic ingredients of a good link building strategy. Without this knowledge, you’ll struggle to build links that will benefit your business.
· Domain authority and page authority. Links are important because they pass “authority” to your site; essentially, authority functions as a marker of trustworthiness to Google. The higher your site’s authority is, the higher your site’s going to rank for various relevant searches. Keep in mind that links pass authority to your domain, but also the individual page they point to — boosting both domain-level and page-level authority.
· Natural vs. Unnatural links. Google’s penalty system only exists to distinguish between “natural” links and “unnatural” ones. So what’s the difference? Unnatural links are ones that don’t add any value for users; they’re often irrelevant, or are stuffed into an article for the sole purpose of rank manipulation. Natural links are ones that are there for a specific purpose, to cite a fact or provide further information, while providing value to readers.
· Guest posting. One of the best ways to build links is by guest posting on external publishers’ sites. This gives you a line of control over the authority of the sources linking back to you, and also gives you a chance to boost your visibility and reputation by publishing excellent content that will be read by new audiences in your target market. It’s the best way to build links.
· An ideal link. Now, let’s try to define what an “ideal” link looks like. Your link should be one of many in the body of an article, with relevant, accurate anchor text (the text that contains the hyperlink). Your link should be to an article or page of your site that provides more information, supports or references a claim made, or otherwise enhances the value of the piece. It should appear naturally, without any indication that it was placed for the purpose of improving search rankings. The content surrounding your link should also be valuable, well-written, and targeted to a specific audience.
Don’t Overthink It
Now, a word of advice: don’t overthink it. The way most search optimizers describe it, you’d think link building was some incredibly technical, volatile practice, but the reality is just the opposite; you can usually rely on your intuition.
In fact, because “natural” links are the ones getting rewarded, the less you think about your placement, the better. Read your articles before submitting them and pretend to be an outsider. Does your link stand out at all? Does it offer valuable information that supports the facts you listed in the article?
Establishing a Foundation
If you want to be selected as a potential guest blogger for external publications, you need something to prove you’re a high-quality writer. Plus, if you’re going to be building links, you need valuable material to link to in the first place.
To address both these needs simultaneously, you’ll need to establish a foundation of content on your blog or website. There are plenty of free ways to do this, even if you don’t have a website, but it will take you some time to develop. Make sure your posts are well-written and valuable to your key demographics or you won’t be as easily accepted as a contributor.
Pitching Your First Guest Post
To get started, you’ll want to identify an external publisher that accepts guest-submitted material. Because you won’t have much experience, you’ll probably need to check out some low-authority sources, or ones with highly specific niches, such as subsections of your industry or publishers exclusive to your region.
Figure out a topic that this audience would like to see, and send the editor a pitch on your idea. If it’s accepted, you can write your post, include a link pointing back to your domain, and submit for publication. If it’s not accepted, you’ll have to move onto the next opportunity until you find a publisher who bites.
Building Authority and Moving Forward
From here, it’s all about keeping your momentum moving forward. For a while, you’ll need to keep reaching out to low-authority sources, niche-specific sources, and other publishers where guest publication is a breeze. Then, once you’ve built up enough authority, you can start pitching to some bigger, more reputable names, using your publication history as a kind of resume. One high-authority link is worth multiple low-authority ones, so don’t procrastinate climbing this ladder if you’re trying to see results.
Link building isn’t a sexy strategy, but it’s a real workhorse in the realm of online marketing. If you follow best practices bit by bit, and continue escalating your efforts over time, your domain authority will start to climb and you’ll have an easier and easier time ranking for your target keywords and keyword phrases. Try not to be intimidated by the threat of penalty or the uncertainty of inexperience; learn what you can, then plunge in. The rest you can learn from trial and error.