Basic Link Building Strategies for SEO
Having a robust set of links pointing at your website’s domain (generally called backlinks or inbound links in the digital marketing industry) has always been an important ranking factor for SEO.
There are dozens of other important ranking factors outside of backlinks, and it is possible to rank for your target keywords without a lot of backlinks, but it can be an important piece of your overall SEO performance. Backlinks are more important when facing higher competition, and when attempting to rank for more “mainstream” keywords.
Backlinks have always been one of the main factors in Google’s ranking algorithm. Over time the quality and reputation of the linking website, the intent of the link, and whether the link is “natural” have become more important.
These days, it is not enough to have a high quantity of links to increase rankings. It is more important to have real links from relevant websites (what we would consider “quality” backlinks).
Brand mentions without links are also considered a ranking factor, but a brand mention that contains a link as well is likely more powerful.
So, how do you go about earning backlinks? Common recommendations in the SEO industry include:
- Writing robust, helpful, unique content that others will want to share and link to
- Contributing useful content to industry publications/websites
- Creating tools or resources for your peers in the industry, publishing them on your website, and publicizing them
- Utilizing public relations (PR) tactics to generate legitimate press interest in your brand/products/services – this is easier if you are doing newsworthy things in your business
- If you are a local business, make sure you have a “local listing” in all of the relevant directories/maps (including Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, etc.) – it is important to only focus on industry-relevant directories if expanding beyond map listings
- If a link to your website will be helpful or relevant to their visitors, talk to industry partners, suppliers, partners, etc. about linking to your website
- Evaluating the backlinks your competitors have (using an SEO tool like SEMrush) to find are any opportunities they have found that you can also take advantage of
- Finding articles/websites that mention your brand but don’t have a link included and ask them to include a link
The hard work of earning legitimate backlinks is often called “link building” in the SEO industry, and when done correctly it can be a time consuming and highly customized exercise.
In the past, some business owners and low-quality SEO purveyors have gone to great lengths to try and “game” SEO results and search rankings by artificially inflating website backlinks. These schemes often result in low-quality links that may end up actually hurting rankings in the worst case scenario. A few of these “black hat” techniques that are not recommended, but still get practiced today by some SEOs include:
- Spamming the comments section on blogs or discussion threads on forums to include a link to your website
- Participating in a “link network” where website owners indirectly link to each other for the sole purpose of increasing rankings
- Building (or purchasing) your own “network” of websites that link to your main website for the sole purpose of increasing rankings
- Syndicating press releases to dozens of PR publications with links to your website
- Paying website owners to place links to your website on strategic pages
It is best to avoid any link building tactics that will result in low quality or relevant links. With a little creativity and brainstorming options within your specific industry, you may uncover a few ideas to help promote some new and natural backlinks to your website. If you’d like to talk to the Blue Skies team about helping with this process, get in touch and we can talk through your options.