You’ve likely heard that link building is an important part of optimisation, and to some degree may have come into contact with it. Whether that’s seeing the effects a great link has had on your rankings, or you’ve had someone trying to sell you ‘DA 30’ links. Whilst it’s undeniable that a good link building strategy will reap rewards, it’s also true that there are plenty of things you should avoid.
Link building, or link development, is the process of obtaining high-quality links to your website from other (preferably related and authoritative) websites. One of the three key ranking factors, high-quality links help increase your website’s ‘authority’ and are a driving factor in increasing rankings for your key search terms.
The Importance Of Link Building For SEO
Google’s algorithms are complex, highly sophisticated ranking measures that are continuously evolving to deliver the best possible search results. And, whilst endless fortunes and untold resources have gone into refining these mythical all-powerful AI scripts, backlinks have remained a constant at the top table of ranking factors. And, according to over 70% of marketers, remain this way for the foreseeable future. However, their contribution and the way in which they are assessed has come a long way from the early days of volume and simple PA / DA.
Nowadays, quality and relevance is everything. High-quality links are a signal that your website is offering value that other websites are vouching for it. If your website is clean and optimised, gaining high-quality backlinks from relevant resources will help to increase your website’s rankings for your key search terms.
This sounds great doesn’t it? Well, it is. However, effective link building can be extremely time-consuming, and is considered one of the hardest parts of SEO. That’s why 36% of businesses outsource their link building strategies to experts.
Link Building Builds Brand Credibility & Trust
Organic traffic is the bedrock for many companies, and as such the search engines have given rise to more choice for every product or service. Today’s consumers are spoilt for choice, often making them lazier as a result. They buy from brands they know and trust, making website credibility and trust incredibly important. Ask yourself; what differentiates you from your competition? Why would they buy from your store over your closest rival’s?
Appearing on the first page of results for your key terms is possibly the biggest factor in earning customer trust, but there are many others too – such as good old ‘word of mouth’ referrals. Traffic (with intent) being directed to your site from a relevant third party is not only golden in terms of conversion, but also how it’s viewed amongst algorithms and ranking factors.
How is authority measured?
It’s commonly understood that the websites enjoying first page rankings are the most relevant, but they’re often also the most powerful, or ‘authoritative’ too. Authority, in everyday life (but also online), refers to “the power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognised knowledge about something”. Therefore, websites that have the most authority are likely to be seen at the upper end of SERPs. Tellingly, the search giant doesn’t provide its own measure of website authority, though there are many softwares that marketers use to gain insight, such as Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic and SEMrush to name a few.
“For search engines, trust is largely determined by the quality and quantity of the links your domain has earned.” – Moz
Over the years, the most commonly used measure for assessing a website’s power is domain authority, however the wording itself has grown to mean more than the 0-100 score originally created by Moz.
“The average user doesn’t care about domain authority. In fact, the average user doesn’t even know what domain authority is. They are just visiting websites and consuming content, searching for a solution to their needs. Whenever a user clicks on an external link, they expect that the destination page will expand on what they have just learned.
For marketers looking for insight, there are so many more factors to consider than just Domain Authority. Traffic, engagement, and relevance for a start are of much importance, and that’s only a handful of measures that should really be considered.” – Aaron Thomas, Hive19
Links Are Important To Google
To deliver the best results for any search term, Google relies on the provision of quality content provided from high-authority websites to offer the results users are looking for. Google finds and displays the most relevant pages to users in numerous ways.
Assessing the quality of the page is of course one measure, but links from reputable, relevant resources tell Google a website has high-quality content that will provide value to the user. Afterall, a good website is unlikely to randomly link out to an irrelevant low quality one, so by understanding the industry and the authority of websites – what links them is a measurable asset for Google’s AI to assess.
Obtaining high quality, natural links that benefit the end user helps to place your brand at the forefront of your industry. It highlights you as a brand leader, encouraging higher sales and more loyal customers. So, if you aren’t using link building as part of your SEO strategy, you’re not accounting for a huge part of Google’s ranking factors.
What makes a good link?
For many of Google’s formative years, quantity of links mattered, especially from websites considered to be powerful. Whilst this is still semi-true today, many other factors are taken into account.
Nobody likes a cheater, and Google is aware of marketers attempting to game the system with low quality link building. We have seen this many times, with backlink profiles full of PBNs (Private Blog Networks) and publications that have clearly been bought and not earned.
One thing that has never changed, and likely will never change is Google’s mission to deliver quality content on SERPs. Therefore, if the content you are creating satisfies consumers’ needs and resonates with those users, linking out to relevant resources to enhance the experience is not only natural, but encouraged. Good quality content must be at the heart of every link building campaign.
How do I gain good links?
The first place to start is with strategic research, beginning with looking at your own backlink profile. Software like Ahrefs is ideal for this assessment, as it provides benchmark metrics for your site, showing all the websites that are linking to you (and all of their metrics too). Identifying areas of strength and weakness in your own profile lets you address any issues and build from a solid base.
Next, look at your competitors. What sort of profile do your 5 main competitors have? Which sites appear to be driving traffic and contributing to their authority / topical relevance? This gives you an anchor point for your campaign, and something to aim for if any are deemed more authoritative than your site.
Now, it’s time to research. The internet is home to over two billion websites, so finding those that are a fit for you is of course no mean feat. Whilst there is no magic wand for this, there are tools that can narrow your focus, and help build potential target contacts.
Should I do it myself?
Yes and no. It is extremely time consuming, and if you don’t know what makes a good website – all of your efforts could go to waste. For instance, how topically aligned is the target website? How authoritative is it? How many linked domains does it have (and what industries are they in?). What sort of traffic levels does the site get, and where is it based? If your business is a local trade, you wouldn’t naturally expect links from an unrelated industry in Asia… but we’ve seen it many times!
At Search Seven our specialist outreach team have over 50 years’ combined experience in content marketing, not only building up thousands of contacts across a wide range of industries – but also the knowledge to build more. Our targeted campaigns start with the assessments discussed, considering your website and your closest competitors’ sites to help build a roadmap for authority growth success. A good link building strategy takes time, not only to identify those target websites we want backlinks from – but also to outreach and work with editors to provide articles they might like to publish.
Identification alone is a process that has been perfected over many years, stemming from a simple Google search to an intricate weighted system that brings in data from multiple software resources to provide a balanced overview. Domain Authority is a much abused stat that doesn’t give anything like an accurate picture, and that’s why at Search Seven our system considers over 40 different metrics in a weighted system that is bespoke to every campaign. No two link building campaigns are the same, so what makes a good site for client A may in fact not be good for client B. It is all about relevancy, and switching the focus to quality over quantity.
Your website’s SEO marketing strategy will not be complete without an effective link building strategy. While it can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming SEO tactics, link building can help increase your website rankings, attract more traffic, and grow your business significantly.
If you aren’t using link building for your website, why not? The benefits we have listed above are just some of the great things you can gain from a quality link building strategy. Stay ahead of the competition and invest in your website for long-term success.