Link Building: How To Get It Right

November 30, 2015

Some may think SEO is all about including the right keywords in your web copy. Others say that link building is dead, however for the foreseeable future Link Building is the key for SEO.

Ultimately there are many factors which affect your search ranking, and one of those is the number of links to your site found on other websites. But not all backlinks are equal in the eyes of the search engines, so it can be hard to build links in the right places and ways. Here we will look at how changes to search engine algorithms have impacted on the use of link building for SEO, and how to build links in a way that search engines will like.

Search algorithms: What’s changed?

Google has implemented a huge number of algorithm changes over the last five years, but the big game-changer for link building was Hummingbird. This algorithm brought a shift from searching for keywords to trying to understand search queries in context. In terms of link building, Hummingbird allows Google to determine more quickly the value of the site – for instance, looking for high bounce rates or number of shares.

Put simply, if the links you are building on other websites don’t link back to great content that users will engage with, they won’t add to your search ranking. You need to focus on the quality of your content rather than the number of keywords, and ensure that your links add value to the user.

Build relationships to build links

Now that content and relevance is more important than ever in SEO, your link building should be driven by building relationships with other websites in your field. Find common ground to make an initial connection, then reach out to the people behind your chosen website in a way that shows you understand what they’re about and stands out from your competition. Be clear about your intentions in approaching them – you don’t need to hide why you want to build the relationship, but you do need to show that the connection will benefit them, too.

Think about what you can offer to them to get the relationship started: could you write a guest post? Provide a product? Help them to connect with your followers?

By showing what’s in it for them, you can start to create a strong, lasting relationship which will give rise to natural link building – this is the kind of link building Google wants to see.

Bide your time

All of the above makes relationship building sound simple. If only it were. The truth is, no matter how hard you work on your outreach, sometimes it will be ignored. This might be because your offer doesn’t appeal to them, but it is often down to whether they feel that your online presence justifies the connection, and whether you can be trusted to be associated with their brand.

This is where high-quality content comes in, amongst other things. The more you develop your own brand, the more appealing a relationship will be to other brands in your niche. This will take time, but gradually as you build your online presence you will become a more trustworthy prospect.

Persist in your efforts to start building relationships, but make sure you don’t come across as ‘all about the SEO’. You need to persuade influencers on other websites that you are genuinely interested in benefiting them and contributing to the field. Once they trust that you can do this, your relationship will flourish.

Join up your digital marketing

To build links naturally, it is really important to get your digital marketing right in different areas. Your content marketing might be spot on, but without a strong social media strategy you’re not likely to have a post go viral – and this is a particularly good way of building natural links. Similarly, you might be managing your social media platforms well, but if your content isn’t good enough you won’t get many people linking to it. The better your content and your ability to share it, the more natural links you will build.

The most important thing to remember when link building is that it is no longer just about boosting your search rankings. You need your links to be meaningful to their audience, as this will prove to the search engines that your content is relevant to searchers and will naturally increase your traffic too.

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