What Is Link Building? A Definition
Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their site’s authority.
Why build links? Google’s algorithms are complex and always evolving, but backlinks remain an important factor in how every search engine determines which sites rank for which keywords. Building links is one of the many tactics used in search engine optimization (SEO) because links are a signal to Google that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation. Therefore, sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings.
There’s a right way and a wrong way, however, to build links to your site. If you care about the long-term viability of your site and business, you should only engage in natural linkbuilding, meaning, the process of earning links rather than buying them or otherwise achieving them through manipulative tactics (sometimes known as black-hat SEO, a practice that can get your site essentially banned from the search results).
That said, natural, organic link building is a difficult, time-consuming process. Not all links are created equal: A link from an authoratative website like the Wall Street Journal will have a greater impact on your rankings on the SERP than a link from a small or newly built website, but high-quality links are harder to come by.
This guide will teach you how to build quality links that improve your organic rankings without violating Google guidelines.
Remember, link building is imperative in achieving high organic search rankings.
Why Link Building Is Important for SEO
Link building is important because it is a major factor in how Google ranks web pages. Google notes that:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Imagine that we own a site promoting wind turbine equipment that we sell. We’re competing with another wind turbine equipment manufacturer. One of the ranking factors Google will look at in determining how to rank our respective pages is link popularity.
While the above example provides a general visual understanding of why link building is important, it’s very basic. It omits key factors such as:
- The trust and authority of the linking pages.
- The SEO and content optimization of the respective sites.
- The anchor text of the incoming links.
For a more in-depth explanation of how PageRank is calculated, read through these resources:
- The original Google PageRank paper
- An in-depth discussion of the formula behind PageRank
- The Wikipedia page on the subject
The most important concept to understand is that, as Google says, you’re more likely to have your content rank higher for keywords you’re targeting if you can get external websites to link to your pages.
Simple Link Building Strategies: How To Get Other Sites to Link to You
There are a number of link building strategies used to get external websites to link to yours:
- Content Creation & Promotion – Create compelling, unique, high-quality content that people will naturally want to reference and link to, and tell people about it. You have to spread the word before you can expect anyone to find your content and link to it!
- Reviews & Mentions – Put your product, service, or site in front of influencers in your industry, such as popular bloggers or people with a large social media following.
- Links from Friends & Partners – Ask people you know and people you work with to link to your site. Remember that relevance matters; links from sites that are in the same general industry or niche as your site will have more value than links from random, unrelated sites.
It can take a while to build a lot of links, but be patient, and remember that shortcuts like buying links are against Google’s guidelines and can be devastating for your SEO. Don’t take chances.