Link building has always been an important part of search engine algorithms, its importance has risen and declined over the years as different versions of Google’s algorithm were enforced. A simple truth still remains—link building plays an integral part in ranking, and prominent link placement can help your site rise in the SERPS.
Back links, content, and RankBrain are Google’s top three confirmed ranking signals. Back links remain absolutely essential despite industry buzz suggesting they are loosing their SEO value.
In January 2017, Marcela De Vivo wrote in Search Engine Watch, “If you’re wondering what factors to consider as you build your SEO strategy for 2017, links are still the top-ranking factor for Google’s algorithm with content close behind. And high CTR is still at the core of the rankings pack as well.”
As part of the original ranking algorithm, back links have always been an important ranking signal for Google. Using links to determine trust and authority was one of their biggest assets that allowed them to overtake competing search engines.
Google uses around 200 ranking factors to rank websites. out of those 200 ranking factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, three of the most essential encompass links.
- The number of external links you receive is important. Some of the top SEOs say external links are simply invaluable to your ranking power.
- The anchor text of external links affects ranking. Links with SEO focused anchor text needs to be relevant to the target page.
- The links need to be of good authority. Your links need to be from a reputable source such as market leading sites, sites representing established government, educational institutions or large corporations.
Links have always been a valuable aspect of an SEOs strategy, and many SEO agencies focus on building relevant links to get first page search results on Google. Here are some of the factors that will have a strong influence on link building in 2017 and beyond:
Most link building and SEO guides focus on creating high-quality content, and with good reason: it’s far easier to build links to top-quality content because that’s what gets shared. People are in search of quality material to link to so that they have something of value to offer their site visitors.
Creating high-quality articles and blog posts that offer true value on the topic will get you noticed. The content on your site needs to be of the highest quality in order to get picked up by search engines and ranked high. If you start getting organic back links from another site, it’s a proof of the genuine value of your content.
Creating good content is necessary to building links, but it isn’t enough. A content strategy is much more than just content creation. It’s a strategy — a comprehensive approach to marketing that encompasses the creation, publication and distribution of content. It’s the way you create content and use it to attract readers, engage influencers and earn back links.
Link building requires strategic, manual promotion to the right audience. And since links are still an integral part of Google’s ranking algorithm, failure to build relevant links will limit your SEO and therefore your reach.
Link Worthy Web Assets
You can’t build good, relevant links to your website unless you have at least one link worthy asset — a piece of content on your site that’s worth linking to.
Basically, a link worthy asset is any part of a website or organisation that its target audience will genuinely perceive as worth citing/referencing to. It could be people, content, events or anything that can be really interesting to a specifically targeted market.
There are numerous types of content (blog posts, articles, white papers, eBooks, listicles, videos, photographs, case studies and more) that serve different purposes (awareness, education, conversion and so on). The first step to creating link worthy content is to understand why people link on the web. Then, when you’re planning your next piece of content, ask yourself the question, “Why would anyone link to this content?”
People typically link to content because they find the content useful, relatable, entertaining, unique, insightful or valuable. People will also link to content that is authoritative and covers a specific topic in depth when they are referencing said topic.
Promoting content for links isn’t rocket science; it’s good planning. If you’re strategic before content creation, you don’t have to be creative with outreach. There are a number of ways to build link-worthiness into content planning:
- original research/data;
- expert opinions/quotes;
- collaboration; and
- unique imagery/video.
Building link worthiness into content planning — before creating content — will make promotion simple and straightforward.
The most successful sites on the internet didn’t produce “great, unique content”, write guest posts and ask influencers for links. Instead, they built link worthy assets that were so useful, so engaging, so entertaining, that not even the press could avoid talking about them. And with the help of some carefully crafted promotion, they have come to dominate the web.
The Skyscraper Technique, coined by Brian Dean, is a modern content-driven technique for link building. It’s about finding popular content, creating even better copy, and therefore, getting back links both naturally and after reaching out to the right people.
That’s exactly how skyscrapers become popular — you take the highest existing building, add a few more floors and voila — everybody’s talking and writing about you.
There are three reasons why this technique works so well. The first reason is the fact that there is already a proven demand for the given content on the market. Once you figure out why the content worked so well, you can improve on it and gain more success.
The second reason is that there is already a prime audience for the subject. If you create something better than the original, you have the chance to further entice the existing audience.
The third reason is that the existing content has already been well indexed on Google and has a high ranking. By creating better content, you can top the old one, outrank it and gain more traffic, especially with the quality back links you can get by reaching out.
You won’t need to hire a huge team of engineers and builders to create your Skyscraper post. Just grab a cup of coffee and get started!
Link reclamation is the process of of finding a website that fits your niche that has one or more broken links, contacting the site’s webmaster in order to point out the links that aren’t working, and then asking them to link to your website in return.
It is essential that the content of the suggested replacement link is as close as possible to the original missing content. Finding a broken link and suggesting to replace it with your sales page is not the way to go.
If you do your job properly, this technique is a good solution for you to get quick links. It will bring you results much faster than, for example, a website owner trying out and reviewing your product. Essentially, you are helping the website owner out before they help you out.
Linking to sites relevant to your niche and getting back links from them in return is essential in creating the best response from search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.
Back links from reliable sites in your niche show that your content is trustworthy and relevant on the given topic and in the eyes of Google, trust is an extremely strong factor.
If you gain enough back links from seemingly less powerful, but more related sites in your niche, Google will start considering you as an authority on the subject. Of course, avoid at all cost any kind of spammy links.
Guest blogging is the process of approaching other websites to see if they will publish a piece of content that you write on their blog. It is one of the most useful tactics you can use to generate back links and get traffic from websites that support content syndication.
Finding the right blogs to write for is a minor part of the equation, something more important however is the content you write for those blogs. You should only guest post for blogs related to your niche.
Remember that all links are not created equal. A single back link from a very big blog in your niche can have a significant impact on your rankings, while the same link from 3 smaller blogs might not have the same impact. You should only guest post for blogs related to your niche.
In my own experience I’ve noticed writing on blogs unrelated to mine and on content that’s a departure from my niche has little to no impact on the results I receive. If you plan to guest post for blogs unrelated to your niche you should look for a good way to tie your content to your niche.
If your website is about Digital Marketing, writing a guest post for a blog that talks about fashion may not bring about the desired results. However, you’ll easily increase your chances of getting more results by writing a blog post around the lines of “Top 10 Creative Fashion Marketing ideas and Strategies” or “5 Upcoming Trends for the Digital Fashion Industry”.
If you take a look at those two titles you will notice they both have a tie to what your website is all about and are at the same time useful for the audience you’re writing for.
The more robust and sophisticated your guest post is, the more chances it has on be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other networks – and the more it’s shared the bigger the impact it will have on your links.
Guest posting is like a double-edged sword. If you use guest blogging for link building without caring about the quality of your guest posts, you could be unintentionally hurting themselves in the long run. Don’t use guest posting solely in order to build links, as search engines has gotten very, very good at finding and devaluing links built in this way.
Influencer Marketing is a practice that focuses on marketing products, services or content directly to an audience of key individuals within a specific industry, instead of the target market as a whole. Using link building to associate your site with key industry influencers is a strategic approach to put your brand in a better position in the marketplace.
Influencers are the people in your online space who have a massive market reach, who also serve content to your potential customers. They could be industry experts, educators, thought-leaders and/or even your indirect competitors who are well-connected and have impact in your industry’s online community.
Researching a website’s community and the conversations happening around existing content is important as social signals and sharing can greatly influence the visibility and reach of a post. Finding link partners with an established, active community should be a top consideration when prospecting and qualifying websites for guest post and link building opportunities.
Every outreach email needs to be specifically tailored to the prospect. Prospects will be much more receptive to your message if they see you understand their website’s purpose and audience. Clearly explaining why linking to your website or allowing you to contribute content will provide value to their visitors should be the main focus of your message. In a few sentences, tell the prospect why you’re a good fit and make your case as to why a relationship will be mutually beneficial.
For guest post opportunities, try including a few links to other articles you’ve written for the same or similar audience. For link requests, try sharing a few related websites that are already linking back to the pages you’re suggesting. Add credibility to your message by making yourself available to answer questions by including a phone number and links to your personal social profiles.
Building links is important and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Even though Google may try to discourage link building, when built correctly, inbound links are a safe and effective strategy for improving your search presence. Create links that are trusted, diverse, and relevant.
Links are necessary, and when you build them correctly, you will help improve the visibility of your website.