Link building (other spellings are linkbuilding and link-building) refers to the initiative of influencing other webmasters to add links (called backlinks) on their sites pointing to your site.
It is one of the important strategies used in leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
If you want to increase your search engine traffic, then you cannot excuse yourself from building links to your site. Have links from reputable sources are like votes that endorse your site.
Just like President Barack Obama won the United States elections in 2008 by getting more votes than his other competitors, Internet pages get the first position in search result by getting more votes than other pages.
However, unlike the U.S. elections where all votes were equal, in the online space where search engines are involved, this is not the case. In the Internet, the strength of the vote depends on the authority and relevance of the backlink you get.
According to a recent study by Moz titled “Search Engine Ranking Factors”, they discovered that eighteen out of the nineteen top ranking factors were related to the type and quality of backlinks present in a site.
In this post, I’m going to talk about:
- Understanding the requirements of Google
- How to escalate your link building efforts
So, let’s push the ball rolling…
Step #1: Understanding the requirements of Google
Google is the king of the Internet search. So, it’s important to understand what it wants and tailor your link building efforts to meet those requirements.
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of Google’s mission:
According to Google’s philosophy, the company believes that focusing on providing superb user experience comes first, and the rest will follow. Therefore, if you concentrate on giving your audience what they want, you will not need to go the extra mile to make your products sell.
When creating backlinks to your site, it is important you understand and operate within the limits of Google’s mission statement to prevent your site from being penalized. If you do not comply, your efforts may not yield any fruit.
So, before you begin your link building efforts, ensure you oblige to Google’s mission by:
- Creating well organized and reader friendly content
- Provide useful content to the websites that will link to yours.
If you want to build high quality links effectively, how your site is organized will play an important role in your success.
When visitors come to your site, will they find it well organized in such way that navigating it is easy and stress-free? Ensure the design of your site is properly done.
Ensuring the navigation of your site is good is the first important step in organizing your content so that visitors and search engine robots can easily get information that is beneficial and appropriate.
The second step involves creating useful content that will be loved by your readers and search engines. In the SEO world, content is king, but usefulness is queen, and she is the ruler!
So, you need to not only create great content, but also craft content that your readers will find engaging and relevant.
Here is the trick: If you create an amazing content, other sites will find it easy to link to you because it will add value to their readers.
When other people add links based on merit, called editorial links, they will assist your content to be loved by the search engines, especially the big G.
Here is an example of a wonderful content from the real world:
This amazingly crafted guide found at WaterUseItWisely.com lists 100 helpful hints on how to save water. As a result, the guide has attracted more than 1000 backlinks from various sites.
Throughout the Internet, every legitimate and authoritative website provides some value to its users.
Facebook allows users to stay in touch with one another.
Google enables users to find the best information they are looking for.
Digg allows users to get news that several other people have recommended.
This site, Legitblogger, is built to assist people have an enjoyable and rewarding blogging experience. And, the list goes on and on.
When starting a blog, ask yourself whether your site will assist people meet a need. If it will not, then why create it in the first place?
Everyone browsing the Internet is actually looking for something useful, so just obey and dance to the tunes.
Step #2: How to escalate your links building efforts
After you’ve understood what Google wants, it’s now time to delve into practical ways of creating links and dominate the search engines.
A few years ago, you could get away with building spammy links and still rank higher in the search engine results. However, you will be committing murder if you try doing that presently.
i) Guest posting
Guest posting (developing content and publishing it on another site) is a great and timeless way of building links to your site.
Even though the Big G has publicly raised the red flag against mass, low-quality guest posting, you can still do it safely and escape its radar.
If you write compelling content to another site, they will be willing to give you a backlink in the byline as a thank you gesture for your content.
Importantly, aim to post your contents on authority sites that are relevant to your niche. For example, if your blog is in the dog food niche, it may not be a good idea to guest post on the forex trading niche.
One important tool that will assist you get authority sites and approach them for guest posting is Similar Site Search.
If you add the URL of your site in the space (I’m using forextradingbig.com as example), and click on the search button, you will get results of sites covering topics similar to yours.
ii) Spy on competitors backlinks
Competitors are websites on your niche that are trying to rank on the same keywords or phrases just like you.
If you want to get your competitor’s sources of links, you could search where the links are coming from on Yahoo (they give more backlinks than Google).
To do this, simply type “link:pageurl -site:domain.com” (no quotes). Remember to change the bold sections with your competitor’s site.
Here is an example.
If you discover freely available link sources, do not hesitate to use them as well. After all, if they are assisting your competitor’s site to rank well, they will most likely assist you.
You can also use Majestic tool to analyze the links of your competitor. The tool will give you the backlinks together with some other useful information to spy on the performance of your competitor.
iii) Blog commenting has not died
Leaving blog comments is still a great way of generating indirect links to your site. If you leave insightful and appropriate comments on sites relevant to your industry, you can boost your efforts to gain dominance in the Internet.
The important tip to remember is to ensure you are adding value to the conversation. If you are simply saying, “Thanks for the great content” or “What a nice content”, it can look spammy and no one will take you seriously.
Although the links you leave on blogs will not assist you rank higher, they will assist in driving visitors to your site when they notice you are credible.
Currently, most blogs use “no follow” in the link that results when you leave a comment. The “no follow” attribute instructs search engines to avoid giving weight to the link, so it will not count in benefiting your ranking.
However, if you leave comments on blogs with “do follow” attributes, they will add to your link juice and assist your site to rank higher.
iv) Use link building tools
- Moz Bar: It will assist you know the domain authority of the websites you intend to get backlinks from
- Quick Sprout: Assist you identify why your blog is receiving low traffic
- Open Link Profiler: An important tool for analyzing links and performing industry checks
- Open Site Explorer: Developed by Moz, this tool will assist you assess the links and domain authority of sites
- nTopic: This powerful tool will help you get the right topic ideas for your content creation efforts
v) Practice anchor text diversity
Anchor text, which is the visible clickable text in a hyperlink, is important in determining how your web page will rank in search engine results.
If several backlinks point to a page with the appropriate keywords, that page is highly likely that it will perform well for the intended phrase in that anchor text.
Importantly, you should not use exact match anchor texts in your link building efforts. Varying anchor texts slightly will portray your efforts as natural and credible.
When practicing anchor text diversity, you should consider using these types:
- Exact Match: This is where the anchor text exactly matches your target keyword, for example buy jeans
- Phrase: Here the anchor text contains a keyword phrase, for example, how to find the best hospitals in New York City
- URL: Here is where you use your complete URL without any actual anchors, for example, www.viperchill.com
- Brand Name: Here you use the brand name as the anchor text, for example, passive income
- Keyword branded: Here you combine your anchor text with the keyword you are targeting, for example, getting started in work online jobs
- Random: This is where the anchor text does not have the brand or any keywords, for example, this site
According to Geoff Kenyon from The Moz Blog, he proposes the following percentage for anchor text distribution.
When you want to link three times from a particular website, it’s advisable to employ this link profile structure:
- Anchor text 1: bestflowers.com site – target page: homepage
- Anchor text 2: best flowers online – target page: a page where you talked about best flowers
- Anchor text 3: www.bestflowers.com sell – target page: your online shop
It is also important to note that you should avoid over-optimizing your anchor text. If you use anchor texts too much, Google can slap your site with a penalty. It is not a good idea to use excessively keyword-rich anchor text.
For example, if your site is forextradingbig.com, a blog dedicated to training people on how to trade forex, you can employ any of the following anchor text variations to create links.
Learn forex trading
Forex trading education
Forex trading training
vi) Build two-tiered linking structure for your blog
Creating a two-tiered linking structure will enhance the power of your existing links and sail your link building efforts a notch higher.
Here is a diagram on how to do it.
Image credit: Neilpatel.com
Tier 1: These refer to backlinks pointing directly to your primary site
Tier 2: These refer to backlinks that directly add the juice to tier-one links
vii) Do keyword research
If you have the aim of creating high-quality links to your site, it centers on developing rich content, so that other sites will link to it. And, keyword targeting is an essential aspect of achieving this objective.
When you use appropriate keywords in your niche, your site will easily pop up in search engine results.
If you want to be effective in your SEO efforts, you need to identify the keywords your visitors are using to get to your site. An important tool that will assist you analyze these is the Google Keywords Planner.
Click here to read an informative guide on how to use the tool effectively.
viii) Follow up your keyword research with great content
After you’ve done a keyword analysis for your site, you should optimize your desired keywords and enhance your search rankings by creating resourceful and detailed content.
Your content should be keyword-specific to assist in driving visitors to your site. And, if you have engaging and captivating content, more people will share it across the Internet, earning you the much-needed natural links.
Remember to use keywords naturally throughout the article. If you over-optimize your targeted keyword, Google will come for your
After creating a great content, share it massively across the Internet to increase the visitors to your site.
Here are some tips on creating a great content for your site.
- Include facts in your content to enhance its authority
- Use stories to captivate your audience, whenever necessary
- Craft compelling and sharable headlines
- Use numbers in the headlines
- Make your content longer; most experienced bloggers now recommend 1500+ word posts as it assists in search rankings
- Include images, screenshots, charts, and anything to add value to your description
- Link to other authority blogs
- Include a nice call-to-action at the end of your post
Things not to do
Whereas search engines reward sites with authoritative and relevant links by ranking them high, t some things you should not do; otherwise, your site may be penalized and no one may know it ever existed.
Remember that according to the Google mission, it wants the best results for Internet users. If you engage in manipulative and unethical practices, your site may not rank in the search engine results.
Here are some things to avoid doing:
- Creating links too fast: Search engines will love it when you create links slowly and naturally. Although there are times you can create compelling content that goes viral and gets several links in a short while, you should be cautious of creating a lot of links for your site as a whole.
- Using blog networks. Google recently penalized sites that were getting their links from blog networks. So, you can be on the safer side by avoiding this deadly route.
- Using spammy resources. Avoid generating links from low quality sites that will not add value to your SEO efforts. For example, links from article directories, widgets, and forum signatures are not recommended.
- Participating in unhealthy link exchanges: Google no longer advocates for this practice. So, once the big G has spoken, it’s better you obey. Period.
Link building is an effective method of enhancing the search engine rankings of sites. Currently, over 2 million blog posts are published every 24 hours. So, for you to stand out from the crowd, you need to devote your time to research and come up with content that is engaging and meets the needs of the intended audience.
When you develop awesome content, people will naturally share your valuable content to other Internet users and your brand will gain exposure and authority in the competitive online space. And, with the current boom of the social media, your content will sail above the roof if users find it to be useful.