Link-building is the art and science of attracting and securing backlinks from any given website to another, and/or a specific piece of content.
- a strategic plan,
- a willingness to engage your industry, and
- a budget for larger campaigns.
A successful link-building strategy is as dynamic as your personality. Before we go any further, we will first go over what link-building is all about.
What Is Link-Building?
Think of backlinks as digital roads and a search engine as a GPS. To get you from point A to point B, the GPS requires a way to connect you to your destination. Thus, links are how an Internet user finds information through a search engine.
When a web user searches the Internet for information, the search engine tries to provide the best results for the web user. But how does the search engine know what information is relevant and what isn’t?
Search engines require help from people who use the Internet. The search engine pays attention to content that receives the most shares, likes, and user interactions. Activity such as this is what link signals are.
Link signals are measuring tools for a search engine to determine what information is high-quality and engages Internet users. User engagement generates global popularity for a website.
Worldwide demand indicates what content the web user is searching for. Often you may find links that lead you to or from a website. These are links that content creators add when they generate web copy.
Therefore, think of these links as a reference to find more information about a particular subject. They allow a user to gain a deeper understanding of the topic they are looking into.
When a site is considered a primary resource, the search engine will look at that page having a higher rank when compared to other similar pages. But how does a search engine determine the rank for millions of pages?
How Search Engines Rank Backlinks
Google, the most popular search engine on the Internet, uses an algorithm called “Page Rank” to provide the best result possible when someone searches the Internet. This all stems back to link-building.
Google uses a system that rates a website from 0 to 10 by the type and number of backlinks that point to a page source. There are differences between the types of URL’s that point to a page.
URLs ending with “.edu” and “.gov” are viewed to have more power when compared to a .com. This is because a .edu and .gov URL are considered as a primary source of information for the educational and governmental site. These are very credible sources that would not link to any source of information unless there was value for their audience.
Just like high-quality sources linking to a page, the type of source linking to a page is just as important. If you are an owner of a pizza shop, high-quality backlinks could include pizza review sites and pizza recipe sites.
It won’t make sense if a mountain bike shop links to a pizza shop. This type of link is considered to be low-quality. The higher the quality of backlinks, the higher the rank your page will have in the search engine, multiplied by their quantity.
What Kinds Of Backlinks Are There?
Link-building is very challenging and can provide your efforts with lots of success if done right. If not, you could prevent your page from being found throughout the search engine. Though link-building is challenging, there are three major elements that we are going to look into.
These three elements are:
- Natural Links
- Manual Links
- Self-Created Links
1. Natural Links
Natural links are very powerful for your site. These links are obtained naturally as Internet users view your website. This happens when a site likes content on your blog and links to your page to direct their audience to you.
This is why high-quality content is essential for your brand or business. When you offer high-quality content, other Internet users will see the value of the content and create awareness of the content through their online audience.
The best part of natural links is that you don’t have to pay someone to market for these types of links. Instead, you spend the time or money merely once, and continue to generate links for however long the lifespan is of the content as it’s available online.
2. Manual Links
Manual link-building requires excellent communication and networking skills. You can generate these types of links by reaching out to like-minded influencers who may share your link through their network.
This also includes online directories that you can place a link to your site. These online directories fall in-line with local SEO strategies. This could include service such as Yelp, Google Places, and other like sources.
3. Self-Created Links
Self-created links are where you control the location of where your links are placed. This area has become the victim of black hat SEO tactics.
Places that are popular for these types of links are forum signatures, comments on blogs, and personal profiles. Forum signatures and comments on blogs are old methods of self-created links that you should stay away from unless you are an advanced SEO professional.
Social media has replaced these outdated methods and is something everyone should be using. Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can help drive traffic to your website as well, though their links may not count the same way in search engines, which is why the black hat SEOs remain in business.
The Role of Social Media in Link-Building
Social networking has recently become a page ranking indicator. This is the art of social sharing. Social sharing is helping many companies become found online thanks to paid link-building strategies.
Local SEO relies heavily on social sharing to get their business found in their local community online. Every company should have a Google+ and Facebook page. These pages will help a company become found through the search; primarily Google.
Twitter and LinkedIn help businesses connect with other firms that can ultimately lead to a link being shared or hosted through their social network or website.
Link-building can be confusing at first, but with time, you will begin to figure out a strategy that works for you. Just remember, don’t be deceptive! You want your customers to link to your brand or business.
By providing valuable and informative content that entertains your audience, you will make your audience want to share content with their social networks. You will begin to see natural backlinks show up as more people see the information you are sharing.
Above all else, stay consistent. You should be developing content for your website all the time. You want to make sure you have a current feed that is fresh and newsworthy.
If you follow these few simple steps, you will be well on your way.
Joseph Tokish is a marketing strategist who primarily focuses on online local business growth. He manages social media marketing, digital advertising, and community development and communications.