Imagine spending hours writing a comprehensive and well-researched blog article only to receive no page views. Because of the way that search engines operate, this is sadly an all-too-common occurrence.
Although creating valuable content is a must to see sustained growth in your site’s organic traffic, content alone will not get you to page 1 of the search engine results. In order to rank on Google, your site needs authority, and that’s where backlinks come into play.
Backlink building involves taking steps to increase the number of hyperlinks that lead back to a particular webpage. It’s vital for improving traffic to your site, but it can be a challenge—which is probably why the vast majority of posts receive few or zero external links.
But while backlink building isn’t always easy, it is doable. To help you level up your SEO, we’re sharing the top 6 link building techniques in this guide.
What is link building?
Backlink building, or link building, refers to the process of generating hyperlinks to your website from other websites. These incoming hyperlinks, also known as backlinks, play an important role in increasing traffic to your site.
In the early days of Google, page ranking revolved around link analysis. While Google now says that the number of backlinks does not matter, it is clear that quality backlinks still play a role in search engine results pages (SERPs).
What counts as a “quality” backlink?
Despite Google’s remarks that quantity does not matter, it is widely assumed that quality backlinks do improve your rankings. The more backlinks you have on high-quality sites, the more likely Google will rank that particular page higher in SERPs.
Google defines valuable content as having three qualities: expertise, authority, and trust, also known as E-A-T. In practice, there’s a lot of overlap with these words, but we think of them simply like this:
- Expertise: What does a website say about itself? If it’s a site giving medical advice, are the blogs written by and reviewed by qualified medical professionals?
- Authority: What is the website’s reputation? Do other sources commonly cite the medical advice from this website?
- Trust: How reliable is the website? Even if the content is reputedly by an expert, is it actually good advice, presented fairly and transparently?
A site’s claim that a medical expert has recently reviewed content is one way that websites build expertise.
Authority is the factor most affected by link building, although trustworthy experts giving your site votes of confidence matter more than low-quality sites linking to you.
The value that a website garners from having substantial backlinks on other sites is referred to as link equity, or, colloquially, “link juice.” In order to gain the Domain Authority required to rank higher in SERPs, you’ll need to obtain link equity through link building.
6 Winning Link Building Techniques
Now that you’re familiarized with what link building is and why this strategy is so important, here is an SEO link building guide that includes proven link building techniques.
- Create valuable content
The most important link building technique is to simply create high-quality and share-worthy content. After all, websites seek to add value to their readership, and if your content helps them do this, they are more likely to feature it.
A good rule of thumb is that content that is relevant, comprehensive, original, and targeted to a particular audience will be deemed valuable. For instance, a well-researched, lengthy tutorial for a new photo editing software will be more valuable than a 200-word post on a vague topic like “what is photography?”
Creating strong SEO content involves writing for people, not just search engines. And in the wake of Google’s helpful content update, creating high-quality content has become even more important. While creating valuable content isn’t always easy, it has some significant benefits as a link building technique.
One simple way to start making your content more valuable is by creating more comprehensive blog posts. An analysis by Backlinko showed that long-form articles (1,000+ words) receive on average 77.2% more links than shorter articles. You should also be continuously optimizing blog posts to ensure the content is relevant and thus more valuable.
- Use visual assets
Visual assets are a particularly effective type of content for earning links and therefore a great link building technique. The reason that visual assets are so share-worthy is quite simple—they tend to be eye-catching and engaging. Research has even shown that visuals can improve the efficacy of learning.
Another reason visual assets are such an important type of content is that they can make it easier to digest information. As internet users tend to skim, many prefer to have the key points already distilled for them in the form of a visual asset.
However, visual assets aren’t only valuable due to their popularity with internet users. They are also a well-suited type of content for social shares. And while social shares are not technically backlinks, the exposure from social shares could indirectly support your link building strategy.
Some examples of visual assets include infographics, data visualizations, illustrations, interactive tools, or branded quotes. An example of a helpful infographic is this “4 Cs of a Diamond” from Consider the Wldflwrs.
To get started leveraging visual assets, examine what content you already have at your disposal that could easily be repurposed into a visual. For example, statistics from a report could readily be made into a data visualization. Or, a blog article could be made into an infographic.
- Write guest blog posts
Writing guest blog posts is a more active link building technique that involves seeking sites that agree to publish a blog post that you wrote. It’s basically an agreement in which the host site receives your content in exchange for giving you a backlink.
Although guest blogging can be an effective way to build links—and build your reputation at the same time—it’s not always easy to get published on high-authority websites.
You’ll first want to pitch to blogs that are in your niche and have a similar target audience. However, you could also be creative with your guest blogging and use a strategy known as market overlap to find relevant blogs. This technique involves finding an overlapping topic to be able to guest blog for less relevant sites. For example, an ecommerce site that sells pet accessories may overlap with an obedience school for dogs.
When guest blogging, the same link building guideline around creating high-quality content still stands. Therefore, when writing for other sites, the caliber of your content should be just as high as it is for the content you write for your own site.
- Find broken backlinks
Leveraging broken backlinks is a great way to help other sites out while gaining the opportunity to generate backlinks to your site in return. This link building technique, which is commonly known as the moving man method, involves finding broken links that could be replaced with your own.
Some indicators that a site within your niche may have broken links on other sites is if they recently shut down, changed names, or changed their web address. Using a backlink checking tool, you can uncover these broken links and swoop in to notify the site of the broken link while suggesting yours as a replacement.
The site administrators will most likely appreciate you spotting broken links on their site as this could be harmful to their user experience. However, this doesn’t mean they will unquestionably add your link. You’ll still need to make sure you’re suggesting content that is actually worth sharing. Therefore, attempting to create content that is superior to the content that was previously linked is vital.
- Conduct competitor research
When it comes to ranking high in SERPs, the competition can be fierce. The key is to not let the competition discourage you but rather to use it to your advantage. Competitor sites can often provide the best indicator as to what type of content users are interested in, and you can use this knowledge to create similar content on your site.
This link building technique involves first searching for content that already has extensive backlinks. You’ll want to then analyze what the content already does well, while also considering opportunities to enhance it. Look for ways that you can make the content longer, more comprehensive, or more current.
The next step is similar to the moving man technique in that you’ll want to make sure your content is noticed. You can do this by reaching out to sites that have linked the competitor site and making them aware of your superior content.
- Build relationships with industry experts
Just like your content should be created for people, your backlink building efforts need to also have a human touch. After all, it is real people manually adding your backlinks to their web pages, and building trust helps incentivize bloggers to share your links. This link building technique is often referred to as “account-based link building.”
Building relationships is so beneficial for backlink building because it enables you to take a targeted approach. You can seek out relationships with high-quality websites that have a high Domain Authority. This link building technique not only helps you build your own site authority but also improves your reputation as an industry leader.
One of the easiest ways to start building trust and relationships with others in your industry is to engage with their content. Sharing their content or leaving comments on their blog posts, Tweets or LinkedIn posts is a good place to start.
After establishing the initial contact, next you could inquire about mutually beneficial partnership opportunities. Interviews, podcasts, research partnerships, and editorial partnerships are all examples of ways to leverage your industry relationships.
Common link building mistakes to avoid
Link building is a long game that comes from consistently creating valuable content and implementing the other link building techniques in this SEO link building guide. That being said, any shortcuts to build links overnight will typically backfire and end up doing more harm to your SEO than good. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the most common link building mistakes.
- Sending generic email pitches
How you perform outreach will be a hugely decisive factor in the success of your link building strategy. Since generic or poor-quality email pitches appear spammy, they will most likely be ignored or in the worst cases, land your site on a blacklist. Some tips for writing email pitches are to personalize, avoid sales-speak and be authentic.
- Buying or selling links
Although buying and selling links was common in the early days of search engines, it is now a practice that Google unequivocally bans. In fact, according to research by SEMrush, 53% of Google penalties are due to sponsored or paid links. Therefore, while it seems like an easy link building technique, it is a risky practice that you should best avoid.
- Performing link exchanges
Google is explicit in its position against link exchanges. While the occasional link exchange happens naturally, it’s best to avoid excessive link exchanging. Since this link building technique could also lead you to be associated with a bad neighbor, or a downgraded site, it’s just not worth the risk.
- Link spamming
Link spamming involves posting promotional links to your site arbitrarily and excessively on other sites, typically in the comments section. Since link spamming detracts from the user experience, it is an ineffective link building technique that can be penalized by Google. Therefore only share links to your site where appropriate and where it can add value.
With the above link building techniques included in this SEO link building guide, you’re well on your way to generating more backlinks, which in turn can improve your SEO, increase site traffic and help you rank higher in SERPs.
Since link building can be so time-consuming, you may prefer to get some expert support. Consider checking out the BESTSEO service companies that can help you gain a competitive edge with your SEO.