Link building, particularly if you’re new to the concept, seems pretty scary right? But even once you have been working at it for a while, it can still be an overwhelming process. That is, if you don’t have powerful link building strategies backing your efforts. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.
Before we get into the specifics of linking strategies, let’s first talk about why it’s so important in the first place. Because of it’s apparent complexity, it’s often one part of a marketing plan that is completely overlooked. But the problem is, without link building, you miss out on serious opportunities to increase your website ranking.
Importance of Link Building Strategies
And why would you want to increase your website ranking? Ranking factors play a massive role in search engine performance. The higher your site is ranked, the more likely Google or other search engines are to display it before lower-ranking sites. There are a number of ways to increase website ranking, including page loading time, and other factors that indicate expertise, authority, and trust or EAT. “E-A-T” is part of the Google search algorithm they use to determine how sites rank.
While Google doesn’t give up all of their secrets to mastering their search algorithm, they do provide plenty of helpful information on their website. It sometimes takes a little digging to find. But when you do, you’ll find plenty of gold nuggets and helpful explanations.
In the case of how they use E-A-T for ranking sites, here’s what Google has to say about high quality sites:
High quality pages exist for almost any beneficial purpose, from giving information to making people laugh to expressing oneself artistically to purchasing products or services online. What makes a High quality page? A High quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well.
- In addition, High quality pages have the following characteristics:
- High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
- Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page.
- Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.
While these are clearly all important parts of creating a high quality site, today we’re focusing specifically on building expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and doing so through the use of link building.
As for the simplest way to explain why effective link-building strategies are so important? Well, it’s incredibly difficult, some would say even impossible, to have a high quality and high ranking site without link building.
But not all links are the kinds you want to build. With that in mind, let’s move on to determining what makes one link good and another not.
Determining Good Links From Bad Ones
So, what makes some links better than others? For starters, good links are relevant to your specific business or content. Figuring out what kind of sites are relevant to your own is another important part of building this strategies. In addition to being relevant, links from a high domain authority are ideal.
“What is domain authority?” You might be asking. Domain authority or DA is a search engine ranking tool from Moz. Based on a score of one to 100, the higher a site’s domain authority is, the better chance it has to rank higher in search engine results.
As for how this score is calculated, Moz explains it’s by:
“Evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.”
As you can see, a big scoring factor for DA comes back to linking. Interestingly, that means many of these sites with a high DA are sites that have had great success with their link strategies. Additionally, getting links from these sites will be beneficial for your overall link building efforts.
So, two big signs of good links are that they are a) relevant to your site, and b) coming from a site with a high DA.
But what about “bad” links? For starters, these can be links associated with anchor text over-optimization.
Anchor text over-optimization
New to the term “anchor text?” These are simply the text a reader sees that is linked to another site.
Here’s an example: “Blue Water Marketing’s blog can be found here.” As you can see, the word “blog” is linked, and that makes it your anchor text. In that case, it’s just used once and rather organically. But let’s say we created a blog post about our blog, and linked to our blog every. single. time. We wrote the word “blog.” Not only is that keyword stuffing, but it’s also anchor text over-optimization at its finest!
And don’t get us wrong, anchor links are incredibly important. The problem is, if they’re over-optimized, they often have the opposite effect on your link building strategy than you’d like.
Search engines use anchor text as signals for relevancy. But once site creators started over-optimizing anchor text in an effort to boost their rankings, it didn’t take long for search engines to catch on. Now, sites will be penalized if they are over-optimizing their anchor text.
Instead, search engines want to see anchor text that is used naturally and organically. And yes “natural” and “organic” are two things search engine algorithms are able to pick up on!
Building The Right Links
The challenge with link building is that you’re relying on other sites to build these links for you. But that doesn’t mean you’re not involved in the process! Link building strategies mean you’re not leaving link building up to chance. Instead, you’re taking an active role in getting backlinks. As for how to do that, here are four specific steps of link building strategies it’s time to try.
As we know, relevancy is critical for a successful link building strategy. The more relevant these backlinks are, the more they will help your own site move up in search engine results.
This means that the anchor text linking back to your site will ultimately include a relevant keyword for your site. For example, let’s pretend you sell fishing gear. If a high ranking site links back to your site in one of their posts, ideally the anchor text they use for the link would be for “fishing gear” or another relevant keyword.
Now, it’s time to do some keyword research! There are several free tools online for doing this (including Google’s keyword program) that will help you get started.
(We also have a comprehensive article on keyword research for SEO right here. We encourage you to read that right away if you’re new to keyword research!)
Based on the results of your keyword research, you can start prioritizing them for your own website. Ranking for some of them will be more achievable than others.
For example, a term like “shoes” that brings up 4,790,000,000 results is going to be tough to rank high for. But you also don’t want to focus on keywords that get less than 1000 searches a month, because they aren’t likely to bring in much traffic, even if you do rank for them. So, instead of shoes, a better option might be “purple shoes” which will be slightly less competitive.
Next, you’ll create a list of keywords. Included in this list are the keywords you have a reasonable chance of ranking for, ones that are relevant to your content or services. With this list of keywords in hand, it’s time to move on to the next step of your link building strategy.
Natural Link Building Outreach
Does the term “prospecting” send shivers down your spine? We know how scary it can seem to go out and contact people. But if you want to build backlinks like a pro, it’s a non-negotiable. Luckily, there’s no need to knock on doors or chase people down to do this. Often, all it takes is a few emails!
Break your list down into three sections
Start by making a list of prospects. These are the people who have an audience that would be interested in your services or sit–a relevant audience. Back to the shoe example, if you sell shoes, a relevant prospect could be a shoe repair company. They’re not direct competition, but they’re still involved in a similar industry.
These are the prospects with the highest DA and greatest relevance to your own site. They likely also get a lot of traffic and have a bigger audience.
These prospects are still beneficial to your link building strategy. They might have a slightly bigger reach than you, but the gaps between your site and theirs aren’t as great as that of you and industry authorities.
These prospects can be a great place to start. The might be on similar playing ground as you, including have a similar DA, traffic, and audience.
Once you have a list with prospects under each of these categories, it’s time to reach out! This is the “scary” part, but consider this: the worst case scenario is they say no. Or they say nothing at all. But if you don’t shoot your shot you will never know what could have come from.
When you contact a prospect about establishing backlinks on their site, there are a few “best practices” to help you pull it off.
- First, start with a compelling subject line. If they get dozens of these emails each day, you want to be sure yours stands out for all of the right reasons.
- Next, as tempting as it might be, try to avoid excessive flattery. This comes across as disingenuous more than anything else. Instead, do your research ahead of time about this person or their services/products.
- Once you’ve done all of that research, you’ll be able to craft an email that is thoughtful, one that clearly shows the reader you know who you’re talking to.
All of this research is also important because it helps you come up with a value proposition. Why should this prospect link back to your site or product? What value will it offer them or their readers? Focus on why linking to your site or product makes sense for them instead of begging or excessive flattery.
To make it even easier for these prospects, you can offer to create the content for them yourself. And that brings us to your next link building strategy step.
Content Creation and Submission
If you’re creating content for these prospects, you’ll do them a lot of favors by making sure the content appears authentic to their brand. To do this, you need to get to know their brand, as well as their usual writing style. Be sure to diversify your anchor texts when during the content creation process, and supplement your text with high-quality graphics relevant to your content and your offerings.
Submitting to Bloggers and Guest Post Sites
Next, you can also consider bloggers and guest post sites to submit to. Create content they’re bound to want to publish—content that is high-quality, with strong links, and great visuals. This aspect of link building is so important, in fact, that it deserves its own section!
(For more on writing high quality web content, take a look at this post next!)
Conducting Blogger Outreach for Link Building Strategies
Conducting blogger outreach for your link building strategy is a lot like contacting prospects. But rather than just emails, there are a few ways of doing this: email outreach, social media outreach, and influencer outreach.
Here are some quick tips for each of these:
- Send a request for a link following the same guidelines as prospecting emails
- Write a high-quality guest post for them
- Ask for PR coverage
Social Media Outreach
- Identify the influencers you want to connect with
- Organize your social media influencer list (the same way you organized your prospect list)
- Initiate contact via social media (and remember: this still requires professionalism the way an email does)
- Look at your audience engagement
- Find opportunities in smaller communities
- Be ready to collaborate with those in smaller or similar sized communities
- Define your goals from influencer outreach from the get-go
No matter what your prospecting looks like, you need to focus on prospects likely to bring you high-quality links. We’ve talked a bit about the ideal backlinks and some to avoid, but it’s time to get even more specific.
Types of Links You Should Focus on in Link Building Strategies
As it turns out, the URL extension can have a big impact on the success of your backlinks. These extensions also signal the relevance of the site to yours, as well as their own authority and relevance.
Here are some examples of the kind of backlinks you do want to focus on:
- .com Links
- .gov Links
- .edu Links
- .org Links
- Industry Links
- Press Release Links
- Editorial Links
- Guest Blog Links
- Author Bio Links on Guest Blogs
- Internal Links
- Country Domain Links
- Links from Authentic Reviews
- Social Links
- Chamber of Commerce Links
When you’re building your prospects list, their links and domains are important to consider. In addition to their domain extension, look for opportunities to build press release links, editorial links, or any of the other examples we just covered.
At first glance, that list looks pretty extensive. But the truth is, there are just as many, if not more, links that should be avoided.
Types of Links To Avoid
Getting backlinks from some places will either not increase your E-A-T or DA factors whatsoever. But even worse, they could actually damage these ranking factors. Search engines will recognize when your backlinks are coming from low quality sources, and you could be penalized as a result.
Here are some examples of those “low quality” link resources:
- Links from Content Farms
- Links from Low-quality, Irrelevant Syndicated Articles
- Paid Links
- Links from Irrelevant Directory Sites
- Links from Spam Comments
- Automatically Generated Links
- Links from Low-quality, Irrelevant Forum Websites
- Links from Websites in a Foreign Language
- Duplicate Content Links
Put These Link Building Strategies to Work for You
There you have it!
We’ve covered everything you need to know about link building, including link building strategies SEO agencies (including our own!) use to get backlinks and boost their domain authority. You know which links to strive for, which to avoid, how to reach out to prospects, and much more. But it’s time to make all of this information work for you! Get out there and start focusing on building backlinks, and you’ll be amazed at how effective well thought-out link building strategies can be.
That being said, there’s no reason you need to go it alone! Link building strategies take time to get up and running. But the sooner, and more professionally, they’re implemented, the sooner you can begin to reap the rewards of link building. And that’s where we come in.
BWM has built relationships with countless publishers to ensure that we are able to build high-quality, white-hat content links for your business. Our South Florida link building services include the development of a concise plan to ensure your links are going to drive quality traffic to your website, and increase rankings on your high-value keywords for your revenue-generating services of products.
Want to learn more about how this process works? Click here to read all about it.