In the search engine optimization (SEO) world, a lot can change in just a few years. What worked well a few years ago may not work at all today. That's why it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques, and this guide will help you do just that!
In this guide, we'll discuss some of the latest methods for improving your website ranking through link building. We'll also provide some tips for getting started with link building in order to increase traffic to your website. So what are you waiting for? Start reading now and learn everything you need to know about link building in 2022!
What are links and how do they work?
Links are an essential part of the internet. They allow users to navigate from one web page to another, and they are what make it possible to build a network of information. Links are created when one web page contains a hyperlink to another web page. When a user clicks on the hyperlink, they are taken to the linked page. The process of clicking on links is known as 'browsing', and it is how most people use the internet. Links are important because they provide a way for users to find information. Without links, the internet would be a much less useful tool for research and communication.
When it comes to SEO, links matter. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are links from other websites that point to your website. Backlinks act as a vote of confidence for your site—the more backlinks you have, the more popular your site is in the eyes of Google. However, it's not just the quantity of backlinks that's important—the quality of your backlinks also matters.
A link from a high-quality website is worth more than a hundred links from low-quality websites. So, how can you get high-quality backlinks? It's the subject of much debate, blood, sweat, and tears. I'm hoping that THIS guide will provide a simple overview to folks who are new to SEO, or folks who feel like the super common approaches are, well, spammy.
The benefits of having links pointing to your website
One of the main goals of SEO is to get your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). A key factor in achieving this goal is links. Links are basically like votes - the more votes (links) your website has, the more popular it is deemed by search engines. There are two main types of links: internal and external.
Internal links are links that point from one page on your website to another page on your website. External links are links that point from one website to another website. Search engines use both types of links when determining how to rank websites in SERPs.
Internal links are important because they help search engines understand the structure of your website. They also help visitors navigate your website more easily. External links provide reputation to your site. External links are what most link building strategies are focused on. There ARE some neat tools for internal link building, but for now, let's focus on other people.
Keep in mind, too, that high quality links are the most important way to build links. You can't just get your sister to start linking page after page of yours. Link building for SEO involves getting prominent websites and site owners to link to your website.
The cons of active link building strategies
Before we get too much into specific strategies, I wanted to acknowledge the cons of link building. I've seen a few different arguments, but basically, people who avoid link building choose that path mainly because it takes a lot of time, and success rates are low.
As a business owner, your time is your most precious asset. That's why, as you grow - your largest expense will likely be labor. You need people to start doing parts of the job that you used to do yourself.
When I say it takes time, I mean a LOT of time. Like, probably a 5% or less success rate. Imagine posting twenty social media posts and you get exactly one interaction. That's link building in a nut shell.
People who are successfully link building have found a way to scale their process, either by paying someone in a developing country a low wage; or increasingly, relying on automated services to try it, which results in mass unsolicited emails. Not a good look for your brand.
How to go about acquiring links for your blog post or website
There are a few different strategies for link building. At the end of the day, all active link building revolves around making other people aware of a specific page on your site in the hopes that they will link to it.
If I've scared you off with the time commitment, just skim the first few strategies and take a look at the final strategy, because among link building tactics, that may make the most sense to you.
The Sky Scraper Strategy
The Sky Scraper Strategy refers to the practice of creating content that is so comprehensive and well-researched that it towers above the competition. The goal is to attract attention and links from other websites, which can help to improve your search engine ranking and drive traffic to your site.
In practice, this generally means that you'll:
- Find the top competitors for your keyword
- Review their content and come up with a way to make a better piece
- Write and publish the piece
- Use broken link building and 3rd party outreach to get the word about your article out there in hopes that people will link to you instead of your top competitors.
The Sky Scraper Strategy is successful because it really does improve content on the internet, which Google rewards. However, people have been so focused on scaling it up that there are now some services which can automate the process and make it both spammy and scammy. It's a mature strategy that's been completely played out at this point, so don't expect too much more innovation. But it DOES work.
The Broken Link Building Strategy
One of the most effective ways to build links is through what's known as broken link building. The basic idea is to find websites that have links that are no longer working, and then contact the website owner to let them know. This is a valuable service because it helps to keep the internet tidy and running smoothly. In addition, it's an opportunity to get a link from a high-quality website.
Much has been written about this strategy, so I'll actually just give a link to Backlinko here. He doesn't need my "link juice" - but he does have some really helpful tips for Broken Link Building.
The Guest Blogging Strategy
Many people think that guest blogging is a thing of the past. However, this popular marketing strategy can still be used to reach new audiences and promote your brand. When done correctly, guest blogging can be an excellent way to build relationships with other businesses and thought leaders in your industry. Additionally, it can help to increase your website's visibility and traffic.
To get started, reach out to bloggers and website owners who accept guest posts. Once you've found a few potential partners, offer to write a high-quality article for their site. Be sure to promotion your business or website in your author bio. With a little effort, guest blogging can help you achieve your marketing goals.
This is also a mature and popular strategy, so much so that it definitely has its spammy and scammy counterparts. At my nonprofit day job, we probably receive ten emails a week from people offering to write guest posts. The key here is to be relevant and avoid automation. My environmental nonprofit doesn't want guest posts from an asphalt company.
The Journalist Strategy
When I first heard about this strategy, honestly, it blew my mind. The idea with the journalist strategy is to focus on the media, not on other website owners. You want to connect with journalists and provide your opinion - it's simple!
Now I know you're thinking about unsolicited letters to the editor, so let's back up a bit. Let me fill you in on 2022. See - there are a few different services now that you can sign up to. Reporters will post on those services asking for specific expertise. If you match, you pitch the reporter. If they like what they hear, they post your opinion, and you usually get a backlink for your efforts!
The most popular reporter resources are:
Some of these are free, some are paid. If there are others that you know of, let me know so I can shout them out, too! I'll throw you a backlink in thanks.
The Content First Strategy
Recently, there's been a lot of talk about how link building tactics are a waste of time. A link building campaign takes precious hours away from writing your next blog post. Site owners need to focus on content, first - because content is king. So if you're a site owner, and you're short on time, this strategy is for you.
Instead of looking for broken links, or throwing everything you've got at gaining one or two high-quality links, why not just focus on building great web pages? After all, websites link to other sites when those sites are undeniably useful. They provide something that no other blog post does.
Example: Artificial Intelligence resource page
To make this more specific, what you want to do is tailor your content to pages that are favorable to build links. For example, let's say you're building a website that is really focused on artificial intelligence. You may want to review trending topics in the news around AI and then create a page that is targeted for a journalist who's looking for stats, surveys, or new research results for AI.
This type of resource page will naturally attract links from social media, journalists, and others. Because you offer something unique, you'll be building links in your sleep. Search engines will love you, too.
Content is king, so just write.
The heart of this strategy is playing directly into search engine hands. Search engines want you to develop great content. And that's what this strategy will do. Instead of spending three hours building links, you can spend those three hours crafting a blog or a few smaller blog posts that are targeted to specific audiences and meant to build links easily.
The future of link building in SEO
For years, link building has been an essential part of SEO. By creating links to your website on other websites, you are able to improve your search engine ranking and draw traffic to your site. However, with the recent algorithm changes from Google, many people are wondering if link building is still effective. While it is true that Google is now placing more emphasis on quality content, links are still an important ranking factor.
However, the future of link building lies in earning natural links rather than building them yourself. In other words, focus on creating high-quality content that other people will want to link to. By doing this, you can continue to build links and improve your SEO without running the risk of being penalized by Google. This is also the most effective strategy for the average small business owner.
If you focus on what you love, and do it well, you're going to do a lot better than when you're pulled in thirty different directions by the new shiny thing.
I hope this article has been a great introduction to successful link building. If you've got link worthy content, why not let me know in the blog comments below?