You want your site to rank higher on Google. We get it. That’s why we’ve put together this useful guide to link building. Starting from the basics and working our way to more in-depth strategies, you’ll find helpful information here no matter how much you already know about link building. If you already have the basics mastered, feel free to skip ahead to one of the other chapters. But for everyone else, we’ll start here.
Learn the basics of link building. Why and how to build links.
Learn about some of the different ways to get backlinks.
Learn to create your own effective link building strategy.
Learn how to determine which websites are authoritative and which websites are not.
Learn which metrics to track to measure the effectiveness of backlinks.
Learn how to create a powerful SEO strategy to get you ranking on page one.
Link building is the process of building inbound links to your site from other sites. It’s a common practice in SEO because it is highly effective when done correctly. SEO is all about crafting your site to meet the standards of Google’s algorithm so that your site will rank high in the SERP. Link building is one of the strategies SEOs use to show Google that their site is authoritative and should, therefore, be ranked highly.
There are a few different processes of building inbound links, but some may cause more harm than good. These harmful “black hat” SEO techniques should be avoided as Google penalizes spammy SEO. A penalty from Google can mean that your site will be de-indexed and stop ranking on Google. That would be devastating. The reason we’re telling you the potential harms of bad link building is so that you make sure to do your research before trusting any link building agency you meet. Here at BASE, we are committed to providing our clients with high-quality links that will get them on Google’s good side.
Building high-quality links starts with networking and relationship building. As you find high-quality sites that are willing to accept your content, you can begin to build a network of partner sites. It is a tedious process but well worth it. Since it is against Google’s guidelines to pay sites to link back to you, you have to build a working relationship with other sites and get them to post your content, link included, for free. Also, these sites need to be relevant, high-quality sites that meet important metrics to move the needle.
You probably have a few questions at this point, so let us try to answer them below.
Inbound links, often called backlinks, are links pointing to your site from another site. This is easy to remember because they are inbound toward your site or linking back to your site. These are the types of links that are built in link building strategies.
It sometimes sounds like building inbound links magically makes your site rank higher on Google, but there is some SEO science behind it.
Google decides which pages to rank based on “ranking factors” within the algorithm. A ranking factor you’re probably aware of is relevance to the search term. The page that is most likely to be what the user is searching for should ideally be ranked first. However, keyword relevance isn’t the only factor. It’s been theorized that Google’s algorithm uses about 200 ranking factors to determine where you rank.
One of the main ranking factors is authority. Every domain and every page has an authority rating. And the more authority you have, the higher Google will rank your site. But wait, how does Google determine a site’s authority? You guessed it: backlinks.
You can think of backlinks sort of like votes in a popularity contest. When a site links back to your site, it shows that your site is a good resource. The more sites that link to you as a resource, the more authority you must have on the subject. So, the more popular you are, the easier it is to rank #1.
However, notice that links give you the authority on the subject. If you have a site about hair products, no amount of link building will get you to rank for financial advice keywords. But if your hair product website has lots of inbound links about hair care, you will become an authority in that space. The subject of the content must be relevant, as well as the anchor text.
Anchor text is the word(s) that are hyperlinked. Do you know the blue text that you can click on? That’s the anchor text. When Google’s bots crawl a link, they see the destination URL and the anchor text. So, a link with your site as the destination and anchor text that is relevant to your business will build your authority in the space.
The reason this is a common question is that some link building practices that were effective a few years ago aren’t anymore. Some of those practices include irrelevant links in comments or forums, links on spam sites, and paying sites to link back to you. These methods attempt to take the easy way out by trying to game Google’s algorithms.
Organic link building (also known as “white hat” link building), however, is still very effective. This is the practice of forming a network of relationships with sites where you can post as a guest author and link back to your site. The important thing to remember is that the site that links to you doesn’t get paid to place that link. They just want the content you are giving them, and are fine with you linking back to your website as long as the link is contextual. This does not go against Google’s guidelines, and therefore builds your site’s authority. As you continue to get quality links built out to your site, you will start to see massive organic gains.
So the short answer is: yes, link building is absolutely still effective… if it’s done the right way.
Now that you know what link building is and how it's used for SEO, let's talk about how it can benefit your site.
Link building helps to increase organic rankings which leads to increased organic traffic. The goal of link building is to get you ranking on the first page of Google for your target keywords. The reason why position one is so sought after is that click-through-rates drop exponentially for each position after #1 in the SERP (search engine results page). The top-ranking page will get about 30% of the clicks. Second place will get about 15%, and it goes down from there with position 9 only getting 2% of clicks. Following this trend, if there are 10 results on a page, you have to be on the first page to get any substantial amount of clicks.
On-page optimization is essential to rank on the first page. This means your site should have target keywords, metadata, title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, etc. in place. In addition, you should have content that provides value to the user. However, many sites follow all of these best practices but still see minimal results. This is because they don't have enough authority from other sites. Google needs to see sites linking to yours to start ranking your content.
If you feel like you have done all of the SEO you can on your website and are still not ranking high in the SERP, adding link building to your strategy is the recipe for success. Sites often just need a push from backlink building to boost their site onto the first page. Without link authority, even the best content could be overlooked by Google’s algorithm. So, if you have a site with great content, but Google doesn’t seem to notice, link building is exactly what you need to start ranking on the first page.