The process of getting backlinks has long since gone from “200 links before lunch today” to “I got a link this month”, turning link building itself into a small artform in the process. Despite the challenges of link building, backlinks still have a relevant impact on the site performance, which makes them an important part of SEO and Digital PR campaigns.
For this post we’ve decided to put together a list of factors that you need to pay attention to when creating a link building strategy.
Authoritative links are of the most value to the site however this type of link is always harder to get. Generically speaking, links from higher authority sites, such as government, education and news sites add value to your site SEO. Tools such as Ahrefs and SEM rush will help you identify the higher authority domains and URLs helping you cherry pick the sites you would like to focus on for link building.
Image credit: https://www.semrush.com/
A simple approach to getting high authority backlinks is to “look within your niche”. Any article on a high domain authority site explaining how your product works, listing companies in your niche, or any piece of content that could be improved by including your site is the perfect target. A frequent overlook is the quality of your own content. Quality content attracts backlinks completely organically, so aim to improve the quality of your own content before reaching out for links.
TIP: In a specific niche, partner or cooperant sites are always high authority sites and relatively easy to get high quality links from.
If you’ve ever dabbled in link building you have probably come across terms like “follow” and “no-follow”. The rel=”follow” and rel=”nofollow” are html link attributes frequently used in SEO to signal to Google bots whether or not they should follow the backlink. Even though nofollow links have value of their own, follow links are generally higher in value and have a much greater impact on the SEO performance of the site.
Put simply, if you’d like to get that link juice to boost your site, you need Google to crawl your backlinks by marking them as “follow”. Simple enough, right? Nope…
Most sites nowadays, especially high authority sites tend to default to nofollow links. To make matters worse for SEOs, some popular content management systems tend to default all outgoing links as nofollow as well. Thankfully, this is the case with “most”, not all.
Guest Blogging for a relevant niches site is one good way to get follow links. However, having great relevant content other sites want to link to is the best way to go as always.
TIP: Audit the links and check which ones are nofollow. You can do this using an SEO tool or simply checking individual links with “inspect element”. Simply right click on the link and select inspect element, Google will highlight the link in HTML and if there is nofollow in the markup the link has a nofollow attribute, otherwise if there is a rel=”follow” or nothing at all this is a follow link. It is always worth checking the link! Site editors can sometimes include a link as nofollow by mistake, simply because it is a default setting in some CMS (looking at you, WordPress).
The most overlooked and perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind when link building. Link to relevant Anchor texts! Anchor text is essentially the words you use to link to.
Think of it this way… Google is in an external search for context. By linking to meaningful text, you actually help Google to join the backlink URL with the keywords used for a backlink. This means you will not only get the technical SEO benefits of a backlink, but also help the search engine figure out which keywords you would like the page to rank for in the search results.
For example, if you have a page aiming to rank for “Dublin Bakery” (don’t ask why, just go with it) the best thing would be to have a backlink linked to the keywords “Dublin Bakery” linking back to your website.
TIP: Engage in keyword research and look for pages that mention your targeted keywords in text (which you can easily find through Google search). If these are unlinked, your content might be a relevant backlink for the website. If it’s branded link building you’re working on, Ahrefs is a tool that lets you easily identify unlinked mentions across the web. This makes it easier to narrow down the list of sites to contact.
Content is King! You’ve heard it a million times, but the cliche quote about the undeniable royalty of content cannot be more true. “Good” content attracts “good” backlinks, and improves your SEO. But what exactly is good content? There are 2 main traits that make content good:
Meaning simply that the content you create should serve a purpose for the third party for them to link back. Your content should fit perfectly into another website’s content to enrich it enough for the publisher to include your link organically. A perfect example is the Ahrefs link included above. This post talks about research going into creating a link building strategy and Ahrefs is one of the tools that can help the job, therefore the completely organic backlink.
Whether it is a report on a current trend, a description of a product/service, or an explanation/how to. Convenience in terms of content means that the content is served to a user in the most convenient format, easy to read (watch or listen to), engaging for the user, offering timely and relevant information.
TIP: Spend time researching topics you can create content on. Do a competitor content analysis and see what your competition is writing about and what they are missing. Finding untapped areas to build content on is the key to success. Another great piece of advice is to pick a topic you have something to say about. Longform content (1000 words +) frequently outperforms short form content, as long as it is relevant to the topic.
Similar to the content relevance, the link itself needs to be relevant. A great rule with link building is to build links for humans, not bots. Think about a perfect place for the link, content the link would add quality to rather than thinking about the number of backlinks you can get. Relevant links are always worth more in terms of SEO.
Think about the keywords you would like to link to that best describe your content, and the sites/pages that could really use the links to create more quality for the user. Reciprocity is the key here. If your link ads value to the other site in any way there is a good chance that you will get a backlink.
TIP: If the content which you had backlinks for gets outdated, the site might remove the backlink. These “lost” backlinks can have a negative impact on your site performance. Links are not relevant forever so remember to update content regularly to avoid losing links.