Link Building for SEO is a minefield that needs careful navigation to avoid catastrophe for your website’s ranking in search engines.
Of all the algorithms Google uses to judge where to put a website in a search result, how many links it has pointing to it from third party websites is top of the list.
All other things being equal, a website with more legitimate, high domain authority links pointing to it, will rank higher.
What’s a legitimate, high domain authority link?
First, a legitimate link is one that your website has earned, rather than paid for.
A high domain authority link, is a link from a website with a high domain authority (used as a measure of how authoritative that website is seen in the eye of Google).
Typically the highest domain authority websites belong with news websites, universities or government websites.
Link building is one of the hardest things to do in SEO. If you’re going to do it properly.
It’s one of those areas of search engine optimisation where bad practises have, and still, wreck the progress of websites – which is why you need to be careful how you go about it.
So, what exactly is Link Building for SEO? And how to get good results from it?
It’s the process of gaining links from third party websites that point back to a page on your website.
The more legitimate links you have pointing towards you, the more authority your website will have in search.
A link from another website is like a vote of confidence that Google uses to judge the authority of your website and the information on it.
Afterall, the content must be good if another website is pointing people towards it, right?
The biggest problem with link building for SEO, is that because as more people started to see the benefits of links, they started offering to give links in exchange for money.
There’s nothing overtly wrong with paying for a link. But there’s a huge risk involved.
Many of the links that you’ll pay for will be on spam blog networks. These are a series of blogs that people have started with the sole purpose of charging for links.
They’re usually highly irrelevant to your website, but because they have higher domain authorities people will pay to be featured.
Plus, it’s easier paying for a rubbish link on a blog network than it is earning one legitimately on a relevant, high domain website like a news site or trade website.
Nowadays, Google has caught onto these blog networks and if they find one, they penalise not only the spam website, but the websites that it’s linking to.
Which is where the risk is.
Getting hit by a Google penalty isn’t fatal to your website’s SEO performance, but it will set you back a long way and you’ll have to put extra work in just recovering what you’ve lost.
It’s difficult, but it is possible to gain legitimate links to your website.
It just comes down to the quality of content you create, and your level of blogger outreach or PR that you’re willing to.
‘Linkable content’ is content on your website that the reader of another website would get value from.
Research reports, cost calculators, infographics, videos, whitepapers or long form thought leadership articles are all great link building content you can use.
Research reports in particular prove successful in generating links. By hosting the full report on your website, creating news stories and getting them published on news websites you can generate a good number of high domain links to help with your SEO.
Guest posts on trade blogs or news sites are also a good way to generate links.
If you have genuinely interesting things to say, you can find news websites, business websites or trade magazines who will publish them, along with a link back to your website.
Read here how to get more content ideas for link building in our Marketer’s Guide to SEO and Content Marketing
A follow link is a link on one website that tells Google to index the link for SEO value. These are the best types of links to get.
A no follow link is a link on one website, used to be one that Google is told not to give SEO weighting to. There was still value because they generated referral traffic to your website through the link – but you wouldn’t get SEO value. Recently though, Google has changed its stance on the value of no follow, now treating them as ‘hints’. You’ll get some SEO value out of them, but not as much as follow links.
What metrics should I use to measure Link Building for SEO?
This is what it all comes down to. How do you measure the success of your SEO link building efforts?
The obvious one is the number of links (and nofollow links specifically) that you generate.
But ultimately you should measure the impact your link building is having on website traffic and sales.
If you’re generating a tonne of links to your site, but you’re not getting extra business, you might be getting links from the wrong places.
Remember, links need to be relevant to your website. If you sell accounting software, getting a link from a fashion blog won’t do you much good.
When it comes to links, it’s more quality over quantity.
You can also measure the referral traffic you get from the links you generate.
Again, this will help advise whether you’re getting links from the right places. If you generate more referral traffic, but it’s not converting, or has a high bounce rate, you’re not getting links in the right places.
No matter whether you’re a new website or an established brand, if you can create interesting content that is of interest to an audience, you can earn links to your website.
If you want to start earning links but need some expert help, get in touch and let’s talk.
If you want to read more about blogger outreach and why it’s important, have a read of this blog.