Link building has always been a search engine optimization (SEO) staple.
However, in the 23 years that Google has existed, link building strategies have evolved into sophisticated practices.
At first, link quantity was the name of the game.
The more links your site had, the higher it ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Today, Google focuses on quality links vs. quantity to ensure that websites providing valuable content are ranked higher.
This shift in focus has made link building a lengthy but vital process.
Websites need quality links to rank, but site editors no longer link to a page “just because.”
Now, link builders must focus on finding relevant sites for backlinks and providing valuable content for that audience.
Link builders must put time, thought, and energy into building sustainable link building strategies to help rank their websites in the SERPs.
How To Create Your Link Building Strategy
Link building strategies take a bit of upfront leg work, but once you’ve laid the groundwork, you’ve set yourself up for considerable success.
To create your link building strategy, consider the following steps.
Analyze your site.
Before you determine which sites to pursue or how many links to get, you must know what your site does well and doesn’t do well.
Determine whether you should focus on backlinks or keyword research (or both). Once you know what your site lacks, you can build assets to help aid your strategy.
Determine your target audience.
By understanding your audience, you can create a list of other sites they may be visiting.
Start by looking at demographics, behaviors, and interests.
What does your audience care about?
How do they search for answers?
What are they interested in that pertains to your product or services?
Look for blog posts and other pages to which other sites might want to link.
Consider that most site owners do not link to product pages, as the practice appears spammy and advertorial.
Instead, look for top-funnel pages that are educational. Then, look at your competitor’s content.
Are there any content gaps?
If so, spend some time creating these pages so you can compete in search.
Create a list of target sites.
These sites should align with your content, business, and target audience. Prioritize the sites by relevance and authority – that way, you can be sure you’re hitting the most important sites first.
The critical thing to remember is that link building is a long process.
Therefore, your strategy must include long-term goals to see progress.
Link Building Strategies vs. Tactics
Before jumping into strategies, it’s imperative to go over the difference between tactics and strategies.
So often, people confuse the two, thinking they are the same thing. While they are closely related, they do have their differences.
A strategy is defined as an action plan. It typically involves a long-term goal and how you’re going to achieve it.
For example, say your company aims to increase organic traffic to the website.
One strategy you could have is to increase your social media presence.
The strategy, in this case, is not the end goal, but it is a way to meet the end goal.
A tactic is defined as the step to achieving a strategy.
Tactics have much shorter timelines than strategies and have a precise purpose.
Continuing with the social media strategy example, a tactic would be to post three times a week on specific social media platforms.
Another tactic example would be to create more social videos to increase engagement.
Now that the difference between strategy and tactics has been explained let’s dive into link building strategies.
Top Link Building Strategies
As with all strategies, it’s essential to build one with your end goal in mind. Link building takes time, effort, and patience.
As your campaign goes on, you must re-evaluate your strategies to understand what’s working and not working.
Below are five link building strategies that you can implement right now.
1. Publish Link-Worthy Content
You must create content that people want to build links to. Link-worthy content has broad appeal and most likely sits at the top of the marketing funnel.
Most editors want to link to pages relevant to their audience, so the more relevant your page is to their audience, the higher the likelihood they will link to it.
Link-worthy content is also educational and informational. It solves a common problem or answers common questions an audience might have.
However, many SEO experts build link-worthy content by answering common queries.
That is to say, to gain backlinks, not only does your content have to answer questions and solve problems, and it also has to do it in a unique way.
Examples of link-worthy content include:
- How-to articles.
- Data and trends.
- Research that benefits your industry.
- Educational content.
- Inspirational content.
- Evergreen content.
If your strategy is to create more link-worthy content, you could audit your existing content to understand where you have gaps.
Then, by going through the different tactics listed above, you can plan which content to start with and how much you’ll need.
Outreach is the act of asking a site for a backlink.
When you create link-worthy content, it’s essential to share that content with sites you think would benefit from it.
Gaining a backlink from high-authority sites is one way to tell Google that your site is an authority on a subject.
These backlinks act as “votes of confidence” from one site to another.
Additionally, backlinks from different sites can help expand your target audience, bringing new potential customers to your website.
Often, outreach consists of SEO specialists sending articles to a site editor explaining why they would benefit from their article.
However, there are many different tactics that outreach can accomplish, including:
- Press releases to obtain links from relevant sites.
- Promote new content.
- Seek links in existing content.
- Fix unlinked mentions.
Outreach can help forge professional relationships between SEOs and site editors.
While outreach may seem like a straightforward practice, there are outreach best practices that you should be aware of:
- Personalize all your outreach. You don’t want to send generic messages.
- Keep it short and to the point. Site editors don’t have much time to scroll through a long email.
- Explain why linking to your site or article is beneficial for them.
- Provide the anchor text for them. The easier you make it on them, the better.
3. Do News-Worthy Things
This strategy may seem vague, but there are many benefits to earning links from a news site.
For instance, many publications have a large audience, some of which are driven to your site.
Additionally, many publications are authorities in their space, and a backlink from them can go a long way with Google.
While you may think anything your company does could be considered newsworthy, it’s essential to consider what is relevant for your business and your target publication.
Consider the following tactics:
- Host an event.
- Donate to a cause.
- Launch a nonprofit.
- Create a new product or solution.
- Announce a new partnership.
- Offer a scholarship.
After you’ve decided on your news-worthy tactics, you must pitch your idea to contributors, publications, and other relevant media contacts.
Then, it would help if you convinced them why your story is essential to them and their audience.
4. Technical SEO
One way to gain links is to perform a technical audit on your backlinks.
Sometimes links break.
Pages go down.
And site editors are unaware that links to your site are no longer working.
By performing a backlink analysis on your site, you can stay in the loop on how your backlinks function.
Some tactics in this strategy include:
- Finding broken links: You may email the site editor with the correct link, stating the value it adds to their site.
- Fixing 404s: You may provide a brand new link to a similar page.
- Removing redirects: Make sure any redirects are linking to the final destination. Whenever possible, remove redirect chains.
- HTTP vs. HTTPS: If you recently migrated to HTTPS, ensure all links are updated from HTTP.
Fixing these problems helps to re-establish the connection from one site to another.
A redirect link or a link to a 404 page has almost no value; it’s important to reclaim these links to boost organic traffic to your site.
Additionally, fixing these links makes it easier for bots to crawl and index your site.
5. Thought Leadership
A thought leader is someone in an industry who is considered an expert. They consistently publish new content and bring up new ideas concerning their industry.
As a result, many people are likely to trust them and use their content as proof. So as you can see, being a thought leader in your industry can have many benefits.
Thought leadership content can also help your rankings in Google. The more people that point toward your content as a resource, the more Google will look at you as an authority.
Google wants to serve its users helpful content and thought leadership content is right up that alley.
To be successful a successful thought leader, consider the following tactics:
- Guest blogging on relevant sites.
- Posting answers on Q+A sites.
- Creating content on social media.
- Creating online classes or certifications.
- Updating readers on the news in the industry.
- Hosting a webinar or a podcast.
Remember that thought leadership starts with original research, building a solid presence, and keeping up-to-date on industry news.
Link Building Strategy To Avoid
If we talk about link building strategies that work, it’s only fair to go over the link building strategy you should avoid briefly.
Trying to get all the links you possibly could is neither sustainable nor organic.
The tactics this strategy employs are looked at as spammy practices by Google, and if you use them, your site could be penalized.
These black hat tactics include:
- Buying links.
- Bribing others for links.
- Spamming links in comment fields.
- Link schemes.
- Misleading redirects.
While you may think, “the more links, the better,” it’s important to remember that Google prioritizes relevance between links.
Instead of going for a certain amount of links, try to find authoritative and relevant links to your site.
As stated before, link building takes time and patience. It is not a “set and forget” task.
However, with a well-thought-out strategy from the list above and the implementation of tactics to support it, your site can be on its way to earning many backlinks in the months to come.
- E-A-T & Link Building: A Guide to Evaluating Prospects
- How to Identify Site Quality for Link Building
- Link Building Guide: How to Acquire & Earn Links That Boost Your SEO
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