Every time we are discussing SEO, sooner or later we will stumble upon the topic of backlinks and link building.
Indeed, it is no secret that link building is one of, if not the most important aspect of any SEO strategy and guide, and will always be a hot topic among SEO practitioners.
Yet, link building as a skill is not simple at all, but rather a combination of several other skills like content strategies, general sales and marketing skills, programming, and even psychology.
So, in this ultimate guide to link building for 2018, we will discuss effective link building strategies and everything you’ll need to apply them.
Let’s dive right in into our first topic.
The Fundamentals of Link Building
Google themselves is the one responsible for the importance of link building in their ranking.
When Yahoo! and Alta Vista dominated the world of search engines, content and keyword usage were the sole factor in determining search engine rankings.
After Google appeared on the scene, they implemented the legendary PageRank Algorithm (PDF) , and ever since then, link is an integral factor of Google’s search engine rankings.
Ever since Google implemented the Penguin update back in April 2012, Google now takes account of link quality instead of just quantity. You might have heard of spammy link building practices in older SEO strategies (and even today with scam SEO companies), and indeed they worked back then before Penguin.
But how exactly does Google determine the quality of links? Read along and we’ll discuss it further in the rest of this guide.
Determining The Quality of Your Links
As we have mentioned above, the quality of your links is not only very important for your SEO success. Having too many low-quality links is the most often cause of Google Penalty (link to previous Google Penalty article).
There are several factors that will affect the quality of your links, and here, we will discuss them one by one.
1. Page & Site Authority
Page authority matters more than any other factor when we are talking about link quality. Yet, how exactly do we determine page authority? The answer is the PageRank.
A few years back, Google’s PageRank information was available to the public. That is no longer the case, but Google still uses it as their most important factor in determining link quality.
To check the PageRank, you can use the trustworthy tool from ahrefs. For site wide authority, you can still use ahrefs, although Moz’s Domain Authority metric is also a good tool.
2. Site Relevance
We have discussed how site authority really matters, but the relevance of that site to your own site or niche also matters.
For example, if you are running a golf blog, and you get a link from an authoritative site about baby strollers, it won’t matter as much, or even won’t be counted at all.
3. Position On The Page
Believe it or not, your link’s position on a page is actually important. Generally, links found in the middle of the content or body of the page is the best, and links on sidebars or footers won’t worth as much.
4. Anchor Text
Anchor text is what we clicked to get into a link, usually underlined and in blue. Turns out, anchor text is also an important factor used by Google to determine link quality.
For example, if you are a golf-related site again, a golf-related anchor text will be deemed more relevant by Google. Also, if your specific keyword is used as the anchor text, it is a major plus.
Also, the words and phrases around that anchor text plays a significant role, although not as significant as the anchor text itself.
5. Dofollow Links
Using rel=”nofollow” tag on your links, or what we often call the ‘nofollow links‘ are a major no for SEO. Get normal, “dofollow” links wherever possible.
How To Get High-Quality Links
Now that you understood how to determine the quality of your links, and the importance of high-quality links, you might realize that link building is not as simple as we first thought.
So, how actually can we get high-quality links? Don’t worry, here we will give you several easy-to-follow tips to help you with that.
1. Publishing The Right Contents
To get more organic links, you will need to have high-quality contents that are useful for others. That seems like an obvious logic. However, not every type of contents are created equal, and there are simply some types that are linked more than others. They are:
Nowadays, we often stumble upon ‘ultimate guides’ on any topic or niche, including the one you are currently reading. In-depth, useful guides are getting linked a lot, simply because they are useful for many people by packing comprehensive information in one place.
Original statistics and data are always useful for a lot of people and are consistently linked by many.
Also popular nowadays, and if you ever wondered why, the answer is that listicles are getting liked by many people for being practical and having a lot of value, and are getting linked all the time.
Useful images, charts, diagrams, and best of all, infographics are always useful and are easy to link.
2. Effective Email Outreach
Emailing bloggers, journalists, or authority sites related to your niche is still effective even in 2017. Here are the steps you can easily follow to start your email outreach campaign.
- Do a Google search of your target keyword and pick the top-most result;
- Use link analysis tools (such as ahrefs), and hit the “backlinks” menu, the sites you found here are all great prospects that will likely link your content (with the same target keyword);
- Use tools like hunter.io to find their email address, and voila!
Remember to reach them with a personalized message. First, that way you can avoid getting into the spam folder. Second, with a personalized message, it is more likely to get at least a reply.
3. Take Advantage of Broken Links
There is a popular technique called the ‘Broken Link Building’ among SEO practitioners. The concept is simple: here, you try to find a website of your niche that has broken links, reach out to them to inform that fact, and offer them to link you instead.
This might seems far-fetched, but actually, yield pretty positive results on average. You can use plugins like LinkMiner to find broken links.
4. Effective Guest Posts
Guest posting is still one of the best ways to get more links, as long as you do it right. Avoid doing any barter or payment, since it will be red flagged by Google very quickly. Avoid using exact-match anchor texts, and only reach authoritative sites that are related to yours. There are a lot of sites that exist solely to publish guest posts. DO NOT use them, as you will be penalized by Google for spammy guest posting.
More Tips For Better Link Building
Besides some of the link building methods and techniques we have shared above, there are several tips, especially do’s and don’ts that will further help your link-building strategy:
1. Track Your Progress
Keeping tracks on your backlinks will help you plan ahead and optimize them when necessary. Track how the links affect your ranking, and track how many people click on your links.
Tracking your link building is not only useful for SEO, but also to optimize your traffic in general. Also, this way you can detect quickly when you have dead links or you are currently linked by a spam site.
2. Stay Consistent
As Mike pointed out, SEO is a long-term business, and building valuable, high-quality backlinks takes time. So, once you’ve developed a working link-building strategy, stay on track and only pivot when necessary.
Although you will need to constantly evaluate your progress and whether your strategy is working, doesn’t mean you should change it all the time when you didn’t see short-term progress.
Be patient and be careful as you are evaluating your strategy.
As an integral part of SEO, you will need to have a long-term plan for your link-building strategy.
Remember that there might be some strategies that work better for your niche, and some strategies that don’t.
The most important thing is to always track your progress, making evaluations, and stay consistent with your long-term strategy.