Demonstrating Authority and Building Relationships with Link Building Strategies
Any links from one website to another are considered a backlink, but not all backlinks are created equal. Getting high-quality links to your website from high authority websites takes work, but it’s worth it to propel your business into a higher position in the SERP. Whether you’re planning to implement strategies yourself or hire an SEO expert, link building is here to stay.
After analyzing 11.8 million Google search results, Backlinko found that the #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than the other results on the first page. Interestingly, Buzzsumo found that 50% of all content on the web doesn’t have any backlinks at all.
Considering how much emphasis the world of SEO and content marketing puts on creating quality content to satisfy increased user experience demands and please Google’s ever-evolving algorithm, not getting backlinks for your content is a huge loss of time and money.
In short, no backlinks mean no visibility. A link-building strategy is an essential part of search engine optimization in 2021. So why isn’t every marketer prioritizing link building? Simply put, it’s hard. According to research from Social Media Today, 41% of marketers consider link building the most challenging part of SEO.
What is Backlinking?
When a web page links to your site, it’s almost like a vote for the validity of your content. Why wouldn’t you ensure that your high-quality content gets a vote? There are a number of different strategies to go about link building including:
- Contributing content to another website in your industry
- Getting contributing authors who wrote a piece of content on your site to promote it
- Asking for a mention from another company where relevant
- Offering working resources from your site where other links were broken
Google makes sense of the web through the strings that connect pages together. Connecting your content to other high-performing domains raises your authority as well.
Key Linking Terminology
- Internal links occur when you link from one page of your website to another. While this link does have SEO value, internal links are more for technical SEO purposes. Internal links should certainly make up part of your strategy, but they should not be the core focus.
- External links are links that directly from your page to a different (but relevant) website.
- Backlinks occur when an external website links back to your content (a mention in an article or something similar).
Determining High-Quality Links
In the same way, you should trust a certified medical professional with a medical degree and years of experience to provide health advice over a random website from someone you’ve never met, Google feels the same.
This phenomenon is known as “Domain Authority.” Links from industry thought leaders or popular resource pages for your area of expertise carry more weight than random websites.
Domain Authority Scores
Tools like Ahrefs provide Domain Authority scores. Put simply, they count the number of unique websites that are linking to the target website and take into account the score of those unique websites. They then use the magic of computing to turn this into a score between 1-100.
Typically, websites with scores under 30 are considered low authority and less helpful for link building, however, domain authority scores are not measures of quality. The target website may just be very new.
Choosing the Best Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink to another webpage. These links can be to other pages on the same website domain or between websites and are usually a contrasting and noticeable color. Anchor text is an important signal for Google in its ranking algorithm.
When your long-tail keywords are used in anchor text, Google gets a better idea about the link’s relevance, value, and context. Generally speaking, the best practice is to use diverse and natural anchor texts.
This can include:
- using your brand name
- a page/post title
- linking the words near your actual keyword
- something generic like “visit site”
Moving beyond general practices, the best way is to analyze the top 5-10 pages that you are competing with. Take all of the anchor texts they are using and break them into groups by type. Looks at what percentages are branded vs. long-tail keyword phrases vs. generic anchor texts.
This approach is more time-consuming, but it will also give you data to make an informed decision.
Now, when it comes to getting links, you won’t always have input on how people link to your site. For this reason, it is equally important to look at what existing anchor text your page already has. If you find that the majority of people linking to you are using the same keyword, you would want to focus on branded or generic anchor texts for the ones you can control.
Taking the time to review your anchor text profile and that of the top competitors is going to be the most accurate approach.
Dofollow vs. Nofollow
Links can serve many purposes, such as sending referral traffic to your site, mentioning you in a manner that builds your brand credibility, or simply to improve rankings for a particular page on your site.
- Follow links have an HTML attribute that allows Google’s crawlers to see connections between websites.
- No-Follow links have an important tag along the lines of ‘rel=“nofollow”’ in the URL of the link.
The SEO value of designated no-follow links has been scrutinized for years, except for when it comes to local SEO where GMB rankings can be improved with no-follow links. Outside of pure SEO value, no-follow links can still be extremely helpful in the right circumstances.
Let’s say you are an injury law firm and you get interviewed by CNN about a major case you are working on, but the link is no-follow. That coverage is likely to make people aware of you that were not previously (brand awareness) and to send people (referral traffic) from CNN to your website, both of which are beneficial to you as a business.
When presented with the opportunity to acquire a no-follow link, you need to stop and ask yourself if there is a potential for non-SEO benefit from the link, if not skip it.
Typically, domain authority comes from do-follow links from a variety of sources. The more unique domains that vote for your website as a resource, the better.
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
Link-Oriented Content Strategy
Not all content is created equally, and it’s very possible to create content for the purpose of serving as a linkable asset. Whether it’s helpful infographics or guides and tutorials, creating content that people want to link to is vital.
Commonly, people will link back to content pieces in which they feature. It’s music easier to achieve 60+ backlinks on a post when you’re featuring quotes from industry experts.
Publishing Original Research
Another method of creating an asset that other websites within your industry would want to link to includes conducting and publishing original research that others can use to back up claims in their own articles.
Broken Link Building
When you go out of your way to offer resources from your own domain to those who may have a dead link on their site, this is called broken link building. Offering working links from your site where other links were broken to fill a niche need is a great way to secure a backlink and be generally helpful.
Link Building FAQ
In order to help you get into the right mindset, we are going to cover some of the most frequently asked questions.
What Type of Link Building Do I Need?
When it comes to link building, there are several ways in which you can acquire links. The type of link-building tactic that will work best will vary by page type.
If you have a long-form guide, resource page link building can work great. If you are trying to promote bottom of funnel pages, you are going to have more luck with guest posting.
What’s more, the types of links that work for GMB, localized organic, and organic SEO have different criteria as well.
- If your primary goal is to improve rankings in the map pack, geo-targeted links are going to carry the most weight.
- If you are a nationwide brand looking to rank organically, getting links from sites with authority, relevancy, and trust is key.
If you plan to run your own link-building campaign, you must take the time to map your tactics to your goals. If you are considering an agency to assist you, be sure to let them know your goals and avoid companies that don’t offer a customized approach to planning your link-building campaign.
How Many Links Do I Need?
The exact number of links you need is dependent upon a couple of factors. For the sake of planning link outreach, the best way to estimate links is by reviewing the existing gap in unique referring domains between your website and that of your competitors.
This should be done on a page level and sitewide. On the page level, determine the most important keyword for each URL on your site that you are going to promote and use a tool like Ahrefs to do a comparison.
The same process can be used on the sitewide level to determine how the overall strength of competing websites will impact your need for links.
How Quickly Should I Build New Links?
Link velocity (the rate at which new links are acquired) isn’t a set number. In order to determine the expected velocity for a particular page, the best thing to do is map out the link growth of competing pages over the past 12 months. This will give you an estimate of how many links per month your competitors are gaining.
Since you are in “catch up” mode, you will want to set your monthly link target for the page higher than the average of your top competitors.
If you prefer a rule of thumb approach, 10-20% total month over month growth in total Referring Domains is typically effective. New websites are the exception to this. If your site is new or has under 50 RDs, your first 3-6 months should be capped at around 20 links per month.
In both cases, using the competitor velocity data is the best approach, and is the route we recommend going.
Will Link Building Help My Domain Authority?
Yes, but depending on your needs, this isn’t always the goal.
The popular MOZ metric Domain Authority is something that many of you have heard of and associate with the value of your website and that of incoming links. However, this isn’t really the case.
A site (your site or one you get a link from) can have a high domain authority score and still not rank well or be a good link.
As mentioned before, in some cases like GMB SEO, the very best links for the job will come from location-specific websites with very low metrics. These won’t help your DA, but they will help you get more visibility, traffic, and leads.
When you are setting your business goals, specific to SEO and link building, your focus should be on which types of link building will help you achieve those, not on improving your score from any particular third-party tool. They are great as quick reference points, but not as KPIs.
Strategic Link Building for B2B Firms
Overall, integrating link building into your digital marketing strategy is vital to your success online. Whether your firm has a dedicated backlink outreach team or is only setting foot into link building, building online connections should be a top SEO priority. If you’re considering investing in an outsourced SEO team for your link building, consider checking out our SEO hiring guide.