If SEO was the human body, then links would be the arteries connecting all the different organs together. Without them, no website would rank the way we want it to in search engines and end up getting neglected in cyberspace.
But link building is no simple task. Sure, it’s easy enough to add links to your own website. But getting other sites to link to yours is a much tricker task. Here’s why link building is so important for SEO and the best way of going about it.
What is link building and why is it so crucial?
Put simply, link building is the process of obtaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own. Search engines use links to ‘crawl’ the web – including the links between the individual pages on your website and the links between entire websites.
Once search engines have crawled pages across the web, they can extract the content of those pages and add it to their indexes. This is how they can decide whether the page is high-quality enough to rank well for relevant keywords, credibility and originality. To make this decision, search engines look beyond the content of the page – they look at the number of hyperlinks directing to the page from external websites and the quality of those websites.
Definitely not. Link building is not for the faint hearted… so much so that many Search Engine Optimisers agree that link building is the hardest part of their job. So if you can master the art of link building, you’ll be ahead of the game compared to your competitors. And, with a wide variety of ways to build links, surely it’s worth at least giving it a go?
How to build links
Despite the difficulty of link building, there are thankfully many different ways to try it. Whether it’s as simple as focusing on creating quality content or the trickier task of gaining links from other sites, link building is a colourful and complex game.
Create unique and quality content.
Like anything related to SEO, creating unique and quality content is at the core of great link building. You want to produce compelling content that users will want to share, reference and most importantly – link to. Creating and maintaining a blog on your website is a great way to do this, as well as creating a tone of voice that runs all the way across your marketing channels making your brand identifiable.
Reach out to industry influencers.
No matter your industry, there’s bound to be influencers in the field. Whether these are fashion bloggers or IT specialists, it’s definitely worth reaching out to these experts to see if they can share your content. This can be difficult, especially when you’re cold-emailing a stranger. You could go down the route of ‘this is something I think you’d really enjoy’, and hope that they actually do enjoy it enough to share. Also make sure to return the favour and link out from your own site – that’s just good manners.
Involve influencers in your content
If the above strategy doesn’t work, it might be a better idea to get creative when it comes to influencers. If you have a blog on your website (which if you haven’t, find out why you should be blogging), try reaching out to the influencer to see if they’d be happy to provide a guest post, or even be interviewed. It’s highly likely the influencer will go on to include a link to the post on their website, as well as their social channels.
Make linking to your website effortless.
Getting other websites to link to yours is hard enough; you don’t want to make the actual process of linking to your site difficult. Try creating HTML-ready snippets that people can insert directly into their content to link to you; this is especially helpful if linkers in your field aren’t particularly digital-savvy.
Don’t underestimate the power of internal linking.
It might be almost out of our control to get others to link to our site, but we can definitely focus on internal linking. You have pages and posts on your website that need to be seen; make the most of them by linking to them from other pages. Remember to use anchor text carefully – SEO best practises state that anchor text be relevant to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text. For extra points, use key words in your anchor text.
How long will it take for link building to work?
Like with most things relating to SEO, link building is no over-night success story. It’s important to create a strategy that includes setting goals and continuously measuring metrics. The length of time it’ll take to see your site’s ranking improve will also depend on the competiveness of your industry, how competitive your keywords are and the type of links you’re building.
It would be a good idea to take note of where you currently rank before you get started, as you’ll be able to determine your link building success this way. Whether it takes weeks or months to see the fruits of your link building labour take shape, it’s important that either yourself or the parties involved understand that patience is required so expectations can be managed. Nobody wants the pressure of a client breathing down their neck when building links!