01 Jun

Posted by Emma Stewart

Link Building in a Nutshell

We’ve all heard about the importance of building links for SEO. But what actually is link building and how can you leverage your great content to maximise the impact?

To put it simply, think of links as a vote. Every time you receive a link to your site from another, it sends a signal to Google (and other search engines) that your site is offering ‘link-worthy’ content to its users. It’s just the same as how talent shows base contestant popularity on the number of public votes they receive.

However, as with all things in life, quality outranks quantity.

This is where PageRank and Domain Authority come into play. Here at Star Digital, we use Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) to compare our clients’ website authority against their competitors. Domain Authority is ranked between 1 and 100 and takes a number of different factors into consideration to predict how well a website will perform in search results. To increase your domain’s authority, you should focus on earning links from higher authority domains, rather than gaining lots of low authority links.

For example, 1 link from a related high authority website, such as bbc.co.uk, would be more beneficial to your SEO efforts than 10 links from a series of websites with virtually no domain authority. Moz has created an excellent guide to link building metrics and domain authority that’s totally worth a read.

Google’s Guidelines for Link Building

We’ve come a long way in SEO best practice. Gone are the days of old school link building tactics, such as purchasing links en masse and ‘link for a link’ practices. Instead, these tactics have been replaced with user-centric content that provides more relevant information on a given subject.

In a recent blog, Google’s webmasters reminded SEO’s the following:

“Lately we’ve seen an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts. These articles are generally written by or in the name of one website, and published on a different one.

Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company. However, what does violate Google’s guidelines on link schemes is when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site.”

This latest post demonstrates how Google are cranking up their efforts to reward quality content. In today’s SEO environment, think of link-building as being ‘featured’ on a website. If the destination content fits well with the content where you’re being mentioned, then this provides a natural and valuable user experience. For example, if you’re reading an article on the best beauty products and there’s links directly to where you can purchase the products, this provides users with the ultimate experience. This really is where multiple digital marketing practices crossover – SEO, Content, PR and Customer Experience.

Google essentially wants proof of the quality of your content and its guidelines are in place to ensure that you’re earning links back to your site and not paying for them.

How to Earn Backlinks to Your Website?

There’s numerous ways of earning links back to your website.

Focus on Quality Content

Advice from Google itself is that you focus on creating high quality, unique content that your target audience are craving. By offering content that resonates with your audience and is like nothing out there, you increase your chances of it naturally gaining popularity over the internet and being linked to by other websites related to your niche.

But don’t overlook the power of distribution. You can have the best content in the world, but without a distribution strategy, the world will never know. Write press releases, reach out to relevant influencers in your sector, share on your social network, email to your database and ask them to share. The wider the reach, the more likely you’ll earn a link.

In Google’s own words:

“Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”

Link Building SEOReach Out to Influencers

Identify the key influencers in your industry and start building relationships. However, don’t make the fatal mistake of diving straight in for the link, as chances are, you’ll be declined.

Start by commenting on their articles and engaging with them on social media – get your name known to them. Next, get to know their audience and their content. Only once you understand these are you ready to offer your content to be featured. However, make sure you pitch something that fits their target audience and adds value to their users.

Another useful way to be featured on relevant websites is through a platform called HARO – short for Help a Reporter Out. This provides influential journalists with a platform to post article opportunities to a database of experts. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive daily emails with opportunities. Leverage your expertise to create an excellent piece of content that’s totally unique and offers an insider opinion.

Become a Thought Leader

Quality content often the results of being a thought leader in your industry. Through your in-depth sector knowledge and expertise, you’re able to offer the latest trends, industry insights, while offering your own viewpoint.

By becoming a thought-leader, you’ll elevate your brand across the digital world, and increase the chance of being linked to by other industry influencers.

Key Takeaways

Google have made it pretty clear that link building should never be the end goal. Instead seek out link placements that elevate brand awareness for your website and offer real value to the user. Focus your efforts on quality over quantity and always stay ahead of your competitors, as the importance of domain authority is not going away.

Here at Star Digital, we’re experts at devising and executing industry-leading digital strategies and campaigns across the full digital marketing spectrum. Speak to our friendly Digital Marketing team today to find out how we can help you. Call us on 01604 696385 or email info@star-digital.co.uk

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