A good link building strategy will help you get high-quality backlinks that will increase your website’s search rankings, traffic, brand awareness and even revenue. If you’re not careful, though, the wrong backlinks can cause irreparable damage to your website. That’s why it’s vital that you know exactly what you’re doing.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a thorough guide on the right ways to gain the backlinks that will really benefit your business. We’ll also let you know the common mistakes you need to avoid along the way.
Building backlinks: it’s an art, not a science
Spend five minutes searching for ways to get backlinks and you’ll encounter dozens of services boasting guaranteed results. Unfortunately, it’s really not that easy. More often than not, the tactics used by these services (paid backlinks, submissions to web directories and spamming blog comments) will lead to Google penalising your website.
So, how exactly do you go about gaining high-quality backlinks? There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach with link building. It requires a lot of trial and error, which is why it can be so difficult. If you’re willing to put in the effort, however, it could pay off exponentially.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
How to get high-quality backlinks
Quantity vs. quality
When it comes to backlink strategies, many businesses make the mistake of assuming that the more links they have, the better off they’ll be. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you have hundreds of websites linking to you, it won’t necessarily show Google that your website is trustworthy.
Why? Because not all backlinks are equal in Google’s eyes. It all ultimately boils down to the quality of the website linking to you. Instead of picking out a random website directory, you need to be on the lookout for websites with a high Domain Authority (DA)—starting at 0, all the way to 100, the higher a website’s DA is, the more trustworthy it is to Google, and the more valuable your backlink will be.
To find out what a website’s DA is, you can use Moz’s domain analysis tool. All you have to do is enter a URL and Moz will tell you all you need to know.
Image source: Alexander Mils (via Unsplash)
Ask any SEO expert about creating a link building strategy and they’ll tell you that it’s a time-consuming process that will involve a lot of juggling and fine-tuning. Though it will certainly pay off in the long run, a lot of businesses opt instead for an ‘easier’ approach: buying links from other websites.
It sounds pretty good, right? Just spend a small fee here and there, and you can get high-quality backlinks that will help you shoot up the search rankings and increase brand awareness in no time at all.
Alas… as with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The entire point of backlinks is to show Google that other websites trust you and see you as some kind of authority in your specific industry or sector. They’re supposed to occur naturally—external sources see your content, or your services, and decide to link to you because they want to.
If you buy links, however, you could end up facing serious consequences:
- You could be penalised by Google. If Google comes to the conclusion that you’ve been buying links from external sources, it could seriously affect your search rankings.
- It could cost you. Buying links isn’t a cheap process. Depending on the website, you’re looking at upwards of £100 per link. One link won’t impact your rankings much, so you’ll end up having to spend a small fortune to make any headway.
- It might not work. You could buy links from fifty websites with high DAs, but there’s no guarantee that it will actually work.
Rather than opting for the ‘easier’ approach, you should focus on following our recommended steps to get high-quality backlinks organically.
Create shareable content
If you want to gain organic backlinks, your first port of call should be your content. No-one is going to link to your blog posts, web copy or other general content if they’re not actually interested in it. This means that you need to think long and hard about creating content that is user-focused.
And that’s not all. BuzzSumo’s 2015 study of 1 million blog posts and articles found that “the majority of content published on the internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links”. That’s why you’ve got to think about the format of your content.
Instead of settling for a basic blog post, try to create something that’s more engaging and shareable. BuzzSumo found that list posts and ‘why’ posts tend to gain a higher number of links, whereas videos and quizzes usually result in a high number of shares.
Additional content formats that might help you get high-quality backlinks include:
- How-to guides
More can be better
Image source: Glenn Carstens-Peters (via Unsplash)
Got a backlog of blog posts and articles? Take a look at their word counts. Odds are, like a lot of people, you tend to prefer writing short form content. Short and snappy is best for readers, right? Maybe—but it comes with the disadvantage of affecting your chances of gaining the right backlinks.
Another finding from BuzzSumo’s study was that long form content of over 1,000 words receives more links and shares than short form content. This makes sense, as websites want to link to informative, useful content that will benefit their target audience and bolster their own content, hence why how-to guides are so popular.
Take some time to look into topics that have been overlooked in your sector, so that you can create in-depth, thorough content that people will want to link to. You might even want to consider creating some ‘ultimate guides’—this is a good way to set yourself up as an authoritative source of information and advice for people.
Take advantage of news and trends
One of the best ways to gain backlinks is by posting timely, topical content. If you manage to jump onto a news piece, issue or trend quickly enough, you could end up with links from various news sites and media outlets, not to mention gaining some decent publicity.
So, keep your eyes peeled for any changes to your industry or sector, current issues that you could potentially shed some light on, or just general trending topics that you can take advantage of.
Collect your own data
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Remember what we said about people only wanting to link to useful and informative content? One of the best ways to create such content is by collecting your own data. If you can, try to conduct questionnaires, interviews or general research. Not only is this data valuable for backing up new insights, it’s also a good way to gain backlinks.
When people write reports, whitepapers or articles in general, they usually look for research/statistics/quotes that they can cite, in order to back up their opinion. If your data is useful, someone will cite it in their own posts and then link back to your original work. Once one person does it, it’s likely that more people will follow suit—cementing you as an authoritative figure in your industry and increasing the chances that others will link to you.
Opt for the Skyscraper technique
Created by Brian Dean, of Backlinko, the Skyscraper technique is a content tactic that can help you get high-quality backlinks, if followed correctly. The first thing you need to do is find a successful piece of content, relevant to your business, that has been linked to by a large number of websites. Next, you need to try and create something even better. Once you’ve got this content, you then need to promote it to websites that have linked to the other original post to see if they’d be willing to switch it out for yours (given that it should be far more valuable).
You should be aware, however, that this technique will involve a lot of hard work. You will need to supersede the original piece in every way—whether that’s in word count, images or depth—if you want to stand a chance of being linked to.
Look at your competitors
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Next on your agenda is finding gaps in your current list of backlinks. Odds are, there are at least a dozen websites out there that would find your content useful to link to. The only reason they haven’t is simply because they’re not aware of you.
So, how do you find these websites? Have a nosey at your competitors’ backlinks! Compile a list of your competitors and use a link analysis tool, like Moz’s Link Explorer or Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker, to access a list of their current backlinks. Make your way through these lists to identify websites that have linked to more than one of your competitors—there’s a chance that they might be willing to link to you as well.
Of course, for this to happen, you’ll need to reach out to them directly to ask. If you can, the best way to do this is by showing them why it’s worthwhile to link to you, e.g., linking them to a relevant, valuable piece of content, or, by following the Skyscraper technique mentioned earlier.
Make sure you’re being linked to
There’s a good chance that there’s a website out there that has mentioned your brand name, spoken about your product or service, cited a quote or statistic from your research, or even used one of your images, without actually linking to you. This is otherwise known as an unlinked brand mention.
In most cases, the website doing this is none the wiser. They’ve either forgotten to include the link, or didn’t think it was an important thing to add. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get high-quality backlinks with little to no effort—after all, they already think you’re good enough to mention on their website or blog. All they need to do now is add a quick link!
So, how can you go about finding unlinked brand mentions? A great place to start is with SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring tool, or Ahrefs’ Content Explorer. Once you’ve got your list, you can get in touch with the websites to thank them for the mention and also ask them if they’d be able to include a link.
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By now, you’ll already know that having customers write testimonials for your business can give you a real boost. However, writing about your experiences on other websites can also be useful for you! If you use a particular service, product or system for your business, you could offer to write a testimonial for the business in question, which could help you get a high-quality backlink.
Ideally, you want to make the testimonial as personal as possible. Make sure that it’s thorough, and then include a picture of you, your job role, your company name and a link to your website. Though most businesses will be more than happy to include a link, some might be slightly more reluctant. That doesn’t mean you should withhold the testimonial, though—view this as a step towards building a relationship that can benefit both sides.
Before we finish, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind when following our advice with your link building strategy…
Pay attention to your anchor text
The purpose of anchor text is to tell people (and search engines) what your website is about. This means that you should avoid using vague anchor text like “click here” or “this website”, as it offers no useful information. Instead, pick out words that relate to your services or the content that’s being linked to.
Make sure that you’re not keyword stuffing with your backlinks. You don’t want to use the exact same keyword(s) each time because it can start to look slightly spammy to Google. Instead, try to use a variety of short-tail and long-tail keywords.
Track your backlinks
It’s not enough to simply make your way through the steps above—you’ve also got to actively keep track of your backlinks. Not only will doing so help you figure out if your link building strategy is working, it will also allow you to quickly jump onto any issues that arise, e.g., a website linking to the wrong article on your blog, or using a broken link.
Remember that it will take time
Link building can take a while to bear fruit, which is why so many people attempt to take shortcuts by buying links. As frustrating as it might be to have to wait months to truly see if your strategy is working, try to remember that a watched pot never boils. Instead of staring at your list of backlinks, focus your attention on something different, such as developing your content strategy or working on your creativity.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some much needed help and inspiration for injecting some life into your backlink strategy. If you’re looking for more SEO and content advice, keep your eyes glued to the Supersede Media Blog!