Link Building 101: What You Need to Know to Get Started

“If you build it they will come”.  Kevin Costner will live on forever because he uttered those words in the movie Field of Dreams in 1989.  While it may still be true for a lot of things, it’s a dangerous philosophy to run your online business by.  In order to be successful, websites need more than to simply be built.  They need compelling content, a functional design, personalized user experiences, and need to be user friendly. They also need traffic.  Link building is one of the most important ways to help drive traffic to your website.  Not only that, but quality inbound links help increase your search ranking.  Let’s talk about why link building is important and how you can get started on increasing your links today.

Link Building: What is it and why is it important?

Before we get into why link building is important, let’s make sure that we all know what it is.  Link building is when you acquire links from other websites into your website.  It’s one way of driving traffic to your website. There is no one way to build links.  It’s a difficult and complex process and one that SEO professionals agree is the hardest part of their jobs.  You could spend hours trying to master the art of link building and if you’re successful at generating high-quality links, it can truly put you ahead of your competition.

Link building continues to be one of the many factors that Google and other search engines consider when ranking search results.  We don’t know how many you need to rank above the competition; we just know that you need them.  Google isn’t denying that links are a major factor in ranking.  They recently revealed that content, links pointing to your site and RankBrain (their artificial intelligence system) are the three most important signals contributing to the result of a search query.  These are not the only things that determine your ranking but they are what Google considers to be the top 3.  If that’s not reason enough to learn more about link building and to make sure you’re doing it right, I don’t know what is.
Link building doesn’t just make Google and the search engines happy.  It’s also good for business.  It involves reaching out to other relevant websites and blogs in your industry. This outreach can help you build long-term relationships with key influencers in your industry, and these relationships can mean that your brand becomes highly regarded and trusted.

Building a Link Building Campaign

There are white hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics that companies can use to help drive links back to their website.  White hat techniques are considered ethical SEO.  Black hat SEO refers to aggressive tactics that are implemented only to impress or trick search engines—not humans.  Grey hat tactics are those that fall somewhere in between.  So how can you gain/earn links to start a link building campaign?  First, let’s look at some things not to do:

  • Ask for links.  You can’t just call up a website and ask them to link to your website.  You need to offer something of value to their visitors.
  • Buying links.  If nothing else stay as far away from this temptation as possible.  If you’re caught using this black hat tactic you could be penalized by Google.
  • Cloaking.  This is when you show search engines different content than what you serve up to your users.
  • Link farms. This is when a group of websites get together and decide that they are all going to link to each other.
  • Buying expired domains. While this is considered more of a grey hat tactic, we still wouldn’t recommend it.  Companies who employ this tactic have a watch list of domains that are about to expire.  When the domain does expire they immediately buy the domain and replace the pages with links to their website.

While these are just a few of the link building tactics to stay away from they are some of the more popular ones that companies fall victim to.  Moving on.  Let’s review a few of the white hat approaches to building credible, authoritative links to your website.

  • Reviews and testimonials: Acquiring reviews and testimonials about your business has tremendous business impact in building good online sentiment and serves as a referral source for future business.  It also helps in your link building strategy.   Testimonials and reviews offer a great opportunity for you to get a backlink and potential traffic from the review sites that your customers leave reviews on.
  • Blogs: Consistent, frequent and industry specific blogs that focus on satisfying your customer’s needs will, over time, gain authority.  Once you have done this, other bloggers, websites and businesses will want to link to your blog.  Don’t just blog on your own site.  Reach out to other industry influencers to see if you can establish a content partnership where you each guest blog on their others site.  Guest blogging is a great way to get backlinks and increase search ranking.
  •  Link baiting: When you create content that that encourages people to link to your page from another website you have participated in link baiting.
  • Web directory linking: The best directories to participate in are the ones that also provide useful information for your potential customers.

Getting Started

Remember, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  As with most SEO strategies, link building takes time—and a lot of knowledge.

The benefits of a successful link building program include not just increased SEO but also greater visibility online, more traffic being driven to your website, and an increase in brand awareness.  Thanks to Google algorithms and other search engine changes, the link building world is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to get on board with this growing form of marketing.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.