In this post we’ll cover:
- What is link building
- Why link building matters
- Strategy #1: Guest posting
- Strategy #2: Competitor backlink analysis
- Strategy #3: Testimonials
- Using third-party link building services
Implementing link building strategies is key to boosting a website’s rankings in major search engines like Google. It’s one of the oldest techniques in SEO, yet still today it stands the test of time.
But why is link building so crucial for an online business, and what are the best link building strategies for 2020?
Keep reading to find out answer:
What is Link Building?
Link building is the process of systematically getting other websites to link back to your website. It’s when a third-party site includes a hyperlink in their content that directs the user to your site. Link building is an essential part of the content creation process. Some companies employ people whose only job is to build links to their website, while others use a third-party link building service (more on this later).
Why Links Are Vital To Your Online Business
In a word, having backlinks to your website makes it appear more favorably to search engine crawlers, which will then reward your website by making it appear higher in their search rankings. And since search engines, particularly Google, are the primary way people seek out information on the internet, having your site appear as a top result can have immense benefits.
But it’s important to note that link building is only a powerful SEO technique when implemented after on-page SEO. On-page SEO is a series of best practices around how to build a webpage so that it’s optimized for Google (for more, visit our guide on how to create SEO content).
Without perfect on-page SEO, the page is set up to fail. Not only will it be hard to get links, but you’ll also struggle to rank even with a load of high authority links.
But, when correctly executed in conjunction with on-page SEO and great content, an online business will see considerable growth from building backlinks.
The best way to understand a link is by counting it as a vote of confidence in your page. The more votes (links) the page has, the more Google deems it worthy of appearing at the top of their search results.
But this isn’t the only benefit of links. From a human point of view, it also helps to build trust. Think of it this way:
If a friend suggests a shop to another friend, chances are they will trust the suggestion. This analogy works the same with links.
By the website linking to the business, they are saying “Hey, check out this site, it has some excellent information.”
Odds are the user will trust the suggestion and click the link, meaning more traffic to your page.
Link Building Strategies That Actually Work
As mentioned earlier, link building is one of the oldest SEO techniques, which means there’s plenty of link building strategies out there.
Here are three strategies that any website owner can use to grow their business:
Guest posting is one of the most popular link building strategies out there. This is when a third-party outlet allows you to create and share content on their site which includes a backlink to your website.
However, guest posting can be a bit controversial.
SEOs have been debating whether it’s classed as a “white hat” or “black hat technique.” Black hat SEO techniques are those that violate the search engines’ terms of service.
The reason guest posting may be seen as a black hat SEO technique is that it’s an unnatural way to build links. In other words, the website isn’t choosing to link to your website simply because they think it’s good. The relationship is transactional. Generally speaking, search engines prefer when links are created organically.
Even so, guest posting is useful for:
- Marketing an online business
- Feeding Google important metrics
Keep in mind that website owners might actually charge you to share a guest post on their website based on their Domain Authority (DA). This is a score between 0 - 100 that search engines assign to a website based on its relevance in a specific subject area or industry. The higher the DA, the more authoritative the search engine thinks you are (and the more likely you are to rank highly).
In other words, a link from a website with a high DA means a stronger vote of confidence than a link from a website with a low DA.
In order to maximize the ROI from your guest post, keep the following in mind:
- Avoid utilizing link/guest post farms.
- Make sure your article isn’t labelled as a “guest post” or “sponsored.”
- Make sure you have other external and internal links included so your article appears natural.
It takes four simple steps to achieve guest posting stardom:
Find Your Target
The first step to guest posting is finding sites that are relevant to your page. The idea is to find sites with a high DA and lots of traffic.
Finding these sites requires nothing more than a quick Google search. Try using phrases like these:
- Keyword + “Guest Article”
- Keyword + “Add Guest Post”
- Keyword + “Submit Guest Post”
Open each page and copy the website address and add it to an Excel spreadsheet. This should be continued until there are at least 100 potential targets.
Analysis Of The Sites
Now that you have a list of potential opportunities, it’s time to see if the sites are worth the time.
To analyze sites correctly, use a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs.
Ahrefs and SEMRush are keyword research tools that can be used to check the domain ranking of sites and their monthly traffic:
Paste the site’s URL into the search bar and conduct a domain analysis. Your software will then come up with all of the website’s performance metrics, including its DA.
Pitch The Site Owner
Shoot the site owner an email that grabs their attention. This is the most essential step in the process.
Remember they probably get hundreds of emails a day asking the same thing, so the need to stand out is imperative.
Create Excellent Content
At this point you’ve agreed on a topic and word count with the site owner and it’s time to write some fantastic content. The content needs to be relevant to the site’s target audience and intrigue them enough to get clicks.
Make sure the link to your site is placed naturally so that Google doesn’t remove it for being spammy.
Once published, you have your link!
Competitor Backlink Analysis
A competitor backlink analysis is when you audit your competitors’ backlinks to inform your own link building strategy.
By running a simple competitor backlink analysis, you have the opportunity to:
- Uncover the link building strategies of your competitors.
- Find and replicate their most important backlinks.
There’s plenty of tools that can help to find competitor backlinks quickly and efficiently. Here’s a list of the top backlink checking tools:
- SEO Spyglass
These tools can reveal the backlink profile of each of your competitors. From there, it’s all about knowing how to take advantage of the information.
Here are the three steps you need to take to perform a competitor backlink analysis:
The idea is to target the top 10 sites ranking for the chosen keyword you want to rank for. Let’s take the keyword “ecommerce SEO” as an example:
The top results will all have one thing in common: Google loves their backlink profile. Make an Excel sheet for each keyword your site needs to rank for to be competitive.
Once the final list of URLs is created, it’s time for the next step:
Find Their Backlink Data
This data can be found using tools like Ahrefs with minimal effort. Search for the pages using the Ahrefs search bar. On the left-hand side of the screen is the menu. On the menu, click on “Backlinks.”
On the screen, there will be a list of all the backlinks that point to the page. It will also present other valuable information such as DA.
All of this data needs to be exported into an Excel sheet. Then you’re ready for the next step.
Analyze The Data
Now it’s a case of filtering out the spammy links, so all that’s left is high-quality linking opportunities.
These will be all the links that Google thinks makes this page deserve to rank highly. The idea is to find ways to replicate competitor’s backlinks.
From here it’s all about explaining to the site owner why your site should be linked to instead of your competitors’. To do this you need to need to come up with a plan of attack and pitch, pitch, pitch.
Here are some things you can show a site owner that will persuade them to replace your competitors’ backlink with your own:
- Your content is “better” (more detailed, better written, etc.)
- Your content is more timely.
- Your content is more relevant to their audience.
Running backlink analysis is an excellent way of saving:
These factors are what make this strategy so effective. It allows the smaller fish to compete with the sharks.
The best bit is, you don’t have to spend a fortune creating a whole new backlink plan.
Using testimonials to score quality links is our third and final link building strategy recommendation.
The idea here is to reach out to brands whose products or services are mentioned throughout your site and offer the site owner a testimonial in return for a link back to your site.
The process is fairly simple. Here’s what you need to do:
Make A List Of Targets
Finding the target should be reasonably straightforward: Just think about the products or services you’ve plugged on your site or products and services your business uses regularly.
Then make a list of which of those brands you want linking back to your site. Make sure they:
- Have a testimonials page or publish testimonials on their home page.
- Are relevant to your target audience.
Once that step is done, it’s time for pitching.
Making A Pitch
Finding the right person to talk to can be pretty tricky. Luckily there’s tools out there that can do the hard work for you. The service Find That Lead is a great place to start looking for an email address to pitch to.
For a pitch to standout it needs to include the following elements:
- An introduction of yourself and your brand.
- An explanation of what makes their product or service special to you.
- Details on how their product or service made your life easier.
- A request for a link to your site in exchange for a testimonial.
Be prepared for people not to respond—that’s pretty common when doing link building outreach in general. We recommend following up after a few days if you don’t hear back.
If they reply and are responsive to the idea, it’s a simple case of writing a great testimonial.
Link Building Services
Although link building strategies are relatively easy to execute, many people just don’t have the time or the patience to do it themselves.
This is why some turn to link building services to do the hard work for them. These are organizations that will do link building outreach on your behalf.
But you need to be very careful when selecting a link building service. There are lots of sharks out there who are more than happy to take money from a client and place spammy, low-quality links that do more harm to a site than good.
Therefore, make sure you do your homework before investing in a link building service.
Link Building Strategies: Wrapping Up
For any online business to reap the rewards of a high search engine ranking, it needs an excellent backlink profile.
There’s an abundance of link building strategies out there, but the three best are:
- Guest posting
- Competitor backlink analysis
And finally, if you don’t have enough time, then link building services can be used. Just make sure you dodge the sharks in the pool.