Unlike on-site SEO, link building is all about improving your search ranking by what happens off your site. It’s about what happens in the background.
Whenever other sites link to pages on yours, you earn valuable backlinks that boost your site’s online authority. And if you want to rank high on Google, having quality backlinks is a must.
There are two basic types of backlinks:
No matter what type of backlink you are after, getting them will require a robust plan.
Black hat SEO refers to manipulating search engine algorithms for higher indexing scores. However, Google actively looks out for link building schemes like this and penalizes and demotes websites that engage in them.
In contrast, ethical link building takes diligent effort and patience. You won’t see results overnight. So it’s important to have a link building strategy in place that will set you up for long-term success.
Here is a timeline you can follow for a perfect link building campaign:
First, identify the backlinks you already have via a complete backlink audit. If your website is brand new, you may not have any. But if it has been around for a while, you may have some without even knowing it.
Not only will these link building tools show you what sites are linking to yours but you’ll see other useful metrics like their domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), and estimated monthly traffic.
Analyze your backlinks. Pay attention to where they are coming from and what anchor texts they use. This will tell you a lot about your site and what’s working and what’s not.
Do some of your pages have more backlinks than others? Make note of any trends you see.
Also, get rid of spammy backlinks or those from negative SEO campaigns, which actually hurt your search ranking. Disavow them by submitting a file to Google. In some cases, link removal can be just as effective as link building.
Now it’s time to look at your competitor’s backlink profiles. Use the same backlink checker you used before to compare your competitor’s websites to yours. What are they doing well? Make note of any trends you see.
Also identify what websites are linking to your competitors’ sites so you can have an idea of what your target consumers value.
With a clear picture of where your website stands compared to your competitors, it’s time to set some goals. After all, you can’t make a backlink plan if you don’t know where you want to go.
When setting link building goals, consider the following questions:
Make your goals SMART as well. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. If you make your goals SMART, you significantly increase your chances of achieving them.
Perform a gap analysis. That means compare your backlink profile now to where you would like it to be. This will show you how far you have left to go.
Finally, write down all your goals and share them so others can help keep you accountable.
Now it’s time for the creative part—creating content that’s worthy of being linked to, aka linkable assets.
Focus on identifying and creating pillar content. Pillar content usually gives a broad overview of a subject in a very comprehensive and informative way. When done right, people will want to link to it as a helpful resource.
Try to make your content unique as well. Chances are that the internet already has content out there on your topic. But just because you don’t have a unique topic doesn’t mean you can’t say it in a unique way.
For example, you could distill a complex topic into a helpful infographic that can be shared easily. Napkin Finance does a great job at this:
Obviously, there’s already a wealth of information out there on renting vs. buying a house. But by putting the most essential points on an easy-to-read infographic, Napkin Finance creates a unique resource for others to reference.
On top of making your linkable assets interesting and attractive, optimize them for on-site SEO. This means targeting keywords, including external and internal links, structuring the copy with a table of contents, and optimizing images, titles, subtitles, meta descriptions, and more. The more you perfect the on-site appearance of your linkable asset, the more likely others will find it and link to it.
Also, try linking to authoritative websites. This not only helps your SEO but creates the opportunity for a reciprocal linking relationship to develop. If you provide a link to someone else, they may take notice of your content and link back to you as well.
Whatever you do, always make sure your content adds value to the reader. So long as you can do that, others will naturally take notice.
With your high-quality content in hand, you’re ready to promote it.
One of the easiest ways to promote your content online is using social media. Just share a link or snippet of your linkable asset on Facebook or Twitter and see what kind of response you get. You can then use any likes or shares as prospecting opportunities in the next step.
On social media, you can also tag your content with hashtags to be sorted into feeds for different trends and topics. This gives you some added exposure to consumers who follow those topics.
You can also share your content in forums and online communities. Consider responding to a question on sites like Quora and Reddit with a reference to your content. Anything you can do to get your content out there helps.
You can also blog for more exposure. Try to post weekly if not daily. This will produce a steady stream of fresh content that can attract more traffic to your site and help visitors discover your linkable assets.
Finally, use an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar gives you a schedule for when to publish new content. This helps you stay on top of your goals and create a steady stream of content that others can count on.
Outreach is the final and perhaps hardest step in link building. It requires actively searching out websites that you would like backlinks from. Here are few places you can look:
Each of these can be a rich source for backlink outreach leads.
Once you’ve identified some leads, find a point of contact you can talk to about acquiring a backlink. This could be the site owner, the PR department, or the editorial team.
If you have a name but don’t have the email address for someone you need to contact, try using an online tool like Mailscoop to get their contact information.
No doubt, you won’t get a response from many you reach out to. But the key is consistency. Just don’t fear rejection and remember that every “no” leads you closer to your next “yes.” Eventually, you’ll find some golden backlink partners who are interested in your content and in working with you.
After you’ve completed the final step, track of your progress.
Periodically pull up your backlink checker and see where you stand. If you aren’t getting many backlinks, reevaluate your linkable assets. Can you improve their quality or relevance?
Also, check how your site ranks for target keywords on search engines. If you aren’t seeing any upward momentum, you might need to make adjustments. Consider the DA and PA of your target backlink sites. Are they too low?
And finally, remember that link building takes time. So don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. As the adage goes, slow and steady wins the race.
By diligently following the timeline above, you’ll eventually build up a reservoir of backlinks that can catapult your website into the top search results.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. If you don’t have the time or skill to implement a link building strategy, SEO.co can help. Our white label SEO experts have decades of experience curating high-quality backlinks via quality content writing services. And we also have public relations with top online publications. Reach out today for a free consultation on how we can help you get the high-authority backlinks you need. We’d love to hear from you!