But…(and that’s a big but), here are some considerations to keep in mind when understanding how link building might influence your rankings and the time it might take:
- There is a big difference between ranking and search engine indexation and while your content may be indexed, it can take a VERY long time to rank.
- While you might see rapid movement for some long tail or local SEO terms within just a couple of months, the broad match short-tail keywords might take 3-5 years to rank well enough to get the leads and business growth you are seeking.
- The quality and relevance of the links you acquire will be a determinant for how quickly your rankings improve (or don’t).
- Depending on the age of your site and content, you may experience some search ranking volatility (aka, “Google Dancing”) before your rankings improve. This is especially true if the links pointing to your site are coming from high authority websites.
- Thanks to artificial intelligence, your links aren’t the only thing that matter. The quality of the content plays a major role. If your content is poor, you’re less likely to rank. Focus on the quality of your assets and the links will be easier to acquire.
In this article, we’ll go over exactly what you need to do to take control of your link building efforts.
We’ll cover what link building is, what we do and don’t know about it, link building factors, and what you can do now to increase your returns.
Table of Contents
What is Link Building?
Every link from another website to yours is called a backlink. Backlinks are like votes for your site. They tell Google that others think your site is important enough to reference. The more backlinks your site has, the more authority and value Google attributes to it.
Simple enough, right?
What We Don’t Know about Link Building
Well, since Google doesn’t reveal the exact mechanics behind their ranking algorithms, there’s a lot we still don’t know about link building.
For example, we don’t know exactly how long it will take for a backlink to impact search rankings because every website and every link is different. Without a full view under the hood of Google’s algorithm, we’re always left a little in the dark.
On top of that, there are at least 200 Google ranking factors. So it’s hard to pinpoint a shift in search ranking to a specific backlink. The change could have happened for 199 other reasons.
What We Know about Backlinks
That said, there are (still) some things we do know about truly effective link building campaigns.
First of all, we know that link building, like SEO, takes time.
A typical link building campaign looks something like this:
- Research. You do some keyword research to find other websites that are already ranking well for your target keyword.
- Outreach. You reach out for a backlink. For example, you could guest post on their site or introduce them to a helpful web resource.
- Backlink. They publish on their website a link to yours from a web page or blog post.
- Index. Search engines like Google index the new backlink and adjust search rankings accordingly.
The initial link building process alone can take months. It depends on how fast you can find quality websites that will provide high quality links without having to pay for them.
We also know there’s a delay between when you acquire the backlink to when Google’s algorithm crawls it. With the growing amount of websites on the internet, it makes sense that Google doesn’t crawl the same site nonstop.
Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller at Google said the following:
We don’t crawl URLs with the same frequency all the time. So some URLs we will crawl daily. Some URLs maybe weekly. Other URLs every couple of months, maybe even every once half year or so.
So indexing speed can vary a lot.
Even once the new backlink is crawled, it takes Google some time to adjust search rankings, though this probably doesn’t take very long.
From the initial link building process to indexing backlinks to adjusting search rankings, the time it will take to see results will vary a lot.
But there are some ways to speed up the process.
Link Building Factors
If you want to do everything on your end to accelerate the impact of your link building efforts, here are the factors you need to pay attention to:
- Backlink relevance. Backlinks will have a higher impact if they are relevant to your site. If they’re not, Google will give little weight to them. You could have a thousand backlinks, but if they’re all from unrelated sites, they won’t do you any good.
- Backlink quality. Not all backlinks are created equal. Quality backlinks come from sites with a high domain authority (DA). That means Google places a lot of weight on them and they can transfer some of their authority over to you. You also want to make sure backlinks aren’t tagged as “nofollow.” This tells Google not to pass authority on to your website. Fortunately, nofollow links are rare and the websites that give them wouldn’t help your ranking much anyway.
- Link velocity. Link velocity is the rate at which you build backlinks. Naturally, if you can get a lot of backlinks in a short amount of time, you’ll see faster results. The best way to increase link velocity is by publishing viral content. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will go viral. But viral content tends to be high-quality, to tell a compelling story, and to appeal to viewers’ emotions.
- Backlink target keyword. Backlinks for competitive keywords will yield fewer and slower returns. So focus on low-competition keywords. You’ll see faster results. Also, make sure to have original content to back up the keywords you’re trying to rank for. You won’t rank for keywords by only having backlinks for them.
- Backlink anchor text. Anchor text is the visible text on a link. Links usually don’t show the entire URL. Rather, they are embedded in some descriptive text. If the anchor text is an exact or partial match to your target keyword, that will improve the backlink’s quality. But don’t go overboard. Google’s Penguin algorithm filters out excessive amounts of exact match backlinks.
- White Hat vs. Black Hat Link Building. Google penalizes shady and unethical link building strategies called “Black Hat” techniques. So make sure you follow “white hat” link building strategies by complying with Google’s guidelines, or you could jeopardize your site’s standing.
- Sitemaps. Sitemaps help Google understand the structure of your website. Sites without them get crawled less frequently, which delays the returns from link building. So make sure to include one in the root directory of your HTML server.
Optimize your link building strategy for the above factors and you’ll eventually see results. Especially if your competitors aren’t following them.
You can track your progress in Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA).
At some point, you’ll start to see diminishing returns from link building because your site is competing with top sites that have a lot of quality backlinks already. That’s why sites on the first search engine results page (SERP) are harder to displace.
Ways to Speed up Your Link Building Results
If you’re still not seeing the results you want, it’s time to reevaluate your backlink strategy. Perform a link audit and start tracking your backlinks. Are they high-quality, natural, and relevant?
Remember, it’s quality over quantity, but quality scale can certainly help.
Having trouble getting quality backlinks? Focus on creating linkable assets. This means unique content that adds value. Think infographics. If you can create high-quality content like this, other sites will naturally want to link to yours.
Defend your site from negative SEO attacks. Sometimes competitors will purposefully point spammy or low-quality links to your site in an effort to hurt your site’s search ranking. Fortunately, you can disavow bad links to your site to prevent this damage from happening.
Partnering with SEO.co
No matter what you do, link building will take patience.
It’s a long-term investment that only pays off over time. But it’s not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Link building takes diligent, consistent effort.
If you need help building backlinks to your site but don’t have the necessary time, resources, or skill, we can help. As a full service SEO company, SEO.co has PR relationships with some of the internet’s most reputable publications. Together, we can identify relevant publications to your site and pitch industry-related stories to them that link back to your site in a natural way. Once approved, our professional team of writers will get to work and notify you when the stories are published. Over time, you’ll see your site’s search ranking gradually rise.
Interested in learning more?
Reach out today for a free consultation.
We’ll help you build links by scaling take your in-house link building efforts to the next level.
And, if you’re an SEO agency, you are in luck. Our white label link building services are specifically designed to help digital marketing agencies scale their efforts without adding headcount to their team.