Today, I have a little treat for my readers — a great infographic on how to use advanced search operators for SEO link building coming to us from SEO Optimizers. Be sure to scroll down to view the entire infographic (it’s a long one) because it’s chockful of great information. For those who want a little more context, I go through the infographic in the next section, providing more depth and references to additional resources to help optimize your SEO link-building strategy.
What is link building?
The concept behind link building is simple — other websites create a hyperlink (link) to your content (see the image below). Since search engines use these hyperlinks to navigate the web, links help search engines, like Google, find your content more easily. Once crawled, the search engine categorizes your content in a massive database, then serves up content that matches a user’s search intent to ensure users easily find the exact content they want.
On a deeper level, links do more than ease navigation and help search engines find your content. Links are like references in an academic paper and provide an element of both trust and endorsement from the linking site. And, just like academic citations, more citations (links) to your work imply more useful, trustworthy content and the better the reputation of the website linking to your content, search engines perceive your content has greater value. Hence, search engines serve up links to valuable content at the top of the search results.
How link building impacts SEO
An entire array of digital marketing strategies, tools, and agencies surround the field of SEO or search engine optimization, with the goal of improving rank so your links show up first in search results.
A number of factors impact the rank obtained by a piece of content in search results. We divide these factors into on-page and off-page SEO. For today’s post, we’ll focus on off-page SEO since that’s where link-building strategy belongs. For thoroughness, check out this post that focuses on on-page SEO.
While on-page factors focus on the quality of the content you write, with the goal of driving fresh, valuable content on a consistent basis, the goal of off-page SEO is to develop a reputation as a leader in your market niche. In addition to quality links, off-page SEO focuses on brand mentions (whether linked or unlinked), social media engagement, and PR. The biggest off-page SEO boost comes from implementing an effective SEO link-building strategy.
A number of factors figure into how much boost you get from a backlink including:
- DA (domain authority) of the linking website
- The relevance of the linking website to your website
- The anchor text (the hyperlinked words) contain keywords matching a user’s search
- Dofollow versus no-follow links — although these are only suggestions that a search engine might ignore in awarding link value
- Links from new domains have more value than multiple links from a single domain
9 tips for crafting an amazing SEO link building strategy
Building backlinks requires a sustained strategy involving multiple components including [source]:
- Periodic backlink audits using tools available through MOZ, Ahrefs, SEM Rush (which is what I use), and others.
- Crafting content worthy of a backlink
- Promote content on other digital platforms including social media
- Outreach efforts, especially to link roundups that publish lists of links on a regular basis
- Broken links
- Submit comments (although these are often no-follow) and testimonials
- Link reclamation
- Find opportunities for PR, such as HARO (help a reporter out)
- Reverse engineer your competitor’s backlinks
The infographic at the bottom of this post offers a lot of concrete suggestions for building more backlinks to your content. The initial parts of the infographic (covering advanced search operators) may appear a little technical, so feel free to skip past those elements to find amazing resources to build a successful SEO link-building strategy. If you don’t have enough time for implementing this strategy yourself, you can try some proven link-building services which will help you a lot in the beginning.
So, without further ado, let’s go into each of these backlink strategies in a little more depth.
A backlink audit checks backlinks for things like toxicity (links from sites that damage your reputation, such as adult sites). An audit will also identify backlinks and domains backlinking to your content, as well as lost backlinks.
Armed with the information from your audit, you can disavow toxic backlinks and reach out to lost backlinks to ask the website owner to add the link back. Some audit tools also identify opportunities where you might gain backlinks.
Create great content
Creating great content is a key element of your digital marketing strategy, impacting your on-page SEO, attracting backlinks, and great content forms the foundation of your social media strategy.
Certain types of content seem to attract backlinks. For instance, infographics, while not as valuable as in the past, still attract backlinks better than most other content. The same goes for unique images, charts, and videos.
Headlines greatly impact your traffic, which means more folks read your content, which, in turn, drives more backlinks. To learn more about writing headlines that drive traffic, check out this post.
Often, when a blogger needs to support their own post, they include links to content (hopefully, yours) to give their content more value — this also improves their on-page SEO. Many bloggers use a search engine, like Google, to find appropriate content with high DA. Thus, crafting great content is a cyclical process whereby great content improves your ranking in search, and that high ranking (a shortcut for an assessment of DA), increases your backlinks that improve your ranking. And, the cycle continues.
Promote content on other digital platforms including social media
While some bloggers search for related content through search, others use social media, Quora, Reddit, or other digital sources to find useful information when they want a link.
Once you publish, share your content to multiple platforms using this handy schedule developed by Kissmetrics:
Ensuring your content is easily shared by including sharing buttons also encourages backlinks.
Outreach efforts, especially to link roundups that publish lists of links on a regular basis
Reach out to other bloggers in your space to request they link to your content or to offer a guest post. This is a great way to get a backlink to your site, however, finding blogs that allow guest posts is not easy, and most high DA sites are incredibly selective in terms of the quality of the content they accept for guest posting. That’s where the infographic really helps.
Companies exist to facilitate your blogger outreach efforts and most charge a fee to cover both outreach and content creation. These companies then pay bloggers to host your do-follow links on their websites.
Whether you craft your own outreach strategy or pay a company to perform that task for you, creating quality content is crucial, as poor content may help your SEO link-building strategy while hurting your reputation. Follow the editorial guidelines posted by the website owner (for instance, view my editorial guidelines for guest posts) then write valuable content that satisfies all requirements set by the owner.
Finding links on other sites that either contain broken links (commonly from content that’s no longer available) or seriously outdated offers an opportunity to suggest your own content to fill the void left by old or broken links.
Submit comments (although these are often no-follow) and testimonials
While submitting comments often results in no-follow links, that’s only a suggestion and may still help your link-building strategy. Further, comments act to build a connection with website owners that increases the chances they’ll allow a guest post. After all, you can’t expect website owners to readily accept guest posts from complete strangers without some tit-for-tat.
I get dozens of requests for guest posts each day. Most are rejected as I have many options for content so I’m not desperate to include theirs. However, when readers ask to guest post, especially those who engage with me on my website or social media, I consider their content more carefully.
Link reclamation is simple. Search for mentions of your brand/ content that don’t contain a hyperlink to your content. Reach out to the website owner and request they add your link. You’ll find most website owners are happy to comply with such requests.
Find opportunities for PR, such as HARO (help a reporter out)
HARO links reporters across traditional and digital media with sources to help provide support for their stories. The process is simple and free, requiring simple signup to identify the type of content you provide. After that, you get a digest of requests matching your area of expertise every day. When you see one that you feel matches your need, reach out directly to the reporter to offer help.
Reverse engineer your competitor’s backlinks
No, this isn’t illegal or even considered by most to be unethical. You can check out backlinks earned by your competition by using a backlink checker. Then, add those sites to your list for blogger outreach, suggesting how your content fills a gap left by competitors.
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