ScratchSleeves Case Study
Baby steps to giant leaps in SEO success and sales...Continue Reading
Link building is an important aspect of SEO that can help endorse the quality of your content in Google’s eyes.
It’s a gradual and patient practice, requiring strategy, relationship building, and perhaps even a little luck too
Earning backlinks is a big win for marketers, and for good reason. When others link to your page, it ultimately means more eyes on your website’s content and greater authority for your site because it is valued as ‘link worthy’.
The process needs honest effort at its core, and Google can’t be fooled.
Link building is the process of establishing relevant hyperlinks to your website from others.
True link building is a slow process – thus the word ‘building’. Indeed, genuine high-quality backlinks cannot simply be acquired on a whim.
For those who aren’t so familiar with the practice, there’s a rather obvious question that arises: why not just buy links? While plenty of money does exchange hands for the purpose of building links, it is not something that we’d encourage, not least because Google doesn’t appreciate the idea.
Instead, Google values the safeguarding of its processes. If backlinks could simply be purchased, it would destabilise the merit-based nature of higher ranking that Google wants to see on its SERPs, and the algorithms it employs such as PageRank that help it pursue that ideal.
As such, buying backlinks – either with actual money or as part of a contra deal – is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. A similar attitude applies to “excessive” link exchanges, wherein you link to another website in exchange for them linking back to you in the same manner.
Besides Google’s own warnings against buying links, it’s simply not the best course of action towards SEO link building. You could find yourself paying money for links that have no impact on your rankings. Even if you don’t find yourself noticeably penalised by Google, you could end up wasting money for no gain whatsoever.
Link building, when done with integrity, should mostly come from original, high-quality content that is kept up to date and serves a defined purpose. This is why earning a backlink out of the blue is typically considered a big win for marketers.
Link building is important because it tells Google that your page deserves to rank highly. It could be informative, entertaining, or thought-provoking; as long as it meets its objective well and earns backlinks as a result, Google will take notice. Or, rather, its algorithms will.
Link building is but one part of SEO, and it isn’t necessarily the be-all and end-all for any business looking to rank higher on search results. However, when every other entity for a competitive market is doing the right things in terms of their SEO, link building could be what makes the difference.
Let’s say you’re a Manchester SEO agency. Searching for an SEO agency in Manchester unearths a highly competitive market, and finding a way to break ahead of your peers can be challenging when your content is optimised and as polished as you can make it.
Perhaps you write an in-depth guide to SEO that answers frequent questions searched for on Google. Once your page is ranked and starts bringing in traffic, your guide may be good enough to share. Journalists and other blog writers linking back to your guide will turn out very nicely for your SEO, and could be the leg up that your content needs to climb the rankings.
Despite this, backlinking alone is not enough. It can make a difference in your rankings, but it shouldn’t be the only goal in mind when crafting a piece of content. Overall quality and the actual purpose of your content still very much count. SEO link building is a desirable reward for good content, but the honest links can’t be forced.
Ultimately, backlinks should be the proof of your authenticity and the trustworthiness of your content. Your link building and reputation are factors in a long-term game of increasing the overall expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT) that Google will use as a measurement of how highly you deserve to rank.
It certainly does. There have been some core concepts that link building and SEO communities have worked out over time, concepts that matter as far as how Google measures links and evaluates them.
One of those is page authority. Earning links from longstanding pages that have good backlink profiles – that is to say, they have a lot of backlinks of their own – is deemed a more ‘valuable’ link compared to a relatively new page that has not yet earned such a reputation.
A backlink from an authoritative page is a stronger ‘vote’, so knowledgeable link builders are ideally looking to earn links from pages that have a reputation rather than any old place they can find.
There is some speculation that the authority of websites themselves matter, too. While Google has denied this, it stands to reason for many who work in SEO that websites under trusted brand, company, or publication names should bear more weight.
The relevance of your link will also affect its value in the eyes of Google. If your in-depth guide to Manchester SEO earns a backlink from a clothing shop, it’s not going to be as valuable a link as one from a marketing agency’s blog. This is because the latter is clearly more relevant than the former, and Google will recognise as much.
Even though you shouldn’t just buy your backlinks, there are still actions that can be taken with the aim of link building.
Guest posts are a fantastic method of link building, with the added benefits of raising brand awareness and your profile as a collaborative source. Note that a standard guest blog isn’t against Google’s guidelines, though they do specify that:
“Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links” will impact the content negatively.
Since this is similar to the general behaviour that Google frowns upon with SEO practices, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to those with some SEO experience. For those who are starting out with their link building, however, it pays to be familiar with the limits of what you can do and the conduct you should ideally be following.
Adding links is a low effort, low reward way of building links back to your site. Pages like business directories, wiki pages, and blogs and articles with comment sections are all places where you could add your own links, but the ease of anybody being able to do this means that they will often not be deemed as very valuable by Google.
Despite this, every link is a piece of your overall strategy. Public edits or contributions may be possible for everybody else including your competitors, but it doesn’t make them zero value. Of course, comments made to include links to your page(s) must be done in a way so as not to present them as spam.
Comments that are obviously left with the sole purpose of promoting your site are likely to be perceived by other readers as obvious spam, and on websites with community voting systems for comments, you may find your efforts buried or even be banned from future contributions.
Another way of reaping links to your content is to embed sharing features onto the page where it can be shared to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These buttons have long been a common occurrence on news articles and now exist on many content pages, due to the ease of setting them up and the potential boost they give your work.
As we said earlier, your best bet to making pages ‘link worthy’ is to make them valuable and high-quality. The ways in which you might achieve this will depend on the style of content and the particular sector it belongs to.
For any subject dealing with data and information, linkable assets like infographics, charts and graphics, or the findings of a study or survey are quite likely to earn links, particularly if they pertain to a topic that can be updated yearly for accuracy and is likely to be of continuous interest to people.
Exclusive content is also highly likely to draw unique attention to your site. Expert interviews not replicated from another source are unique forms of content and insight that are sure to earn backlinks, particularly if they become part of a series that draws regular visitors.
Don’t forget to actually promote your pages in the first place! After all, people can’t find the content to link to if they don’t actually know that it exists. This is why an essential part of link building is the work done on social media and in email marketing, to spread your work so that it might be spread further by people who appreciated it.
It pays to design your content in a way that makes it conducive to being shared and leaving a lasting impression. Rambling blog posts that take 1,000 words to get to an easily summarised point aren’t likely to be spread around.
This doesn’t mean that longform pieces are doomed to always be ‘too long’ for readers, but it does mean that it needs to be rich in information and, ultimately, valuable. Features such as a convenient contents box, with linked pages so that viewers can quickly speed to the most relevant section for them, are always welcome – there’s evidence that Google rates those quite highly, too.
Aqueous Digital is a Cheshire-based digital marketing agency with a wealth of services available to businesses.
Our outreach and link building is a high-quality offer informed by years of experience and measurable success, helping you stand out whether it’s in the competitive landscape of Manchester SEO or across the entirety of the UK.
Our practices are founded on trust, loyalty, and a collaborative spirit that ensures we never commit to something you’re not happy about, and we are always listening to you for ways to improve our work.
To find out more about link building, SEO, and any other marketing skills we can lend to you and your business, get in touch with us today.