If you are deep into SEO, we don’t need to teach you how to build campaigns. You probably already know link building is an important way to improve your SEO. Link building requires quite an investment. Not only of money, but also of time and skill. The reason: search engines value quality and relevance. Proper link building is done through trustworthy sites, using relevant content. So what does proper link building mean these days? And how can you make it work for you?

What link building isn’t (anymore)

The times when someone could plant a link farm to get ahead in search engines is long past. Changes in Google algorithms throughout the past couple of years have put an end to the practice of connecting websites for no other reason than to rank higher in search results. No more spam and unreasonably high page positions. On the contrary: these black hat SEO techniques will ensure you get a firm penalty if you are discovered. That makes them unsustainable as a linkbuilding technique.

Even though black hat SEO is unsustainable, it is still used by some websites. As you conduct your link acquisition campaign, you might even run into them. A rule of thumb is that being linked to by a page with few links is better than being linked to by a page with many links. The underlying reasoning is rather simple: trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites. However, low quality sites barely ever have trusted source links. If you are unsure, use MozTrust to determine how well the website you consider using is trusted.

Three major factors in link building

There are three things to keep in mind when you are link building.

Firstly, backlinks. Backlinks are the (pardon the pun) backbone of link building. Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks or inward link, but basically mean the same: a referral from a web page on another website to your website. Yes, search engines love pages that are properly interlinked, meaning the web pages on your own websites are logically connected and can be easily crawled. They also love relevant content. But these two only account for part of your position in search results. Having a trusted website link to you accounts for another. When thinking of ways to backlink, you’re probably thinking of guest postings or guest blogs on another website. That still works, in spite of some reports that the dusk of guest postings has arrived. It is no so: guest posting and link exchange still works. However, timing is very important. Try exchanging at a realistic pace. Google will discover irregular frequencies, just as it discovers ‘buying and selling’ of links.

Secondly, content. Some claim that link building is superior over content. For us, no such distinction exists. The two are equally important: link building needs valuable content to be succesful, and content needs link building to better connect to the desired audience. In link building, content is incredibly important if you want to build the types of links that convince Google you are relevant.

Thirdly, as we said before, always make sure you are linked to by quality websites. This plays a major part in how well you rank in search results. Basically: quality references = quality link building = higher ranking.

How to start link building

So how do you start linkbuilding? You start by finding sites that you can use. There are a few things to take into consideration when checking out potential partner sites:

  • Ranking for Relevant Search Terms
    Search for keywords and phrases that are targeted by the page (especially in title and headlines). Do not use websites that aren’t relevant to your goals.
  • MozRank
    A web page’s MozRank determines the popularity of a page. Pages with high MozRank scores tend to rank better. Improve your own MozRank by getting many links from semi-popular pages, or a few links from very popular pages.
  • Domain Authority
    Moz Domain Authority (DA) shows how likely a domain is to rank for any given query. The higher the better. Try to make the websites you choose have at least the same authority your site has.
  • Competitor’s Backlinks
    Examine the backlinks of websites that rank high for your targeted keyword phrase, and use that insight to determine which partner would also be suitable for you. You could try Open Site Explorer to examine competitor’s websites or backlinks for further use.
  • Potential Referral Traffic
    Try Google Trends for the domain-wide traffic, which will give you an idea about terms that people use to look for your product or service. Use these insights to go through the previous steps again. But beware: they are occasionally inaccurate.

Link building trends in 2017

A new trend in link building is ‘linkless attribution’ or ‘linkless mentions’. This means mentioning your business or company’s name without a directly attached link. Google now also crawls the content of the website, so it is relevant to have your name mentioned on a trusted site. It gives your company a higher relevance, even if there is no direct link to your own website.

Another development stems from a Google update in 2016. In order to filter out cheaters and black hat SEOers, Google has run a multistage algorithm update of Penguin, which is now part of their core algorithm. That means the Penguin algorithm no longer needs to be refreshed, but picks up on changes instantly, in real-time. That means the better you do, the sooner Google will pick up on your efforts and the sooner your website will climb in rankings.

Finally…

Link building is ever-changing and therefore will always be challenging. You are required to stay on top of current changes and trends. That quite often means pushing your boundaries and expanding your knowledge. What will remain important is to value quality over quantity. Our advice would always be to continue to invest in quality content. We will stay on top of the game with you and report on changing trends, so be sure to follow this blog. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments or send us an email.