Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites primarily for the purpose of improving SEO on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Businesses that incorporate link building into their content marketing strategy report a 45% higher success rate than those that don’t (Siege Media + Clearscope).
Driving organic traffic through link building is a cornerstone of SEO best practices, so it’s no wonder that most major marketing agencies find success and use it as one of their top strategies.
When Google took over the search engine game, they created an algorithm that identified the number of links back to every webpage and added value to that metric.
This is why link building is the bread and butter for so many content marketing strategies — if playing Google’s algorithm game of hierarchy gets you rankings and links, then why not?
The Definition of Link Building
Link building is when you gain hyperlinks from other websites that will lead back to you.
Oftentimes, other websites will site you as a resource or pull a quote from your content. When a website or web page has more links attributed to it, Google will see each link as a vote of confidence for your website.
The more votes it has, the more likely it is to return higher in the search results, and because these strategies mostly play out in the background, they fall under off-page SEO strategies.
With this in mind, many businesses pursue link building as a way of increasing their votes — and therefore traffic and sales — through Google.
At Siege, we once generated more than 5,000 of these links per month for clients like Airbnb, Intuit, Asana, and more.
In this guide, we’ll get you started on understanding link building, share the must-have tools, and provide our go-to resources you’ll need to get started.
Our team has more than 10 years of experience generating hundreds of thousands of links online, so let’s dive in.
How Does Link Building Work?
Although you can get a link from any website online, the most important part is to try to get quality links from high-authority sites that are relevant to your business and branding.
There are various methods to qualify the value of the link.
Common industry metrics are Page Authority and Domain Authority from Moz, and URL Rating and Domain Rating from Ahrefs.
These metrics assess the quality and quantity of the links you have to create a score.
Generally speaking, the higher these metrics are, the better you’ll rank on Google. In many SEO studies, the correlation is undeniable.
Here at Siege, we prefer Ahrefs’ SEO metrics as they are continuing to build popularity within the industry, while Moz is on the decline.
But don’t get us wrong — the Moz blog is still a reliable source for SEO, both for off and on-page SEO.
But what are these metrics and can you control the way Google and other SERPs recognize your backlink profile? Keep reading to learn more about link building metrics.
The Basics of Link Building Metrics
Link building metrics can help you gauge the value of any given piece of content on your website or blog. By using the metrics we stated above from Ahrefs, you can determine if a project needs a revamp or a complete overhaul.
These metrics also play a big part in the competitive analysis process and will show you whether a keyword is worth pursuing or not based on both the URL and Domain Rating of your competitors.
If you want to check the current link building status of your post, you can also plug your link into Ahrefs’ search bar, and simply click on the “Backlinks” tab at the top of the page.
Here are more in-depth specifics on Ahrefs’ link building metrics:
URL rating (UR) shows the strength of a backlink profile on a specific webpage.
This is a metric from Ahrefs and differs from Moz’s page authority ranking — which is the analysis of how well the specific webpage will rank against its competitors on SERPs.
Domain rating is an Ahrefs metric that ranks a backlink profile on an entire website.
While it may seem similar to Google’s PageRank algorithm, Ahrefs rates domains based on entire websites, while Google mainly focuses on several individual pages throughout the internet.
High-Quality Links Matter
Over time, SEOs started to realize the potential for links as a ranking status and started to generate rankings through the manipulative placement of links on third-party websites — oftentimes using incentives and giveaways.
Google caught wind of this and found ways to identify these placements, often penalizing the websites through the well-known Penguin update, as well as subsequent iterations of it.
As a webmaster new to link building, our suggestion is to think about generating these links through the quality of your business and your website’s content, but don’t try to manipulate the generation.
This often comes back to bite you.
The Best Link Building Strategies
At the core, the link building strategies we recommend most relate to creating and promoting high-quality content that you host on your website.
This ties back to what Google wants to reward on their search engine — a “vote” for the quality of your website and the backlinks to it.
Many link builders generate links through off-page strategies that link back to them, but this isn’t truly a mark quality of that website, or the votes that Google casts for your legitimacy.
That said, the following are some common link building strategies that content marketers use:
Broken Link Building
First thing’s first, you need to create a resource on your own website — whether they be full-length beginners guide, strategies surrounding content marketing and SEO, or something else entirely.
For example, Siege Media offers an eBook that dives deep into our favorite content marketing tips.
Then, find a website that has a decent URL and domain rating, and check through posts for links that may be broken.
If you find a post that could use a new, updated, or unbroken link, reach out to the webmaster, let them know that their link is broken, and provide your resource as a good replacement.
We all have Googled ourselves once or twice, right? Well, put that to use for your company.
Search for mentions of your company or blog online that don’t include a backlink that leads to your website or resource they mention. Reach out to the webmaster and kindly request a link back to your site.
If you have trouble reaching out to webmasters and don’t know what to say, below is a quick template to get you started.
Link reclamation email template (click below for the PDF):
For many webmasters, the amount of content they produce is a valuable metric.
By providing them with valuable content that sticks out, content marketers generate links back to their websites.
That said, it’s important to be careful not to overuse this strategy because Google may devalue them.
It’s important that any guest posts you create for your brand have quality written content so you can best represent yourself on other platforms and potentially build your audience.
Use the following when creating a guest blog post:
- Statistics pieces
- How-To guides
- An article that shows your E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness)
- Data and case studies
There are two main types of internal links: inbound and outbound.
- Inbound internal links are links that direct users to your post from a different page on your domain.
- Outbound internal links are hyperlinks that direct users to a different page on your domain.
Internal linking is important in any content marketing strategy because it helps both the users (and Google) navigate through your website.
Internal linking matters because:
- It’s a Google algorithm ranking factor
- Google uses links to crawl your site
- It can help users navigate your site with ease
- It boosts passive link assets and SEO posts
By linking your own resources throughout your site, you can let your audience research a topic further while staying on your website via the proper anchor text strategy.
The best anchor text should be:
- Easy to spot
This will also help you gain trust and build authority with both Googlebot and readers alike.
Content Promotion With Rich Visuals
If you already create high-quality content on your website, why not promote it with stunning visuals or blog post imagery?
By investing in a design team that will help create brand recognition and authority, you can let your content design do the talking.
Furthermore, outside websites will be more eager to link to you through curated design assets that catch the eye of an audience.
Rich hero visuals and other creative content is more captivating than a stock photo and will stand out among other guest blog posts.
Digital PR Using Content
Similar to the above, digital PR is a method of promoting your content to a high-traffic site or top-tier news outlets through data studies, breaking news, and other associated content.
It’s important to remember who your target audience is and what they’re interested in.
By following digital PR best practices, you must recognize that you can’t just throw content out and see what sticks.
You need to have intent behind every marketing campaign, and digital Pr is no different.
Need help inspiring your next campaign? Check out some of our favorite (and successful) digital PR examples here.
Top-Funnel Content That Ranks
Passive link acquisition is a popular strategy for many content marketers but is often overlooked because it’s a long-term strategy — usually taking six months to a year. However, the strategy is very valuable in the end.
A huge part of how you can build a scannable strategy is by getting top-funnel content that will rank. This, in turn, will generate links and help you build authority.
By creating how-to posts and general informative guides on your brand’s website, you can entice the audience into the top funnel of the buyer’s journey.
This alone will get their gears turning, eventually diving deeper into medium and bottom-funnel content.
Siege Media Enters a New Era
In June 2022, Siege Media made a declaration about link building: We decided to stop most manual link building efforts.
Now, this may sound contradictory to everything we just talked about, but hear us out.
Link building, cold emails, and guest blogging isn’t always right for us, based on most of our clients and their needs.
By leaning on KOB analysis early in our content strategy, we learned that low-difficulty topics and high-quality passive link strategies generated links and added value to our clients without the need for manual outreach — therefore increasing our productivity and streamlining our content marketing efforts — and getting us head-turning results in the process.
Link Building Resources
The link building rabbit hole goes much deeper than this beginner’s guide. We’d suggest the following resources to build on this guide and continue learning about link building.
The Link Building Book, by Paddy Moogan
This is the go-to, end-to-end beginner’s resource for link building. While it used to be a physical book, it’s now only found digitally for ease of reference and convenience.
The Aria Link Building Newsletter
This is the industry standard newsletter for link building. Every week, the Aria team rounds up must-read content and adds commentary to industry events. Check it out here.
Siege Media’s Content Promotion Blog Category
Siege Media’s Content Promotion blog dives deep into link building through several posts, detailed guides, and content marketing strategies.
Check out our upgraded blog.
Pro tip: All you have to do now is type “link building” into our brand new blog search bar.
The SiegeLearn content marketing course is your resource for all things link building, SEO strategies, and everything you need to know about targeting each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Content & Links Go Hand in Hand
Link building is a never-ending process for a business looking to have success with SEO, but the best link building strategy starts with a good foundation.
In order to create passive links, you need reliable content that people want to link to in the first place.
Our best advice? Get started with the process of consistently thinking about the authority of your website, and generating more links.
If you do that, you’re most likely ahead of the curve and on your way to sustained success on Google.
If you need a little help, no sweat. We offer content marketing services to jumpstart your link building goals.