Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites on the web, primarily for the purpose of improving search traffic on Google.
At a basic level, Google sees each link as a “vote” for your website. The more votes it has, the more likely it is to return higher in the search results. So, many businesses pursue link building as a way of increasing their “votes”, and therefore traffic and sales, through Google.
At Siege, we generate more than 5,000 of these links per month for clients like AirBnB, Intuit, Asana and more.
In this post, we’ll get you started on understanding link building, share the must-have tools and resources you’ll need to get started using the 10+ years of experience our team has generating hundreds of thousands of links online.
The Basics of Link Building
Although you can get a link from any website online, the most important part is to try to get quality links from sites that are relevant to your business, and also high authority.
Recently, we prefer Ahrefs’ SEO metrics as the tool is on the ascent and continuing to build popularity within the industry, while Moz is on the decline.
These metrics assess the quality and quantity of the links you have to create a score.
Very roughly, all things equal the higher these metrics are, the better you’ll rank on Google. In many SEO studies, they correlate strongly with ranking.
Why You Want “Natural” Links
Over time, SEOs realized how strong links were as a ranking signal, and because of that would generate rankings through manipulative placement of links on third party websites, such as paid 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 not try to manipulate the generation. This often comes back to bite webmasters.
Link Building Strategies
At the core, the link building strategies we recommend most are tied to creating and promoting hosted content on your website.
This ties back to what Google wants to reward on their search engine — a vote for the quality of your website. Many link builders will generate links through off-page strategies where the webmaster links back to them, but isn’t truly “voting” for the quality of that website.
This is something Google either will eventually prevent passing value to you, or already does.
That said, here are some common strategies:
- Broken Link Building – Build a great resource, then find a website with a list of links. Check for broken ones and let them know one or more are broken and that your resource is a good replacement.
- Link Reclamation – Search for mentions of your brand or website online, that don’t include a link. Kindly ask the webmaster for a link.
- Guest Blogging – Many webmasters want more content (who doesn’t!). By providing content, we can generate links back to our website. This said, be careful of overuse of this strategy as it can be done in a way that is not a true vote for you.
- Content Promotion w/ Rich Visuals – If you create high quality content on your website and then promote it with great visual images, it makes it easier for outside websites to link to you. They can use your images to quickly make a blog post. This often pairs well with quality mid-tier bloggers.
- Digital PR Using Content – Similar to the above, digital PR is a method of promoting your content to high traffic sites or top-tier news outlets through data studies, breaking news and other associated content.
- Top-Funnel Content That Ranks – We’re big believers in passive link acquisition at Siege and a huge part of how you can build a scalable strategy is by getting top-funnel content to rank, that in turn generates links.
For more detail on each of these, check out our post on link building strategies.
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. And while it used to be a physical book, it’s now represented visually for your convenience.
- The Aira link building newsletter – The go-to industry newsletter for link building. The Aira team rounds up the must-read content of the week and also adds commentary to industry events.
- Our “Content Promotion” blog category – This section on our blog is almost entirely about link building.
- The SiegeLearn content marketing course – Our course has an entire section on link building, including 45 lessons and 30+ videos.
Link building is a never-ending process for a business looking to have success with SEO.
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.