How Does Link Building Help SEO?
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Every online business out there should know the basics of building quality external links for search engine optimisation (SEO) to boost visibility while increasing sales and sector authority. But many business owners are still unsure about the terminology and how to do this so are always asking ‘how does link building help SEO’?
It’s always a good idea to have a solid digital marketing team working to make sure your website reaches the top of page one in the search results through other means. But it’s important to have a basic understanding of link building and what it can do to help your business.
What Is Link Building?
External link building is the SEO technique of getting other websites of interest and sector relevance to point back to your company website (backlinks). These links help any online user reach different web pages and sites – including yours – with a single click. With every search engine crawling these backlinks, it’s one of the key methods they use to understand the relevance of your site or page.
Building high-quality backlinks as part of your SEO strategy will give you a headstart in pushing your site up the search engine results pages (SERPs). All businesses and their marketing teams should be working to create these backlinks and drive referral traffic. It will help get your site and business noticed, boost your site authority, and increase your ROI through sales.
But while the idea behind link building is fairly straightforward, managing it is another matter and it can be more difficult than you think to put it into practice – unless you know what you’re doing.
How Do Links Help SEO?
With SEO, everything is connected. Google has algorithms that are complicated and continuously updated, taking into account many different ranking factors to determine where your site ends up on the SERPs. But the one thing that remains unchanged is the importance of backlinks as part of your off-site SEO strategy.
Quality, high-value backlinks and off-site SEO are key to your online success. Search engines determine, then decide, which site ranks higher and for which keywords, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your site has quality links pointing to it. Google is alerted that those links mean your website is worthy of being at the top of the SERPs.
While backlinks are good in SEO terms, some are better and more valuable than others. The more high-value backlinks you have, the higher your SERPs rankings – and this matters.
Is Link Building Still Relevant To SEO?
Links and link building are the things that are not only relevant but vital to your SEO – it just takes effort and hard work to achieve. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to build links to your site – if you get it wrong, it can be a big problem for your business. But get it right and you could see your site get more exposure and traffic than ever.
Quality backlinks to your pages are important ranking factors which is why they shouldn’t be ignored. While you might think, correctly, that SEO keywords are valuable to your content, link building is even more important.
You should be focusing your efforts on natural link building methods for the long-term success of your website. This means you earn the links rather than purchase them, making them as ‘white-hat’ as they can be. But not every link is equal to the next, so you have to consider how you link to your website to make a worthwhile impact on the SERPs. The key things to look for to make your link building relevant, include:
- Whether your link is on a trusted and credible website
- Whether the site linking to yours is relevant to your business or service
- Whether the site can send relevant traffic back to your site
- How many other links are on the same page – the fewer the better
However, no one said that building natural backlinks was easy. It’s a difficult process that takes time, which is the main reason for hiring a dedicated marketing team or outsourced expert to work alongside you. This way, you’ll get what you need from your backlink efforts while making sure they’re still relevant to your SEO strategy.
What Are The Benefits Of Link Building For SEO?
SEO means playing the long game – and good things come to those who wait. Together with a sound SEO and link building strategy, you can create relationships with other high-ranking sites, adding links to your site only when they provide genuine value and relevance to your visitors. Here are a few more benefits to developing a proper link building strategy for your SEO:
1. Gain More Credibility
Quality links give your site more credibility because they’re a high-level indicator of your own site’s authority. Google’s sole purpose is to give people search results that are most relevant to what they’re looking for and one of the things it looks for is authority. The more quality links that point towards your site, the more credibility you’ll have.
2. Rank Higher In The SERPs
As well as credibility, links are crucial to Google and how it or any other search engine will rank your site. Having more (quality) backlinks than your competitors will give Google a good reason to rank you higher than them, even if you’re in the same industry or sector. Algorithms are key and they will always favour sites that actively build value and authority.
3. Improve Site Metrics
You may have heard the terms ‘Domain Authority’, ‘Domain Rating’ or ‘Page Rank’, but not be 100% sure about what they mean. These are all ranking factors that will help or hinder your site’s progress in the SERPs. By link building with quality backlinks, these site metrics will increase, giving your site a beneficial ‘healthy status’.
4. Drive Referral Traffic
Once your link gets a good footing on relevant sites, you’ll likely see an increase in traffic to your site. A high-quality backlink is a regular source of referral traffic to your site that can work for many months or even years. And because that traffic is coming from a relevant website – to another relevant website (i.e. yours) – it has every chance of turning into hot leads and even sales.
5. Build Your Brand
Good link building is essential to becoming an authority in your sector or industry. Helpful, informative and valuable content is just one way of doing this. Regularly creating and publishing content that’s all three of these things, together with asking the right sites to link to it and share it, is crucial in helping to build your brand and reputation – and boost your SEO in the process.
Is Link Exchange Good For SEO?
In general, link exchanging (also known as reciprocal linking) or purchased links are a big no-no. Why? It might be an easier and cheaper way to gain backlinks this way, but they’ll be low-quality, often spammy, and with no real authority. Google will not look favourably on them – or you – as it’s seen as an unfavourable way to distort the SERPs.
We all know Google’s algorithms have far-reaching insights. And if you’re thinking of purchasing links, think again. While Google might not be able to tell which backlink is purchased and which is genuine straightaway, the clues are there and its capacity to find out is unrelenting. And when it does, you’ll see your site take a big drop in the SERPs.
While link exchanging might not be frowned upon quite as much, it certainly can be seen as dubious in certain situations. Some link exchanges can be good, if sites are high quality and trusted or if you’re part of an affiliate programme linking to other trusted collaborators or partners. On a small scale, this can be a valuable practice and is unlikely to be a problem.
But link exchanging with sites you’re unfamiliar with or have no affiliation to, or any kind of large-scale backlinking with irrelevant sites or low-quality directories, will set alarm bells ringing and your site could be penalised and, again, take a big drop in rankings.
What Is Classed As A ‘Good Link’?
As we’ve already mentioned, low-quality, directory or spammy backlinks are generally bad, either through link exchanging or buying links, and can be damaging to your site and your business. So what can be classed as a ‘good’ link and where do they come from? Here are a few examples:
1. Relevant Websites
Whether your business is a minor or major player in a certain sector or industry, getting backlinks from other relevant players in similar sectors or industries is priceless. Don’t always think you need backlinks from huge companies and their websites – real relevance is key.
2. Trusted Websites
A backlink from another site is like having someone endorsing or recommending you and your content, and that shows trust. So if you have a link from a relevant site (see above) that might already be an authority with good content of their own, their site visitors will trust your link will be of value to them.
3. Earned Links
Bad link building doesn’t take much effort and, as we’ve seen, can often backfire. But if your content is relevant and valuable, then a trusted site would always consider having an equally relevant and valuable link on their site. But you should earn the right to be there – and it can be as easy as just asking them.
Follow Vs Nofollow Links
When backlinks are used between sites, there are actually two ways they can be linked – these are ‘follow’ (or ‘dofollow’) links and ‘nofollow’ links. On the face of it, they serve the same purpose – linking from the original site to the destination site. But the ‘follow’ or ‘nofollow’ information tells search engines two different things: whether or not to pass on the original site’s authority.
Generally, every (good) backlink is a ‘follow’ link so you don’t need to do anything different and they’re great for your SEO, improving your site’s authority and keyword ranking. To become a ‘nofollow’ link, there needs to be a slight alteration to the link code which tells the search engine not to pass on the domain authority and won’t help your SEO.
Why would you want to use a ‘nofollow’ link? You may have content that cites source information, but you might not want to endorse their output for ethical or transparency reasons.
Simple Link Building Strategies
Link building strategies aren’t always easy to create, but they don’t need to be overly complicated either. There are plenty of simple and free ways to help you get backlinks from third-party websites and boost your SEO at the same time.
How To Get Other Websites To Link To You
1. Ask For Backlinks
When you research other sites from businesses, big or small, within your industry or sector that you’d like a backlink from, make sure they’re relevant and trusted – and just ask them. Getting a good, high-quality link from a relevant website that’s in the same sector as you is likely to be far more valuable.
2. Create Killer Content
Writing the catchiest and most compelling, high-quality content is a surefire way to get the backlinks you need. If you’re not confident in writing yourself, hire a fantastic copywriter to work for you, and make sure your content is something that people naturally want to reference (blogs or guest blogs are ideal for this).
3. Write A Guest Blog
Writing a guest blog for another site in your sector is a tried and trusted way to get a good backlink. By adding your own link into your post, when the site publishes it, bingo – you have your link. Get in touch with any sites you think would be a good match for your content and ask them if they’d like a guest post.
4. Use Social Media
The big social media platforms are crucial to helping businesses increase site traffic and conversions. When putting your content out there, share it across every platform so more people have a chance of seeing it – and sharing it – boosting your brand and getting in front of your target customer.
5. Give Testimonials
Giving reviews and testimonials on other websites is a win-win situation for them and you. For them, they get to build their trustworthiness thanks to your positive review, and for you, it’s the ideal place to get a backlink and get potential traffic from their site.
Build Links For Free Through Internal Linking
But it’s not all about external backlinks. Internal link building has importance in SEO too. It’s an easy and underrated way to build links into your web pages and improve your SERP rankings.
An internal link is any link on your website that takes users to another page on your website. Site users and search engines use these links to find different content on your site that might be of equal relevance or importance. So the more internal links you have to a key page, the more important it will seem to search engines and that will reflect in your SERP rankings. Here are a few more things to consider:
1. Page Quality
The quality of the linking page is important. Search engines allow the links from high quality and trusted pages to count more in rankings than questionable ones, or those with thin or little content.
2. Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a link and it counts because the search engine will take into account the match of the keyword or phrase used in the link and how relevant it is to the linked page itself.
3. Page Relevance
Typically, when people link to your business, they’ll link to your homepage. That’s great, but it makes it harder for the inner pages of your site – the ones holding relevant and valuable content – to get the necessary high rankings. Be sure to link to other relevant inner pages and this will give the search engines a real insight into how your site works.
Let Improve Position Help Your Link Building Efforts
Having a solid link building campaign is important for your business website, and you should work with your marketing team to make sure you get your link building techniques and strategies right.
If you don’t already have a marketing team, or your marketing team needs support in link building, get in touch with Improve Position for a free, 30-minute SEO consultation and let our outreach specialists take your business to the next level with our SEO service.