Basics of Link building
In the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), one phrase you are likely to encounter is "link building". Understanding what this term means and how it affects your website is crucial for improving your search engine rankings, attracting more traffic, and ultimately achieving your digital marketing objectives. In this guide, we'll unpack the basics of link building, discussing what a backlink is, its effect on a website, types of backlinks, and traditional methods of building backlinks.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink, also known as an inbound link or incoming link, refers to a link created when one website links to another. It's essentially a "vote of confidence" from one site to another.
Imagine it like this: when someone cites your website on their own, they're saying to their readers that your content is worth checking out; a high-quality recommendation.
The more quality backlinks you have the more chances for your website to rank.
Effect of Backlinks on Websites
The significance of backlinks lies in their impact on the SEO performance of a website. Google's algorithms are complex and always evolving, but backlinks remain an important factor in how every search engine determines which sites rank for which keywords.
Here's how they work:
- Improved Organic Ranking: Once your webpage starts getting backlinks, it will move up in the search rankings. The more backlinks a page has, the higher it often ranks.
- Faster Indexing: Search engine bots discover new webpages by following backlinks from existing webpages. Backlinks help search engine bots find, crawl, and index your site more effectively.
- Referral Traffic: Backlinks can drive significant referral traffic to your site. If a person is reading an informative blog and clicks links it contains, they're likely interested in the linked content, resulting in low bounce rates.
Types of Backlinks
Understanding the different types of backlinks can help you build a diverse link profile for your website. This variety helps improve your website's SEO and prevents it from getting penalized. The four types of backlinks include:
- Do-Follow Backlinks: These are the most common type and pass the most SEO strength to the linked sites. They provide a direct and do-follow link to your website.
- No-Follow Backlinks: These tell search engines not to follow the link, and therefore, they do not pass SEO strength. However, they are still valuable as they can generate referral traffic and diversify your link profile.
- Sponsored Backlinks: These are links that come from paid arrangements and should include a rel="sponsored" attribute. These links may not pass SEO value directly, but they can increase visibility and drive traffic.
- UGC Backlinks: UGC stands for "User Generated Content" and refers to backlinks coming from comments, forum posts, and other types of user-generated content. These links usually have a rel="ugc" attribute, and while they may not offer a strong SEO benefit, they can still contribute to a diverse link profile.
Traditional Ways to Build Backlinks
While building backlinks is crucial, the process can be complex and time-consuming. Traditional ways to build backlinks include:
1. Content Creation:
This is a natural way to build backlinks where you create compelling, unique, high-quality content and hope that websites would link to your content.
However, if your page doesn’t rank there is no way the internet is going to find and link to it, isn’t it?! So while this is what an ideal case should look like Google’s algorithm doesn’t work that way.
2. Guest Posting:
Guest posting involves writing articles for other websites in exchange for a backlink to your own website. The process is known for its long turn-around time. Here’s how a typical process would look like:
- Find websites which are in your or an adjacent Niche
- Then find Content Marketers you can outreach to. Find their contact info.
- Write personalized emails to each one these contacts and hope for a reply.
- Once a contact is made, negotiate for links
- Write the content agreed upon
- Wait for their editor review before it goes live
The process as noted above is very arduous, time taking and has a success rate of 8.5%.
3. Link Exchanges:
Just like in guest posting Link exchanges involve reaching out to other website owners and offering to exchange backlinks. It largely follows the same steps as Guest posting with only difference that you are asking for a link from an existing article rather than offering to write an article.
While this takes less efforts than Guest posting its still difficult to find the exact keyword across 100s of articles in a website. Not to forget that you also have to get a link for the partner website.
Do note, reciprocal links can be penalized by Google and hence ABC links are highly encouraged in the link building community these days.
4. Buying Links:
Buying links involves paying other websites to include a link to your website.
While this can be an effective way to build backlinks, it is important to be cautious when buying links, as search engines can penalize websites that engage in this practice.
It is important to ensure that the websites you are buying links from are reputable and relevant to your niche, and to avoid buying links in large quantities or from low-quality websites.
However, buying links can be expensive and may not provide the same level of value as other types of backlinks.
These traditional methods, while valid, do not scale very well because they are time-intensive and depend on the willingness of others to link to your content. They require constant effort and maintenance, and the results can be slow and unpredictable.
In modern SEO, link building strategies need to be robust and versatile, integrating a range of tactics beyond the traditional methods. Lets discuss the future of link building with Overview of Smartlinks.