How to Build a Backlinking Strategy to Grow Your Business

How to Build a Backlinking Strategy to Grow Your Business

Backlinks are one of the more critical elements of SEO to implement into your marketing strategy. Having suitable backlinks in the right place can be a significant contributing factor to growing your business. Also referred to as inbound links, backlinks are when another website includes a hyperlink to your website. Experts can boost referral traffic, improve domain authority, and dramatically improve search engine rankings. There are two parts to an inbound link:

  • The hyperlink to your page
  • The anchor text (a clickable text with the hyperlink added to it), usually underlined and blue to help differentiate between non-clickable text and clickable text.

Search engines, like Google, have several ranking factors, such as internal links in your landing pages and user experience, that help determine where you will place on the search results pages. Inbound links are a key ranking factor for Google, the most dominant in the search engines, and still considered necessary by the others. A solid backlink profile confirms to Google that you can offer value to visitors. The reward could be moving up in search engine rankings! For any brand looking to grow, the next step is to build a backlinking strategy.

Understanding Backlinks and Search Engines

SEO is all about making sure that search engines understand your site. They want to know who you are, what you offer, and how it can help customers. Most websites can do this. The trick is to help the search engines become aware that your website offers more quality than any other website.

Google’s famous PageRank algorithm update transformed SEO because it started looking at how many other websites link to a specific page. So while content is the foundation of all backlink strategies, how many other sites and people link to that content is more important than ever. Later Google updates, such as Google Penguin, meant another slight shift occurred. We said goodbye to poor quality backlinks in their droves and said hello to high-quality backlinks instead. In other words, link quality is now as important (if not more so) than link quantity.

What does this mean for your backlinking strategy? You guessed it: you need to focus on building high-quality inbound links.

What is a High-Quality Link?

There are many ways to build a backlink strategy, but you must understand the difference between a good link and a bad link. By focusing on building your backlink strategy around excellent high-quality links, you can successfully stimulate your business growth. Several factors can influence the ability to have good backlinks, and they include the following:

  • Page Authority: Moz can help determine the page authority and ranks websites from one to 100. The higher the number, the more authority they have. What does this mean for you if a high authority website links to you? Search engines will view you more positively. Most experts consider page authority the single most crucial factor to consider when it comes to backlinks. If you find that links are building up naturally, you should regularly check the page authority. You can disavow the link so that your website is not associated with them.
Link Explorer
  • Sitewide Authority: Getting inbound links from a universally known and trusted website is of far more value than a backlink from a blogger with a small audience. Of course, it is usually a lot harder to get backlinks from high-authority sites, but the effort is well worth it.
  • Website Relevancy: You want your backlinks to come from relevant sites to your business and your content. If you’re a health and fitness business, having inbound links from businesses in that sector is of greater value than getting links from a website dedicated to construction or movie reviews, even if those sites have high authority value.
  • Page Position: Where your link appears on the page is influential in your backlinking strategy. Ideally, you want to embed it into a piece of content; you don’t want it to look like you have unnatural links. If it’s stuck at the bottom of a page in a list of footnotes, then it will be of far less importance. Your backlink strategy needs to include all the links back to your pages in the main body of the content.
  • Editorial Link Placement: You want for there to have been a purpose for all of your backlinks. Ideally, you want the following reason. The website/individual creating the content mentions your business because it’s relevant. If you’ve seen comments pages where people (or bots) have added a generic comment and an irrelevant link, then that’s the perfect example of what to avoid. Having an editorial link placement should always be the goal.

Anchor Text: SEO is all about making sure that search engines can identify your website and its content as quickly as possible, so that it can provide value to its users. Anchor text, that clickable text section, is more important than most people realize. While it’s rare to get a natural backlink with anchor text that includes your industry keywords, any relevant text is helpful. Search engines use the text that comes before and after your linked anchor text, as this can help them identify what your page is about easily. These are known as link co-occurrences.

Anchor Text
  • NoFollow and DoFollow: When someone creates a link to your site, they can include a tag. You want tags that read rel=” dofollow.” A dofollow tag will mean that the creator of the content linking back to you is essentially endorsing your page.

A Word About Guest Blogging

It used to be that one of the easiest ways to get backlinks to your website was to write guest blogs for industry-relevant websites. While this still has value for other SEO and brand development reasons, it’s become far less valuable when it comes to backlinks. Essentially, it became too popular an option, and search engines started to consider them as spammy. If you pay to have a guest post published, that’s a red flag for search engines. Overuse of exact match anchor texts or having content on a website that only exists to publish guest posts are both major red flags that can harm your search engine rankings. So while guest blogging can help with brand authority and boost your backlink strategy, unless the site you are blogging for is of exceptional authority, it’s no longer a significant factor to consider in your backlink strategies.

Backlink Content Types That Matter in 2021

Backlinks and content – these two elements entwine with one another, and if you were to look at any one of the top backlinking strategies that prove most effective, you would find content marketing is the foundation of it all. Creating great content that brings value to your site visitors isn’t enough anymore: you need suitable types of content. So here’s a quick look at the content types that stand out when it comes to inbound links.

Visual Content

Visual content is straightforward to link to, so it’s quickly become one of the most effective forms of content to create as part of your backlink strategy. Sharing images is more impactful than long-form articles, making it very social media friendly too. The best visual assets to create are:

  • Infographics
  • Charts/Diagrams
  • Photos
  • Art

No matter what you choose, your visual content needs to be original. Yet, a mistake to avoid in terms of visual content is failing to provide supporting content. This can be a text version or a deeper analysis of the information displayed in your image link. If you only have the visual aid on the page, then search engines will devalue it.

Meet Link Explorer

Videos

Although they are also considered visual content, the sheer value of video assets makes it worth considering them in more detail. It’s no secret that audiences love video, but the problem is that there is simply so much video content available that it can be hard to get noticed, let alone earn inbound links from them. Therefore, the only way to make video assets more likely to earn a backlink is to create the video content that your audience wants to watch. The five steps to using video as backlinking content are:

  • Address Customer Pain Points: Show them how to use your products, cook your consumables, or do home repairs using the products or tools you sell. Be specific and target as narrow a niche as possible.
  • Have a Brand: The more you develop a brand, the easier your business is to remember. Branded video is a high-value resource in oversaturated business sectors. Use music signatures and your brand logo on all of your video content.
  • Call to Share: Always finish your videos with a request for the viewer to share. After all, the more people that see it, the more likely it is that a high-authority website will link to it.
  • Optimization: If you’re using YouTube to publish your videos, you need to verify your account, add custom thumbnails, and include easily digestible video summaries. You can even link to a text version of your video, which will take viewers to your website.
  • Promotion: Periodically promote your videos on your marketing channels. If your videos are outdated, get rid of them.

Videos can be challenging to get right, but they can be invaluable for backlinks.

Original Research

If you have compiled new data that’s relevant to your industry, then you have one of the fastest ways to build a high number of backlinks. Statistics and data, especially originally researched findings, are high-value content when it comes to generating inbound links because whenever another website cites your findings or your statistics, they link back to you.

In fact, nine out of ten businesses that go down this path found success with it. For businesses that included stats and original research, they experienced 162% more impressions and a 37% rise in click-through rates.

Lists

Whatever the subject or tone of voice you use to create your content, lists are a fantastic option for backlink building simply because they allow you to deliver a massive amount of information in easily digestible chunks. On average, list posts (either in text or video format) generate more referring domain links than any other content type.

The ‘Ultimate’ Guide Format

If content is king, then long-form content is undoubtedly the queen in the world of SEO and is crucial for anyone working on a backlinking strategy. If you write a guide on an industry-relevant subject with over 4000 words, search engines will consider it more valuable than a 500-word article with the same title. Take a deep dive into the topic so that your Ultimate Guide becomes the essential resource for anyone wanting to know more about a specific subject.

These are the basic types of content that you need to be creating as part of your backlink strategy. The question is, how do you ensure that other sites will find your content and then refer their readers and viewers back to it?

Top Link Building Strategies in 2021

SEO evolves, and what works today may not be as effective in a year. That means you need to be up to date with the most ROI-effective methods for building a backlink strategy that works. In 2021, some techniques can transform your authority, SEO, and overall brand awareness by ensuring the maximum number of inbound links to your content.

Let’s jump right in and look at all the top backlink strategies that you should implement.

Become a Source

Journalists and bloggers alike want to know what’s happening in the world to create their content about it. By becoming a source for those journalists and bloggers, you can quickly build backlinks from news sites and blogs with high authority. If you focus your backlink strategy on localized growth, simply contacting local media companies is well worth the time. Send them your press releases and your opinion pieces on industry or geographically relevant news. If you want a broader, more national, or international reach, there are resources available that can help. Look at sites like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which has been called the Tinder of PR. That’s because it connects those that want links and exposure to the people that need sources. Although becoming a source can take time, it’s one of the most effective ways to build high-authority referral links once you get started.

Top Tip: Newsjacking

Not quite the same as becoming a source, newsjacking is when you spot an industry-relevant news story and write your opinion on it quickly. Search engines will throw you to the top of a SERP if you’re one of the first people to create content on a breaking news story, and other websites may link back to your content as they make their own. Newsjacking can be hard to get right, but it can be advantageous if you have the resources to do it.

Email Outreach

One of the best ways to earn yourself a backlink is simply to ask for one. From journalists to website owners that relate to your business sector, the trick is reaching out to them while ensuring that you don’t end up relegated to a spam folder. Your first step? Find the people that are most likely to link back to you and try reverse engineering. Next, type your primary keywords into Google and copy the URL of the first result.

keywords plan

Paste that URL to a backlink analysis tool such as the one available from SEMrush. Their backlink gap tool allows you to entire your domain and your competitors. Select “prospects for domain” to see a list of links that your competitors’ websites currently have linking to them.

Then, find the relevant email address, but never use the basic contact form when emailing them. Doing so will mean your email won’t be prioritized. Instead, it might be that the wrong person reads it.

Alternative tools to use:

  • Ahrefs is a popular option for many. If you don’t have a page yet to build links, make sure to view the Best by Links report for a competitor domain.
  • Moz will allow you to see how valuable a website is, which will enable you to reach out to the websites with better authority.
  • io is ideal for getting the contact details for smaller sites or blogs.
  • VoilaNorbet allows you to search for an email address by name and website domain, meaning that you can target the exact person with the ability to add your link to a page.

Email outreach requires personalized communication that mentions the quality of their content and what you enjoy about a specific post. Keen to really capture their attention? Make sure to reference something that you have published that is relevant to their content. Don’t put pressure on them to add a link to your content, but highlight that your content can provide additional information that their viewers and readers might be interested to know.

Skyscraper Content

Fast becoming one of the most popular strategies for gaining inbound links, skyscraper content is taking over SERPs. What is skyscraper content, you ask? The form of content is finding industry-relevant existing content on the top of SERPs and creating your version of that content that is better, longer, and more in-depth. Then, you backlink to existing posts and share your fresh content with other people who have already shown an interest in that subject. Of course, you should always create content that has value for your target audience rather than search engines, so you need to be looking for existing content that provides that value. Always start your content with the reader/viewer in mind and an awareness of their pain points, and your skyscraper content can be one of your most effective backlinking strategies.

Want to let your skyscraper content leave a long last mark? Try to make it evergreen content so that it won’t be outdated in time to come.

Finding Outdated Resources

Businesses and websites can change names during a rebrand, move location (both online and in the real world), shift their industry focus, or shut down. When you can find those businesses and websites that have done one of these, you have the perfect opportunity to contact people with the various pieces of content that have links to the now-defunct website pages.

How do you do this?

First, find those sites by using a backlink checking tool. Ahrefs is the most popular, but there are various alternatives such as SEMrush, Moz Pro, and BuzzSumo. Then, copy and paste the outdated URL into the backlink checker and look at the website that is still linking to those old URLs.

ahref

Pick out the sites with the highest domain authority, and then reach out to them. Let them know that a) they have a broken link on their pages and b) that you have content that is fresher and more in-depth that they can easily link to instead.

Pre-Curated Link Targets

It can be time-consuming to find a list of high-authority pages to target for your link building, but you can make the task much easier for yourself. First, do a Google search for relevant ‘best [keyword] blog’ lists. Then, contact the blogs that have been listed for you (as long as your research shows that they are high authority). You can also use Ahrefs Contact Explorer to find out who has tweeted about your chosen keywords, as well as their follower numbers. Reach out to them as well to get more eyes on your content. Buzzsumo has a similar function and works by year and the ‘influencers’ tab.

Key Industry Terms You Need to Know

Key Industry Before you dive into learning more about advanced link building strategies, becoming familiar with the key industry terms is vital. These are the top ones you need to know that have been and will be used in this guide:

  • Anchor Text – The text you use to add your link to and direct people to a page.
  • Algorithm updates – This is commonly associated with Google who is notorious for updating its algorithm frequently. They now have a whole history!
  • Backlinks – Links that are pointing back to your site from another.
  • Bots – Bots retrieve information from websites. They are also called crawlers or spiders.
  • Broken links – This refers to links that point to resources that no longer exist.
  • Click-through rates – The metric that measures how many people click on your site compared to how many times your site appears somewhere.
  • Conversion rates – A percentage of visitors to your site that complete a specific goal, such as to buy a product, fill in a contact us form, etc.
  • Disavow – You disavow a link to tell Google that you don’t want the link associated with your site.
  • Dofollow – The dofollow attribute means links are automatically followed.
  • Domain Authority – A metric (developed by Moz) that predicts how well your site will rank.
  • Editorial Link – A one way link placed within a body of content.
  • Evergreen content – This is content that won’t become outdated.
  • Guest Blogging – Articles written by someone else to be placed on a site they do not typically write for.
  • Image Links – An image that will link to another page. This can be internal and external.
  • Inbound links – These are links pointing to your site from another.
  • Keywords – These are words and phrases that you can use in your anchor text or within your content to optimize it to help search engines determine what your page is about.
  • Landing pages – These are pages that a user will arrive at when they visit from another site.
  • Page authority – Thi is a metric to predict how well a particular page will rank.
  • SERPs – Short for search engine results pages, this is a list of the sites that will show up for queries entered by a user.
  • Spam – Sites that are considered undesirable or unsolicited.
  • Unnatural links – These are links that are not natural, which are usually paid for or spammy.

Advanced Link Building Strategies

Some link-building strategies are effective for some industries but not so valuable for others. Look at what your competitors are doing and evaluate their methods. You should ignore the ones that are too industry-specific or not  .

Resource Lists

These can be a fantastic two-way street in terms of link building. The first step is to create your resource list. Quick note: you don’t have to title this as a resource list. In fact, many brands use additional resources or helpful links instead.

You will need to contact the businesses and blogs that you include on your list, ensuring that they know what you do and showcasing the content you have created that they might want to share. You may be added to their resource list with a link back to your site in a best-case scenario.

Roundup Posts

A roundup post is when you compile a selection of expert opinions on a specific subject or answer an industry-relevant question. These are fantastic for audiences because they get a lot of opinions from experts in a single post. The best thing about roundup posts is those industry leaders will be more likely to share your posts, and you may even be able to build a relationship with them, boosting your brand authority.

Roundup-Posts

To create a roundup post:

  • Ask a question that interests your target audience.
  • Create a long list of thought leaders and industry experts.
  • Make a Google Forms with fields for the question and answer, the expert’s name and Twitter handle, plus links to the website and space for a short bio.
  • Email the experts with personalized communications, asking if they could take a few minutes to fill out the form.
  • Thank the experts who respond and let them know when the post will be published.
  • Create your post.
  • Email the published post to the experts who responded.

Roundup posts can be time-consuming to put together, but they can be handy for backlinks and relationship-building.

There are many more strategies, but they tend to be less effective than those already mentioned. If you are looking for more strategies to adopt, then consider the following:

  • Create case studies. Our recommendation is to use your best clients to highlight the best results.
  • Write industry-relevant reviews, ensuring that the reviewed businesses get sent this once completed.
  • Monitor online mentions of your business and interact positively with anyone that mentions you (especially if someone has posted a piece of content that brings up your business but they haven’t included a link – there is no harm in asking them to).
  • Install ‘Tweet This’ links and social media sharing widgets into your new and existing content.

How to Measure Backlink Performance

One of the most crucial elements of any backlinking strategy is analyzing performance. That will help you identify the best ways to improve your existing strategy and implement the right tactics to improve your marketing performance. If you don’t measure backlink performance, the work that you put into it may be a waste of time and resources. So how do you do this? The short answer is to use analytics. Analytics can offer you powerful insight, allowing you to learn more about your website’s performance, marketing efforts, the type of content you should be producing, and more.

The key is knowing which of your data points are relevant to backlink performance. Here are the four most valuable:

1: Visitor Numbers

This might be the most basic metric to measure, but it remains the most critical. The more people that consume your content, the more opportunities there are to win customers. You want to make sure that you are attracting new and repeat visitors so that you can constantly grow your audience.

2: Indexed Pages

This is a list of the number of your pages that search engines have indexed. Google is the most helpful barometer of this, and it’s easy enough to log into the Google Search Console to find out your indexed pages. You need to ensure that all of your pages are indexed and make sure that the number of indexed pages continues to grow. That’s why so many brands start a blog. It’s a way of casting a wider net online and improving the potential for SEO and backlinking content. You can use a blog to link to other blogs, which you can contact to let them know. This can turn into a relationship that earns you more inbound links.

Indexed Pages

3: ROI

Like anything, you want to know that the money you are putting into something will pay off in the long run. One way of achieving this is through sale conversions. If your sales see a boost, this is positive. However, don’t be dismayed if you don’t see results straight away. There are many different ways to measure ROI that ar’t based around conversion rates. For instance, your link building might aid your sign-up list, or your click-through rates might increase. With metrics like these, look for your customer base to be growing and potential leads as ripe new opportunities, ready to be nurtured by you.

4: Quantity of Links

Measuring the number of backlinks that you have earned is a vital data point to check when you’re working on your backlink strategy! The more inbound links you have earned, the more effective your campaign is working. Most people take advantage of Google Analytics to measure this, but there is a wide range of alternative analytics platforms and tools available. Some of these will be free, while others will require you to choose a payment plan to access it. Also, many content management systems include varying degrees of analytics.

Analytics can hold the key to the locked door, currently holding you back from achieving everything you want out of your backlink strategy. Therefore, making this stage of your campaign a necessary step and learning the outcome of your actions can allow you to unlock the door.

Black Hat Backlinking

So-called white hat SEO techniques are those that search engines approve of and will reward. They are techniques that tend to take the longest to get right and may take the longest to show results. Black hat SEO is the term used by those looking for shortcuts, and these are backlinking strategies that are going to get you penalized by search engines. Google has a list of Webmaster Guidelines which make it very easy to stay within the white hat area. What they don’t want to see is:

  • Cloaking: When you present different content or a different URL to a search engine crawler and a user, this is known as cloaking. It’s a way of tricking a search engine into listing your website, even for entirely irrelevant user searches. Be aware that Google, in particular, is aggressively measuring user experience, and they will find out what you’re up to, so don’t try to attempt it.
  • Purchasing Links: Many dodgy websites will allow you to buy backlinks in bulk because it can be very effective for quick returns on your backlink strategy implementation. Despite it being harder for search engines to recognize, you won’t get away with it forever, and the penalties can be severe. For example, search engines may remove your website from their index without previous warning and permanently put your website out of business. In the best-case scenario, you might find yourself with a penalty that drops your ranking. Furthermore, when these types of links are time-sensitive, the risk of experiencing this is not worth it.
  • Article Spinning: This is similar to skyscraper content, but it tends to be straight-up plagiarism. Article spinning is when you just steal another site’s content and then publish it as your own. There are bots now that will take existing articles and auto-generate a rewrite, but these are very noticeable. When it comes to your overall SEO, article spinning is one of the most damaging methods to adopt.
  • Spambots: In comment sections, you can see the result of spambots that automatically post a set script and a link to a website. They’re easy to spot and more annoying than anything. If you decide to create a spambot, know that Google will quickly locate and destroy it.

In Summary

There is so much potential in backlinks that it is only natural that you likely feel excited and ready to kickstart your backlinking strategy. What’s not to love about the prospect of earning a top spot on Google, building a trusted reputation, and gaining new customers? If you can use the right backlink strategies outlined above, you can soar above the rest, finally resting at that first SERP.