In the world of online marketing, link building has evolved to become one of the most popular strategies—and an absolute must for practitioners of search engine optimization (SEO). But what is it that makes link building so appealing? And is it worth all the hype?
Link Building 101
In case you aren’t familiar, link building is the process of establishing links to your site on external sites. Oftentimes, link builders will write high-quality content for external publishers, and will include a link back to their own pages as a citation or a recommendation for further reading. This link can be clicked and followed by readers, but it also serves an important function for SEO.
Google ranks pages in search engine results pages (SERPs) not just based on contextual relevance, but also based on their trustworthiness (often called authority). The more trusted a page is, the higher it’s going to rank and the more traffic it’s going to receive. Authority is calculated largely with the help of external links, so building a better backlink profile can greatly increase your ability to rank.
Of course, link building is a deeper and more nuanced strategy than this description implies. You’ll have to measure and analyze your performance so you can improve over time, and you’ll need the help of a backlink checker tool to ensure your links are high-quality enough to add value to your campaign.
The Benefits of Link Building
Link building is popular in part because of its rich assortment of benefits:
- Higher authority and search rankings. One of the obvious benefits is higher perceived authority and higher rankings in search engines. Building links increases your domain and page authority, which in turn, makes it more likely for your site and individual pages to rank highly for relevant queries. That means a steady stream of organic traffic to your site and higher brand visibility at the same time.
- Referral traffic. Some link builders prioritize referral traffic over organic traffic; they’re more interested in developing a steady stream of traffic from people clicking links. With high-quality content and a compelling call-to-action (CTA), you can motivate thousands of readers to visit your website.
- Brand recognition and authority. Just including a link back to your site can be a great way to improve your brand recognition and perceived authority among your readers. This is often best used when citing your brand as a source in combination with original research, specific facts, or statistics.
- Guest authorship and reputation. As you publish more content with offsite publishers under the same name, you’ll eventually increase your reputation as an author. As your profile grows and you gain more regular readers, you’ll be able to work your way to higher-authority and higher-traffic publishers. You may also open the door to new opportunities like speaking engagements once you reach a certain point.
- Social media impact. Link building complements many other online marketing strategies, including social media marketing. Writing offsite content and building links can help your social media presence flourish; it’s a great gateway for attracting new followers, and a strong enough social media presence can help you publicize and increase the reach of your best offsite pieces.
- Long-term payoffs. Link building is a strategy that pays off over time. Most of the links you build will be permanent, forwarding traffic and will establish your authority for as long as they’re relevant. As you accumulate more, you can watch your return on investment (ROI) snowball.
- Scalability. You can also scale your link building strategy effectively. You can start seeing results with minimal effort and even a handful of links, but you can keep increasing your link building effort indefinitely as your business grows.
Barriers to Entry
There are also very few barriers to entry with link building, making it attractive to a wide variety of marketers:
- Cost. It doesn’t cost much to start a link building campaign, especially if you’re working with a relatively small scale. You can do the work yourself in some cases, or hire an agency or freelancer to build a handful of links on your behalf.
- The basics. It only takes a few hours to learn the basics of link building. While there are some complex technical aspects you’ll need to learn, they aren’t exceptionally difficult to grasp. Almost anyone can master the fundamentals.
- Options. There are countless options for how to pursue link building, making the strategy accessible to a wide range of businesses, and appealing to almost any set of marketing goals.
Ultimately, link building is one of the most cost-effective and efficient marketing strategies available for modern business owners. If you’re interested in improving the visibility and reputation of your brand online, it’s a practical must.
Image credit: Bongkarn Thanyakij; Pexels