What is link building?
Link building is the process of building up the number of external pages to link to a webpage within your domain. This is a well-established SEO tactic, designed to both drive referral traffic and boost search engine rankings.
Links are an important ranking factor for search engines. A link acts as a vote of confidence for the authority and validity of a website. This highlights to search engines that the site linked to is trustworthy and relevant. High-quality, relevant links can help a page rank higher in search engines.
In terms of link building, quality should undoubtedly be valued over quantity. Quality links include those that are relevant to your business, are from an authoritative source with pages that contain information that can be trusted.
Before Google’s ranking algorithms became so sophisticated, search rankings could be drastically manipulated through links. The more links to a site, the higher the ranking, whether the links were of high quality or not. This encouraged foul play in terms of paying sites to establish links to boost rankings. This was a common SEO practice in the past that’s no longer advised.
Paying for links and having intentions to manipulate search engine rankings through links is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Violating these guidelines can result in your website being issued with a manual penalty. This can harm your search engine rankings and traffic. In some instances, Google may remove your website from the search engine index altogether.
The method of link building is vital. Paid links should be tagged with a ‘nofollow’ value to prevent Google from using the link to influence search engine rankings. They should also be gained responsibly; with sites genuinely linking to your site because they believe your content is valuable. Nonetheless, link building is a time-intensive and challenging process.
How to build links
The following are just some of the ways that a website can gain backlinks to pages on its site that are encouraging users to discover useful content:
- Company mentions - Contact sites that have mentioned your business but not linked to your site and encourage them to do so. This could be suppliers, business contacts or blogs interested in your content.
- Find broken links - Another way to build links is to monitor pages that have relevant links to yours that have expired or are broken. You can contact the website and ask them to relink to your website correctly.
- Create highly relevant and engaging content - This encourages natural links to accumulate through websites and webmasters finding your website content relevant, interesting and valuable and linking to it for their users.
- Guest blogging - Write as a guest on another website, or ask a guest blogger to contribute to yours. This links two different sites together and targets two different website audiences to increase the likelihood of link generation. This may also lead to the website you partner with to link to you more in the long term due to the relationship you have developed.