Link Building for SEO: The Complete Guide for 2023
Link building is an essential part of any effective SEO strategy. By acquiring high-quality links from reputable websites, you can improve your website’s authority and increase its visibility in search engine results. In this article, we’ll explore some effective link-building strategies that can help you improve your website’s SEO.
Link building is a critical aspect of search engine optimisation (SEO) that involves acquiring links from other websites back to your own website. These links, also known as backlinks or inbound links, are viewed by search engines as votes of confidence for your website’s content, credibility and authority.
The goal is to increase the number of high-quality relevant backlinks pointing to your site, which can improve your search engine rankings, increase referral traffic, and ultimately drive more conversions.
Effective link building requires a strategic approach that takes into account factors such as the relevance and authority of the linking website, the context of the link within the content, and the anchor text used to link back to your site. It also requires a commitment to ethical practices, as search engines penalise websites that engage in manipulative or spammy link building tactics. Furthermore, it also requires technical understanding of backlink profile analysis to firstly, make sure you’re not accidentally creating patterns in your own link building that could trigger a penalty, but to also ensure competitors are not performing negative SEO on your brand, which could equally trigger a penalty.
Link building is a crucial element of search engine optimisation that involves actively seeking out opportunities to acquire high-quality backlinks to your website from other reputable websites. It is the process of establishing connections and relationships with other website owners and webmasters in order to secure valuable links from their website to your website. There are many link strategies, ranging from a more spammy approach of adding links in comments, to adding a link within a directory listing, to the more ethical approach of writing your own unique engaging content that other web masters want to link back to.
In summary, link building is a critical practice in digital marketing that requires a professional approach, a deep understanding of SEO best practices, and a willingness to build relationships and foster partnerships with other website owners in order to drive long-term success.
A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is a hyperlink that points from one website to another. In other words, it is a link on a third-party website that directs visitors to your website.
There are several key elements that make up a backlink, including:
- Linking website: This is the website that contains the hyperlink that points to another website. The linking website’s authority and relevance can affect the quality of the backlink.
- Anchor text: The anchor text is the clickable text that contains the hyperlink. It’s important that the anchor text accurately reflects the content of the page it is linking to.
- Target URL: This is the web page that the backlink is pointing to. It’s important that the target URL is relevant and provides value to users.
- Link quality: The quality of a backlink can be determined by factors such as the authority and relevance of the linking website, the context of the link within the content, and the anchor text used.
- Link context: The context of the link refers to the surrounding content on the linking page. Backlinks within relevant, high-quality content are more valuable than those within low-quality or irrelevant content.
- Link placement: The placement of the link on the linking page can also affect its value. Links placed within the main body of the content are typically more valuable than those placed in the footer, sidebar, or other less prominent areas.
Overall, a high-quality backlink is one that comes from a relevant, authoritative website, uses accurate and relevant anchor text, and is placed within high-quality content that’s relevant to your content.
Yes, link building is still an important aspect of SEO in 2023 and is likely to remain so in the future. In fact, backlinks are still one of the top-ranking factors used by search engines like Google to determine the relevance and authority of a website.
However, it’s important to note that link building has evolved over the years, and the tactics that worked in the past may not be as effective today. Search engines have become more sophisticated in detecting manipulative and spammy link building practices, and now prioritise high-quality, natural backlinks that are earned through valuable content and genuine relationships.
Therefore, a successful link building strategy in 2023 and beyond should focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that naturally attracts links from other websites. This may involve tactics such as guest blogging, influencer outreach, and creating shareable content that is more likely to be linked to by other websites.
Ultimately, link building should be viewed as a long-term, ongoing process that requires patience, diligence, and a commitment to best practices.
Link building works by using a variety of tactics and strategies to earn high-quality backlinks from other websites to improve your own website’s search engine rankings.
Search engines such as Google view backlinks as votes of confidence in the quality, relevance, and authority of a website. Therefore, websites with a higher number of high-quality backlinks are generally viewed as more credible and are more likely to rank higher in search results.
A high-quality backlink is a link from a reputable, authoritative website that is relevant to the content on the target website. In other words, a high-quality backlink comes from a website that is considered trustworthy and credible within its industry or niche, and is placed within content that is relevant to the target website’s content.
Some of the factors that contribute to a high-quality backlink include:
- Relevance: The linking website should be relevant to the content on the target website. For example, a backlink from a gardening website to a website that sells gardening tools would be considered relevant.
- Authority: The linking website should have a high level of authority and be considered an expert in the industry or niche. This can be determined by metrics such as domain authority, page authority, or trust flow.
- Placement: The placement of the backlink within the content on the linking website can also affect its quality. Links placed within the main body of the content are typically more valuable than those placed in the footer, sidebar, or other less prominent areas.
- Context: The context of the link within the content on the linking website can also affect its quality. Backlinks within high-quality, relevant content are more valuable than those within low-quality or irrelevant content.
- Anchor text: The anchor text used in the backlink should be descriptive and relevant to the content on the target website.
The easiest and quickest way to measure the authority of a website is to use one of the following SEO tools: Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz. Whilst they all give a slightly different name for the metric, all three calculate the authority of a domain from many other website metrics including domain authority, domain age, trust flow, alexa score and social media engagements.
Ahrefs – Domain Rating
SEMrush – Authority Score
Moz – Domain Authority
These metrics are a figure between 0 – 100, with 100 being a perfect domain with the highest authority possible and 0 being a domain with no authority at all.
Write High Quality Content Web Masters Naturally Want to Link back to
Google’s algorithms are designed to rank websites that provide high-quality, informative, and engaging content. When you write engaging content that is relevant, informative and valuable to your target audience, you are more likely to attract visitors to your website and improve your website’s ranking in search results. Hence, not only are you creating content people want to naturally share, you’re also providing quality content on your website for Google and visitors to read and love!
Here are some tips on how to create engaging content that webmasters will naturally want to link back to:
– Write for your audience, not for the search engines. The most important thing to remember when writing content for SEO is to write for your audience. What are they interested in? What do they want to know? Answer their questions in a clear and concise way, and you’ll be well on your way to writing engaging content that will rank well in search results.
– Use keywords throughout your content, but don’t overdo it. When you’re writing content, it’s important to use keywords throughout your content. This will help your content to rank well in search results. However, it’s important not to overdo it. Using too many keywords can make your content look spammy and will actually hurt your ranking.
– Use strong headlines and titles. Your headlines and titles are the first thing people will see, so it’s important to make them strong and attention-grabbing. Use keywords in your headlines and titles, but don’t stuff them in there.
– Structure your content well. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to make your content easy to scan and read.
– Write in a conversational tone. People are more likely to read and engage with content that is written in a conversational tone. This means using natural language and avoiding jargon.
– Use images and videos. Images and videos can help to break up your text and make your content more visually appealing. They can also help to illustrate your points and make your content more engaging.
– Promote your content on social media. Once you’ve written your content, it’s important to promote it on social media. This will help to get your content in front of more people and will increase your chances of ranking well in search results.
Generate Original Research and Data Studies
Original research and data studies are one of my favourite’s methods of natural link building. When you conduct original research, you are essentially creating a piece of content that is unique and valuable. This content is then indexed by search engines, and when people search for keywords related to your research, your website will appear in the search results.
In order to conduct original research, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Choose a topic that is relevant to your niche. This means using keywords that are relevant to your business and that people are likely to search for.
- Do your research. Make sure you have a good understanding of the topic you are researching. This will help you to write a well-informed and informative article.
- Write a clear and concise article. Your article should be easy to read and understand. It should also be well-organized and easy to follow.
- Promote your article. Share your article on social media and other online channels to get the word out.
Build Useful Online Tools Users Want to Share
Creating online tools is a fantastic way of attracting natural links from both other websites, and from social media. The key is to make sure your tool is useful and informative, and is something users are actively searching for.
A few examples I’ve used in the past that could work today:
- How much to feed your puppy – with over 6,000 users actively searching for this (avg monthly average for 2022), creating a tool that takes the breed, size and age of the puppy, and returns the recommended daily amount of food to feed your puppy is the perfect tool to have within the pet industry.
- Blackjack Card Counting Tool – a free tool to help blackjack enthusiasts to count cards as they’re playing online blackjack. A fantastic tool that rapidly gained natural backlinks and social shares within the Blackjack community.
An example I’ve used in the past that wouldn’t work today:
- Free wordpress widgets – back in the early days of SEO, we created free WordPress widgets, such as the famous visitor counter found at the bottom of the homepage of a website. Unknown to the web master downloading and uploading to their website, was a hidden backlink to the casino website we were promoting. A VERY black hat example that Google would quickly pickup today, but back in the days of Matt Cutts, we were showing top of Google for “online casino” for over 6 months!
Create In-Depth Guides and Tutorials
Guides and tutorials are another favourite of mine. First, writing a tutorial/guide will help your brand to establish itself as an expert within its field. When you write a tutorial, you are essentially sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. This will help to build trust and credibility with your audience, which will lead to more traffic to your website and more conversions.
Second, writing a tutorial will help you to improve your website’s visibility in search engines for related terms. When you write a tutorial, you use relevant keywords throughout your content. This helps your website to rank higher in search results for those keywords. And if you use the FAQ tool within MOZ, Ahref or SEMrush, you can target high volume search terms, such as “how to rank higher on google”, which if you’re selling a service or tool to help do just this, it’s a great way to attract your exact target audience to your website.
Third, writing a high quality and original tutorial will help generate backlinks to your website. When you publish the tutorial on your website, users within your niche will read it, love it and share it.
Complete Journalist Requests HARO
Journalist requests are sent out by journalists when they require an expert comment, quote, or interview for their article. In return for your comment, the journalist will often include a link back to your website. You can track journalist requests using a tool such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO) or by searching on Twitter using relevant hashtags (e.g. #journorequest). These can often be a good source of link building as, although the links gained are not always necessarily the highest authority, they will be from highly relevant websites in your industry for you to comment on as an expert. Journalist requests do usually require a fairly quick turnaround time though, due to their own deadlines.
Guest blogging is a great way to build links to your website that can often come with reciprocal benefits. Once you’ve identified a relevant site in the same industry as you, you can offer to write an article for them, to sit on their site, with a link pointing back to your own. The other benefit is that sites will often do the same in return, so you will also get a guest blog from another site to host on your own.
Build relationships with influencers and thought leaders
Building relationships with influencers and thought leaders in your industry is an effective way to earn backlinks through mentions and references. Here are some steps to follow when building relationships with influencers:
- Identify relevant influencers: Use social media, industry publications, and other resources to identify influencers and thought leaders in your industry or niche. Look for individuals or organizations that have a large following and are respected within the industry.
- Follow and engage with influencers: Follow the influencers on social media and engage with their content by liking, commenting, and sharing. This will help establish a relationship and demonstrate your interest in their work.
- Create valuable content: Create high-quality, valuable content that is relevant to the interests and needs of the influencers. This could include blog posts, infographics, videos, or other types of content that showcase your expertise and provide value to their audience.
- Share your content with influencers: Share your content with the influencers and ask for their feedback or input. This can help establish a relationship and encourage them to share your content with their audience.
- Offer to collaborate: Offer to collaborate with the influencers on content, events, or other initiatives that are relevant to your shared interests. This can help build a stronger relationship and increase the likelihood of earning backlinks through mentions and references.
- Monitor results: Monitor the results of your relationship building efforts to determine the impact on your backlink profile and search engine rankings. Use backlink analysis tools to track the number and quality of the backlinks that result from your efforts.
Find Unlinked Brand Mentions
Existing unlinked mentions are where your site name is already mentioned somewhere across the internet, but it does not contain a link. You can identify these by running a Google search for your brand name but removing your own website from the search. This will mean that the results show any page in Google’s index that mentions your brand name outside of your own website. Once you’ve removed all the internal sites you need to (you may also need to remove relevant social media as we have done above), you will be left with a list of other web pages that mention your brand name.
You can then work through the search results to identify those that do link and those that do not. With the list of sites that contain unlinked mentions, you can then begin the process of finding a contact at that business to reach out to and asking for a link to be added in. Chances are, they will add the link in as they’re already mentioning you, so this is a fairly easy way to gain some extra links.
Once you have capitalised on all the existing mentions currently out there, you can keep an eye on this on an ongoing basis by setting up Google Alerts to alert you any time there is a new piece of coverage your brand name features in.
Broken Link Building
Broken link building involves finding broken links on other websites and offering to replace them with links to your own content. Here are the steps to follow when implementing a broken link building campaign:
- Find relevant pages with broken links: Use a backlink analysis tool or search engine to find websites or pages in your industry or niche that contain broken links.
- Identify the broken links: Use a broken link checker tool or browser extension to identify the specific broken links on the relevant pages.
- Create relevant content: Create high-quality, relevant content that can be used to replace the broken links. The content should be related to the topic of the original link and provide value to the reader.
- Contact the website owner or webmaster: Reach out to the website owner or webmaster to let them know about the broken link and offer your content as a replacement. Be polite and professional in your communication, and provide any necessary context or information to help them understand the value of your content.
- Follow up: If you don’t receive a response to your initial outreach, follow up with a polite reminder or additional information about your content.
- Monitor results: Monitor the results of your broken link building campaign to determine the impact on your backlink profile and search engine rankings. Use backlink analysis tools to track the number and quality of the backlinks that result from your efforts.
Reclaim Lost Backlinks
Reclaiming lost backlinks is an important part of maintaining a strong backlink profile and maximising the SEO benefits of past link building efforts. Here are some steps to follow when reclaiming lost backlinks:
- Identify lost backlinks: Use a backlink analysis tool such as Ahrefs, Moz, or Majestic to identify any backlinks that have been lost or broken over time.
- Determine the reason for loss: Investigate why the backlinks were lost. The linking website may have removed the link, the target URL may have been changed, or there may have been technical issues with the website.
- Contact the linking website: If the lost backlinks were removed by the linking website, reach out to the website owner or webmaster to determine the reason and request that the backlink be reinstated. Be polite and professional in your communication, and provide any necessary context or information to help them understand the importance of the backlink.
- Redirect broken links: If the lost backlinks were due to changes in the target URL, use a 301 redirect to redirect the broken link to the current URL. This will help preserve the SEO benefits of the original backlink.
- Replace lost links: If the lost backlinks cannot be reclaimed or redirected, consider reaching out to other websites in the industry or niche to request new backlinks to the same content.
- Monitor backlink profile: Regularly monitor your backlink profile to ensure that no valuable backlinks are lost in the future. Use backlink analysis tools to identify any new lost or broken links and take appropriate action to reclaim or redirect them.
Use the Skyscraper Technique
The skyscraper technique is one of my favourites, and most used tactics. It’s works by identifying high-ranking content on the same topic as your website, and then creating a piece of content that is even better. Once you have created your skyscraper content, you can reach out to the web masters linking to the original content, and ask them to link to your improved and updated version.
Here are the steps involved in the Skyscraper Technique:
- Find high-ranking content. Use a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to find high-ranking content on the same topic as your website.
- Analyse the content. Once you have found some high-ranking content, take some time to analyse it. What makes it so good? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
- Create a better piece of content. Now it’s time to create your own piece of content. Make sure it is even better than the high-ranking content you found in step 1.
- Reach out to the web masters. Once you have created your skyscraper content, reach out to the web masters linking to the original content and ask them to link to your improved and updated version.
Alumni profile submissions are another fairly quick and easy link-building tactic to build some very high-quality domains. This would involve asking members of your team which universities they attended and reaching out to the relevant institutions to ask if you could add them an alumni profile on their site. Most universities are up for this as they always like to highlight what their students have gone on to do and will often link back to a site of choice when mentioning the student. University websites have some of the highest domain authorities across the internet, so a link from one of these sites is like gold.
This technique is simply where you and another website agree to link to each other’s content. However, within the SEO world, this technique is generally not recommended, and is said to risk a penalty. However, with over 10 years’ experience of doing just this and getting some great results, I disagree. BUT for it to work, the link exchange must be relevant and high quality.
A few examples I’ve personally used below:
- Bees Wedding Marquees – Link exchange with professional wedding photographers, wedding transport and wedding musicians – linking back to our website that provided wedding marquee hire
- Harringtons Pet Food – Link exchange with All About Dog Food – they provide valuable nutritional information about dog food, we sell nutritional dog food.
Social Media Profiles Creation
Create a social profile for your website, such as a Facebook Business Page, YouTube Channel, and at the same time, add a website link to the profile that points direct to your website (quick win). Also, share your content on social media and encourage your followers to share it as well. When people share your content, they are more likely to link back to your website (takes longer to gain, but the end result is a lot more natural)
Sumit to Business Directories and Industry Specific Websites
Getting your site details listed in some relevant directories can not only be useful for getting your business details out there and helping with your brand presence but is also another fairly easy way to gain some extra links. You should aim for some big, well-known directories that will likely have high authority metrics, but also some lesser authority, more relevant to your niche directories that may be more local, which can help to boost your local organic presence too.
The main benefit of a directory listing is that you’re pretty much guaranteed the link if you submit the form. There’s no email back and forth required to secure these once you’ve submitted your relevant information.
Post in Forums, communities, and Q&A sites (like Quora)
Forums, communities, and Q&A sites can be a great way to build SEO. When you participate in these online communities, you can:
- Get backlinks to your website. When you post a link to your website in a forum or community, it’s a backlink. Backlinks are one of the most important factors in SEO. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search results.
- Build relationships with other webmasters. When you participate in online communities, you can get to know other webmasters. These relationships can be helpful when you need help with SEO or when you want to promote your website.
In order to effectively use forums, communities and Q&A sites for link building, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Choose the right forums, communities, and Q&A sites. Not all forums, communities, and Q&A sites are created equal. Some are more relevant to your niche than others, and some have more active users than others. Do some research to find the best forums, communities, and Q&A sites for your business.
- Become an active member of the community. Don’t just post your links and then disappear. Take the time to get to know the other members of the community and participate in discussions. This will help you build relationships and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
- Post high-quality content. When you do post links, make sure they are relevant to the discussion and that they provide value to the other members of the community. Don’t just post links to your own website. Share links to other high-quality resources as well.
- Ask questions. Asking questions is a great way to get involved in the community and to learn from other members. When you ask questions, be sure to include your website in your signature. This will help to get your website in front of more people.
- Promote your website. When you do post links to your website, be sure to promote them in a natural way. Don’t just drop a link and then run away. Instead, take the time to explain why the link is relevant to the discussion and what people will find on your website.
When you comment on blogs and forums, be sure to include a link back to your website in your signature.
User Profile Pages
When you create a user profile page on a high-quality website, you are essentially creating a piece of content that is relevant to your niche and that contains your website’s URL.
In order to create effective user profile pages for link building, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
– Make sure your user profile pages are relevant to your niche. This means using keywords that are relevant to your business and that people are likely to search for.
– Use your website’s URL in your user profile pages. This will help to create a link back to your website, which will help to improve your website’s ranking in search results.
– Make sure your user profile pages are well-written and informative. This will help to attract visitors to your website and encourage them to stay on your site.
– Promote your user profile pages on social media and other online channels. This will help to get the word out about your user profile pages and attract more visitors to your website.
Here are some of the most popular user profile pages that you can use for link building:
- Stack Overflow
Creating Job Search Listings
When you create a job search listing, you are essentially creating a piece of content that is relevant to your niche and that contains your website’s URL. This content is then indexed by search engines, and when people search for keywords related to your niche, your website may appear in the search results.
In order to create effective job search listings for effective link building, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Make sure your job search listings are relevant to your niche. This means using keywords that are relevant to your business and that people are likely to search for.
- Use your website’s URL in the job search listings. This will help to create a link back to your website, which will help to improve your website’s ranking in search results.
- Make sure your job search listings are well-written and informative. This will help to attract visitors to your website and encourage them to stay on your site.
- Promote your job search listings on social media and other online channels. This will help to get the word out about your job search listings and attract more visitors to your website.
Last but not least, the big one, Digital PR. Running a full digital PR campaign involves much more investment than a lot of the other link-building tactics previously mentioned, however, can also offer a lot more reward. Although not solely used for link building, alongside other benefits such as increasing brand awareness and online presence, digital PR can often secure high-quality backlinks to your site when done right.
A digital PR campaign involves creating a piece of content that can be pushed out to relevant media encouraging them to add a link on their site pointing to it. To grab attention, the best content pieces are often data-led and highly creative to give journalists a real reason to include a link from their site pointing to it.
Link building is an important part of any SEO strategy, but it must be done correctly. Google has improved its algorithms dramatically over the past 10 years; therefore, it is just as important, if not more so, to keep track of your link building, known as your backlink profile.
- Track the Number of Links – One of the most important things to track is the number of links you have. This will give you a good idea of how your link building efforts are progressing. There are a number of tools that you can use to track the number of links you have, such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and Moz.
- Monitor the Quality of Your Links – In addition to tracking the number of links you have, it is also important to monitor the quality of those links. Not all links are created equal. Some links are more valuable than others. There are a number of factors that you can use to determine the quality of a link, such as the domain authority of the linking website and the relevance of the link to your website.
- Track Your Progress – It is important to track your progress over time. This will help you to see how your link building efforts are affecting your website’s authority and ranking. There are a number of tools that you can use to track your progress, such as Google Analytics and Search Console.
- Make Adjustments as Needed – As you track your progress, you may need to make adjustments to your link building efforts. This is normal. As you learn more about link building, you may find that some of your strategies are not as effective as you thought they were. By making adjustments to your efforts, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your time and resources.