Link building is a concept that designates the set of techniques by which optimization specialists and marketing professionals obtain backlinks to a given site from other websites. Link building is very popular in the SEO industry in general since it remains a decisive practice to improve the ranking of a website in search engines
Did you know that? Backlinks are one of the three most important criteria for the ranking of web pages in the SERPs
That’s why SEO professionals don’t hesitate to use any means necessary to get them. The whole process and strategies they use to achieve this is known as Link Building or Netlinking.
So, in concrete terms:
- What do we mean by the concept of link building?
- Why is link building important for a website?
- And what are the preferred strategies to benefit from link building?
These are all questions to which we will try to provide clear and simple answers to help you use it on your own site
Chapter 1: Link building: what is it?
The concept of link building can sometimes seem a little complex to understand, especially if you are a novice in the field of SEO.
At the risk of bombarding you with too many technical terms, it would be wiser to start with the basic notions
1.1) What is a link?
A link can be represented as a connection that allows to redirect the internet users from one page to another. It makes navigation easy and allows to “browse” between pages of the same site and even from one site to another
To link web content together, there are two types of links that we can create: internal links and external links.
1.1.1. Internal links
The internal links as their names suggest, are created between two pages of the same website.
They allow Internet users to browse the pages of the same website to find other types of content.
For example, the home page of your site contains content categories. Internet users can access each of these content categories thanks to an internal link that has been set up
1.1.2. External links
Contrary to the internal links that allow to visit the pages of your site, you can also create links that redirect the Internet users towards pages outside your website: we speak then about external links or backlinks
Clearly, an external link allows to link two pages of two different websites. It is a type of link that can be very practical when it comes to browse the Internet to discover interesting content.
In addition, it should be noted that bloggers quite often use external links to refer their audience to credible sources in order to verify the accuracy of statistics or claims they may have made in their own content
It can also be an external link that has been redirected to an article excellently written by a third party site with the idea of leading their visitors to consult the said article for further explanations on the subject developed.
But external links are not only a matter of user experience, they are also very important for search engines
Indeed, it is thanks to external links that crawlers will be able to find their way from one website to another
Now that the basics have been established, we can unambiguously address the actual definition of link building
1.2. Link building: What is it?
The link building, also called netlinking, includes the process of research andacquisition of backlinks from third party sites to its own site
It must be said that there are many techniques to succeed in a link building strategy with relatively different levels of difficulty
But all SEOs seem to be unanimous on the fact that the link building step remains the most difficult and the most important of the whole process
Indeed, netlinking remains a very important strategy in SEO since the quantity and especially the quality of backlinks that a site receives can influence its ranking in the search results
1.3. Why is the acquisition of backlinks or external links valued in SEO?
Initially, search engines rely solely on content to rank web pages following search queries
But since the launch of its algorithm PageRank algorithm, Google has officially shown that it was also interested in the number of external links linked to a page to assign it a place in its SERPs.
The firm itself considers that these links are part of the first 3 ranking criteria of the Google algorithm apart from content and rankbrain.
We could almost say that the search engine considers each link that refers to a web page as a vote to improve its ranking.
The more votes a page has, that is to say the more backlinksthe more important it appears to the search engines and therefore deserves a better positioning in the SERPs
But everything is not so simple, PageRank also analyzes the quality of each link that refers to a given page.
You may not know it, but not all backlinks are equal in quality. In fact, 10 links from authority sites are worth more than 100 links from low authority or spammy sites.
The authority of websites is easily measured today thanks to some tools available online. This is the case for example with Moz which allows you to check the domain authority of a website
You can use it to check the authority of your own site or that of a site from which you want to obtain backlinks
Its use is quite simple
- Connect to the official page of the tool
- Enter the domain name of the site to check
- Then click on “Analyze the domain”
After a few seconds, the tool will generate an analysis report in which the domain authority score is given out of 100
As you can see on the picture above, the domain authority of Amazon.com is 93 and we can say that it is a site with a good authority
To actually see the ranking of a page improve, it is not about looking for a large number of backlinks, but to prioritize quality
But why do most SEOs have this obsession to improve the ranking of a site in search results at all costs?
1.4. The importance of a better ranking in SERPs
If you are wondering why it is absolutely necessary to improve your positioning in search engines, you should know that the first 3 results take 60% of all clicks that a search results page can receive.
That is to say that for the query “best summer tires” for example, 60% of the Internet users will click on the first 3 results that appear on the suggested answers page that Google returns
So if you were indeed a tire company, appearing in that top 3 will generate enough traffic for you to convert into sales or services
Furthermore, the further you are from this top 3, the more your chances to attract visitors decrease. It is agreed that few people will scroll to the 7th page of Google to search for a tire company
This is why marketers, SEOs and website owners are constantly looking for ways to rank well in the SERPs
Chapter 2: How to recognize quality external links?
Apart from domain authority, there are other criteria that come into play when it comes to evaluating the quality of an external link. Among these criteria, we have
2.1. The relevance of links
As mentioned earlier, the authority of a referrer site is not enough to assess the quality of a backlink and therefore to improve the positioning of the site that receives the link.
Let’s suppose that you have a website selling smartphones and that you receive backlinks from sites specialized in bedding
We all agree that these links that refer to your website are not relevant and here is what Google says about it
As you can see, link relevance matters just as much as the domain authority of the referring site, if not more
So it’s important to get backlinks from authoritative sites, but these links will really benefit you if these sites address topics related to your industry
2.2. Anchor texts
The anchor text is the word or phrase of words that the user must click on before accessing the content of the destination page. It is usually blue in color to show the user that it is a clickable link
Anchor texts are also a factor that greatly influences the quality of a link
First of all, it is the anchor texts that leave the first impression on the Internet users about the page they are about to be redirected to.
A clear and appealing anchor text can give good impressions to the Internet users and easily incite the visitor to click on the link, which improves the site traffic.
For this, it must be sufficiently explicit and short as in the picture below
However, the anchor text is not only intended for Internet users. It also allows search engines to understand the content of the landing page
Unfortunately, you can’t control how people write anchor text to redirect visitors to your site’s pages
However, you can design your own anchor texts to improve your site’s internal links.
Which brings to mind another important criterion for evaluating link quality:
2.3. The context of insertion
This is nothing more than the context in which the anchor text was inserted into the sentence
To obtain a better insertion context, it is important to pay attention to at least these two points
- Insert the link in a natural way
- Insert the link in a way that is truly useful to the reader
A link must be inserted in a natural way, i.e. there is no point in trying to insert links in every sentence, as search engines may suspect a fraudulent technique to try to bypass their algorithms
The site concerned may be hit by a penalty from Google. This is why it is important to insert links in a natural way, when the need is really felt
If we take the example of the previous capture, we can clearly see that the context of insertion was really useful
If the user wants to download the self-hosted version of WordPress, then they can simply click on the link at the link to leave the current page
So basically, in addition to the authority of the domain name, the criteria previously presented can help determine the quality of a link.
But how could we identify a poor quality link? Well, simply by taking the opposite of the criteria we have seen so far, ie
- A link that comes from a site of low authority
- A link coming from a site specializing in a different niche than that of the site referred
- A less attractive anchor text
- A link inserted mechanically without taking into account the user experience
If you want to know more about the different factors that influence the value of a link, you can consult my complete guide on the subject.
Chapter 3: How to launch a link building or netlinking campaign?
In the previous chapter, we not only understood the benefits of links for websites, but also the need to have good quality links.
We are now going to focus on the actions we are going to take in order to obtain these links
We are talking about starting a link building campaign which will consist of defining the objectives for which you are engaging this campaign and the assets you have to achieve these goals.
3.1. Define goals and identify your best assets to attract great links
Setting goals at the beginning of your campaign will allow you to put strategies in place to maximize your chances of getting better links
And the best assets are what you have to offer so that other website owners end up being interested in you and your content. It is these assets that will lead them to link to your website.
3.1.1. Visual assets
Visual content is the key to generating quality backlinks. Indeed, creating links to visual content is easy
On top of that, they are shared quickly and you get a link with each share.
The majority of links in this case come from websites that publish your visuals and cite you as the source.
Here are the visual contents you can create:
- Images ;
3.1.2. Articles in the form of lists
List articles, also called listicles, are very valuable and are a great way to generate backlinks
BuzzSumo has studied 1 million web content and found that list articles get more links than other types of content including videos, quizzes and even infographics
These are numbered lists of techniques, tips or reasons :
3.1.3. Data and Research
Content creators often connect their web pages to those that reveal statistics and data. This data may come from a particular survey, study or research.
Whenever a content creator relays your data, they cite you as the source by linking to that article. For example, a Backlinko study on ranking factors generated 22,800 links.
3.1.3. In-depth guides
In-depth guides are detailed contents that are presented as resources to explore a given subject
These are detailed contents that are packed with as much information as possible
Being specific about your goals will help you figure out which of your pages require backlinks. You can focus your link building campaign around your homepage or around your deep pages such as product pages.
This is still crucial in identifying which pages you will attract links to.
As I have said, building quality content helps to gain backlinks
However, it is not the end of the process of getting links. The next step is to make sure that people will actually link to your site.
The set of techniques to achieve this is the link building strategy. This strategy will allow us to secure quality links.
3.2. getting links from resource pages
Obtaining backlinks from a resource page is popular in the SEO community
This technique is popular because it is easy and effective. It consists of obtaining backlinks from web pages that list useful links for their readers.
3.2.1. How to find relevant resource pages?
There are several ways to find resource pages in your field. We will often use search engines to do this
To do this, we will do advanced searches to obtain specific and abundant results in your field of activity.
Insert in the search bar of your search engine the following entry using the following syntax:
“Keyword” intitle:resources inurl:links.html
In our case, we will consider the keyword design.
Moreover, most of the resource pages use the word “links” in their titles. So we can also find the resource pages easily from the following writings:
- Keyword “best resources
- Keyword intitle:links
- Keyword “useful links
Just replace “keyword” as before.
3.2.2. Send a message to the owners of the resource pages
After selecting the resource pages you are interested in, you need to send them emails and suggest them to integrate your links
However, you need to personalize your messages to make sure they understand your motivations
Specify in your email the area or section where you think your link can be added.
3.3. Using broken links
Broken links are “dead” links that no longer provide any value and redirect to 404 pages that no longer exist. The construction of broken links consists of first identifying them and then replacing them with viable links.
Fortunately, the internet is full of these links and replacing them appears to be an opportunity for content creators who wish to acquire backlinks on these pages.
3.3.1. How to identify broken links on a page?
Identifying broken links is a fairly simple task. You just need to install the “Check My Link” extension of Chrome and go to a page you have targeted. You will then click on the “Check My Link” tab at the top of the browser.
The extension will automatically show you the broken links that are on the page in question.
Also keep in mind that the more external links a web page contains, the more likely it is to find broken links among them. As resource pages contain many links, you can take them as targets.
3.3.2. Send awareness emails to webmasters
It is very important to inform webmasters of sites with broken links about this situation and offer them your content that is an alternative to broken links
We will use a simple trick to find the associated addresses to prevent your emails from becoming spam.
Enter in the search bar of Hunter the name of your target’s domain.
Then you need to create a free account to view the email addresses associated with your target domain.
3.4. The ego bait influence strategy
The ego bait is a strategy exclusively intended to flatter the ego of an influential person in your content. It involves quoting that person in a positive way in order to encourage them to promote your content.
It also works for personal interviews or mentioning the person in a list. For example, you can write an article about “the 10 best French blogs in 2021” and include your target’s blog in this list
You then need to send a message to your target to inform them of your content and ask them to link to this article.
Of course, there are other strategies for creating backlinks that I invite you to consult in my guide on backlinks.
3.5. Avoid bad linkbuilding practices
Search engines recommend to webmasters the development of quality content to gain higher rankings. Content is basically the key to unlocking backlinks.
But creating quality content that naturally attracts links remains a task that requires a lot of method and time
This reason leads some people to look for shortcuts and bypass the official rules of obtaining links with dubious methods by exploiting the loopholes of search engine algorithms.
Some even go as far as exploiting the security flaws of other websites that they do not own by fraudulently injecting hidden links on these sites. Black Hat practices can be found in the form of link buying and link exchange.
Link buying is paying a site owner to get a link back to your site
It goes against the objectives of search engines which is to show in the search results, performing sites that deserve a ranking.
Although these strategies may yield spontaneous gains, they do not last, as search engine algorithms are constantly updated to discover manipulative techniques.
Thus, sites that use these techniques can see their traffic and ranking drop overnight
Note that Google has deployed Penguin to detect fraudulent attempts to obtain links. This algorithm mainly targets manipulative link acquisition techniques
When the algorithm discovers that you are trying to artificially inflate your site’s popularity with these links, it triggers an automatic penalty until you correct it.
In addition, a Google team member can apply a penalty to your website if they find something on it that doesn’t meet Google’s guidelines
You must then comply with Google’s rules and file a review request before the penalty is lifted.
Through this article, you have understood the importance of putting quality content at the heart of your link building strategy
Shortcuts to get backlinks expose you to search engine sanctions.
So you need to integrate good link building practices into your link building strategy to ensure quality backlinks.
I hope you get the most out of this article.
Feel free to share with us in the comments, the techniques you prefer and use to get more backlinks.
See you soon!