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If you want to rank a website on Google in 2021, you can’t ignore the importance of link building and the need to come up with a solid strategy to help you get high quality links. In fact, links are still one of the top three ranking factors out there.

That said, if you are a complete beginner to SEO learning how to plug in construction for the first time or have been doing it for years and just want to find new tactics that still work, there are literally dozens of approaches you can take.

In this guide, you will learn how to build links with strategies and tactics that are still effective and that will help you land those high-level positions, as well as those that will see you wasting time and resources and that could potentially have a negative impact on your organic visibility.

We’ll share quick win tactics along with ones that take a little more time and planning, but can really help you get those “can’t be bought” links.

What is Link Building?
Why is link building important for SEO?
What are the key elements of a successful link building strategy?
White Hat vs Black Hat vs Gray Hat Link Building
Toxic links and possible negative impact of the wrong strategy
Link building strategies you need to know in 2021
Quick Win Link Building Tactics
Traditional link building tactics
Link get tactics
Paid link building tactics
How to use scope for building links
Simple ways to discover link building opportunities
Metrics to measure the success of link building
If you want to learn how to build better connections than your competitors, read on …

What is Link Building?
Link building is a key part of any successful SEO strategy that involves other websites linking to yours – a simple hyperlink from site to site. Many also agree that it’s one of the hardest parts of ranking a website, while one of the most rewarding when done right.

Not familiar with how links work?

When website A links to website B, it is a strong indication for Google’s algorithm that it deserves a higher ranking for relevant keywords and you may hear that these are called inbound links, backlinks, external links or simply link.

You can think of links from other websites as votes.
The more high-quality links to your website (and are part of your backlink profile), the higher it should rank in Google and therefore the higher level of organic traffic it should receive.

However, not all links are created equal, and some may even reduce your website’s visibility, which we’ll cover shortly.

There are many different tactics you can use to make connections, some easier to perform than others, and knowing where to start can sometimes be difficult, especially when you know that some can do more harm than good.

Why is link building important for SEO?
Creating links takes time and effort. There is no way to hide from this fact.

It’s also hard to get it right, meaning those who can successfully perform better link building tactics than their competitors often see significant growth in organic traffic and revenue.

And that’s why you need to understand why links are so important and should make up a sizable portion of your SEO campaign resources.

We delve into the importance of link building for SEO in our backlink guide, which you should consult for a detailed introduction to the what and why behind this key pillar of any successful campaign.

However, the main reasons why you should make sure you focus heavily on link building like SEO are:

You will get a higher ranking on Google and other search engines.

Google will find new pages on your site faster.

You will enjoy greater credibility and reliability as a company.

You could benefit from targeted referral traffic.

You can’t ignore linking and you need to make sure you implement tactics that give you a competitive edge, which we’ll show you how to do in this guide.

What are the key elements of a successful link building strategy?
Link building is more than it sounds, and not just in terms of the complexity of the tactics that deliver the best results and impact.

When planning a link building strategy, you need to remember this not all connections are created equal and there are key elements that drive success.

You shouldn’t make links blindly.

By that we mean you need to know what a great link looks like and fully understand that the more effort you put into getting the links right, the more impact you will see.

These are some of the key components you should focus on that make for a great link building strategy to help you understand what a great link profile looks like.

  1. Contextual links
    The links on a page that are most likely to be clicked are the ones that have the highest value and can have the most impact on rankings and the way Google measures the value of a link is with PageRank, and its parent of the ” reasonable model of surfer “. ‘indicates that the different characteristics associated with links change the way it scrolls.
    Bill Slawski explains it as:

If a link is in the main content area of ​​a page, you use a font and color that makes it stand out, and you use text that can make someone click, then you could get over a good amount of Page Rank. On the other hand, if you combine features that make it less likely to be clicked, such as being in the footer of a page, with the same text color as the rest of the text on that page and the same font, and use a text anchor that people don’t care about, may not convey much PageRank.

  • Bill Slawski

Contextual links – those that are placed in the body of a web page’s content rather than in the footer or sidebar, for example – are often higher quality links and are the key to a successful strategy.

  1. A high percentage of “followed” links
    Not all links exceed PageRank and affect a site’s ranking.

Links can have different attributes applied, and the main ones you need to know are nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links.

Links that have a rel = “nofollow” attribute suggest that Google shouldn’t crawl them and shouldn’t associate the two sites from a ranking standpoint.

The Rel = “sponsored” attributes indicate that a link has been paid for (and therefore must not exceed PageRank).

Rel = “UGC” displays links that come from user-generated content, such as forums and comments, and indicates that these links are not placed in an editorial fashion and could be manipulative.

If a link is called a “followed” link (or sometimes a “dofollow” link, although technically not the correct terminology), it means that there are no attributes that prevent PageRank from passing and a good link profile must contain a high percentage of these, provided they come from quality sources.

  1. Links inserted in an editorial way
    Links placed in an editorial fashion are simply those that exist because a third party has made the decision to add a link from their website to yours, rather than for a fee, some other incentive, or because you were responsible for putting it in and you have it. done. to increase your ranking.

The most effective links are editorially placed, and Google itself points out in its guidelines that links that are not included in this categorization can be considered unnatural.

  1. Focus on links from unique referring domains
    A great link profile will see links from a greater number of unique referring domains rather than the same few over and over again.

A successful strategy should always focus on tactics that will make a link building campaign gain links from new domains that have never been linked before to increase the number of unique linking domains.

It is widely reported that having links from a greater number of unique domains can help a site rank high and Nick Eubanks comments in this blog post that “Often when I see sites ranked with a much lower authority, they tend to have a much higher link ratio of root domains than their competitors. “

  1. A strong thematic relevance
    The links should come from websites and content that are closely related to your site’s topic and this is another great example of how to make sure you are not just making links, but the right ones.

Remember that links originally existed on the web to get a user to navigate from page A to page B, and under that assumption why would a link lead to something that wasn’t related to the topic?

Doesn’t make sense, does it? So make sure you follow this position with your link building efforts.

A great way to get into this mindset is, when looking for linking opportunities, ask yourself if you’d keep following if Google didn’t exist or if it used linking as part of its algorithm.

If the answer is yes, perhaps because you would expect it to send quality referral traffic or help increase your brand awareness or authority; This usually means that it comes from a website related to the topic your audience is online in.

If you answer no, it’s a good indication that the link isn’t relevant to your business.

  1. A mix of natural anchor text
    Anchor text is the text used to link from one page to another.

Of course, when you link to a website, chances are you’re referring to the brand name, the title of the article, or maybe you just use “click here” or something similar.

That said, Google’s algorithm uses anchor text as an indication of what a page is about and can therefore affect rankings.

However, Google’s guidelines clearly state that optimized anchor text (using primary target keywords or business terms) is a violation of their guidelines, and excessive use of this is a known contributor to enforcing both. manual actions such as algorithmic filters.

Your link profile should contain a natural combination, with no noticeable link spikes using optimized anchor text.

White Hat vs Black Hat vs Gray Hat Link Building
If you’re new to SEO and more specifically link building, you may have come across references to black hat, gray hat, and black hat tactics.

These need to be addressed, although we will discuss some of these approaches in more depth in this guide.

Put simply, white hat SEO uses tactics strictly governed by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and takes an ethical approach to achieving high rankings. It places a strong focus on optimization for human audiences and is seen as a long-term approach to gaining sustained visibility in search engines.

On the other hand, black hat SEO uses those who violate these guidelines and try to rank a site higher with manipulative tactics, generally trying to make quick profits.

Gray hat SEO is somewhere in between, using tactics that might be seen as manipulative and riskier than white hat tactics, but not as obvious a violation of Google’s terms as black hat.

Google employs a web spam team whose main goal is to ensure that websites that use black hat tactics are not ranked.

Toxic Links: The Possible Negative Impact of the Wrong Strategy
If you create the wrong links and use risky black hat tactics, you risk having toxic links in your backlink profile which could negatively affect your ranking and organic traffic.

We explored this in detail in our guide to running a backlink scan and looking for toxic backlinks, and this is a highly recommended read.

But you should be aware that using the wrong link building tactics can have dire consequences.

Things to keep in mind:

If Google determines that you are creating links that violate its Webmaster Guidelines, you may see your site affected by manual action or an algorithmic filter (most likely Google Penguin), both of which can cause your site to drop. in the rankings.
It is not uncommon for it to take months, or even years, to recover from such a negative shock.
Recovery time is one thing to consider when balancing low-effort, high-risk tactics with low-risk ones that require a greater investment in effort.
The most successful strategies offer lasting success, and you should use tactics that won’t impact your hard work from a web spam filter or manual review.

Link building strategies you need to know in 2021
To create the right links that have a truly positive impact on your organic rankings and traffic, you need to make sure you’re using the right strategy.

But first, you need to be clear about the difference between strategies and tactics and explore each of them.

Strategy = what are you going to do.
Tactics = how you will do it.
Applied to link building, different strategies often balance different levels of commitment and resources with potential rewards and benefits (i.e. the harder a tactic is to implement, the better results you will see, as it is more difficult for competitors to do the same). , as well as the level of risk surrounding the algorithmic or manual actions performed by Google.

Link Building Survey
A few months ago, we interviewed 850 SEO professionals to reveal the link building strategies and tactics they trust the most, with a number of compelling results shared.

In fact, we were a little surprised that guest posting is still the most popular tactic.

most popular link building strategies
But, too often, we rely on tactics we are most familiar with and know best. With that in mind, let’s broaden the web a bit and explore what five different strategies look like before delving into the tactics, perhaps introducing you to some new ways to build great links.

Quick-Win link building
It is a common misconception that all link building approaches are resource intensive. This is simply not true, and while many certainly are, if you are looking for tactics that can help you quickly find some good connections, you will find plenty of opportunities to win quickly.

Ripe fruits are usually the easiest links to get, and that means they’re also the ones your competitors will hit first. (This isn’t to say you shouldn’t make these links, because you should.)
A quick win strategy often pays off a lot for the less effort you will have to put into tactics.
These wins are what builds a solid foundation and puts you on an equal footing with competitors who have already tried these tactics.
However, you need to be realistic and understand that this strategy is seldom enough on its own, in competitive sectors, to get the top spots.

To take your SEO performance to the next level, you typically need to target your strategy towards others once you’ve gotten the quick profit opportunities.

Traditional link building
Traditional link building tactics rely on manual link placement thanks to your efforts. As in, link building generally has full control over the outcome of tactics, rather than relying on a reporter or other third party to want to link to your site.

And this is precisely why these tactics are often called “manual link building”. But let’s clarify one thing; the links you check are usually not of the highest quality.

In Google’s eyes, any link that isn’t posted in an editorial fashion (someone else’s decision to link to it) is manipulative.
So they are likely to have a minor impact on rankings, are completely ignored, or if the tactics are performed on a large scale, they could hurt your site’s performance.
That said, these aren’t bad links, as such, and can lead to benefits like referral traffic or help position you as a thought leader, as well as SEO impact – just make sure you take the time to understand the tactic. . properly, know the risks associated with them and use them with caution.

Another point to note is that, as with quick win tactics, a strategy based on traditional link building tactics is likely to be easily copied by competitors. It won’t give you a significant competitive advantage.

Link gain
If you really want to gain this competitive advantage through links, you need to adopt a strategy that allows you to get editorially positioned links.

Link building tactics require a lot of effort, but offer a big payoff. You have to be ready to invest time and resources in getting links; This way, you’ll get links that your competitors will have a hard time replicating.

And let’s not forget that Google has been telling us for years, as part of its Webmaster Guidelines, that:

The best way to get other sites to link high quality and relevant links to yours is to create unique and relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the internet community.
Creating good content pays off – Links are usually editorial votes chosen by choice and the more helpful content you have, the better chance someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

  • Google webmaster guidelines (linking schemes)

When you get a link, a third party is actively making the decision to link, which means you are linking because there is a reason for doing so; that adds value to your audience.

These are the true holy grail of link building and the tactics essential for success in competitive niches.

Paid link building
Despite being a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and a clearly defined tactic as a linking scheme, paid link building is still relatively common in 2021 for the simple reason that it guarantees results.

Getting links is hard work; It cannot be denied. And even manual linking and the myriad of quick win tactics available still require effort to see results. Some things to remember:

The use of paid links is, in the opinion of many, lazy link building.
Paid link building is a clear manipulation of Google’s algorithm and a low-effort but extremely high-risk tactic.
Most paid links end up coming from sites that aren’t thematically aligned, have a large number of outbound links, and are generally of low quality.
Aside from that risk, don’t forget that if you can buy links, your competitors can too.
Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule here: those where getting links to support your SEO strategy isn’t the main focus and you’re looking to get referral traffic or build your brand authority and you’re doing it with sponsored placements. and infomercials on quality sites and have a rel = “nofollow” or rel = “sponsored” attribute to avoid a negative impact on search rankings.

However, as a general rule, paid links that only help increase your rankings should be considered banned.

Connection building with black hat
Black hat link building strategies are often aimed at manipulating search engine rankings and, as we have described above, often target unethical tactics that directly violate Google’s guidelines and use those methods defined as part of a scheme. connection.

There is little or no focus on the user, rather, try to play with the algorithm.
These tactics generally involve applying a manual action or algorithmic filter, and as algorithms continue to develop, you may also see links that don’t trigger that setting and are simply ignored.
Black hat strategies are not sustainable and should not be seen as a viable option to follow in 2021.
We will not share or explore the black hat tactics in depth. We would not want to give them any exposure as they are not tactics we think should be used, especially unless the risks are well understood.

Common tactics for building Black Hat connections to consider

However, it is important that you know the types of tactics included in black hat strategies to ensure that you can avoid them if recommended by someone you are working with or if you come across as you learn more.

Paid links that exceed PageRank
Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
Large-scale article marketing and guest posting campaigns using keyword-rich anchor text
Low-quality directories that exist solely to link from
Keyword rich links embedded in widgets on other people’s websites.
Links obtained from compromised sites
Links created with automated programs or services
Request links as part of the Terms of Service or agreement
Spam in the comments
Widely distributed footer or sidebar links
Quick Win Link Building Tactics
Try these tactics below if you’re looking for low-effort, high-reward tactics that don’t require a lot of time or resource investment.

These are all valuable tactics that it makes sense to focus some of your efforts on due to their ease of obtaining.

  1. Build broken links
    A proven link building tactic that’s really easy to get started with and can produce quick results is broken link building.

This strategy involves searching for relevant pages in your industry that may link to you and have broken outbound links. You can contact and suggest that the broken link be updated to point to relevant content on your site.

A really quick way to do this is to monitor your competitors’ backlink profile for broken links, and you can learn how to do it with SEMrush’s backlink checker tool in this guide to find a competitor’s broken backlinks.

Destination URL error example to find broken links

  1. Unrelated brand mentions
    Most companies are mentioned in the press from time to time for one of many different reasons, with some natural references and others stemming from the efforts of their public relations team.

It is not uncommon for this coverage to be disconnected and only a mention of the brand, but it is often easy to see that this becomes a link with minimal effort.

The hard work of securing coverage in the first place has already been done.

You can find brand mentions by using SEMrush’s brand tracking tool to get notified whenever someone mentions you but hasn’t logged into your site.

SEMrush brand tracking example to find links
You can then send a polite email to the person who mentioned it and ask them to add a link, making sure to demonstrate how the link adds value to your readers; this will help make your decision easier.

You won’t always get an added link, but with minimal effort, the ones you manage to land with this tactic are worth it.

  1. Recover lost and broken links
    Over time, links are lost or broken for various reasons that are totally out of your control.

It could be that an author updates a piece of content and removes the link, it just gets lost during a site update, or even the page becomes a 404 or 301 redirect.

It could also be that a page on your site that has links pointing to it becomes a 404. And links pointing to a 404 page won’t count as part of Google’s ranking algorithm.

For whatever reason, you need to monitor broken or lost links on your site and take steps to recover them:

Contact your original contact on a site and try adding or correcting a link when the problem is resolved.
If you find that a page on your site has become 404 and you are creating broken links, redirect this URL to the most appropriate page, republish the original page, or request a link target update.
You can find and monitor broken and lost backlinks with SEMrush’s backlink checker tool.

backlink checking tool for a link building example

  1. Relocation of links
    One great tactic recommended by Ross Tavendale in his Weekly Wisdom on building technical links is repositioning links.

This isn’t a often talked about tactic, but it can be used with relative ease and helps make existing links work better.

In a nutshell, analyze the links pointing to your home page and download the ones that talk about the products or services you offer. Those that would be more suitable for linking to an internal page of your site, rather than the home page.

As Ross advised:

What I would do is look at all the links pointing to my home page and analyze that content to see if any of them are really about our blue widgets.
In part it probably is.
I would contact the people who wrote on my blue widgets and say, “Hey, you connected to the home page. Thank you very much. You are an absolute legend, but it is a bad user experience. People click, going to the home page, and they can’t see what you just wrote on my blue widget. So can we get them to point to this? “
And most of the time people are kind enough to update the link and put it on the landing page
.

-Ross Tavendale

This is also a great tactic if you are starting a series of regionally focused sites, having previously only had one global site.

Let’s say you launch a new website for your business that caters to customers in the UK. Take a look at your linking profile and search for .co.uk domains, then contact and request that these links be updated on your new regional site.

  1. Link suppliers Provider
    If you sell other people’s products, your suppliers and manufacturers are very likely to link to resellers from their own websites and these can be very quick links to get.

Use of the pages of the provider for the creation of links
Gather a list of all your manufacturers and suppliers and check their websites to see if they link to distributors and resellers. If they are, are you included?

You will often find that these are not updated as often as they should and are missing from resellers. If you don’t see your store listed, contact your contact at the seller and ask if they can make it easier for them to add.

  1. Association and membership link
    Do you pay to be a member of a trade association such as the local Chamber of Commerce?

If so, these organizations often introduce and connect to their members, and if you’re not already on the list, an email is usually enough to request to be added.

  1. Reverse Image Search Link Recovery
    Have you created custom infographics or posted photos as part of your content strategy in the past?

Maybe you have an established industry expert within your (or client’s) business who is frequently featured in the press?

Go to Google Images and do a reverse image search.

Reverse image search example
If you find that there are sites that use your image but haven’t credited you with a link, contact them and ask them to add one.

  1. Links to the question and answer platform
    Remember, we said link building should focus as much on tactics that send you high referral traffic and help build your brand, as well as impact on search rankings.

While these only allow you to get nofollow links, using question-and-answer platforms like Quora and Reddit are great ways to build links that send targeted traffic to your site. These links will also help diversify your linking profile.

Join relevant communities on these platforms and make sure you add value. It’s not about going in directly and adding a link, but about sharing relevant content and tips to help other users who have questions.

Here’s a great guide in Julia McCoy’s Search Engine Journal, where you can learn more about using this tactic as part of your strategy.

  1. Internal bonding
    This is a slightly different tactic.

Often when it comes to link building, our efforts focus solely on building external links, but a real tactic to win fast might be to take the time to improve and optimize your site’s internal link structure.

You see, internal links are important to properly distribute PageRank throughout the website and if you have obtained links to certain pages but have not maximized the impact of those links by passing on the authority and fairness of the link to other related pages, you might see some noticeable links. win with this tactic.

Internal linking, while it takes time and effort to do properly, is completely under your control and is something you can do today, without the need for any third party input.

Why not check out our step-by-step guide to creating an internal linking strategy that works?

Traditional link building tactics
There are once widely used and abused tactics that have been under scrutiny in recent years. Usually this is due to the fact that they do not generate earned links, but rather those in which the link generator has an active stake in the position of the link.

Now don’t get us wrong, these tactics won’t necessarily result in toxic links pointing to your site, far from it.

You just need to understand how to use each and at what point you should stop scaling the number of links built this way, as well as consider other benefits these links can bring.

  1. Submit to directory
    There was a time when directories were set up purely as a way to create links.

They look like this:

Example of a spam directory used for link building
Enough spam right?

There is no value for users here, and this site obviously only exists to link to others. You don’t want to create links from directories like these.

But you shouldn’t discard the tactic, as it’s still a great way to build great connections, especially if you’re operating in a narrow niche or are a local business.

Look for specific regional directories or those that exist within a niche where the main purpose is to help users find a suitable business; Common sense will usually tell you if it’s worth showing up in it.

Ask yourself, if you were a potential user, would you find it useful?

If so, it’s probably worth getting a link from.

  1. Guest blog
    Google’s Matt Cutts announced the death of guest blogging in 2014, but that was related to how the industry was abusing the tactic of linking from articles on any site that took their content.

The tactic is still a great way to earn links in 2021 as long as it is approached right and you understand that it is not a tactic that will be massively expanded.

Forget about links for a moment and posting your content on a relevant blog where you share valuable knowledge and experience is a great way to build your profile. The fact that you usually get a link to back up who you are is an added bonus.

In fact, a quick Google search using one of the few different operators can reveal a number of guest posting opportunities. Below is an example of “write to us”.

showing write for us in the SERPs to help with link building
Just remember that if you can easily find opportunities to feature guest posts, your competitors can too. And that means the links you earn may not give you the competitive edge that other tactics can offer.

  1. Distribution of press releases and content distribution
    Google has openly stated that it ignores links that come from press releases. The reference here was the use of press release distribution services which essentially distribute your content on different sites.

While this is a tactic that may have had some value at one time, times have changed and if you’re only using PR services for link building, chances are you won’t see any value.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the press for links and coverage, far from it.

  1. Blog comments and forum links
    You may have noticed that blog comments and forum links are mentioned as link types that violate Google’s guidelines.

This is another “it depends” tactic.

Do not leave irrelevant comments on the blog with a link to your site; it’s just spam, just like leaving links in forum posts that don’t add value.

That said, you can still get traffic from thoughtful and relevant comments and forum posts, but that happens when you approach the tactic as a way to add value to discussions and only connect when it adds value.

  1. Reciprocal links
    Reciprocal linking (you link to me and I will link you) is another tactic outlined in Google’s definition of linking schemes and guideline violations, but that’s when it’s done on a massive scale.

If you have the opportunity to link and send referral traffic to a partner in your industry and they will do the same in return, it won’t hurt you.

Just don’t exchange links without considering relevance and context.

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Reveal the strongest backlinks of your competitors

Link get tactics
Earned links are like the holy grail of link building.

Why? Because someone is making a conscious decision to specifically link to their website, rather than anyone else.

Using link-sourcing tactics is a way to gain competitive advantage and ground links that your competitors may only dream of and are unlikely to replicate.

These are very advanced tactics, but they offer the best results if you are ready to push yourself to learn how to use them for success.

  1. Digital Public Relations
    Fast becoming the link building tactic for many SEOs, digital PR has emerged as a way to get high authority links from press releases through the use of public relations tactics.

Simply put, it’s the most efficient way to naturally get a significant number of high-quality, large-scale editorial links and involves creating engaging linkable content assets and using PR and outreach to persuade customers. . articles and links. At the source.

But there’s more than one way to run a successful digital PR campaign, and we’ll look at four of the most effective approaches.

Data-driven studies
When you build a digital PR campaign around data, you make sure you have a wide range of compelling stories to present to the press.

The most appealing stories and speeches to journalists are those that include something they couldn’t easily do on their own. They are busy people, often tasked with writing 7 or 8 articles a day; And that includes quotes, images, copy making, and more.

Using data means sharing unique stories that are supported by the results of a study or research, and journalists love it.
The data sources to use in your campaigns can range from your internal data to trusted third-party public data sets, such as those from data.gov, the home of the US government’s open data.
For inspiration, check out this study of the world’s most hardworking musicians led by a music school that analyzes Setlist.fm tour date data for Billboard’s hottest artists to reveal which artists have played. more on tour and more shows.

Example of a dataset that publishers could use for link building
This digital PR campaign has garnered links from more than 30 publications.

Infographic
A few years ago, infographics made it very easy to get links to top notch press releases. Indeed, even a simple “how to” infographic could relatively easily acquire a significant number of links with a little outreach effort.

Times have changed and you’re unlikely to see a big impact with simple opinion-based advice and infographics (think procedures and lists, etc.), but that doesn’t mean infographics aren’t effective yet.

Things to remember:

There must be only one story.
Infographics should be used as an easy way to display your content in an easy-to-share way.
An infographic is just one format, but when used as a way to tell a story, you can still see success.
For example, this simple infographic revealing the potential Instagram earnings of the Too Hot To Handle cast has been featured in high-level posts, including Daily Mail and OK.

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Link Building for SEO: how to do it right
Olga Andrienko

November 26, 2020
42 minutes to read
Link Building Strategy Guide Link
If you want to rank a website on Google in 2021, you can’t ignore the importance of link building and the need to come up with a solid strategy to help you get high quality links. In fact, links are still one of the top three ranking factors out there.

That said, whether you are an SEO newbie and are learning link building for the first time or have been doing it for years and just want to find new tactics that still work, there are literally dozens of approaches you can take.

In this guide, you will learn how to connect to strategies and tactics that are still effective and that will help you land those high-level positions, as well as those that will see you wasting time and resources and that could potentially have a negative impact on your organic visibility.

We’ll share quick win tactics along with ones that take a little more time and planning, but can really help you get those “can’t be bought” links.

What is Link Building?
Why is link building important for SEO?
What are the key elements of a successful link building strategy?
White Hat vs Black Hat vs Gray Hat Link Building
Toxic links and possible negative impact of the wrong strategy
Link building strategies you need to know in 2021
Quick Win Link Building Tactics
Traditional link building tactics
Link get tactics
Paid link building tactics
How to use scope for building links
Simple ways to discover link building opportunities
Metrics to measure the success of link building
If you want to learn how to build better connections than your competitors, read on …

What is Link Building?
Link building is a key part of any successful SEO strategy that involves linking other websites to yours – a simple hyperlink from site to site. Many also agree that it’s one of the hardest parts of ranking a website, while one of the most rewarding when done right.

Don’t know how links work?

When website A links to website B, it’s a strong indication for Google’s algorithm that it deserves a higher ranking for relevant keywords and you may hear them called inbound links, backlinks, external links, or just plain links.

You can think of links from other websites as votes.
The more high-quality links to your website (and are part of your backlink profile), the higher it should rank in Google and therefore the higher level of organic traffic it should receive.

However, not all links are created equal, and some may even reduce your website’s visibility, which we’ll cover shortly.

There are many different tactics you can use to make connections, some easier to perform than others, and knowing where to start can sometimes be difficult, especially when you know that some can do more harm than good.

Why is link building important for SEO?
Creating links takes time and effort. There is no way to hide from this fact.

It’s also hard to get it right, meaning those who can successfully perform better link building tactics than their competitors often see significant growth in organic traffic and revenue.

And that’s why you need to understand why links are so important and should make up a sizable portion of your SEO campaign resources.

We delve into the importance of link building for SEO in our backlink guide, which you should consult for a detailed introduction to the what and why behind this key pillar of any successful campaign.

However, the main reasons why you should make sure you focus heavily on link building like SEO are:

You will get a higher ranking on Google and other search engines.

Google will find new pages on your site faster.

You will enjoy greater credibility and reliability as a company.

You could benefit from targeted referral traffic.

You can’t ignore linking and you need to make sure you implement tactics that give you a competitive edge, which we’ll show you how to do in this guide.

What are the key elements of a successful link building strategy?
Construction

  1. Case studies and testimonials
    Using case studies and testimonials can be a great way to get links by simply writing a quick summary of why you love the product or service.

This tactic often builds on existing relationships and offers to share your thoughts on your offer to help them sell more or even just give them permission to present it, but doing so will often get you a link in return, with a great example. customer testimonial pages.

example of link building testimonial

  1. HARO and #journorequest
    If you are not monitoring HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter, you may miss the opportunity to get press coverage (and links) for your customer or company.

Every day, journalists and content creators turn to these platforms to find sources for their articles.

They’re turning to companies like yours to add value and expert insights to their content, and it’s a tactic you should take advantage of.

With HARO, you will receive three e-mails every day, Monday to Friday, which include classified requests (or only those of a category for which you have requested to be notified).

Screenshot of an email from HARO
If you think you can give a great response to the request, please send it to us.

You won’t find all of your answers used, but it’s a relatively low effort tactic that can produce great results in terms of landing authority links. Just make sure you only respond to requests where you can actually provide expert feedback.

journorequest works in a similar way, instead of reporters using the hashtag on Twitter to get sources.

For more information on how to use HARO to join successfully, here’s a great guide to check out.

  1. Newsjacking
    Reactive public relations, or as it is also known, newsjacking, is a technique used by public relations that involves quickly reacting to the latest news and identifying opportunities where you or your client can provide credible feedback on the topic or about history.

The term “news hijacking” was popularized by David Meerman Scott and essentially implies that brands “leverage” news to direct attention to content or to gain coverage or links to a brand’s home page.

Newsjacking is all about reacting quickly and making sure you’re not trying to match a comment or content to link it to news that’s not relevant to your brand.

  1. The skyscraper technique (and the reverse skyscraper)
    The Skyscraper technique was coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko and has gained tremendous traction within the SEO and link building community in recent years.

You can read a full tutorial on how to use the tactic here, but it consists of three steps:

Find link worthy content that has worked well.
Produce even better content than the original.
Contact the people who have covered you and ask them to link to your advanced resource.
It relies on creating the best content on a topic and leveraging it to steal links from those whose content has improved.

Brian has even produced a great video to walk you through the steps of using the tactic.

But what is often not covered when talking about the skyscraper technique is what might be called the inverse skyscraper technique.

It is based on a similar principle, but instead of finding content that works well, why not look for content that didn’t work well but has the potential to do so? Essentially pieces that might be great, but were poorly executed.

So go ahead and create the best content on this topic and communicate it to relevant webmasters and publishers.

  1. Summary of contents
    Have you created a great post as part of your content marketing strategy?

It’s not uncommon to find content summaries in virtually any industry. In fact, there are also monthly roundups in digital SEO and PR like content, curation, and weekly SEO.

In essence, summaries are just lists of the best content in an industry over a period of time and are often quite easy to find using Google’s search operators, such as:

“Keyword” + titolo: “weekly summary”
“Keyword” + title: “summary”
“Keyword” + inurl: summary
“Keyword” + “best blogs of the week”
You will need to make sure that you have created excellent content that is worth noting and try to suggest inclusion.

  1. Interviews
    If you have an industry expert within your business or your client’s business, getting interviews with specific industry publications can be a great way to not only get a relevant link, but also position them as a thought leader within. of space.

Here’s a great example from Small Business Trends to give you an idea of ​​how the tactic works in practice.

building an interview link
Google search operators are of great help in finding these opportunities and are not limited to written interviews. Videos and podcasts are also great and will often come with a link to the host’s website.

  1. Meetings of experts
    Despite being a tactic that was fine-tuned to death a few years ago, expert raids can still be a great way to earn links.

You will need to bring together a number of experts within your industry (it’s almost like a reverse content collection, where you create the content) and ask them a series of questions and turn it into engaging content that collects opinion and Insights feedback from industry leaders.

Once you click Publish, go ahead and let everyone who contributed that you are live and present your headlines and key ideas to the press and other relevant publishers.

Of course, you’ll find that some of the contributing experts will link you to their “as seen on the press page or the like, and there are also often interesting nooks and crannies that industry publications love.”

Here’s a great example where experts shared their Google Shopping tips which got 13 links.

Expert summary example
As long as you choose the right experts, who have some level of credibility, it will still be a great tactic to use, while also helping to position your brand as a thought leader.

Paid link building tactics
To be clear, all paid links violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, unless they are marked with the rel = “nofollow” or rel = “sponsored” attributes to prevent them from exceeding PageRank. We’ve already highlighted the risks of paid links, which are used as a lazy tactic, and we won’t share them here.

That said, there’s still the option to use paid links to build your brand and get referral traffic, which is what these tactics are for.

  1. Sponsored blog posts
    Let’s say there’s an influential blogger in your industry who has made a name for themselves and earns thousands of page views every month from their target audience.

They are unlikely to connect with you (at least if you ask) for free. Why should they do it? They’ve spent some time building an audience, and they’re not going to give up that visibility for nothing.

You may want to work with influencers this way to publish sponsored content or blog posts. Basically where they will appear and connect to your business in exchange for a payment.

This can be great for exposing yourself to new audiences and getting referral traffic.
Make sure the link uses the rel = “sponsored” attribute to clearly indicate that this is a paid collaboration.
Infomercials with top-notch news posts work the same way.
These are not links for SEO, but links for exposure and brand building.

  1. Reviews of gifted products
    You may not know this, but in Google’s eyes, links obtained as a result of a product given to a reviewer are classified as paid.

While there is no money changing hands, there is an implied transaction in the value of the product.

Similar to sponsored blog posts, gifting products to influencers can be a great way to expose your brand to a new audience, just make sure your links include a rel = “sponsored” attribute.

  1. Scholarships
    Offering scholarships as a way to build links is another tactic that has been overused and, indirectly, is a paid link building tactic.

It is simply a matter of putting together a reasonable sized scholarship fund (think $ 1,000 +) and listing the requirements and offer on a dedicated page on your site, before contacting colleges and universities that list current scholarships and wait for them to connect. .

It’s popular because it’s a proven way to connect from educational institutions and those you wouldn’t normally get connections from, but it has been overused and abused in recent years.

This fits a lot into the “gray hat” category since while you’re not paying directly for a link, it’s the main reason you’re setting up a scholarship fund.

Just make sure you don’t overdo the tactic and it can still help you make great connections.

The Starbucks scholarship page, for example, has fetched links from more than 700 unique domains.

  1. Sponsorship
    Sponsoring a local sports team, event or conference, for example, is also a fairly common bonding tactic.

It is unusual for the sponsored ones not to appear featured or linked in these cases, and again fall into a gray area.

Just make sure the event or organization you’re sponsoring is in line with your business and you’ll enjoy the benefits beyond just a link, but if you’re only sponsoring as a way to get a link, you need to ask yourself if that investment could be better invested elsewhere, especially if the links you get aren’t ranked by topic.

How to use scope for building links
In almost any link building strategy you will use, you will need to use email outreach as a way to open opportunities and discussions and actually get links.

From going to the press to running an awareness campaign to get guest posting opportunities, they are all different variations of the same process.

To truly master link building, you’ll need to be good at reaching (or working with someone who is).

What is the scope?
Link building outreach is simply when you identify people in your industry (whether they are influencers, journalists, bloggers, or webmasters) who may be interested in connecting with you and communicating with them to build a relationship and explore opportunities for them to cover your content. .

But the content can mean many different things.

You might be looking to provide exclusive interviews with your company’s CEO, your latest data-driven digital PR campaign, or come up with ideas for guest posts.

Disclosure is simply the process of researching and connecting with those potential customers who may be connecting to you.

The best tips for successful disclosure
There are some key elements to successful disclosure, and while it’s a detailed topic covered in depth in guides like this one, you should focus on:

Find and identify the right prospects.
Write catchy subject lines that show your emails are truly open.
Write compelling awareness emails that encourage the recipient to take action.
It’s a process that lends itself easily to testing your approaches and should be tailored to the specific link building tactic you are using.

Always make sure you personalize your outreach emails and clearly outline the action you want them to take.

Do you want them to add a link to an existing article, cover your story for the post they write for, accept your guest post proposal? Make sure you are clear.

In fact, a 2019 Fractl study highlighted the value publishers see in releases:

publisher survey
Disclosure is largely a vital tactic to help you build and earn great links – it just takes time to refine your approach.

However, one thing that supports the success of any awareness campaign is the quality of its awareness list. It is important to be prepared to spend time and effort looking for the right perspectives, using tactics such as:

Analyze the backlink profile of your competitors.
Find journalists who have covered other stories in your industry through Google News.
Use a multimedia database to find relevant prospects.
Creating a smaller, but focused and targeted list often produces better results than larger lists that often make you feel like you’re throwing everything you can against the wall and hoping for something to stick.

Do your research and find out how your outreach speech adds value to the recipient.

Three easy ways to discover link building opportunities
We have experimented with many link building tactics and I hope you now have some ideas on how to use them to build great links.

But how do you start finding opportunities?

  1. Use of Google search operators
    Whether you’re looking to use guest posts, link summaries, or even niche directories, Google is often the best place to start.

You won’t need any tools and you can usually find tons of opportunities in minutes.

You can then use search operators to return the results and opportunities you are trying to find.

Do you want to write guest posts? Try these:

[keyword] titolo: “become a collaborator”
[keyword] titolo: “write to us”
[keyword] titolo: “guest post”
[keyword] inurl: “guidelines for the writer”
Want to find content summaries to share your latest piece? Try these:

[keyword] titolo: “round”
[keyword] titolo: “weekly rounding”
[keyword] “best blog of the month”
Or to find resource link opportunities, try these:

[keyword] (titolo: “resources” | inurl: resources)
[keyword] titolo: “useful links”
search operators for link building

  1. Run a backlink gap analysis
    You can use SEMrush’s backlink gap tool to find link building opportunities that your competitors have but don’t have.

In fact, it’s a great way to identify links that might help your competitors rank, and if there’s a link to them, chances are you can get a link from the same site as well. .

Add up to five competitors to the tool, and you’ll also see recommendations to help you analyze more links.

backlink gap
You will then be provided with a goldmine of information about your competitors’ link profile, including those that have gotten the most links, each one’s authority score (AS), and the sites they have linked since.

backlink gap results
This is a really quick and easy way to find potential customers where you have a better chance of getting a link, as well as giving you the information you need to decode your competitors’ strategies to find out the tactics they are using to build links.

  1. Find the most linked pages of your competitors
    Whether you’re looking to use the Skyscraper technique to create amazing content and steal links from your competitors’ page, get the insight into the types of content that your competitors (and others in your industry, even if they’re not a direct competitor) are Using it to earn links is invaluable in helping shape your strategy.

If others in your industry are using data-driven digital PR assets, you should do the same to get similar (or better) quality links, for example.

You can find the most linked pages on other sites using our Backlink Analytics tool, going to the indexed pages tab and sorting by number of referring domains.

You will now see the most linked pages of the site.

You should use common sense and skip the pages of “policies” and the like, but offer some ideas that you could use in your campaigns.

how to find most of the linked pages
Metrics to measure the success of link building
The success of a link building campaign can be seen as different things for different people.

It all comes down to the goals of your campaign. However, it is important to understand the metrics to consider when setting these goals.

It is dangerous to focus on the raw number of links created, as you will find that this sacrifices quality. Additionally, you need to use your competitors’ insights to determine the link gap between you and others and make sure you create the right links that really boost your ranking.

But when looking at metrics, you should consider using one or more of the following:

Authority Score (SEMrush’s metric that evaluates the overall quality of a website and tells you how important a backlink from a site can be for your SEO).
The ratio of tracking links to nofollow links (ideally, your link profile will contain many more tracking links than nofollow links).
Thematic relevance (How closely aligned are the sites you receive links from with your business? Links that come from closely aligned content are generally more valuable.)
Unique Referral Domains (You don’t want to get links from the same domains all the time and should focus on increasing the number of unique referral sites in your linking profile).
Toxic links (This is another SEMrush metric that indicates whether a link could pose a risk to your site’s rankings. Ideally, you don’t want any toxic links in your link profile, but if you do, you’ll need to clean them).
You might also consider goals such as brand exposure, links and placements in certain posts, referral traffic, and more; it’s about measuring the things that matter to you as a business.

Go ahead and start building better connections!
Now that you’ve received detailed information on link building tactics that work and those that don’t work in 2021, it’s time to get started.

If you’ve never made links before, I hope you’re now eager to get started and eager to get your first link. If you’ve been building connections for years, I hope you’ve been inspired to try a new tactic.

Nobody said link building is easy because it’s not and the tactics you should use continue to evolve.

But hopefully, by having a large number of approaches available, you can ensure that you build a diverse linking profile and maximize the opportunities that come from all different angles.

Become a better link builder and you will be in high demand. It’s the tactic most SEOs find the hardest, and any proven success you can demonstrate will make it even more valuable to potential clients or employers.

Happy Link Building!

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