SEO Basics: What is Link Building?

If you want to know everything there is to know about basic link building in 2020 – this is the guide for you! Let’s jump in to discover what, where and why of these indispensable SEO tools.

What is a link?

First things first, what is a link? At its most basic level, a link (hyperlink or backlink as it’s also known) is a one-way connection between two internet pages. Links freely travel across the internet, steering people from one location to the next, be it a page, post, image, etc.

Links are vital for search engines too, as they allow them to follow (aka “crawl”) links and discover new pages as well. Basically, their job is to improve search engine visibility. For a search engine robot to find your website, you’ll need at least one link from an established website that’s already being indexed.

Making sure you get that first all-important link is one of the main things you’ll need to focus on when launching a new website. Common link building strategies include content marketing, public relations, email outreach, broken link building and so forth.

What is link building?

As mentioned above, link building refers to a diverse set of marketing efforts undertaken to get links from one website to another. It’s considered the most powerful tool in the online arsenal to achieve higher rankings for your site in search engines.

As you may or may now know, high search ranking is vitally important as 75% of online users don’t click past the first page of results. Basically, if a lot of high-quality links lead to a particular page, search engines will consider this piece of content to be popular/ meaningful and, therefore, assign it a high rank. This is done via Google’s sophisticated PageRank Algorithm.

Link quality

The problem is that not all links are created equal. Some links are considered more worthy than others. For example, a high-quality link from an authoritative website that’s topically related to yours is worth more than a low-quality link from an obscure site.

Let’s give an example, if you are a B&B business, you’d rather get a link from a hotel review site (on topic) or Travel+Leisure magazine (high authority), than one from a bespoke blog about knitting and home decorating. Put another way, Google is more interested in link quality over quantity.

How to get links?

And now we get to the nitty-gritty of it all – how do you get these highly coveted links? Because link building is difficult, a lot of shady practices exist, for example, buying links from link farms. That’s why link building has gained an unsavoury reputation and Google has stepped in with a range of penalties for websites that engage in these unlawful methods (the worst of which results in your page being completely taken down from SERP!).

You’re much better off playing by the rules and taking a holistic approach. What does that mean? Well, first off, you’ll need to define your target audience and then create high-quality, valuable, funny, original and exceptional content that people want to link to.

Link building

Once you’ve populated your page with valuable content and you know where your target audience likes to visit, you’ll have a starting point for your linking activities. Now you can start link building, aka sharing your article/page with parties that might be interested in linking to it. That’s why it’s critical to target the right niche for your website. Don’t spam; focus decreases the number of people you’ll have to contact and increases the chances of successfully getting a link back.

People are motivated by what they can get in return, they will only link to your website if they get something valuable back. As such, convincing them to link to your site will only occur if your content is of exceptionally high quality and/or you offer them a sample product for free. It also helps if you approach them in a personalised and professional manner, don’t send a generic, mass email to any and everybody.