Link Building: A Step by Step Complete Guide

September 30, 2016 by OurNetHelps

Link building refers to the process of getting external pages on the internet to link to your own website. The more important and popular a website is the more the links from that website matter. A popular site such as Wikipedia has thousands of different websites linking to it which means it’s probably an important and popular site. In order for you to earn popularity and trust with the search engines, you need assistance from other link partners. The more important the site, the better.

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The Basics

Link building is one of the most challenging parts of SEO but also the most important to success. In order to succeed in link building, you will need a decent budget, hustle, and more importantly, creativity. Each link building campaign is unique and the way you choose to build your own links will depend largely on your website as well as your personality. Your strategy should fall under one or more of these types of link acquisition:

Natural or Editorial Links: These are a type of links which websites and pages give naturally in order to link to your own content. Natural links don’t require any specific action from SEO, apart from the existence of quality content and the ability to raise awareness about it.

Outreach or Manual Link Building: Outreach links are created through a personal effort by contacting bloggers for links, spending money for listings and submitting websites to popular directories.

Self-Created Links: Many websites encourage visitors to create links through blog comments, guestbook signings, user profiles and forum signatures. While these links only offer small value, in the long run, they still have an impact on a number of websites. But generally, search engines tend to devalue these types of links and they’ve been known to penalize websites that use these links aggressively.

As with any successful marketing effort, you need a strategy and realistic goals. But before you embark on a link building effort you should probably take a time to read and understand the many elements of a link as used by search engines and how those same elements factor into the valuing and weighing of your links.

Many search engines exist today and those search engines use links in a variety of ways. We might not know all the attributes considered by the engines but through proper analysis and hands-on testing, we can draw some informed assumptions that hold up in the real world.

Learn: What is Search Engine Marketing

Here is a list of the most notable factors worthy of your consideration. Professional marketers consider these factors when measuring the value of a link and a site’s link profile.

Topic-Specific/Local Popularity. This concept of “local” popularity was first used by the Teoma search engine and it suggests that links originating from websites within a topic-specific community carry more weight than links from other general off topic sites.

Anchor Text. It’s one of the strongest signals used by search engines when ranking sites. If a high number of links point to a specific page with the right keywords, then that page will have a higher probability of ranking well for the keyword used in the anchor text. This can be observed with searches like “Click here”, where a significant number of results rank mainly due to the anchor text of inbound links.

Trust Rank. As much as 60% of web pages are in fact spam, so search engines have to find a way to weed some of this content out. They do this by measuring a site’s trust with the link graph. When a site earns links from high-trust domains such as government websites and non-profit organizations it boosts their score in this particular metric.

Social Sharing. Social media has seen an explosion in the amount of content moving through different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The rise in social sharing has led Google to incorporate social signals into search results in an effort to serve personalized results. Some of these personalized results are not included in the first page but they still get promoted because of the surging social influence.

Freshness. You may not have known this but link signals decay over time and websites that were once hugely popular go stale, eventually failing to earn new links. Because of this, it is crucial to keep earning new links over time. Search engines use the “FreshRank” feature to determine a site’s freshness and judge current relevance.

An aside on backlinks. Bing and Google have been trying to discount the use and influence of paid links on their search results. Obviously, it’s not possible for them to detect all paid links, they have been putting in a lot of time and resources into formulating ways to detect and discredit the practice. If you get caught buying links you risk severe penalties that will probably kill your rankings and send your site to oblivion.

Importance of Backlinks

When you look at it in terms of building your site or blog, you will find several important factors which play a part in your overall SEO plan:

Search engine ranking: It’s the main goal for most marketers and one of the ways this is achieved is by creating quality links to your pages. The key here is to create a variation of anchor texts and get it from niche blog or high-quality blogs.

Fast indexing: After creating a brand new website, the next challenge is getting indexed quickly by Google; but having backlinks from an active website tends to expedite this process.

Page rank: If you get linked back from good quality PR sites then quite possibly you will get a decent page rank in subsequent updates. One of the many ways to find out how well your site ranks on a search engine is to search for one of the key phrases targeted by the page. For instance, if you want to rank well for a phrase such as “diet pill” then it would help if you earned links from pages that already rank well for that particular phrase.

It takes a lot of practice, effort and experience to establish these variables as they affect your ranking but you can always use one of the many web analytics to find out whether your campaign is gaining traction. You know the strategy is working when you see an increase in search traffic, frequent search engine crawling and better rankings, among other things. If you don’t see a rise in these metrics then its possible you need to work on your on-page optimization or pursue better quality link targets.

10 Ways To Build Quality Backlinks

By now you know that Google optimization is based on the premise that the more people like a website, the more important and valuable it must be in that niche, and the more it deserves higher rankings.

From Google’s perspective, the number of quality backlinks your site has from authority websites is a meaningful vote of confidence.

I’d like us to break down 10 simple but powerful ways you can build quality backlinks that will send you organic traffic.

1. Watch your Competitors Backlinks. It’s one great way to find out what your competition is up to and the great thing is you have a lot of online tools to help you with that. Tools such as SEMrush, Open Site Explorer, which is a backlink tool created by the folks at SEOmoz and you can use it to monitor links and find out where they’re coming from. Are your competitors getting linked to from blogs/publications that cover your niche? Contact the author and introduce them to a piece of content that you wrote, and avoid begging and pleading.

If you’re writing emails with the intention of having websites link to you then the most effective approach would have to be the one where you offer to fix a problem they have. For journalists, this would mean ideas for new stories, and for bloggers, it would mean new posts. Find out other sources where your competitors are linking from; this could be resource pages, relevant sites, etc. Whatever the source, if they are getting linked, then so can you.

2. Remember to Design Your Website for Readers. I know this may sound counter-productive but stay with me for a moment. Search engines have been exploring ways to follow people, as opposed to following links, and while backlinks still play a huge part in the search, there has been an effort, particularly from Google, to get more in tune with people. What this means is that the more you spend time creating a site that makes absolutely no sense to a person and is meant to be read by search engines, the more you will have trouble being taken seriously by the same engines.

Google has set in place measures to pick out and penalize sites for ‘overoptimizing’ content so that should give you a pretty good idea where they’re coming from. Websites that build content aimed at a real audience has a better chance of surviving rank drops because it takes more than search traffic to maintain a thriving following.

Also creating a site with useful content leads to more interaction and more natural links because the content creates discussions and links tend to follow discussions.

3. Contribute to Other Blogs. You probably already know the power of guest posting and its triple effect which comes in the form of

  • Traffic
  • Brand exposure
  • Links

If you can contribute regularly to a large blog, whether paid or in an effort to gain exposure, it will give you an opportunity to generate links more consistently, even linking to some of your older content. When you write for other blogs, it gives you the opportunity to link to some of the deeper pages on your site, and when combined with regular guest posting, the result is abounding links. This form of exposure creates a lot of buzz around a brand and also generates direct links.

4. Design a Great Blog. Now you might be wondering what in the world of blog design has to do with SEO, but it’s more than you think. Among other things, a great design plays a huge role in increasing conversion and a good design reduces your bounce rate significantly. There has been a lot of argument over whether blog design affects SEO directly, but one thing is for sure, people won’t stick around to read your content if the blog isn’t appealing.

5. Set in Place Resource Pages. Resource pages, in addition to reducing your bounce rate, also work well as link baits to boost your rankings on tough topics. One good demonstration for this would be Copyblogger. They have comprehensive resources which link back to some of their best posts on the same subject, and those links target difficult keywords.

Considering they rank somewhere on the first or second pages for terms such as SEO, Copywriting, and Content marketing, you have to conclude they are doing something right. Consider the major topics covered by your blog, and research a few keywords around the same topics using the Google Keyword tool; that way you will find out which terms have higher search counts. Select the terms you can realistically rank well for.

6. Employ Embeddable Widgets/Images. Are you familiar with the comic site TheOatmeal? Well, the owner, Matt Inman, once worked as a consultant at SEOmoz, and he knows a few things about getting links. When he started a project for a dating site called Mingle2, he managed to beat industry giants such as for terms such as “online dating” and “free online dating”. So how does that happen? One way smart people do this is by creating embeddable content which people showcase on their own sites. You see, those embeddable widgets contain a link to your site. Aside from widgets, folks such as also use infographics at the bottom. This helps them rank for tougher terms.

7. Do an Interview With a Well-Known Figure. While you probably know about the power in interviewing industry influencers, chances are you haven’t actually done so. Interviews are great, and more so for blogs and they are pretty simple to arrange because everyone loves being interviewed. It’s a tactic intended to let you feature names bigger than yours, and if you do a good job with the interview, the interviewee is likely to share your post with their own following, further pushing you into the limelight.

They don’t even have to link directly to the content itself. What matters has you interviewed someone perceived as powerful in a specific industry, and the result will be a growth in links from lots of people in the same industry.

8. Create Round-Up Posts. Round-ups are basically collections of resources, articles, products, that cover a specific topic in great detail. Round-up posts are effective because they usually link to a large number of people and those same people are likely to Tweet and link back the article. For this reason, they tend to become powerful bookmark havens and people just have to share and save them because of their quantity of value. You could create your own round-up and check out a few keywords you think would be okay to rank for, and then publish.

9. Crowdsourcing. In case you hadn’t noticed, crowdsourcing is all the hype these days. It’s a more dynamic take on the traditional form of interviews. Instead of posting one interview containing loads of information, you collect small bits of information from different authority figures and publish a small bit of each interview.

One example of this is the round-up feature most blogs utilize to gather a bunch of experts talking about a given topic. You can do something similar, perhaps by gathering small bits of interviews from SEO experts where they talk about their predictions for the coming year.

10. Create Products. It’s an area where many bloggers get lazy and resort to the ‘build an audience build products later’. It’s true you might not actually need a product, to begin with, but you can’t argue that having a product to promote and sell can definitely lead to more brand awareness.


At the end of such a list, you might have too much information to process, and that can make it harder for you to implement the strategies. Choose one or two strategies to implement this week by week and work your way up from there.

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