This is a guest contribution from Sam Bowman (details below)
Link building is one of the most popular and effective ways to expand your growth online. It is also considered an essential SEO step for bloggers.
Having other blogs linking back to your own is a way of convincing Google you’re worth your salt. Thus, one of the most important aspects of link building is outreach. The more you can reach out and build relationships with other sites willing to link back to your content, the more you can expand your reach.
However, using link building to rank higher on Google isn’t just about link quantity. Google’s algorithm has evolved and become more sophisticated over the years. As such, link building today is often more about quality versus quantity.
So when you are conducting your outreach, you should prioritize authoritative and relevant sites for backlinking that will provide valuable content. Simply connecting with as many sites as possible and getting a bunch of backlinks will no longer cut it.
In this post, we’ll help you better understand what link building is and how it works, the benefits of link building, how it can help you grow your blog, how to conduct outreach, and other link-building best practices.
What Is Link Building?
Link building is an SEO practice that involves getting hyperlinks on other sites that link back to your website—otherwise known as backlinking. This SEO strategy is done with the intention of improving search engine visibility, thus, earning you higher search engine rankings.
Essentially, when a lot of high-authority sites link back to your site, Google assumes this means your site provides meaningful, relevant, and valuable content; therefore, it will rank your site higher in search results.
The Benefits of Link Building
There are numerous benefits to link building and making it your number one SEO priority. Of course, content is still king, but if that content lacks link building, your website will suffer. In contrast, if you do manage to get a lot of backlinks from high-quality sites, you can reap many rewards, which include:
- An increase in website traffic: Naturally, the more links you have on other sites, the more opportunities there are for people to find your website, which means more traffic. And an increase in traffic is a blogger’s dream because it means people are taking notice, and your site will likely gain in popularity.
- Higher search rankings: Of course, the more backlinks you get on authoritative sites, the higher you will also rank in search results. We can’t emphasize this enough — Google prioritizes rankings for sites that are more authoritative on a subject. So, if a high-authority site links back to your site, Google will assume it means you are also an authority on the subject and will, thus, rank you higher in search results.
- Better reputation and higher credibility: Another benefit of using link building is that it can help improve your website’s overall reputation and credibility with users and other websites. Google assuming your website is credible is one thing, but it’s also helpful for users themselves to also see you as credible, as this means they are more likely to visit your site and refer you to others.
- An increase in revenue: The better your website is doing, the more opportunities you have to generate revenue. Blogs are often a way of earning a passive income, but if your site becomes successful enough through link building, you could earn more than just a passive income.
- A boost in authority: By getting backlinks on other high-authority sites, you will also begin to improve your own website’s authority. And when you do this, you will also potentially start to get other people reaching out to you for link building, which creates a loop that continues to help boost your traffic and visibility. High authority sites linking to you, your site becoming high authority, and linking to other sites looking to gain authority.
How Link Building Can Help You Grow Your Blog
Improving your link-building strategy doesn’t just boost your backlinks and, thus, your search results, but it also can help you improve your blog in many other ways. The content on your website, for example, needs to be good if you want others to agree to link back to your site. So when bloggers start doing link building, they often find that they have to also focus on having quality content on their website if they want other sites to feel comfortable linking back to them.
A high authority site isn’t going to agree to link back to your blog if they don’t think it is well-written or valuable to their readers. So as part of the link-building process, many bloggers will also work on improving their overall blog content, which will help them grow their blog in the long run, as content is also king when it comes to SEO.
Quality keyword strategies also tend to improve when bloggers are trying to improve their link building, as keyword research is another essential part of SEO. Keyword research can help you improve your content for SEO purposes, and improving your content will once again help you when you start doing outreach for link building.
Improved content and keyword use also show Google that your site is relevant and valuable, which will boost your search engine rankings. So you not only are improving your search rankings with link building, but you are also improving rankings with content and keywords. And these combined efforts — content, keywords, and link building — will drastically boost your site traffic and, thus, help you grow and expand your blog.
Link Building Outreach Best Practices
After learning the basics, you need to develop a successful outreach strategy. You can’t build links without a plan of action to reach out effectively.
Analyze and audit your site
First and foremost, make sure your website is good enough that other sites will want to link back to you. This means focusing on writing quality content that is edited, informative, engaging, and utilizes the right keywords.
Know your audience
Next, you need to know who your target audience is to know what other sites to reach out to. Ask yourself and your team:
- What kind of content does your target audience want or need?
- What are they interested in?
- What other websites are they visiting?
Knowing this will help you better understand what other sites to reach out to in order to increase visibility as much as possible.
Reach out to relevant, high-authority sites
Next, start creating a list of the other websites you want to contact and take some time to get to know them. This looks like taking stock of the following:
- Are their websites relevant to yours?
- Do they produce similar content?
- Do you think they will want to link back to your site?
- What do they like that could make you stand out when you start contacting them?
- Do they have guest blog or linking requirements stated explicitly on their site?
Make sure you are prioritizing authoritative sites. Not all links are created equal, and you want to make sure you are getting authoritative backlinks. Some metrics — most notably, domain authority — are touted as the one-stop shop for authority. However, these same metrics can be easily manipulated and fluctuate over time.
Instead, rely on your assessment of the following factors when vetting a site for backlinks: relevance of industry and page topic and the value provided to the reader. Don’t just look at whether or not a site is similar to yours, but also if it has a good reputation and credibility.
Establish lasting relationships
The final and sometimes most difficult part of outreach is actually reaching out and establishing relationships with other websites. This is the part of link-building outreach where you begin to craft your messages and emails to other sites.
First, keep it short and simple. Tell them who you are, why they should care about you, tell them what you’d like them to do, and be genuine. Try not to come off as spammy or like you’re making a sales pitch.
You should also say what you like about them and even how linking to your site can help them. You can also offer to link back to their site as well.
Next, make sure you contact them via multiple channels. For example, message them on social media first to let them know that you are sending them an email. This will boost your chances of them actually acknowledging you and reading your email.
Finally, make sure you follow up with everyone you have contacted. We live in a busy, chaotic world. It’s easy to forget about things. So a follow-up can ensure that they saw your message and remind them that you are still there, waiting on a response.
Just keep your follow-up short and sweet. There’s no need to reiterate what you already said. Just check in to see if they’ve had a chance to read your email.
Outreach can be stressful and is sometimes the hardest part of link building, but it’s not as scary as it seems. If you put the time and effort into making sure your content is good, researching your audience, and finding the right people or websites to connect with, you will have better luck once you start actually reaching out to build those relationships and get backlinks.
Guest Blogger: Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, marketing, and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.