What Is Link Building & Why Is it Important?

An Introduction to Link Building

While SEO and link building have always gone hand-in-hand, the importance of building high-quality links has never been higher. It’s often the single reason that one page ranks more highly than a competitor’s, so it’s essential to understand the importance of link building as part of a high-quality SEO campaign to compete for online visibility.

Whether you’re new to link building, or you’ve been building backlinks for a while now, this blog is designed to help you understand link building, its importance, types of links, and how link building can benefit your business.

What is Link Building?

Link building is simply the process of building hyperlinks from other websites back to your own. Search engines crawl the links between the individual pages on your website and the links between entire websites.

A link to your site sends a signal to Google that your website is a quality resource on the subject, worthy of a citation. Sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings from Google. SEOs often refer to this as “link juice”.

There are many types of link building techniques you can use, and while they all vary in difficulty and complexity, link building is one of the time-consuming parts of an SEO’s job. And not all links are created equal. For example, a link from the Guardian will be of a lot more value to you than one from an unknown travel blogger’s website.

Why is Link Building Important for SEO?

Link building is an important part of SEO services because it helps search engines discover new web pages, and determines how well a page should rank in the SERPs.

Google says of link building:

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

Meaning that when using link building tactics, your focus should be on earning links because you’ve created great content that your users want to share – not just link building for search engines.

Link building is one of the most important ranking factors for Google, alongside:

  • On-page SEO and content optimisation
  • Trust and authority of the website
  • Site loading speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • User experience elements

White hat SEO vs Black hat SEO

When it comes to link building, there is a right way and a wrong way. For long term viability and performance of your website, your link building tactics should be done naturally, and follow the webmaster guidelines set in place by Google.

White hat SEO is the process of using organic link building tactics to better your online visibility. These techniques get a thumbs up from Google, but usually take more time than Black hat techniques. What hat SEO link building techniques could include:

  • Guest posting
  • Promoting your content
  • Creating infographics
  • Building online relationships
  • Commenting on authority blogs
  • Using website directories and business listings

Black hat SEO methods are unethical practices that help your website rank in search engines. These methods are generally frowned upon by Google, and in fact, if Google finds that your techniques violate their quality guidelines, your site could get hit with a manual penalty. These can cost you your hard-earned rankings and take a lot of time to remove and get SEO performance back on track. Black hat SEO techniques include:

  • Hidden links
  • Link schemes
  • Doorway pages
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Automatically generated content
  • Abusing structured data
  • & basically anything malicious or spammy

Follow v nofollow links

Attributes can be added to links that tell Google’s crawl to “count” this link, these are called “follow” links. Follow links are a vote of confidence for Google.

There is also a “nofollow” attribute that can sometimes be applied. Note the rel=”nofollow” addition below:

<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a

This tells Google not to pass any PageRank, or “link juice” to this link. Essentially, you’re telling Google not to trust the link and that it shouldn’t be considered in your backlink profile.

Why might you use a nofollow? They are actually more useful than you might expect. Nofollows allow websites to gain total control over the links that are added to its pages.

Remember the Black hat SEO tactics we mentioned? Well, in the times before the nofollow attribute, spammy SEO techniques were rampant, with SEOs trying to artificially boost their websites. With the introduction of the nofollow, most spammers won’t bother posting irrelevant links since they know they won’t get a “follow” link.

While you still see spammy blog comments and websites, it definitely dampened the practice and weakened the effect it has on more authoritative websites.

You might be wondering where these “nofollow” links belong. Nofollow links can be used in:

  • Blog Comments
  • Forums
  • Yahoo! Answers
  • Wiki pages, such as Wikipedia
  • Guest Book Comments
  • Guest Post Signatures

These are the types of places where users can freely post and add links to. Since it isn’t practical to moderate every single spammy link, you can choose to add a “nofollow” to all links posted by other users, however, this is down to the discretion of the website. For example, you might choose to reward a user who regularly engages with your discussion.

Learn more about the difference between follow vs no follow links.

How can Link Building services help my business?

As we’ve discussed, links are a very important signal to search engines. The way we’ve interacted with and used link building has changed over the years, but it still remains a cornerstone of any SEO strategy.

Other than benefits to your SEO performance, link building can provide your business with many other considerable benefits.

Brand building

Link building, when done right, can help build up your brand and establish authority in your industry. You want your brand to be at the forefront of your industry – techniques that involve content creation and guest posting can help you do this. Showing the expertise of your company can go a long way in brand building, and as an authoritative voice, you’ll be known for what you publish in the industry.

Referral traffic

A good link from a highly-visited website not only earns you “link juice”, but also can lead to an increase in traffic. If you’re linking to websites that are relevant to yours, chances are their traffic is relevant, too. This doesn’t just apply to the high traffic sites – often a small, very passionate audience from a relevant blog is better than reaching a larger, more general audience.

Relationship building

Link building strategies often involve outreach to relevant websites or blogs, relating to a piece you’ve created, an engaging infographic, or a promotion. While the main goal of outreach is, of course, to gain a link, outreach can help your business build long term relationships with key people in your industry. These relationships can help build your brand, build your network, and build authority. Whether they are a site owner or a key influencer, the value of connecting with others and becoming trustworthy in your industry is priceless.

Greater sales opportunities

More traffic from relevant sides leads to more potential customers, which leads to more sales. Not only from the boost in rankings that link building will give you, but also from the highly qualified referral traffic that you’ve gained links from. This means you can sell more products or services, and generate revenue from a new avenue.

 


Link building has been an important part of SEO for a long time, and it seems like it’s here to stay. Google will always want to serve its users the most authoritative sites, with the most loved content.

At Tecmark, SEO agency in Manchester, we’ve been helping clients climb the search results with efficient link building strategies for over 12 years. If you want to achieve real success with your link building efforts, get in touch with us.

Lydia Rutter
Lydia Rutter
Lydia Rutter is an SEO Executive at Tecmark who joined us in 2019. She has a degree in Public Relations from the University of Oklahoma, and an MSc in Digital Marketing from the University of Salford. She brings us experience in digital marketing for the medical and healthcare industry, and in agency settings.

We create websites with your customer in mind to help you build your brand and grow your business.

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