Link-building is an important part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. It describes the process through which you gain backlinks—hyperlinks on other websites that lead to your web pages. Google’s algorithm uses “spiders,” little bits of software that “crawl” the web to read web pages and understand their connections to one another. They follow these links and use the data they gather to draw conclusions about those sites.
It’s important to gain high-quality backlinks because the algorithm will rank your website partially based on the quality of the links pointing back to it. How does it determine the quality? By the relevancy, integrity, and popularity of the site the link came from. That’s why it’s not useful—and in fact possibly even harmful—to create spam backlinks or get backlinks from low-quality sites.
Unfortunately, link-building can be time-consuming and costly, and I often see businesses overcomplicate it. Like many things in SEO, link-building can seem difficult and mysterious, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways you can earn backlinks without extensive outreach. In fact, the longer your website is around and the more popularity it gains, the more backlinks you’ll gain naturally, without having to do anything. By producing useful content that people want to link to, it will be much easier to gain backlinks.
So what are some strategies you can use to build links naturally? Here are a few of my favorites:
1) Content Marketing
You might not think of marketing as a link-building strategy, but it’s actually one of the best ways to gain backlinks naturally. Again, as the popularity of your site increases, more people will link to your web pages, especially if you provide useful resources. Marketing is beneficial across the board and helps build your SEO cumulatively—the more popular your site becomes, the better it will rank on search results pages, bringing in more traffic and increasing its ranking further.
2) Social Media
You can use social media both as a form of marketing and an SEO tool. Start by including links to your website in all of your business profiles, as well as your personal profile as a business owner. The more sites where you have profiles, the more referring domains these links will create in your favor. You can also include links in posts where relevant and appropriate.
Social media is also a great way to connect with other brands as well as your audience to build connections that may help you gain links. This can open doors for you if you reach out to ask for a backlink or to exchange guest blogs in the future.
3) Editorial Links
Write articles to publish on other sites, such as business magazines. These articles can include a link back to your own website and will be relevant to your business. This can be a particularly strong strategy if you’re able to get articles published on more well-known sites, which have a lot of credibility in the eyes of Google. A backlink, to Google’s algorithm, is like a recommendation. The better the credibility of the recommending source, the more the algorithm believes your site is trustworthy and worthwhile.
4) Resource Pages
Creating a resources page on your website is a great way to encourage others to link to your site by simply providing useful content. This usually takes the form of a page full of links to useful information for your client base along with descriptions of the various resources and what makes them helpful. Depending on your business type, you may be able to do many different resources pages for different topics.
5) Quora and Reddit
Q&A sites such as Quora and forums like Reddit are a fantastic way to gain links because they allow you to provide valuable content that directly meets users’ expressed needs. The trick here is that you can’t simply answer someone’s question with a link to your webpage. Instead, you’ll need to type out a thoughtful and helpful response, and include a link to where they can find out more on your website.
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It’s a website where you can give topics for reporters to write about. Just like you, reporters are always on the lookout for places they can find great content to write about to fulfill their job requirements. If a reporter selects your topic, it’s free PR for your business and carries a big opportunity for other media sources to share and repurpose your content.
7) Website Tools
People love calculators and other types of tools you can include on your website. Like resource pages, these are essentially “link bait,” because people will naturally link to them simply for their usefulness. Especially if you can create a tool that doesn’t exist or that’s better than what does exist, this is an easy way to build a lot of links and gain a great deal of traffic.
Books of any kind are a great way to earn links, but eBooks are the easiest and least expensive to produce. Publishing your eBook (and/or print book) on Amazon is great for SEO and will help you gain links. You can also sell your book directly on your website, or even give it away for free as a lead generator. Books don’t tend to make much money from royalties, but they are excellent marketing tools.
9) Ego Bait Content
People love to see themselves featured, so feature someone who has an audience you want to reach on your website. The featured person is likely to link to your article and may shout out your business in thanks. You may be able to gain some of their audience as well as general credibility from the recognition in addition to a link to your business.
Friends give friends links, so work on building your social network. People who are loyal to you will want to link to your website, and they’ll be there when you want to exchange guest blogs or interview each other. Always be willing to give favors to people around you, because those favors are likely to be returned. The more value you provide to your network, the more value you’ll get out of it.
Link-building doesn’t have to be a difficult or arduous task. In fact, it can even be fun. Engage with people, create quality content, and be as useful as you can to everyone around you. Your efforts will build on themselves and gaining links naturally will become easier as your website and your business grows.