When we’re asked, “What is link building?”, the simplest way to respond is to explain it is a way to build your brand’s online profile.
The slightly more technical answer is it’s the process of getting a third-party website to hyperlink to your website. Of course, it’s not as simple as that.
There are many different types of link building. Some are frowned upon by search engines.
Link building could involve:
- Setting up business profiles on directory sites that include a link to your website e.g. yelp
- Adding a comment to someone’s blog post and including a link to your website in the comment
- Getting your business partners to add your business logo to their site – the logo contains a hyperlink to your website
- Buying websites and linking to your website from these new sites
- Creating really valuable content and advertising it to your business’s stakeholders in the hope they link to it because it’s so useful
- Writing opinion pieces for a trade magazine related to your industry in which you get a link back to your website as part of the author attribution
- Watching out for instances of your brand name being published online and then contacting the sites it crops up on to ask them to include a link in your brand mention back to your website
Of the above, you do not want to be caught engaging in the practices detailed in points two, three or four. The others are all accepted methods of building links and ones we advocate as a leading B2B SEO agency. But that brings me to another point worth making – Google and other search engines don’t want you to build links per say, they want you to earn them, by being an excellent internet citizen. Create great content and third-party sites will naturally link to you; be an authority in your field and you will earn links without trying.
And that’s important, because links are like votes. The more of them your website has, the more likely it is your website will be returned for a relevant search query. E.g. if you sell blue widgets and you have a load of amazing links pointing at your blue widget site then there’s a good chance your site will be returned when someone searches ‘Blue widget supplier’.
Not all links are born equal – follow versus nofollow
Just to clarify, all links are designed to be ‘followed’ by a search engine spider to their destination. However, it’s possible to make a link ‘nofollow’ by adding ‘rel=nofollow’ to the html tag. An example would look like this: <a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>. With that simple addition, the search engine spider will stay put and your website won’t gain any link ‘juice’.
It seems a little unfair. After going to all the trouble of writing a kickass piece of content, passing it by the powers that be at your desired publication and seeing it published online – only to realise you got a nofollow link. What is up with that? Well, let’s go back in time a bit.
Once upon a time Google invented measured the quality of a webpage based largely on the number of links pointing to it. And then a whole lot of badly behaved spammers messed things up with their cheap (yet sometimes clever) backlinking tactics like forums, comment boxes and guest blogs. Google is now fighting low-quality links one algorithm update at a time – so it pays to know what not to do, and not do it (obviously).
But wait, not all followed links are born equal either…
Followed links from popular and important sites carry more weight and push webpages higher up the search engine rankings. Google calls it TrustRank; if you have a lot of very high-quality links, then Google will trust you more and so your ranking improves. But, and this is crucial, you have to assess the quality of a site from two perspectives: contextual relevance and domain authority (DA).
If, for example, your company specialises in fintech, you need to pursue reputable sector specific sites for links back to your website. A huge spread littered with links in The Angling Times won’t earn you nearly as much as a nod from Fintech Futures. So, focus your resources appropriately and be sure to fish in the right waters.
The domain authority of a site is really important too. The geniuses at Moz developed the DA tool to determine how authoritative a website is. The higher the DA, the more authoritative a site is and the better chance it has at ranking.
Why do we build links?
When considering what link building is, it’s more important to understand why you would build links in the first place – links can help build better relationships, boost your business’s profile and drive more traffic to your website. At their most brilliant, links ultimately help generate qualified leads which turn into new clients which result in increased revenue and business growth – ta-da! But remember, if you put lipstick on a pig it still goes oink. If you earn a load of links but your website isn’t ready to perform then you can wave goodbye to all those lovely, ready to buy leads.
Want to find out more? Check out the blog below.
Need some help figuring out what is link building and how to do it right? Chat to Luke as soon as you can. He’s our inhouse SEO specialist and the link building magic man.