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Link building is frequently one of the most overlooked aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) even though it is one of the most important.
The exact process of link building is, however, rather opaque–how do we get other websites to link back to our own? Truth be told, there are a number of different ways which run the spectrum of honorable to nearly-illegal. While there are “black hat” options often used with automated link building programs, “white hat” techniques such as manual outreach provide better results and don’t put domains at risk of blacklisting.
The confusing part about manual link building are the tactics which are totally foreign to the rest of SEO–activities such as relationship building, cold outreach, and more have little if anything to do with traditional SEO activities like keyword research and optimization. This leaves companies with a burning question: do we use link building service or pursue in-house link building? There is no hard and fast answer to this question. However companies that prioritize high quality links while minimizing the amount of time and effort that goes into securing these links often come out winning.
At the heart of the link building dilemma lies the distinction between manual and automated strategies. Manual link building, as the name suggests, involves human intervention at every step of the process. It demands meticulous research, personalized outreach, and the cultivation of genuine relationships with webmasters and content creators. This approach places a premium on quality over quantity, ensuring that each acquired backlink is a genuine endorsement of your website's authority and relevance.
The advantages of manual link building are clear. It fosters organic relationships and yields high-quality, contextually relevant backlinks that stand the test of time. These links are unlikely to be flagged by search engines as spam, and they contribute significantly to your website's authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines. While the manual approach can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, it is almost always the best option for long-term results.
On the flip side, automated link building relies on the use of tools and software to streamline the process. These automated tools can quickly generate backlinks, but they often lack the nuance, relevance, and authenticity that manual link building strives to achieve. They are also against the ToS of many search engines and can lead them to the conclusion that these backlinks were earned through untoward means, thus leading to penalties. Even when undiscovered by search engines, these links often lack the credibility and relevance that search engines value. Beyond this, they carry the risk of being totally ignored by search engines meaning that all of the time and money dedicated to acquiring these links amounts to nothing. Moreover, reliance on automation tools can lead to a lack of control over your link profile, potentially resulting in penalties from search engines. When such a large part of your website’s success (often the linchpin of many companies) rides on the quality of the links received, manual link building becomes the clear winner.
At its core, SEO is an effort to establish authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines, and quality backlinks are the currency that validates this authority. Search engines view each inbound link as a vote of confidence for your content, deeming your website more credible and relevant if it secures a variety of high-quality endorsements from other reputable sites.
Consequently, websites with a robust backlink profile are often rewarded with higher search rankings and increased organic traffic. These valuable backlinks also act as digital bridges, guiding users from one corner of the internet to your virtual doorstep, ultimately amplifying your brand's online presence. However, poor link building practices can be ruinous for websites.
Search engines are becoming increasingly sophisticated at detecting manipulative tactics, such as link farms, link exchanges, Private Blog Networks (PBN’s) and spammy link acquisition. Engaging in these practices can lead to severe penalties, plummeting search rankings, ignored acquired links, and even exclusion from search engine results altogether. Understanding the nuances of ethical link building and the consequences of ill-advised shortcuts is an indispensable aspect of any successful SEO strategy.
Effective link building hinges on a solid foundation of best practices that ensure the acquisition of high-quality backlinks while avoiding the pitfalls of “black-hat” tactics.
The first thing to consider is anchor text optimization. It's essential to use descriptive and relevant anchor text that accurately reflects the content it's linking to. Natural-sounding anchor text not only enhances the user experience but also appeases search engine algorithms by offering context and relevance. Anchor text should be adjusted as well to ensure not to use the exact same anchor text over and over again. This can be an alert to search engines of spammy link building.
Relevancy, too, plays a vital role. Seek backlinks from websites and content that are closely related to your own niche or industry. Links from authoritative sources within your field carry more weight in search engine algorithms and can significantly boost your website's credibility.
Diversity in your backlink profile is another key principle. Avoid over-reliance on a single source or type of link. A diverse range of backlinks, including guest posts, resource pages, citations, and social media mentions, offers a more balanced and trustworthy representation of your website's authority.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of link building is high-quality content. Create valuable, shareable content that naturally attracts links from other websites. Quality content acts as a magnet, drawing in organic backlinks from across the web. This not only solidifies your website's position as an authoritative resource but also mitigates the need for overly-aggressive link-building tactics.
Incorporating these best practices into your link-building strategy can pave the way for sustainable, long-term success in SEO. Remember, quality should always trump quantity, and ethical link-building efforts will yield the most significant dividends over time.
Domain authority reflects the overall strength and credibility of a website's domain in the eyes of search engines. It is a complex score that takes numerous factors into account, but one of the most influential elements is undoubtedly backlinks. To enhance domain authority through backlinks, focus on building a strong backlink profile.
Seek out opportunities for natural, organic link acquisition from reputable websites in your industry. Guest posting on industry-related blogs, securing mentions in authoritative news articles, and collaborating with influencers in your field can all be effective strategies. Additionally, monitor your backlink profile regularly to identify and disavow any toxic or low-quality links that might be dragging down your domain authority.
Remember that the quality and relevance of backlinks matter more than sheer quantity. A few high-quality backlinks from reputable sources can have a greater impact on domain authority than numerous low-quality links can. At Be More Digital, we saw this very recently with one of our own clients (see their case study here). We secured backlinks from American Express, Fiverr, Medium and more that ultimately ended up raising their domain authority by nearly 25%.
Building relationships is the secret sauce that can transform link building from a transactional process into a sustainable, mutually beneficial endeavor. These relationships are the bedrock upon which valuable, organic backlinks are often built. By establishing trust, credibility, and rapport within your industry or niche, you pave the way for natural endorsements in the form of backlinks.
To initiate these relationships, start by identifying key players in your industry or niche and engaging with their content. Leave thoughtful comments on their blog posts, share their content on social media, and participate in relevant discussions in forums or on social platforms.
Perhaps more importantly, consider reaching out with personalized outreach emails, expressing genuine interest in collaboration or content-sharing opportunities. Networking at industry events and conferences can also be invaluable for making connections. Once these relationships are established, regularly interact with your network by sharing their content, mentioning them in your own content, and offering assistance or collaboration when appropriate. This doesn’t make your piece of the pie smaller, it makes the overall pie bigger. Ultimately, link building with a focus on relationship building not only improves your website's SEO but also fosters a supportive and interconnected online community within your niche; a rising tide lifts all boats.
Guest blogging is a potent link building strategy that offers a multitude of benefits. Firstly, it allows you to tap into the audience of other websites within your niche or industry, providing an opportunity to showcase your expertise and authority. By contributing valuable content to reputable blogs, you can position yourself as an industry thought leader and gain the trust of a wider audience.
One of the key advantages of guest blogging is the potential for high-quality backlinks. When you contribute guest posts, you often have the chance to include links back to your own website, either within the body of the content or in the author's bio. These backlinks carry significant weight in the eyes of search engines, as they are usually embedded in relevant, contextually rich content.
To get started with guest blogging, research websites and blogs in your niche that accept guest contributions. Look for sites with a strong online presence, a loyal readership, and a good domain authority. Reach out to the website owners or editors with a well-crafted pitch that highlights your expertise and suggests potential topics for guest posts. When writing your guest posts, aim for high-quality, informative, and engaging content that genuinely benefits the host website's audience. By consistently delivering value to your readers and host websites, guest blogging can become a cornerstone of your link building strategy and help boost your website's SEO performance.
Evaluating the domain authority of websites from which you plan to acquire backlinks is a critical step in any link building strategy. Several tools and metrics can help you assess a website's domain authority effectively. One widely used metric is Moz's Domain Authority (DA), which scores domains on a scale from 1 to 100, with higher scores indicating stronger authority. Similarly, Ahrefs offers a Domain Rating (DR) metric, which follows a similar scale. Other tools like SEMrush and Majestic also provide domain authority metrics.
When evaluating domain authority, consider other factors as well. Look at the website's relevance to your niche or industry, the quality of its content, its overall user experience, and its engagement metrics such as traffic, social media presence, and audience engagement. Assess the credibility and trustworthiness of the website by checking for signs of spam or low-quality content.
Companies must strike a balance between domain authority and relevance. While high domain authority is valuable, it's even more valuable when the website's content aligns closely with your own. By taking a thoughtful and discerning approach to domain authority evaluation, you can make informed decisions when choosing websites for link building, ensuring that the backlinks you acquire contribute positively to your SEO efforts.
Automated link building, while theoretically an option, is simply not a good idea. The risk is high and the reward starts to dwindle when considering a timeline longer than a month or two. This leaves companies with two legitimate options–link building services or in-house link building. Manual link building requires a substantial amount of effort that may indeed surpass the effort of all other SEO activities combined. All of the steps outlined in this article (and more) must be properly executed to get a referring domain with a high DA score to link back to your website. There is, however, a sweet spot that allows you to have the hands-off nature of automated link building attitude while manual link building quality: manual link building services.
The best way to ensure getting relevant and high quality backlinks is by working with a manual link building service like Be More Digital. One of the advantages that we have is a deep network of websites that we can work with to earn backlinks quickly which has been established through years of hard work and relationship building. Our seasoned content creators can also create high-quality content for you to begin posting on your own websites and referring websites to add extra firepower. For assistance in developing and executing an SEO strategy that goes beyond rankings and focuses on meaningful connections, contact Be More Digital. With decades of experience, our SEO experts can elevate your digital marketing presence. Explore our latest case study for SEO success stories or request a free proposal to begin your journey towards digital marketing excellence.