Top Link Building Strategies to Guarantee Success

Rebecca Nguyen
SEO
November 26, 2020
6 MINUTES READ

If you’re here, you probably have two questions in mind: what is link building? And what are the best link building strategies? The short answer is that link building is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique that consists of compiling relevant links and weaving them throughout your article to strengthen your argument AND increase your ranking on search engines.

However, it’s not as easy as scrolling through the first page of a particular search engine, finding similar articles, and sprinkling them throughout your article in a bid to increase SEO. It’s more of a strategic process that culminates in an informative article supported by supplemental links to help increase SEO while also reinforcing whichever point the writer is making.

Though some may say that link building is dead, it’s still considered the No. 1-factor ranking factor (aside from great content), according to Google. It helps establish authors as authorities in their field and lends credibility to their claims. It’s time to go beyond the definition and get into it—what is link building?

Why is Link Building Important? 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you: link building is a time-consuming feat that requires hours of research (if you want to do it right). If you compile too many links, most search engines will filter your article as spam or phishing and drop your content to the bottom of its search results. It will also clutter the page and make your piece look disorganized.

Link building is a process that lends credibility to your work and helps secure your place on the top of search engines, primarily Google. You can’t add links just for the sake of adding them; the links you choose must contribute to your article in some way. Links add information, strengthen an argument or claim, or provide a particular piece of evidence to back up a claim.

On an aesthetic level, a page saturated with bright blue hyperlinks distracts and displeases the eye. No matter how informative your article may be or any hard-hitting insights you may have, no one’s going to fight the eye fatigue that comes along with too many links. 

Strategy 1: Writing Relevant Content

Strategy 1 may not be the appropriate title for this section—rather, it should be step 1: ensure whatever topic you’re writing about has a heavy following and is a timely/relevant topic. This doesn’t mean avoiding outdated topics altogether; rather, find a modern angle or something new that’s trending in whichever niche you’re writing about.  

For example, let’s get a little nerdy here and talk about the video game Animal Crossing. If someone wants to write an article about the best ways to get a top-notch town, it wouldn’t be helpful (or successful) to focus on the original Animal Crossing for the Gamecube; you’ll want to focus on the latest installment, New Horizons.

If you want other writers to link to your articles, you have to be the first to produce content in whatever field of study you’re writing about. Find the angle or topic no one else is discussing and position yourself as the category’s expert. Outreach gets discouraging (as you will soon read), so get ahead of the curve and make sure you’re the one making the calls.

Additionally, you can look into co-authoring and see if there’s another writer interested in the topic you’re writing about—we’re talking twice the outreach, twice the sources, twice the brains, and twice the SEO capability.

Strategy 2: Outreach

Just like the name says, outreach involves reaching out to experts, content writers, or other contributors in the field you’re writing about to get their insights and see if they’d be willing to share relevant links with you. This will also morph into an exchange: they’ll allow you to use their links, and you can offer your links out.

While cold-calling is always an option for outreach, several platforms are available to help find like-minded writers. Sticking with our Animal Crossing example, the writer would research websites dedicated to video games and gamers, find who wrote about the latest installment of the game, and reach out to them to see if they’d like to exchange links.

Outreach is often disheartening because out of 100 emails you may send, you might only hear responses from one or two—that’s normal. Most writers will ignore the request, or it will get lost in their inbox. It gets discouraging, but you have to stay determined and dedicated. 

When you connect with other writers, you’ll want to keep them in your portfolio for a couple of reasons. If you want to use their work again or if you’re tackling a new topic, reach out to the small community you’ve built to see if anyone has relevant work or if they know of anyone who does.

Proceed with Caution

Be careful when conducting outreach, as you don’t want to send and receive links wherever possible. Though it may seem counterproductive considering the amount of work and research that goes into outreach, make sure every link you’re attempting to secure adds something to your piece or reinforces a point you’re making.

The last thing to touch on is never to buy links or charge for your links. If someone’s charging to use their link, they’re likely farming it out to thousands of people. You can’t guarantee the quality of links, and it’s not going to help you rank on search engines if every other article on the same topic has it. If you’ve already bought links, try to return them or eat the cost—your SEO and readers will thank you. Search engines notice when an article features a series of links that serve no real purpose.

In your outreach, make sure you’re pitching yourself and selling yourself. Give a brief explainer to your target about what you’re writing about, why you’d like to use their link, how your piece can strengthen their piece, and give a general overview of yourself. It’ll make you seem more human than just a sentence asking for exchange or permission.

Strategy 3: Patch Your Competitor’s Holes

Start scoping out the competition—trawl websites about whichever topic you’re writing about and dive into its articles in-depth, testing every single link. on the website. It’s a painstaking process that will take a few hours, but the goal is for you to successfully point to several instances where the website’s current links are broken and offer your link as a replacement.

Again, some people may not be receptive to this, as no one wants a spotlight highlighting their shortcomings or imperfections (in this case, the website’s moderator who got a little slack in monitoring their links and all), so be gentle in your outreach.

Think of that broken link search as part of a recon mission, too. All the time you’ll have spent digging through various websites and articles will help you better understand the material you’re writing about. You’ll be able to identify holes in someone else’s theory or argument and, touching back on outreach, fill the gaps.

Strategy 4: Rely on Visuals

Keep in mind that no two people learn in the same way—some people are visual learners while others are more adept at mastering the written word. Appeal to all comprehension levels by providing infographics to demonstrate the point you’re making or back up whichever argument/theory you’re putting forth.

You guessed it—link those images wherever possible. Unless you’re creating the infographics or info charts yourself, chances are you’re utilizing someone else’s work. Why not flatter them by reaching out and asking to link their piece? In return, they get their art or content to a whole new set of eyes, and they can even post your article on their blog or social media accounts to increase your exposure.

If images or infographics will throw off your article’s “flow” or don’t match up with your vision of it, there are other visually-pleasing options to employ that don’t get too flashy. Take lists, for example:

  • They’re naturally pleasing to the eye
  • They break the page up and increase readability
  • They condense information in a few short, informative words
  • Each line can serve as an independent link
  • They’re an organizational tool

Lists break information into parts and present a fuller picture that’s not lost in blocky-looking paragraphs. They’re quick and to the point, and even steeped in a psychological phenomenon. 

Though there’s competing evidence, there’s research to suggest that in today’s “go go go!” environment, they present a nice break from the madness. On the other hand, splitting information into small, easily-readable parts helps the brain understand and comprehend the material more effectively.

There are two types of lists: bulleted lists, which condense information into tiny, readable lines, and numbered lists, which serve to organize someone’s work and give the audience an idea of what to expect. However, numbered lists provide the opportunity to jump around the page to find the sections so readers can home in on the specific knowledge they need, so not all links used throughout numbered lists will see success.

Still, that’s not a reason to avoid this technique—numbered lists are an essential way to establish credibility, boost rankings on a search engine, organize the page, and promote sharing and reposting on social media.

Strategy 5: Sell Yourself

Blogs continue to grow in popularity, so throw your hat into the ring with one of your own. The best part of creating your only blog is that you’ll have total creative control over it, and you’ll ensure that all ideas/concepts are novel. If you want it to touch on multiple topics, awesome! If you want to position yourself as the authority in a particular niche, produce content related to that.

You’ll want to establish yourself as an expert in whichever field you’re writing about, and often that requires taking a deep dive into an aspect of a topic that’s not well-documented or covered, and you may be presenting somewhat proprietary information.

Never try to write about something that you aren’t knowledgeable about yourself just because you see it’s gaining popularity, as one of two things will happen. Other people will jump on the bandwagon and clutter the search results, hiding your article, and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, your readers will know, and anyone you want to exchange backlinks will know.

This approach might be another one that seems counterproductive, but offering to write guest posts or contribute content to a website/blog similar to yours will boost your credibility and create an opportunity to add in links of your own. Again, don’t offer to contribute purely on a selfish standpoint—a piece that’s thrown together will discredit your reputation in your field, and you’ll have a harder time with link exchanges.

Final Thoughts

The key to successful link building strategies is always to be one step ahead of yourself. Find an interesting topic or something you’re passionate about, and then research what’s out there instead of immediately picking an angle yourself. All five of those strategies intersect and overlap, so you can’t compartmentalize and treat this guide as a step-by-step layout. 

You’ll possibly be employing anywhere from two to three strategies at once, so organization is a must. You want to make content that’s interesting and relevant on a grand scale, and link building becomes a delicate process of creating content that touches upon popular topics (inviting backlinks) while also establishing a new angle or element to encourage other writers to link to your work.

When in doubt, try to be as impartial as possible, put yourself in your reader’s shoes, and think about how you’d feel if you were on the other end of the screen. If something doesn’t look right, it’s better to be safe and take it out than risk harming your search engine results and your readability. 

Patience can’t be stressed enough when it comes to the best link building strategies. The process won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

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