A Quick Start Guide to Link Building for SEO & How Inbound Links Improves Rankings

Link building has always been a big part of SEO, but outside of the SEO community, links often go under-estimated as to how important they are.

While it’s much more difficult to game than it was in the 90s (which is a positive), links play a big part in how you rank and how your website is viewed by Google.

So how do you get started with link building in order to improve your search engine rankings?

We’ve outlined a quick start guide to link building and SEO, which should cover some of the key concepts that link building includes, and how it can help your website SEO improve.

So – what exactly is link building?

Link building is all about acquiring new inbound links to a certain website from other, external websites.

The goal is to increase traffic from search engines such as Google – but the links themselves can also bring in traffic.

Why do links help build organic search traffic?

Google still puts a lot of weight on the quality of links to a site in order to determine rankings.

Why does Google care about links for SEO?

Links indicate that a website is good. If other sites link to another site, this shows it is authoritative and has quality content other people find useful.

Google finds this information in itself, useful. It indicates to Google that it should be ranking a site higher for relevant terms, as the content on this site is good, as determined by those linking to it.

What links do I need to build?

Every link is good, and the more that accumulate the better (other than links from spam or bad sites but that is another story).

So any links from reputable sites are good. The more the better. However, you are better off getting links from a range of reputable, related sites than a ton of links from one, single domain.

But – what is it that determines how good a link is?

The authority of the website or page linking to your site is what Google will see as how good a particular link is.

Every site has some form of authority, in itself based on incoming links. When it links out, it passes on more authority to the sites it links to. So the authority of your site is based on the authority of the sites linking to you, and the same to them.

However, links from high authority sites such as government sites, Wikipedia, the BBC or otherwise will be much more powerful than a link from someone’s blog.

An exception is nofollow links. Any links with rel=”nofollow” do not pass on authority. These should be in place for paid links and other situations. Wikipedia links from nofollow, but SEOs usually consider Wikipedia links are still beneficial, so there are some blurry lines around all this.

Link placement

Links within content have more authority than those in the footers or the sidebars. Google determines how likely a link is to be clicked and this plays into how much it helps rankings.

Link anchor text

Anchor text is essentially the words used to link, which thus influences your rankings.

If people link to your sites using words more often, then you will rank for those terms as Google thinks your site is relevant for that term. Which, it should be.

Building a link strategy


So you’ve got to grips with what link building entails. But what do you need in order to get started?

You need to formulate a strategy – otherwise you are simply hoping people will link to you.

What goes into a strategy?

  • Link audit
  • Competitor analysis

A strategy of how to accumulate links through:

  • Organic means
  • Outreach
  • Content and link bait
  • Networking

So, for a little more on some of these:

Link audit
Audit your current links using a tool such as SEMrush or Majestic. Disavow any toxic links, and analyse where you need to improve.

Competitor research
Analyse websites that link to your competitor sites. Ask those sites to link to yours. If they are helping your competitors rank, then it can help you too.

Outreach
Put your content in front of the right people.
Email people who may be interested in your content. Give them a reason to link to it. Perhaps there is content on their site that would benefit from linking to your content?

Link bait
Content designed purely for links. This can be:

  • Research
  • Surveys
  • Data
  • Graphics
  • Tools
  • Featured interviews (ego bait)

Broken link building
Spot broken links on websites, and offer your website as an alternative.

Perhaps a site they link to went down, or deleted a page. Maybe you offer similar content that can take its place?

Link reclamation

Look for mentions of your brand on the web where they have not linked to y our site. Ask them to link to your site, and thank them for mentioning you.

Guest posts

Guest posts or guest blogs are effective in getting your content and brand in front of new audiences. As well as building links.

Google no longer gives the same weight to this tactic, but it still works.

In many industries, there are blogs accepting guest posts on relevant topics. Find these, offer to guest post, and link to your site.

So I should focus all my efforts on link building?

No.

At the end of the day, links are one of hundreds of signals Google uses to determine how good sites and pages are.

Links should in theory only be an indicator that a page is good and worthy of getting ranked. But obviously the fact everyone gamed this meant Google has to be careful.

The main focus should be creating content that people genuinely find useful, and want to link to. The techniques involved in link building boils down to simply putting that content in front of the right people and gently asking them to link to the content. Or giving them a real reason to link to the content. A reason that benefits them in some way.