You may have heard of keywords and title tags, but have you heard of link building? Building links are key for increasing your SERP ranking. They help prove that your website is trusted and adds to its overall credibility.
Despite the constant search engine algorithm changes, one thing stands true. Quality content and links are at the heart of good SEO. After all, “content is king”.
What is Link Building?
Building links is an important tenet to SEO. They help build authority for your site as well as direct traffic to it. You see, search engines consider your site to be trusted if other authoritative sites deem it citable. The more exposure your website gets and the more time spent on your website, your site’s SEO score will increase.
The process of building links lies heavily on the acquisition of hyperlinks from other websites. These are what we know as “backlinks” or “inbound links”. As mentioned, the goal of most backlink campaigns is to help increase search traffic from Google and search engines. Link popularity continues to impress Google and boosts your position.
Your backlinks help make your website look more attractive and appealing to search engines. It assists the crawling algorithms to navigate its way from one site to the next. Once on your site, it will look into your keywords and determine how strong the content is for the SERP ranking.
With all of this in mind, backlinks aren’t easy to acquire. It’s a difficult and time-consuming process especially considering that you want to focus on quality link building. Not all links are equal and some do have a higher weight behind them.
Why Is it Important?
Put simply, building links is important because it helps drive traffic to your website and increase your SERP position. Google will look at how popular your page is and how beneficial the content is for users. If you haven’t looked at a backlink strategy, your SEO campaign may not be reaching its full potential.
Search engines use backlinks for two main things: discovery new websites and determining how well they should rank. The more links you have, the better your ranking and therefore, the better your chances of reaching your audience.
By asking yourself these questions, you’ve just completed your first and very necessary step of SEO keyword research.
- Better website visibility
- Receive higher amounts of traffic
- Your website will be deemed as a reliable source
- Prompts SEO crawler algorithms to analyse your website
You could look at backlinks as you would word of mouth. You’d be much more inclined to visit a restaurant that has positive reviews from someone you trusted, right? Well, your backlinks are like word of mouth. As you would trust your friend’s recommendation, your audience will trust the website’s citation of your page.
How Do You Get Backlinks?
Before getting into the techniques of building links, it’s important to state that there is very much a right way and a wrong way of doing this. If you value your website’s long-term authority and quality, we’d suggest doing it the right way.
The wrong way, known as “black-hat SEO”, focuses on using manipulative tactics. While the results may be faster, they don’t last and don’t have nearly as much of standing with SERP in the long run. In fact, practising these tactics can lead to banishment from SERPs.
Luckily, there are a number of safe tactics to increase your backlinks. These may take longer and require a bit more work but the results are worth it.
Some of these strategies are:
It’s no secret that good content always wins. By creating content that your audience wants and can trust, you’ve already mastered not just vital SEO practice but a critical marketing tactic too.
Your content creation should aim to engage, attract and delight your audience. The more material you cover, the more you will increase your level of authority. Your audience and other websites will know to come to you as a resource for valuable information.
This means that you’re increasing your chances of having another website referencing your blog post. The result? Backlinks!
After maintaining your own blog and content creation, you should consider the rewards of guest blogging. Not only are you spreading your knowledge and improving your brand’s authority, but you’re generating backlinks too.
Backlinks are usually gained by referencing your own website or by citing your page in your author bio. Either way, you’re directing traffic to your website and generating inbound links.
As we mentioned, building links can be compared to word of mouth. This is where referrals come into action. Put your service or product up for reviews to increase your linked mentions. This is why we’re seeing more and more people opt for influencer marketing to increase their reach. By getting a referral from a trusted source and linking your website, you’ve hit the SEO jackpot!
Visual Content & Social Media
Did you know that 65% of information is better retained if it’s in visual form? Take Pinterest, for example, it’s full of visual infographics. Those infographics, whether they’re a recipe or the latest marketing statistics, are constantly being shared.
Do you know what’s included in most of those Pinterest pins? Links. As people are sharing the infographic, they’re sharing your website’s link too.
Building Links Internally
Not all backlink strategies rely on other websites. In fact, building links internally plays an integral role in your SEO results.
Internal links are links that direct users to another page on your website. You often see them in blog posts or a redirect call-to-action on the webpage. Search engines see these links as they would any other link. Therefore, the internal links will help build your online reliability.
An added bonus to internal links is that it can direct people to older content. In other words, you’re giving both pages a boost with 1 move.
As you can see, link building is multi-faceted and deserves a significant amount of attention. Given the right strategy and the right amount of effort, your SEO campaign will skyrocket into a higher SERP ranking.
Again another very helpful video from Ahrefs on Link-building
In this video, I’m going to show you how to turn your backlink analysis into actionable link building strategies fast. Stay tuned.
Hey, everyone. Sam Oh here with Ahrefs. This is the last video in our three-part series on backlink analysis and link building using just Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool.
Now in the first two videos, we went pretty deep into link prospecting and competitor analysis. But today, you and I, we’re going to be focusing on link building efficiency and cover five tactics that you can execute quickly from just a single site analysis.
If you haven’t watched the first two videos, then I highly recommend going back to those right now so that you can get the most out of this baller tutorial. Some of these strategies that I’ll be covering may be very familiar while others may be completely new. I’ve got some cool link building tactics in here for everyone, no matter what stage you’re at. I am absolutely pumped, so let’s jump right in.
First, I want to set some context. Throughout this tutorial, let’s imagine that I have a new and upcoming content marketing blog called Content Marketing Hackers, and I’m looking to build links to it. With that said, let’s get started with link building strategy number one: piggyback off of your competitors’ homepage links.
Here’s the skinny. When you’re analysing a homepage’s backlinks, you’re going to find that the majority of links will have an anchor text to the company’s brand name, the domain name, or the founder’s name even. With branded anchors like this, it’s usually a general mention of the company.
By looking through these general mentions, your job is going to be twofold. First, we need to find out why your competitor was mentioned and you weren’t. The second thing that we need to do is we need to find out how to squeeze your way into that post. Let me show you a few examples.
I’ll go to Site Explorer and enter in contentmarketinginstitute.com here, and I’ll set this setting to the exact URL. Now if we scroll down to the bottom of the overview page, you’ll see that over 80% of their backlinks have branded anchor phrases.
Now let’s scroll back up and look at the backlinks report for CMI’s homepage to see where these links are coming from. First, I’ll set one filter here for now to just the dofollow links.
Now if you look at the first batch of links, you’ll notice that some of these sites have linked to CMI’s homepage thousands of times. This to me looks like site wide links, so we’ll skip over these for now.
As we scroll down, we’ll come down to this post from Social Media Examiner: “20 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros”. In the referring page column, you can see that it was an expert roundup from the title. Then looking to the anchors and surrounding text column, you can see that the anchor text is on Joe Pulizzi, the founder of CMI. Now just a little bit below that, you’ll see this link that CMI got from TopRank Blog’s “BIGLIST of Marketing Blogs”.
Now the question boils down to this: why did they link to Content Marketing Institute, but not Content Marketing Hackers, which again is my imaginary blog that I need to build links to? In many cases, it’s because they don’t know that my awesome and imaginary blog exists.
As an example, I could reach out to TopRank Blog and be like, “Hey, I noticed your big list of marketing sites doesn’t include Content Marketing Hackers, but we seem to fit all of your requirements. Mind vetting our blog and adding us to your list?”
Now as you continue to filter through this list, you’re going to find all sorts of other opportunities that could be easy and big wins for you. Check out this example.
You can see from the anchor and surrounding text that they interviewed Joe where he spoke about generating revenue with content. I could reach out to this site and ask to be interviewed in a future podcast episode, assuming I have something unique and valuable to offer.
To help narrow down your search, you could scroll back to the top and then look for specific keywords. If I wanted to get interviewed more, I could look for keywords like “podcast” or “interview” in the search bar here. A few other common types of links that you might find by analyzing a competitor’s homepage are testimonials, quotes, and guest posting opportunities, since the author box almost always has a link pointing to the writer’s homepage.
Once you’ve filtered through the list, you could start sending your own pitches to these site owners to have your brand mentioned alongside your competitor’s. Okay, onto the second link building strategy: build links to your existing pages that need the extra boost.
Now there’s a good chance that both you and your competitors have pages with similar content, products, or services, and that’s probably what makes them a competitor in the first place, right? Here’s the skinny on this tactic. This is a simple three-step process.
Step one, pick a page on your site that you want to build backlinks to. Step two, find a competing page and analyze the backlink profile to find relevant link prospects. Step three, send a unique pitch that shows how your content, product, or service is different than the one mentioned.
Let’s say that I have a great post on my blog about link building, but it’s not getting the attention it needs. First, I would change this URL search to a full domain search. Next, I’ll click on the best by links report in the sidebar to see the most linked-to pages across the domain.
Lastly, I’ll use the search bar and look for a relevant keyword. I’ll type in “link” and then run the search. Right away you’ll see some hyper-relevant posts that have a solid number of unique linking domains. If we were to add up these referring domains, you could potentially find hundreds of link prospects almost instantaneously from just this single competitor.
Next, we can click on the corresponding number under the “dofollow” column and open up the individual backlink reports. Now we would perform a backlink analysis exactly the same way we did in the second video in this series and send our pitch to the various site owners.
It’s important to note that when you’re pitching these sites, you should provide some kind of unique value in your pitch. In this case with link building, are you sharing new tactics that no one’s talking about? Do you have a unique case study with your results or a creative process that you follow? Do you have unique data or insights you can provide that the page that they’re currently linking to doesn’t?
Basically, you need to ask yourself this question: why should they take their time just to add your link to their post? If your only answer is, “Out of the goodness of their hearts,” then you may want to rework your pitch.
One thing to note is that when you’re looking through your competitor’s best by links report, you can look for older outdated posts. In general, it’s easier to steal your competitor’s backlinks when you have brand new content with information that’s relevant today. Now in our example, CMI happens to include the dates in their URL, so it’s really easy to identify outdated posts with a quick scan.
There are a couple other ways that you can find competing pages. The first is to go to Google and type in a keyword phrase that you want to rank for. In this case, if it was “link building”, then I could go through the top 10 results, copy and paste each URL into Site Explorer, and analyze the individual backlink profiles to create an even bigger list of prospects.
Now the great thing about this tactic is that it’s not limited to just blog posts. The exact same logic and principles apply for product and service pages. For example, if we were to create a marketing automation software, then I could simply take one of my competitors’… So let’s say MailChimp’s feature page, and then paste the URL into Site Explorer. From here, you can see that this URL has 615 referring domains linking to this page.
Now I can click on the backlink profile here in the left sidebar and then look through the list of people who are linking to this product page. Looking at this result here, the anchor and surrounding text tells us a lot. It says, “Tools such as MailChimp’s marketing automation software can help with personalisation.”
The question that comes to mind is: why aren’t they mentioning my marketing automation software? The most probable answer again is that they don’t know it exists. In my outreach email, I could offer them a free account and show them unique value in how my tool is superior, easier, and better than MailChimp’s.
All right, onto one of my favorite tactics, and that’s because it is one that is easily scalable. Seriously, easily scalable. Tactic number three is broken link building. Here’s the skinny on broken link building.
You find a dead 404 page from a competitor’s website that has backlinks. Next, you recreate that page with your own twist. Then you email everyone who’s still linking to the broken page and ask them to replace the dead link with yours.
Now there are a few ways to find broken pages with backlinks using Site Explorer. The quickest way to do it from a domain level search is, again, in the best by links report. The only thing we need to change here is this one filter to find only the 404 not found pages, and boom! We now have a list of over 23,000 broken pages from our competitor’s site that has backlinks.
From here, you can click on the referring domains column to sort the list in descending order. You can see right here that their .aspx version of the site was never redirected properly. This broken link here on “What is Content Marketing” has earned over 400 dofollow backlinks from 188 unique websites.
The one below seems to be a list post of the top 42 content marketing blogs which has 91 referring domains. The one below that… Drum roll, please… is the same post without a proper redirect, so that 91 referring domains now turns into 157 unique linking websites a.k.a. 157 new link prospects.
Now if you already have a solid replacement, then it’s just a matter of pitching the owners, editors, and webmasters with your piece. You can use the search filter here again to look for topics that are similar to ones that you’ve already published.
Let’s say that I have a great post on content marketing tools. I can search for the keyword “tool” and I’ll see all of the relevant broken pages with the keyword in the URL. But if you haven’t created the post yet, then you can do something cool right here within this report.
First, I’ll clear the search filter. Now let’s look at one of these pages that seems to lack context. This one here has a URL permalink that reads “Repurpose one video”. It has 32 unique linking websites.
What you can do is click on the caret here and if there are any records inside of archive.org, which is a free service that lets you see what pages looked like in the past, then you’ll see a shortcut link here. Click on the link and it will load up the page and show you what the page looked like when it was live.
Now we know that this post is a case study done on their podcast where they repurposed one video and got X results. If you have a similar case study on repurposing content, then it might be worth creating.
After your content is pitch-ready, you can click on the number in the dofollow column, which will open up the backlinks report with the dofollow filter set. Now you can see all of the pages that have linked to this broken page. Now it’s just a matter of reaching out to each site owner, editor, or webmaster to let them know about the broken link and to pitch your post as a replacement.
One side note that I want to make is regarding outreach. Now when you’re pitching the different site owners, you want to make sure that your replacement article is actually relevant to the context of why they linked to the broken link.
For example, if we look at this broken page’s backlink profile, which is on content marketing spend, then you can see from the anchors/surrounding text column that the context of these links is largely because of stats.
If you were recreating a similar page to this one, you should be prepared to use your new and up-to-date data as part of your pitch. If you don’t have the data, then don’t recreate the post.
All right, on to link building strategy number four, which I don’t think many people are using, and that’s link building from irrelevant 301 redirects.
Here’s the skinny. When a website decides that they want to consolidate content, meaning they’re going to take some of their less popular posts and then redirect them to ones that they want to rank for. The result is going to be completely irrelevant redirects that you can capitalize on.
Within this same report, which is the best by links report, we can change the 404 filter to 301 moved permanently. You can see that they have over 6,700 articles that have been permanently redirected.
The one that stands out to me is the blog post here. It looks like they’ve redirected a post on headline click-through rate to their headline tips and tools post.
Now this might seem like they’re completely relevant, but if we click through to the tips and tools article and then search for the word “click”, you’ll see that there are only three occurrences. The first shows “cheesy click-bait headlines”. The second reads, “”he winner gets the clicks.” The third says, “Most clicks.”
Looking at the archive.org page, you can see that the original topic was on tips to improve your headline click-through rate, which the new article clearly doesn’t help with.
Now from here, you’d go to the backlinks report, skim through the anchors and surrounding text column to see the context of the backlink. Here we can see that the majority of links are coming from a stat that was mentioned related to click-through rate.
If you look at this one here, it says that the stat comes from “the folks at Outbrain”, which you could also link to in your post so that your article is relevant when you’re pitching these sites. Pretty neat twist to 404 link building, right?
All righty, link building strategy number five: guest blogging on sites where your competitors are posting, with a twist. The method that I’m about to show you is a pretty creative one that I haven’t seen anyone talk about. But, first, the skinny on guest posting.
First, you find a website you want to write for, you pitch them with some topic ideas, and, if accepted, write a post that will most likely lead to a link back to your site.
I’ve covered a lot of effective ways to find guest posting sites in my Content Explorer video. If you’re using or plan to use guest posting as a promotion strategy, then I highly recommend watching that video. Now before I teach you this new tactic, let me start with a story.
It was a dark and stormy night, and I was just sitting at home reading through some of my favorite blogs, minding my own business. For whatever reason, blog after blog after blog after blog, this guy’s name and face kept popping up on my screen: Ryan Stewart. He seemed to be on some kind of relentless guest blogging blitz. I followed him on Twitter and literally binge-read everything he had written. Well done, Ryan. Well done.
Here’s the thing: if I was noticing him everywhere, so were others. When it comes to anything online, there are always footprints. The main one footprint for guest posts is the author bio. In it, you’ll normally get a link to your website and some links to your social profiles.
What you can do to find guest posting opportunities is to open up Site Explorer and search for a popular guest blogger’s Twitter profile URL. I’ll put in Ryan’s Twitter URL and click submit. You’ll see that 128 unique domains have linked to his Twitter profile. Let’s look at the backlink profile. If you skim through the referring page, as well as the anchor and backlink column, then you can almost instantly see why they got a backlink.
For example, this one from an amazing blog that I absolutely adore was an expert roundup which you can see from the title. Then you’ll see this one here on local SEO that looks like a naked URL. If we click through to that article, you’ll see that Ryan was the guest author.
Now where does this link come from? Right here. You could skim through this column and look for naked URLs, empty anchors, or even links from images, which often suggest that it was a guest post.
By using these five link building tactics that I just showed you, you should be able to build a large enough list of prospects and get backlinks to get your pages ranking with the big boys.
That’s it for this SEO tutorial, and actually this entire backlink analysis and link building series. If you haven’t watched the other videos, then I highly recommend going back and working through these videos at your own pace.
Make sure to hit the thumbs-up button and subscribe for more actionable SEO tutorials. In fact, let me know in the comments if there’s anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to see in action right here on YouTube.
Now I’ve got some links that need to be built, and I’m sure you do, too. So until the next video, keep grinding away SEO friends. I’ll see you soon.