What is Link Building?
Every time that someone types an inquiry into a search engine, the platform goes to work sifting through the 1,197,982,359 websites that currently exist to find the best options for answering their question. In order to do so quickly, search engines use a web crawler, or spider, to index the content of sites. This coded creepy-crawly goes to work learning everything about anything on the web, then storing it away to use later, when a user types in a relevant term.
Cloudflare summarizes the purpose of a web crawler bot with this analogy: “A web crawler bot is like someone who goes through all the books in a disorganized library and puts together a card catalog so that anyone who visits the library can quickly and easily find the information they need. To help categorize and sort the library’s books by topic, the organizer will read the title, summary, and some of the internal text of each book to figure out what it’s about.”
Of course, with over one billion sites to deal with, the bots are pretty picky about which ones they’re willing to spend more time getting to know. That’s where the entire concept of SEO comes into play.
While there are many components that participate in the complicated ballet of search engine optimization, link building is one of the most reliable and effective means of getting some attention. Every reliable, legitimate website that links back to your site is increasing your likelihood of getting indexed and returned on the search engine results page.
What is Link Building?
If you share content from other sources using hyperlinks, you are engaged in link building. When I linked back to the Cloudflare analogy in the introduction, that was link building. From an online ranking standpoint, though, the most important facet of link building is getting other sites to link back to your website.
When Google goes to work determining the value of your website, the number one factor that it ranks with is how high-quality your backlinks are. Note that I said “quality,” not “quantity.” Of course, more is better, but more doesn’t matter if it’s contrived or inauthentic. That’s because Google is specifically looking for websites that have a high authority on certain keywords. The more authority you have, the more likely you are to know what you’re talking about. It’s a bit of a circle– more links mean more authority… more authority means more links.
To summarize, when other reputable websites use your site as a source of links and information, it’s a green flag to Google that you are worth showing up in the results for the keywords you’re ranking for.
Upping Your Domain Authority Score with E-A-T
Google’s 2014 Search Quality Guidelines was the first official document that mentioned the concept of E-A-T for ranking websites. It stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness — the three main things that Google looks for when assigning site ranks. Seven years later and it continues to be the key guidelines. In fact, Google went so far as to hire thousands of people to manually review and analyze sites, then report their findings to ensure that the algorithm’s understanding matched that of actual human beings.
When evaluating for E-A-T, and subsequently the overall quality of a website, this is what’s being considered:
- Expertise, or how much the content on your website is bolstered by industry-level understanding. Having well-researched writing, authors who know their stuff, and plenty of properly cited data will help increase your expertise score.
- Authoritativeness, or how other websites and content-writers view your site as a leader for the industry. Linkbuilding is especially key for this aspect, as high-quality backlinks and brand mentions have the biggest impact.
- Trustworthiness, or how accurate and valid the content on your site is. You can showcase expertise including expert opinions, but if those opinions are used out of context to support unfactual information, your trustworthiness would be questioned.
Linkbuilding Effectively and Ethically
Like Twitter followers and email marketing lists, link building is vulnerable to unethical, spammy ne’er-do-wells who offer to link to you if you link to them. While that might seem like a great way to quickly increase your domain authority, it’s inadvisable to be a backlink just for the sake of being a backlink. Remember that Google is smarter than we could ever imagine. It catches on pretty quickly to websites that have a ton of backlinks, despite not being a major authority on a topic, or have a sudden uptick in references on other domains. Avoid practices like link exchanging, purchasing links, or allowing your site to be a part of a pay-for-placement directory. Instead, build links using these recommended practices:
- Links should be earned, not bought, traded, or self-created for the sake of manipulating search engine rankings
- Links should come from authoritative pages, not low-quality ones
- Your number of links should be sustainably increased over time. It’s not a one-and-done practice.
- Keep your link building focused on topics and industry partners. That helps bolster your own domain’s authority in that particular keyword.
- Always use anchor text. Avoid linking to words like “Read more here.” Instead, ensure that the text you are placing the link on at least partially describes where the link is taking the reader.
- Earn links that people are going to actually use. It’s pointless to earn a backlink if it’s never clicked.
- Aim for a mix of follow and no-follow links.
- Links need to be thoughtful and precise. If they don’t contribute to your SEO, page authority, or high-quality visitor count, they’re not doing much for your overall online presence.
Linkbuilding is an SEO best practice that deserves your time and attention, but busy business owners, politicians, and non-profits can struggle to find the time or resources to do it right. Let NATIV3 help! We’ll work to find opportunities for link-building that increases your page rankings, brings in visitors who are most likely to participate in your sales funnel, and build invaluable relationships between your content and the keywords it’s ranking for. We’re ready to get started when you are, so drop us a line or give us a call.