Digital marketing strategy evolves so quickly that keeping up with the volume of complex and ever-changing practices required to maintain growth and relevance can seem overwhelming, and determining which are worth your resources is a challenge in and of itself. According to this Aira article, 92% of marketers believe that Google algorithms will still use links as ranking criteria in five years, so getting up to speed on link building is something you’re unlikely to regret.
Link building as a practice gives you a distinct advantage both in terms of optimizing your own business and in maintaining an up-to-date understanding of a strategy that’s become an industry standard and is likely to remain part of the digital marketing landscape for the foreseeable future.
What is Link Building?
Link building is the process of increasing the number of links on external websites that take visitors to a page on your site. Those links are often referred to as “backlinks” and typically live in pieces of content like articles and blog posts.
The two main components of a link building campaign are content creation and outreach. Both components can either be done in house or outsourced to an agency or freelancer, depending on your internal capabilities and bandwidth. Outreach is the intentional process of getting backlinks. Content creation can be outsourced if your field is not highly specialized or technical. An e-commerce brand, for example, is a great candidate for outsourcing. If writers outside your organization would struggle to write intelligently about what you do, in-house content creation might be a good option for you. If you’re an expert in your field creating highly valuable and credible content, it may even pull its own weight in landing you links organically.
However you approach your campaign, link building has a host of impressive capabilities including improving your search engine rankings, increasing your web traffic, and improving site metrics.
What Benefits Can You Expect From a Successful Link Building Campaign?
There’s quite a bit of compelling data re: why it’s in your best interest to start link building. Aside from the raw numbers, here are 8 benefits of crushing your campaign:
- Improved Credibility
When a highly trusted site links its audience to your site, a piggyback effect occurs, extending you some of their credibility. That site’s visitors are much more likely to place trust in you than in a random site stumbled upon via a Google search because you’ve been recommended to them by an organization they already view as trustworthy.
Pro Tip: When considering the best sites to get backlinks from, pursue the most credible organizations in your field. Not all backlinks are equally valuable, and some aren’t worth your time at all. The volume of backlinks you acquire is not as important as the quality of the sites from which you get them.
- Improved Web Traffic
It stands to reason that the more backlinks that exist on other sites, the more opportunities there are for users to discover and visit your site. It nearly goes without saying that more backlinks can increase your traffic, but it’s worth noting that there is a bit of misconception in the industry about which factors can be credited. The notion that links improve domain authority (DA), and therefore increase search engine ranking, is an outdated and incorrect assumption. According to this Search Engine Journal Article, Google has repeatedly refuted DA as a ranking factor.
- Optimized Search Engine Rankings and Better SEO Scores
According to Search Engine Land, links are one of the top two criteria in Google’s page ranking algorithm. Another piggyback effect occurs within the search engine ranking process that’s similar, albeit much more technical, to the consumer trust phenomenon described above.
For example, when a highly credible website links to your site, Google considers that to be a reflection of your credibility. The more credible sites house your backlinks, the more credible Google will consider your site.
Side note: No-follow links are links which don’t help your credibility from a search engine ranking perspective. Many large media companies use no-follow tags on their sites, which means that search engines like Google won’t consider link clicks from those sites when determining your ranking, so not all links are equally productive in terms of SEO. However, links that don’t improve your rankings can still drive traffic and have PR value.
- Improved Trust Scores
Trust scores, which are referred to differently on different platforms, are also improved by successful link building. TrustRank, MozTrust, and Authority Score are all versions of trust scores. High-value, credible content that demonstrates expertise will earn you higher trust scores, while content like spam will dock you trust.
Because of its potential for reciprocal benefit, link building lends itself remarkably well to networking. When marketers from different but relevant organizations exchange links, they each stand to make substantial gains from the trade, both in terms of the benefits in this list and in the added value of new connection with a fellow industry expert. Link building can be a strong catalyst for relationship building.
When a site is considering whether or not to link to your content, your visibility will likely be a factor in their decision. More backlinks means more visibility, which gives other experts more evidence that you’re credible and relevant in your field. Like several of the other phenomena on this list, increased exposure compounds itself, helping you get even more links.
Pro tip: To further boost your visibility and exposure, always include information about where to find you on social media in the content you create for link building.
- Better Site Metrics
Link building can influence and improve a number of website metrics. A few metrics to watch for changes and improvements throughout your link building campaign are Number of Visitors, Bounce Rate, and Average Pageviews per Session. Exceptionally strategic links may even affect your Top Traffic Source metric.
- Decreased Bounce Rates
The percentage of users who click away from a site after visiting only one page is called its bounce rate. When you link from one page on your own site to another internal page, it can help to offset that percentage. Also, internal links help people find relevant content on your site, which facilitates their progress down the path to purchase.
Your Next Steps
Now that you understand link building as a powerful digital marketing strategy that can kill about 10 birds with one stone, what comes next? Knowing how and where to begin tends to be the trickiest part of any new endeavor. In fact, according to Ascend, “41% of SEO experts consider link building to be the most difficult part of search optimization.” Mastering it can seem daunting, but because link building has become one of the most prevalent practices in digital marketing, more information about how to do it successfully surfaces by the day.
Here are a few resources to help you start your own link building campaign from square one:
- How to Start a Link Building Campaign Fast (and Systematize Everything) by Joshua Hardwick
- How to Start a Link Building Campaign: A Step-By-Step-Guide by Boni Satani
- 11 Creative (But 100% White Hat!) Ways to Earn Backlinks in 2022 by Irina Nica
Here’s one last resource to help you evaluate your campaign’s performance once its up and running: