Want to know the best link building strategies that can help boost your search engine optimization (SEO)?
Link building is a critical element of effective SEO you should treat as an essential part of your overall digital marketing strategy.
This is especially important as links are considered one of the top-ranking factors on most search engines.
Need more proof?
Check out our post on link building statistics.
In This Article
- What is Link Building in SEO?
- Understanding the Different Types of Links
- How to Strategically Build Internal Links
- Building Backlinks
- Building Outbound External Links
- Link Building Takes Effort and Careful Planning, But It’s a Must
What is Link Building in SEO?
Link building refers to the actions taken to increase the number and quality of hyperlinks to a webpage. This is done to increase the search engine rankings of that page and the website as a whole. The more quality links a page has, the more authority it has. Other benefits of link building include:
- Drive organic traffic
- Boost brand awareness
- Enhance your user experience (UX)
That’s why we’ve compiled this link building guide — to help you build strategic and relevant links that will result in some major SEO wins.
Understanding the Different Types of Links
Before we dive into our top link building strategies, let’s briefly look at the different types of links you should know as you build your links.
Internal links are links from one page on your site to another (or vice versa). These are usually underrated but play a massive role in SEO. For example, internal links help:
- Users and search engines find content on your site.
- Spread link equity (PageRank) from one page to another, boosting your website’s domain authority (DA).
- Define your site architecture.
Because of their importance, being strategic in your internal link building is crucial.
Outbound External Links
Outbound external links (outbound links) refer to those links from your website to other websites. These are mostly used to add context to content by pointing readers to a resource that delves deeper into a particular topic. On the SEO front, they help add credibility to your content and make it authoritative. This is essential to meeting Google’s E-A-T standards for high-performing content.
Inbound External Links (Backlinks)
Inbound External links, also known as backlinks, are links from another site pointing to your site. These are considered the most valuable types of links as they are a vote of confidence in your content, both to search engines and users. As a result, the more high-quality backlinks you build, the higher your chances of ranking top on search engine results pages (SERPs).
What about Nofollow and Dofollow Links?
You’ll have to understand the difference between nofollow and dofollow links as you build outbound links to and from your site. You also have to know when to use each.
So what’s the difference between nofollow links and dofollow links?
Technically, there’s no such thing as a dofollow link. By default, all links are dofollow unless otherwise changed. This means search engines will follow them unless you add a rel=nofollow attribute. As long as you don’t add the rel=nofollow attribute to an external outbound link, search engines will consider it a vote of confidence from you. The reverse is also true.
What about nofollow links?
A nofollow link is a link with the rel=nofollow attribute. Because of that attribute, it does not pass any link equity.
For more on dofollow and nofollow links, check out this guide.
With that out of the way, let’s quickly dive into our business of the day — link building strategies you can use to boost your SEO.
How to Strategically Build Internal Links
Internal links should probably be the first type of links you should focus on as you work on your website’s content and SEO.
How do you make link building easier?
Automate with a Tool Like Link Assistant
Building internal links is fairly easy if you have a few pages on your site. However, manually keeping track of your content and internal links becomes a Herculean task as your website grows. This is where powerful SEO tools like AIOSEO come to the rescue.
AIOSEO is a top-rated SEO plugin designed to help you DIY many aspects of your technical and on-page SEO. Technical SEO examples include implementing breadcrumbs, creating sitemaps, etc. It also helps with most on-page SEO elements like image SEO and gives you a score of how well-optimized your content is. You also get IndexNow, which enables immediate indexing of new and updated content on browsers that support the IndexNow protocol.
Don’t have AIOSEO yet?
There’s no better time than now. So go ahead and download the plugin here.
What does AIOSEO have to do with building internal links?
Link Assistant gives you suggestions of links you can add to your posts, including the anchor text. It also helps you easily identify orphaned posts so you can add links to them. The best part is that you don’t even have to open the post you’re adding links to and the one you’re linking to.
Another advantage of using Link Assistant to build your internal links is that you can accept all link suggestions at once or choose to accept them individually. Whichever way you opt for, Link Assistant speeds up your internal link building and makes it much easier.
Optimizing your internal links is much easier when using Link Assistant.
So, if you want a more efficient way of building internal links, ditch the manual way and leverage an internal linking plugin.
Determine Your Ideal Website Structure
One internal link building best practice to follow is to determine your site architecture beforehand. This simply means how your website is organized. Proper site architecture results in the optimal layout of information and provides for a positive (UX). In addition, this makes your site easily accessible to users and search engines.
How do you create the best site architecture for your website?
A few tips for doing that include:
- Keep your top-level navigation simple.
- Use a simple URL structure.
- Use breadcrumbs to make navigating back and forth easier.
Understanding your site architecture is essential in helping you know how to strategically link to important pieces of content on your site.
And this brings us to the next point.
Identify Your Pillar Content and Build Clusters Around It
Another critical element of building internal links is to identify the pillar content on your site. Pillar content refers to the most critical content on your site that covers a topic extensively. You can then create separate pieces that cover each main point in-depth. These are called child pages, and you can create links from child pages to pillar pages and vice versa. You can also create links between child pages. These result in clusters around your pillar post.
Why is this internal linking strategy important?
Some of the most important reasons include:
- Helps search engines better understand what your website is about, resulting in better indexing.
- It’s essential to building authority.
- Improves UX as users can easily find more information on a particular topic.
- Improves the quality of your content.
- Makes content planning and creation easier and faster.
All these result in a boost in SEO as it results in you ranking for more keywords. And with Google favoring authoritative content pieces, especially for YMYL websites and pages.
Ensure Your Links are Contextual
Every time you create a new post, you should link it to all other posts on your site, right?
A big no!
Proper internal linking requires that your links be contextual. This means every link you create must be to a topically relevant page.
That’s called is contextual linking.
Link building should never be random. It must be strategic. A huge part of that involves ensuring that you link to pages that add value to your content. Doing so will result in a well-organized website that search engines can easily index. It also leads to a website users can easily navigate.
Careful with Anchor Text
As you build your internal links, you’ll have to be careful about your anchor text.
What is anchor text?
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Like this, for example. Here’s a better example of good anchor text usage:
The keywords in your anchor text are vital as they help search engines and users know what to expect after clicking the link. For this reason, you must carefully craft your anchor text. Examples of how to do so include:
- Be descriptive: Your anchor text must describe the topic your link leads to.
- Must be natural: Don’t force links into your content by twisting the anchor text to accommodate the post you want to link to. Place your internal links naturally into your content so that it both flows and adds context.
- Avoid clickbait: As much as you may want readers to click on your link, avoid using click-baity anchor text. This is anchor text that promises something readers won’t find when they follow the hyperlink.
Also, avoid optimizing your anchor text by using your focus keyword in every hyperlink. Doing so can lead to you being penalized.
Of the three main types of links to build on your site, backlinks probably impact your ranking the most. However, not all backlinks are created equal, so it’s not a matter of getting as many of them as possible. Instead, you must build quality backlinks that are relevant to your niche. This will increase your chances of ranking well on SERPs and driving more organic traffic to your site.
However, in a competitive niche, the number of links pointing to your page must be high to ensure your content ranks well. This will help increase your page authority, thereby boosting your SEO.
How do you build many quality backlinks?
Here are some white hat techniques anyone can implement, even beginners.
Publish High-quality Content
One of the best ways to build backlinks organically is to publish high-quality content. Publishers are always looking for quality content to link to enhance theirs. Therefore, investing in great content should be central to your content marketing strategy. Not only does it help you establish yourself as an authority, but it also helps you with organic link building. Examples of this type of content include long-form guides, how-to articles, and expert interviews, among others.
Besides quality, you should also ensure that most of your content is evergreen content. This means timeless content. Creating evergreen content will result in that piece of content attracting backlinks for as long as it’s live.
Create Link Magnets
Everyone loves linking to helpful resources in their content. That’s why one of the best ways to build high-quality backlinks is to create link magnets. These are any types of content that other publishers will want to link to organically. Some examples of link magnets include:
- Industry research: This is one of the best backlink magnets, as every publisher looks for proof to validate a point they make in their content. Unique industry research does just that. As a result, people will link to it.
- Stats posts: Like industry research, statistics posts attract a lot of backlinks as they help validate content.
- Case studies: Because they help readers see how a product or principle works in real life, case studies are another linkable asset you should create.
- Tools and cheat sheets: Creating resources that people can use to solve a problem is another excellent way of attracting backlinks. Website owners or admins will link to these to add value to their content.
- Infographics: This content type is popular for presenting content simply and visually.
The type of link magnet you create depends on your target audience and what they deem valuable content.
Have a Guest Posting Strategy
Guest posting is another fantastic link-building tactic you should employ when building backlinks. Guest posting refers to the practice of creating content to have it published on a site other than yours.
Most publications will allow you to link back to your site in the content itself and the author bio. A few tips for running an effective guest posting campaign include:
- Target relevant sites
- Guest post on high-quality sites
- Create super helpful content
If you do this, you will earn a backlink from each site you publish on. It will also result in referral traffic from those sites, a boost in brand awareness, and more. That’s why guest posting must be a deliberate part of your digital marketing strategy.
Conduct Link Building Outreach Campaigns
Outreach campaigns are another powerful link building technique to add to your bag of tricks.
What is a link building outreach campaign?
Link building outreach campaigns are the practice of reaching out to publishers to obtain a backlink. However, with so many requests for backlinks, a simple ask won’t be enough. To help improve your chances of building high-quality backlinks through outreach campaigns:
Check Your Competitors’ Backlink Profile
One of the best places to start when designing a link building outreach strategy is to check out your competitors. Use tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and others to see who’s linking to them. These make good targets as it shows they can link to you too.
Craft a Compelling Pitch
When pitching sites for backlinks, don’t send generic emails. Craft a unique and compelling pitch that offers value. If the publisher can see that giving you a backlink will also benefit them, the chances of you getting the backlink are higher.
Also, remember to personalize each pitch for the recipient and their audience. Even if you’re using a template, take time to tailor it to the website you’re targeting. You’ll have to research each website, contact person, and audience to pull this off. Doing so will help personalize everything from the subject line to the content to the offer.
Only Reach Out to Relevant High Authority Sites
Search engines are smart. They can tell whether a link is relevant to your topic, niche or industry or not. If it’s not, it won’t count when ranking your site. That’s why building irrelevant links is a waste of time, effort, and resources.
To get the most out of your link building campaign, always target relevant sites.
Besides relevance, aim for authority sites. These are sites that have a high domain authority (DA) on Ahrefs or domain rating (DR) on Moz. The higher a site’s DA or DR, the more impact a backlink from it has on your ranking.
While all this may seem like a daunting task, it’s pretty easy if you use the right link building tools.
Build Broken Links
Building broken links (also known as link reclamation) is similar to the link building outreach approach discussed above.
Broken link building is the practice of searching for dead links on other sites in your niche. The purpose of this is to pitch a replacement link from your site, thereby earning you a backlink. Don’t worry. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially if you use the right backlink checker tools.
A few tips to help you leverage this link building strategy include:
Look for Competitors’ Broken Pages
Using tools like Ahrefs, conduct a competitor analysis. Look for competitors’ pages with broken links that have external links pointing to them. Because a website is a living document, you’ll likely find these as content is usually deleted, moved, or replaced. If they forget to redirect them, this results in 404 pages. Every site that linked to this page would benefit from a replacement link.
FYI, if you want to find and fix 404 errors on your site, AIOSEO can help you do that. This is all thanks to our Redirection Manager. To get started, go to the Redirects tab in your AIOSEO settings. If it’s your first time using this feature, you’ll be asked to enable redirects.
Once redirects are enabled, the next step is to enable 404 logs. AIOSEO will start logging 404 errors on your site when you do this. For more information on how to do all this, check out our guide to finding and fixing 404 errors.
Find Relevant Pages You can Replace
Sift through the list of broken pages to find those in line with the topics you cover. Once you have found these pages, you have two options:
- Recreate a better version. This involves creating new content tailored to the page you want to obtain a backlink from.
- Find a replacement page on your site. If you have a similar page, simply pitch that instead of creating a new resource.
Either way, you must have a replacement resource to pitch.
Vet the Opportunities and Pitch
Once you’ve compiled a list of broken competitor pages and the sites that linked to them, the next step is to vet your opportunities. The main criterion to use here is the quality of links pointing to the broken page. If the links are of good quality, then, by all means, pursue them. To do so, you must pitch your resource to the websites that have linked to your competitors’ broken pages.
The advantage of this strategy is that no one wants to link to a broken page, as it’s not good for SEO and UX. As a result, most publishers would gladly accept your offer.
Note: you can also use this strategy for outdated content, not just broken links.
Create Expert Roundup Posts
Expert roundup posts are another fantastic opportunity to build high-quality links to your site. One reason for this is that roundups are excellent ego bait. People love sharing about themselves, their businesses, and their strategies. As a result, they’ll gladly participate in your roundup. And when they do, chances of linking back to that post are pretty high. For best results:
- Research influencers and experts in your niche
- Check if they link back to similar resources
- Reach out to those that actively participate in expert roundup posts
Creating roundup posts is an excellent way of building relationships with other bloggers, influencers, and subject matter experts (SMEs) in your space. These are relationships that can prove invaluable in future link building campaigns.
Another variation of this tactic would be to pitch your blog posts to publications that curate weekly or monthly roundups of the best articles on a particular subject. One of the easiest ways to find such publications is to use Google. To do this, use the “intitle:” or “inurl:” search parameters together with the phrase “link roundup.” Here’s an example of the results you’ll get:
Reach out to publications that publish roundups that feature your type of content and pitch your best content.
Leverage Barnacle SEO
Barnacle SEO is a link building strategy that takes advantage of the authority of top-ranking websites for highly competitive keywords. Like a barnacle, you attach your website to these larger websites (whales) and leverage their authority to rank for your focus keywords.
A few ways to leverage this tactic include:
- Get featured on partnership pages
- List your business on business directories
- Publish on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Quora
- Get listed on review sites
- Guest blogging and roundup posts
- Leverage publishing platforms like Medium, Business2Community, Wikipedia, etc.
For this strategy to work, make sure the sites you’re targeting are not direct competitors. You also need to target relevant sites that attract visitors that fit your target audience’s profile.
Avoid Toxic Links
Not all backlinks are good links. Some are toxic links that can negatively impact your SEO. Two classic examples of these are:
- PBNs: Public blog networks (PBNs) are a network of websites created with the sole purpose of linking out to other websites to boost SEO. Because these are unnatural links, they’re not a recommended way of getting backlinks. Also, most have low-quality links.
- Paid links: Buying links is a practice that is frowned upon by search engines. If you have paid links on your site and they are discovered, you could get penalized. As a result, your rankings will take a dip.
To avoid unnatural links, carefully audit all your links regularly to ensure you have a healthy backlink profile. If you find spammy sites linking to yours, disavow them in Google Search Console immediately. Unnatural links are usually a sign of black hat SEO tactics. While these may bring you fast results, you may pay dearly down the road, especially when Google rolls out an update clamping down on such tactics.
Building Outbound External Links
Now that we’ve covered internal and inbound links, let’s quickly look at how to build outbound links strategically.
Remember, linking to another website is a vote of confidence from you. It’s also a great way to boost your content’s authority. That’s why you must carefully build your outbound external links. Some tips to help you do so include:
Choose Your Sites Carefully
When linking externally, make sure to link to reputable and trustworthy sources. Linking to disreputable sources will result in you losing credibility. It may also result in poor rankings.
Another thing to consider as you link to a source is whether or not that site is the original publisher of the fact or stat you’re sending readers to. This ensures 100% credibility. If you can’t find the original source, your next best bet is to link to a reputable source that cites the fact. If you go that route, it’s advisable to use a nofollow tag, so search engines don’t associate the site with your content. If you’re an AIOSEO user, this is easy to do. Simply add your link and set it to “nofollow” as shown below.
Use Proper Anchor Text
Your anchor text is important as it helps both users and search engines know what to expect behind the link. That’s why you must make yours as descriptive as possible. Avoid anchor text like “click here” and its variants.
Only Use Helpful Links
Before you add an external link, consider whether it’s useful to readers or not. Don’t just link to add external outbound links to your content.
If you only add links to game the algorithm, you’ll end up with a page that doesn’t offer a positive user experience. As a result, you’ll lose your readers.
Don’t Link to Competitors
While this may seem obvious, it still needs to be stated — don’t link to your competitors. Doing so will be detrimental to your SEO and business. Instead, look for research articles and sources that aren’t your direct competitors.
Make Sure You Set Your Link to Open In Another Tab
When you add an external outbound link to your piece of content, always make sure it opens in a new tab.
Doing this gives users more control of the experience as they can easily navigate between your site and the external one you directed them to. It’s also good practice, resulting in readers staying on your site longer. In addition, this helps you improve important SEO metrics like dwell time, time spent on page, and more.
Link Building Takes Effort and Careful Planning, But It’s a Must
If you want to rank well on search engines, you must include link building in your overall SEO strategy. With links being the fabric of the internet, they play a huge role in how your website ranks. Using the tips above, you can get your link building strategy underway and get your website ranking well.
Remember, when it comes to internal linking, you won’t get a better tool than AIOSEO. Not only can you build your internal links fast, but you can also do it at scale. Besides link building, you’ll need to work on your technical and on-page SEO. These are elements AIOSEO can help you with as well.
So, if you haven’t yet, go ahead and download AIOSEO here.
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