No website is an island, and it doesn’t matter how amazing your content is if people can’t find it. Search engines play a significant role in that equation, but so do links from other reputable websites in your niche. What’s more, search engines use these types of links to determine your rank. Without them, your site probably won’t get far in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Link building is complicated, regardless of which platform you’re using. It takes work to convince people to link to your website, but the rewards are well worth it. In this article, we’ll talk about why link building matters so much, and the right and wrong ways to go about it.
Let’s get building!
What Link Building Is (And Why It’s Important)
Link building is the process of getting other sites to add links to your website within their content. If you follow our blog, you’ll notice most of our articles are peppered with links to other pages throughout. Those are called ‘backlinks’, and they can help the linked websites rank higher under the right circumstances.
One of the ways search engines determine which websites are the ‘best’ is by weighing their backlinks. If there’s an article with a lot of backlinks, chances are people think it’s an excellent reference piece. New content, on the other hand, probably doesn’t have any backlinks pointing to it. This means it’s less likely to show up among the top results of a search page.
There are a lot more considerations that go into determining how your website ranks. However, backlinks are one of the most critical elements for you to work on. The problem is, getting high-quality backlinks can take time, which leads a lot of people to try and play the system using ‘black hat’ methods. Let’s talk about some approaches you should avoid when it comes to link building.
What Not to Do When Working on Link Building
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are no shortcuts to getting good results. The same goes for link building, which plays a significant role when it comes to SEO.
If you research how to get backlinks to your website, you’ll find a lot of articles recommending half-baked schemes. Let’s talk about some of the most common ones, and why we don’t recommend using them:
- Adding links to your website via comment sections. In most cases, if you link to your site via a comment on another blog, it can come across as spammy. The only circumstance where this is acceptable is if you link to content when it’s entirely relevant to the discussion.
- Linking to your pages via forums. The same principle as with comment sections applies here. It’s a quick way to get backlinks to your website, but they won’t be high-quality ones.
- Submitting your website to directories. In the past, people used to find interesting sites using directories that compiled them. These days, directories have lost almost all relevance thanks to search engines, so this approach is outdated.
- Paying for people to add links to their websites. In some cases, this approach can work if the sites in question are otherwise legitimate, have a lot of traffic, and include links in an organic way. However, paying for backlinks is generally a bad idea since these types of sites usually spam links in an attempt to get more money.
If someone tells you they have a foolproof way to get reputable backlinks quick, they’re probably lying. When it comes to link building, it’s best to consider the long game and to be patient, which brings us to our next section.
2 Tips to Get the Best Possible Backlinks to Your Website
To be upfront, neither of these approaches is likely to help you score links quickly. In either case, it’ll take some trial and error until you refine your approach enough to build up a decent set of backlinks. What we hope to do is help you get there faster by learning from our experience. Let’s get to it!
1. Create High-Quality Content That Attracts Attention
It seems obvious, but the absolute best way to approach link building is to focus on content first, then marketing. To use an example, imagine you want to write a tutorial on how to approach Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Bing. It’s a niche topic, so if you write a short article that only grazes the surface, it may not get much traction.
On the other hand, if you sat down to write an in-depth piece on Bing SEO, chances are other blogs within the same niche might use it a reference. It means you could get high-quality backlinks, simply by creating an article that people wanted to read in the first place.
Not all of your pieces will be able to garner dozens of backlinks, so it’s best to focus on link building for those you think have more potential. In-depth tutorials, comparison posts, and roundups tend to perform very well, and they’re the types of content other websites love to link to.
Once you know which formats to tackle, you need to give them the necessary depth to create a piece that others will want to link to. Our approach usually involves the ‘Skyscraper’ technique. If there’s a topic we want to tackle, but someone else beats us to it, we just focus on creating a more in-depth article than theirs. This helps to provide you with value, while maximizing our chances of getting backlinks.
If you can create posts that add a lot of value and offer enjoyment, backlinks will follow organically. However, you can always be proactive and reach out to other websites in your niche to suggest they link to your content. In those cases, it pays to be specific about what content you want them to link to and where. Plus, it’s always a good idea to focus on how it can benefit them. Here’s an example:
Hey John Doe,
Your latest post about SEO basics for WordPress users was fantastic. However, I noticed you didn’t talk too much about Bing SEO. Most people want to focus on Google, of course, but I think talking a bit about Bing SEO would improve the article tremendously.
If you do decide to expand the article, I published a piece on Bing SEO a while back you might want to link to.
All the best!
This type of message would probably get more traction than a simple “Hey, please link to my site!”. You may not get a high response rate, but don’t let that discourage you. Just keep reaching out to sites in your niche when you’re not working on content.
2. Find Guest Posting Opportunities On Reputable Websites
Aside from creating great content for your own blog, the second best way to get backlinks is to find guest posting opportunities. Most blogs won’t begrudge you the chance to add a link back to your own website within the articles you submit, so more guest posts equal more opportunities.
More importantly, you get to control the blogs you contact. This means you can target big hitters in your niche, get quality backlinks in exchange for your work, and look like an expert in the field while you’re at it. It’s a winning proposition overall. However, you need to put the same amount of effort into guest posts as you do for your own content. If people realize your content doesn’t attract visitors, the opportunities will dry up.
To get started, you’ll need to look for blogs in your niche that accept guest submissions. Your best bet is to use search engines and try mixing in some of your niche’s keywords with other such as “guest posts”, “submission guidelines”, “become a contributor”, and the like. This should enable you to come up with a list of sites you can target:
Once you have a few targets, read through their guest posting guidelines. This step is critical because a lot of blogs will ignore your emails unless you follow their guidelines. Some websites will want you to submit articles in full from the get-go. Others will just ask you to pitch ideas, then pass them through an approval process. We recommend focusing on the latter since this way, you’ll have to do less work upfront. Plus, you can get an inkling into how those blog’s editorial processes work, meaning future submissions should be much smoother.
When it comes to pitching ideas, you should always mention your own website and maybe some of your most popular articles, as if you were showcasing a portfolio. If you want to entice whoever’s reading your email, mention ideas that target keywords with high potential. This provides traffic-grabbing content, and excellent backlinks.
The more popular your site gets, the easier it becomes to get high-quality backlinks to it. However, you need to start working on link building early on, especially if you want your website to become successful in the first place. Without links from other reputable sites, search engines might think your content isn’t worth a high ranking. This could result in losing out on a lot of potential traffic.
There are a lot of quick ways to get backlinks to your website (such as posting on forums or comment sections using links), but these aren’t recommended. We’re partial to more long-term approaches, such as:
- Focusing on creating high-quality content.
- Finding guest posting opportunities on reputable websites within your niche.
Do you have any questions about how to approach link building in WordPress? Ask away in the comments section below!
Article image thumbnail by astephan / shutterstock.com.