If you want to drive more high-quality traffic to your website, you need to be putting time and energy into fine-tuning your SEO strategy.
There are lots of different SEO techniques and resources you can use, but one non-negotiable is that your strategy should have an element of link building.
Long gone are the days of building any old links on any website that will accept them, though. You need to be smart about it.
Here, I’m going to outline what link building tactics you should be using in 2021 for the best results.
What is link building?
Simply put, link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other high-quality websites. When authoritative websites in your niche or industry link to your work, Google and other search engines take this as a vote of confidence and will give your website a boost on the search engine results pages.
You should be careful about acquiring these links, though. Search engines know how to separate good links from bad links. Bad links come from untrustworthy, inactive, or unrelated resources and seem unnatural. If you build bad backlinks, Google and other search engines will penalize you in the search results. But keep your backlink profile strong and good things will follow.
In this article, we’re going to cover what makes a good link, creating link-worthy content, building relationships, and more.
Learn what makes a good link
Not all links are created equal. If you’re going to improve your backlink profile, you need to figure out first and foremost what a strong backlink is. Loganix has a guide to assessing backlink quality for SEO that will help with this.
Page and website authority are two of the most important factors when it comes to link quality. A link from the New York Times, for instance, is going to be more impactful to your rankings than a random blog link (although those do have their place, too). Ahrefs’ authority checker can give you an idea of a website’s strength in this category.
Relevance matters as well. So, for example, if you run a website on health and wellness, Google isn’t going to give you a huge boost if you have a backlink from a legal firm. Instead, you should focus on collaborating with fitness bloggers, healthy eating sites, and publications that write about wellbeing.
Link placement is important to search engine algorithms, too. It’s better to have links in the body of a piece of content, rather than buried in the footer of a web page. Optimized anchor text can also make a huge difference.
Think of your anchor text as a tag that tells Google what you’re talking about. If you run a pet accessories brand, for instance, you might want to link to your “dog collars” with that exact anchor text to let search engines know what the page you’re linking to is all about.
Create link-worthy content
You can reach out to thousands of sites and perfect your outreach emails but, if you don’t have great content on your website, no one is going to want to link back to it. Quality content is the key to earning great backlinks, and also helps you build your brand authority, so you should definitely be putting time and effort into populating your site with it.
Some types of content tend to earn more links than others, so it’s worth keeping this in mind when you’re creating your content plan. Three types you should definitely be focusing on are visual content, listicles, and ultimate guides.
According to statistics from Venngage, 74% of content marketers say that at least 70% of their content includes visual assets. So, if you aren’t including the likes of infographics, images, charts, and videos in your website content, you could fall behind the pack.
Of course, visuals are also particularly shareable, which means they can earn you plenty of backlinks. If you have an infographic or chart that is going to help back-up a point someone is making, for instance, they’ll be very likely to include it in their article or blog post. And they should give you a backlink in the process.
Listicles are another great form of content for backlinks. Listicles tend to be straightforward and feature easily digestible information, which makes them easy to share. People like lists — instead of having to read a whole blog post to find a recommendation, listicles pull out the most important information and put it front and center.
Tipalti is a company that specializes in offering automated payable software solutions, and they have a listicle of the top 10 best accounts payable software programs. Not only will this content help to attract relevant customers, but other websites in the same niche might also link to it, as it includes a lot of helpful information. The fact that the content isn’t very self-promotional makes it a lot more link-worthy, too, so keep this in mind if you decide to create your own.
HubSpot has a solid listicle on the top social media tools of 2021, as well. This is relevant to their audience of content marketers and small business owners, who might just be taking their first steps into social media marketing.
If someone is interested in this guide, it’s likely they’re going to be interested in other areas of digital marketing, too. This is ideal, because HubSpot offers more content marketing that’s relevant, along with their own digital marketing services.
The fact that this article contains a lot of useful information, is very readable, and doesn’t include any over-promotional copy also makes it shareable. So, a lot of websites in HubSpot’s niche could be tempted to link back to it, which is great for the company’s SEO.
Doing your own original research could also earn you a lot of organic links. Consider whether there’s an area of your industry that hasn’t been explored enough. Or, if there’s a question you have but can’t find the answer to, why don’t you fill the gap by carrying out your own study or survey? JotForm has a great free online survey maker that’s ideal for this.
Consider quizzing your customers or people in your niche about a topic, and present your findings to the world! Then, next time someone is writing a blog post or article that your findings are relevant to, they’ll be likely to share your research.
You could also consider creating an ultimate guide that aims to inform your target customers about an area of your business or industry they have questions about. This should be a lengthy and comprehensive article that includes all of the information someone might have about the subject you’ve chosen to cover. These assets tend to be very link-worthy as they contain so much high-quality advice.
Search Engine Journal actually has an ultimate guide to ultimate guides, which outlines how you can make this type of content as valuable as possible. They cover finding the perfect topic, identifying your target keywords, and more. SEO professionals and content marketers are likely to find this guide very helpful, and other publications who write about the topic will be likely to link to it wherever relevant, as it will save them the job of explaining a lot of the concepts it covers.
Similarly, Digital Marketer has an ultimate guide to digital marketing, which contains a huge amount of helpful information on the subject.
This guide is relevant to the site’s audience of business owners, marketing students, other digital marketers, and more. Additionally, because it’s such a helpful resource, other similar websites are likely to link back to it.
Build relationships through social media
Social media doesn’t directly impact your SEO, but it can help you to build links that will.
Make sure you have a social media strategy that factors relationship building into the equation. Everyone is on social media nowadays, and it offers a great way to build relationships with other experts in your niche. If you connect with different blogs, influencers, and businesses through social media, they’ll be far more open to your ideas when you do approach them to build links on their site.
Forge these relationships with likes, shares, comments, and direct messages. Then, once you have a good rapport going, consider reaching out and seeing how you can collaborate!
Managing a lot of social media accounts can take a lot of time and energy, so it’s worth just focusing on the ones that provide you with the most engagement. Twitter tends to be particularly fruitful for making connections, as it’s so easy to chat, promote other people’s content, and build relationships on there. If you would like to streamline the process of keeping your Twitter feed active, SocialPilot has a great list of Twitter tools that will help you get the most out of the platform.
Analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles
It’s always a good idea to do regular competitive research and keep your finger on the pulse of what similar businesses are doing. You might already have a good idea of what your competitors are selling and how they’re promoting their products on social media, but have you taken a look at their backlink profiles yet?
By doing this, you can see what kinds of content tend to be the most effective for them, and whether there are any gaps you could be filling.
SEMRush has a great tutorial on competitive keyword and backlink analysis. They outline the tools you can use to dig up information and how to find the strengths of your website compared to your competitors’.
Once you’ve done your research, it will be time to create high-quality and linkable content that beats the competition.
Offer guest posts to relevant websites
Once you start to build relationships through social media and establish yourself as an authority in your field, you should think about pitching guest posts to suitable websites.
Guest blog posts allow you to share your knowledge with an audience you might not have otherwise reached. This can be great for your SEO, because it allows you to build high-quality backlinks to your website, and will also show your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Search engines such as Google like to point users in the direction of websites offering accurate and valuable information. When you write a great guest blog post for a quality site,
Google will take this as an indicator that you are a reliable source of information.
The only way to really secure a guest post is to ask. Some websites will have processes for doing this but, depending on your industry, it might also be as simple as sending an email or a Twitter DM.
Offer free tools or services
Another great way to get backlinks is by offering free tools or services. Tools, calculators, pamphlets, and eBooks are all great starting points when it comes to offering free online content.
Not only can you show off what you do and reel people into joining your customer base, but everyone likes free stuff! Resources like this are actually helpful and people will want to share them with their readership. This can help you to secure lots of great links organically.
Take a look at the free invoice templates offered at FreshBooks, for instance. There are lots of freelancers and small business owners that would be interested in using these tools, which makes them incredibly shareable. The likes of business blogs and freelancer forums will jump at the opportunity to share these useful tools with their audiences and will provide FreshBooks with lots of great links in the process.
Or consider this tax bracket calculator from TurboTax. Users can plug in their own financial details, and will then be told which tax bracket they fall into. This helps their ideal customers, who are likely to need help with filing their taxes. Plus, websites that create content aimed at freelancers and small businesses might share this as part of their own article, which will earn TurboTax plenty of links.
Links still reign as one of the strongest SEO ranking factors, so make sure that your marketing strategy includes building them. Just make sure you follow my tips, and do it the right way to avoid getting a penalty!
By building industry relationships and creating great content that people will want to share, you’ll be well on your way to having a top-ranking website.