SEO Link Building Guide: 12 Strategies That Work in 2023
By: Dileep Thekkethil
Updated On: March 9, 2023
Backlinks are a must-have to improve your online visibility, drive more web traffic and position your website at the top of search engine results.
In short, backlinks come in handy when you want to increase the authority of your website in the eyes of search engine giants like Google.
Search engines discover new content via links and also leverage them as a parameter to determine the content quality.
So, how does that work?
Google considers a high-quality contextual backlink as a vote of confidence that testifies how worthy the content is. That said, it isn’t a surprise that link building remains one of the crucial search engine ranking factors.
A targeted strategy often makes things easier and link building is no exception.
Yes, it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a pro, you need a definitive strategy in place to get the most out of link building. If not, your link-building efforts may end up a disaster.
Worry not! If you understand the what, why, how, dos and don’ts of link building, it isn’t tough to crack the hard nut.
Let me walk you through link building and its aspects one step at a time.
What is Link Building?
Link building is the practice of gaining links from one or more websites to your own.
These links help users navigate from one web page to the other to access more information relevant to their search on the internet.
As for search engines, links make way for the bots to crawl, index, and rank web pages.
Why is Link Building Important for SEO?
Link building is one of the most powerful ways to get high-authority, niche-specific websites to vouch for your site.
As you acquire backlinks, you build a bold and illustrative backlink profile. Based on the robustness of the link profile you create, your website can enamor Google’s algorithm and achieve higher rankings.
Link building, despite all the rumor-mongering happening, is something you cannot overlook when optimizing your website for SEO.
Spoiler Alert: Building a healthy link profile doesn’t happen overnight. Link building takes time, but it is always worth it.
When you put in targeted and genuine efforts toward link building, it gets paid off with long-lasting results. That’s the gist of it.
The concept of links is cardinal to how Google search works. Its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the beautiful concept of PageRank.
PageRank algorithm helps Google identify new pages and rank them based on quality signals. So, what this means is that Google’s core algorithm weighs backlinks as one of the top-ranking factors, and ignoring it could bring a website’s growth to a standstill.
How to Build Links?
Now that you know how link building can complement your website’s SEO, it’s time to learn how to build links. So, let’s delve into it.
Broadly speaking, link building happens in three ways:
1. Requesting for Links
Do you want to link back to your website from a specific website? The best thing to do is request the website owner for a backlink.
However, you need to make sure that linking back to the website fetches you benefits in terms of web traffic and authority.
Here’s what you need to remember.
- The website has to be related to your industry/niche.
- The website should be credible and exhibit great performance.
- Craft a genuinely compelling email pitch to convenience the website owner to accept a backlink placement to your website.
2. Earning Links
Earning links is when other website owners link back to your website without you contacting them regarding backlinks.
This often happens when you feature high-quality, user-engaging content on your website that your target audience and industry experts find useful.
As per Google Webmaster Guidelines, “Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
Earning backlinks to your website is the biggest reward and a clear sign that your link-building efforts are actually working.
3. Buying Links
Buying links is yet another way to secure link placements in top-performing sites.
When it comes to buying links, you need to be quite choosy about the sites you pick as you are investing some money to make more of it.
Make sure you follow a metric-specific approach to narrow down top sites from your niche to build backlinks.
Once that’s done, get in touch with the website owner with a well-crafted email to gain backlink placements on a commercial basis.
If you find the process time-consuming, you can avail the assistance of a trusted link-building service provider to purchase links from relevant sites on your behalf.
Key Elements to Evaluate Link Prospects
You should consider the following elements when reviewing websites for link building.
- Content: Written and visual content for blogs, web pages, etc.
- Admin: Do they have advertising policies in place?
- Link Profile: What do the links pointing to the site look like?
- Reputation: Does the author have any reputation?
- Authorship: Who is responsible for the website content?
- Technical: How do users find and engage with the site?
Metric Vs. Quality
Understanding metrics and quality can help you set up link-building success.
Certain metrics from top SEO tools can help evaluate a site for link-building prospects much easier. They are:
- Ahrefs Domain Rating.
- Moz Page Authority.
- Moz Domain Authority.
- Moz Page Authority.
- Majestic Trust Flow.
- Majestic Citation Flow.
- Majestic Trust Flow.
- SEMrushAuthority Score.
- Verve Link Score.
In addition to these metrics, you need to conduct your own manual research to get an even deeper understanding of your link-building prospects.
The search quality raters guidelines by Google have dedicated a section for Overall Page Quality Rating that you can follow as well.
It can help you cover the purpose of the content, the depth of the content, and find out credible sources for the content.
How to Analyze a Site?
As you go through the evaluation process, there are two important things to keep in mind:
- Weight Each Element
Some aspects of the site are more important than others.
- Examine multiple elements that decide the site quality
Here are the key elements to consider during the assessment:
- Commercial links: Check if there are links to money pages. Find whether links are not tagged with no follow or sponsor
- Navigation: Is it too generic for the site?
- Restricted Keywords: Check if the site uses gambling, payday loan, or pornographic keywords
- Infrequency: Does the website post infrequently, or are the old posts rarely updated?
- About Us: Find if the links point to money pages
- Admin Pages: Find pages that directly advertise dofollow links in guest posts and avoid them at all costs
- Info: Phone number, address, and email
- Excess links: See if too many links are pointing to a single page
- Low Authority: Find the site’s Domain Authority and Domain Rating using SEO tools
- Non-relevant links: Discover if there are links that don’t make sense for the page
- Byline: Is the byline set to the site name or the admin?
- Author Page Info: Is the information about the author incomplete?
- Nationality: Is the author from your target country or not?
If you are dealing with YMYL pages, you have to be more stringent about the author’s reputation.
- Online presence: Does the website has a good social media presence
- Followers: What type of accounts are following the brand
- Engagement: Do the page have enough engagement?
- Indexed: Does the website exist in Google’s index with more than just the home page?
- Geo: What is the focus of the audience’s country?
- Page Engagement: Does the site have ads and links within pages?
Link Building Strategies That Work
The strategy you devise is the major driving factor behind your link-building outcomes. So, here is a look at the top link-building strategies you can harness to achieve desired results.
1. Ultimate Guides
Ultimate Guides usually cover in-depth information about a specific topic and comprise several subheadings, illustrations, and super-long content.
Since Ultimate Guides provide users access to massive information in one place, they can be a go-to choice to earn backlinks.
Listicles or list posts are posts that feature a numbered list of facts, techniques, tips, reasons and so much more.
Packed in chunks, these posts contain information that delivers value to the users.
After analyzing 1 million pieces of content, BuzzSumo has arrived at the conclusion that list posts generate far more backlinks than other forms of content, including infographics, quizzes, and more.
3. Resource Page Link Building
So, what are Resource Pages?
Resource Pages are pages that contain a curated list of resources that solely link back to informative content from multiple websites.
The more the number of backlinks on a page, the more authoritative it is.
Resource page link building is a practice where you link back to your website from a resource page.
Your chances of gaining link placements in resource pages depend heavily on the quality of your content.
You can find resource pages easily by using the following Google search strings.
- “Keyword” + inurl:links
- “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful links”
Let’s say your niche is medicine. You can use medicine in the keyword field followed by one of the above Google search strings.
Once you have the resource pages, you need to find out if a particular resource page is suitable for your link-building purposes.
Not everyone has the same link-building needs. You can use metrics such as page authority, domain authority, the web traffic of the page/domain to decide if a given resource page is the right fit for you.
This will give you the ideal site for your resource page link-building process.
Look for content that is worth linking back to from the resource page.
Finally, draft an email stating how your content can be a valuable addition to the resource page and ask the website owner to link back to your site.
4. Broken Link Building
Broken link building is a unique link-building strategy.
While other strategies are about asking people for backlinks, broken link building makes way for you to help add value to somebody’s website.
I’ll tell you how you can execute this strategy.
The first step is to identify broken links in a website.
Install either Check My Links or LinkMiner chrome extension.
Not sure which website to check for broken links? Pick a page with more links.
If there are many links, it’s likely that one or more of them are broken. That’s the idea.
A resource page from your niche should be the best fit. After all, it is fully loaded with links.
You can use the Chrome extension to weed out broken links in the page easily.
Finally, send the website owner a mail highlighting the broken links that you identified and suggest replacing the link with yours.
5. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is never out of trend. It is, of course, one of the classic strategies in link building.
Use a search string such as “write for us” + keyword to find blogs and websites that currently accept guest posts in your niche.
Run through the search results and shortlist the ones that are right for you.
Use the contact form or email address to initiate a formal conversation asking for a guest post opportunity with backlink placement.
Unfortunately, guest post opportunities aren’t available just for you but also for your competitors. Make sure you stand out from the crowd every step of the way.
Getting professional assistance from a trusted guest blogging service provider can take the burden off your shoulders and help you achieve desired results to outperform the other players in your industry.
6. Blogger Outreach
Blogger outreach is one of the best strategies to build your backlink profile.
You would have received outreach emails too.
Check the spam folder of your mailbox. You will likely find at least a few outreach emails in there, only that they failed to grab your attention.
If you’re wondering why these emails are dropped straight into the spam box, it’s because they may not be relevant to you.
Suppose you run a website that specializes in e-commerce. An email targeting finance experts and investors is certainly not your cup of tea.
That’s why your outreach campaigns should be targeting the right people. Your link success depends on it as well.
In fact, outreach emails witness a response rate of only 10%, while the other 90% of them go unanswered.
Having said that, if you want your outreach emails answered, you need to keep yourself updated about the latest outreach techniques and master them.
Are you still using standard/traditional email templates for your outreach purposes? If your answer is yes, then it’s high time to break away.
Let me tell you how to switch to non-conventional email outreach.
- Draft 100% personalized and original emails.
- Leverage your unique brand voice.
Apart from increasing the response rate for your outreach campaigns, these emails also help you create a positive outlook toward your brand.
So, who do you start with?
Trustworthiness is the lifeline of blogger outreach. Start with people who trust you and are already aware of your business.
They may include
- Your industry partners.
- People who have subscribed to your newsletter.
- People who have mentioned your links or brand name in their content.
- Bloggers/influencers who are connected with you on social media.
Who else do you reach out to?
Look for people who share something in common with you. For instance, you can reach out to bloggers who share a similar customer base.
Link placement in niche-specific blogs can drive qualified leads and help you achieve more tractions for your business.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and others are also ideal to find people whose interests are similar to yours.
Do you think outreach is eating up too much of your time?
That’s why Stan Ventures shortlists sites based on 25+ link building metrics and offers a genuine blogger outreach service to help you earn high-quality backlinks seamlessly.
7. Unlinked Brand Mentions
Every business gets its brand mentioned somewhere on the internet. These brand mentions need not necessarily be linked back to the corresponding website.
Why not use your unlinked brand mentions to your link-building advantage?
Yes, you can translate unlinked brand mentions to gain backlink placements across websites with minimal effort in the right direction.
Use a brand monitoring tool like Semrush to keep track of your brand mentions across the internet.
Once you find people who have mentioned your brand name in their web space, reach out to them and ask for backlink placements.
However, you need to ensure that these links add value to the visitors of the corresponding domain. That way, the link juice is rightly passed on, having a positive impact on your website’s authority.
8. Podcast Links
Links are everywhere. You just need to have a keen eye for them.
What if I told you you could get backlinks without writing content or initiating outreach campaigns?
It’s definitely possible. All it takes is one word: Podcasts.
You just have to show up and talk about things you know and you get a link just like that.
A podcast can be about anything, as long as it adds value to the listeners.
Talk about something your target audience wants to learn and you get the job done without lifting your finger.
9. HARO Links
HARO or Help A Reporter Out is an ideal place for you to connect with big shots from high authority, trusted websites.
Once you sign up, you start receiving emails on a daily basis. Set a time frame, say, 30 to 45 minutes every day and look for queries within your expertise and respond to them.
If your answer gets featured, you get a link placement on a high-authority website.
It isn’t a sure-shot that your answers will be cited, but when it happens, the impact will be high.
That’s how HARO links bolster your SEO efforts.
10. Infographic & Image Link Building
Visual assets such as infographics, images, and diagrams make way for seamless link building. They present huge chunks of information in a comprehensive way. Users are fond of visual assets as well.
So, how do infographics and images simplify link building?
Let’s say you include a graph or chart on one of your web pages.
Every time someone shares the graph, you automatically get a link from their website to your own. From this standpoint, visual assets hold greater good for link building than text-based content.
11. Getting competitor’s links using tools like AHREFs Link Intersect feature
Did you know your competitors can help you strengthen your backlink profile?
If a website links back to one or more of your competitors, chances are they can link back to your site.
So, how do you find these sites that link back to your competitors?
Ahrefs Link Intersect tool can simplify the process for you.
Enter a few of your major competitors in the tool.
Choose “all of the below targets” -> Show link opportunities.
You will see a list of websites that all of them link back to.
Check them out to find the best fit for building links.
Make sure you pick sites where your potential prospects are likely to hang out. That’s precisely where you should establish your presence.
Is that it? Not yet.
I’ll tell you another way to refine your search for domains that link back to your competitors.
Link Intersect -> Enter domains -> Click “any of the below targets” -> Show link opportunities.
Now, you will get more results based on the number of intersects.
Shortlist the websites you are going to contact for link-building opportunities.
12. Content Promotion
Creating link-worthy content is important. However, you cannot stop there, especially if your aim is to create a great link profile.
People should be able to discover your web pages in order to link back to them.
That’s exactly why content promotion is mandatory.
So, how do you promote your content?
- Communities/ Forums
Invest in platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and others to improve the visibility of your content. The more the visibility, the greater the chances of someone showing interest to link back to your content.
Well-written content can fetch you multiple backlinks in the long run. Investing a small sum of money to advertise your content isn’t a problem when it can fetch you more links and grow your business, right?
Advertising is, of course, a good way to promote your content. Even so, reaching out to people with an email pitch makes the process sound more formal.
Also, when it comes to content promotion via outreach, you add more value to the recipients of your mail and their target audience (who are your prospects too). If you can convince the website owners that linking back to your content fetches mutual benefits, it is a win-win scenario.
You have niche-specific forum sites where you can promote your content among your target audience. Social media groups and communities are also good places for content promotion.
However, it isn’t as easy as joining a forum and dropping your content links just like that. You need to become an active member and take part in discussions that happen there.
Once you have built a reputation for yourself among the forum members, you can post your content in the community.
If the audiences find the content good enough, they will link back to it.
Remember, you must not post links in the group every time you publish new content. Doing it frequently can annoy people and they might not check out your content at all.
Make your moves wisely when promoting your content across communities.
13. Reverse Image Search
Is someone using your visual asset without your knowledge?
Don’t worry. I look at it as an opportunity rather than a problem. What if you can use the scenario to build a backlink while fixing the copyright breach?
Reverse image search is the key.
Reverse image search refers to the practice of searching for all indexed URLs across the internet containing the same or similar image.
You can perform a reverse image search using Google Images or Bing Images. Alternatively, you can do it directly from Chrome.
So, how do you harness reverse image search to build backlinks?
Most website owners do not want to remove copied images because it delivers value to their users. That said, it is a cakewalk to secure a backlink from their website through the image.
All you have to do is send them a friendly email asking for a backlink in return.
14. Skyscraper Technique
Have you ever thought about creating something better than the top-performing content in your niche?
That’s the root of the skyscraper technique.
This technique emphasizes improvising on the top-performing content with a great number of backlinks.
You do that to steal your competitor’s backlinks so that you can drive more traffic to your website and skyrocket your search engine ranking, all by creating a more enhanced version of the existing content.
The first step is to identify the best-performing content loaded with backlinks. Perform a Google search with a broad keyword for top-ranked content and analyze it for backlinks using tools like Ahrefs.
The next thing is to create an improved version of the content. Here’s what you should do.
- Increase the length of the content
- Add updated information and relevant images
- Implement a simple and appealing design
- Provide in-depth information about the topic
Once you have created your version of the content, it’s time for email outreach.
Now, let’s do some smart work.
Instead of reaching out to random bloggers, contact people who have already linked to the content.
As they’ve linked to similar content, the chances of them linking to your content are high. That’s the idea.
15. Internal Linking Strategy
Link building isn’t just about linking from or to other sites. It is also about linking pages within your website.
So, why is internal link building crucial?
Your visitors are your top priority. A bad user experience can drive them away as soon as they come in.
This includes increased bounce rate and a higher bounce rate, which are a threat to your website’s SEO.
The smoother the user experience, the longer the time they spend on your website.
With channelized internal link building, you help your visitors navigate across your web pages seamlessly while offering a promising user experience.
Your users aren’t the only ones navigating across your site. Search engine spiders do the same and when you link internal pages, you make way for them to understand the context better and rank pages higher.
The more the internal links directing to a particular web page, the more important the page is in the eyes of the search engine bots.
Tools that Help in Link Building
As you know, link building is a time-consuming process. However, the results are long-lasting if done right.
Your link-building toolkit is your magic wand. Abracadabra! And the whole process becomes simpler and more effective.
Let me tell you about the top 5 tools that come in handy in every step of your link-building journey.
Google Search Console
Google search console is an important tool to execute your link-building strategy.
This 100% free tool bridges the gap between your website and the search engine efficiently.
It helps you identify the issues and optimization options at the earliest so that you can take appropriate actions.
One of the noteworthy features of Google Console is rejecting links.
Wait! Don’t freak out. Let me remind you that not all links are equal.
Sometimes, you may receive backlinks from spam sites and these backlinks may have a negative impact on your SEO.
To be in the good books of Google, your backlinks should be from trusted sites, right?
Just specify which sites or web pages you want to reject and the Google Console takes care of the rest.
The tool also notifies you when your site receives a search engine penalty. This way, you can take steps to fix issues and lift the penalty.
Ahrefs is a platform that concentrates mainly on off-page SEO. The premium version of this tool unlocks many amazing features that bolster robust link building.
- Site Explorer: Take any URL across the internet and get a bigger picture of its backlink profile. You can analyze your competitors’ profiles, find out which sites they have linked to and try to gain links to the same sites.
- Content Explorer: Find out the top-performing content in your niche using keywords and scrutinize its link profile to see what fits your website’s SEO.
- Alerts: Keep an eye on your competitors by getting notified every time a specific site earns or loses backlinks.
Semrush is a constant companion for many SEO specialists out there. It backs up link building from four different verticals. Check them out below.
- Backlink Analytics: Track backlinks specific domains, analyze backlink profiles and get insights into the link-building strategies in use.
- Backlink Audit: Audit your backlink profile any time and weed out spammy backlinks in order to stay away from a search engine penalty.
- Link Building Tool: Fuel your search for the right backlink opportunities, get to know the relevant information, and monitor the link’s progress.
- Bulk Analysis: Compare and evaluate the backlink profiles of up to 200 websites all at once and identify more link-building opportunities for your website.
The Moz platform offers a wide range of free tools for search engine optimization. As for link building, Link Explorer from Moz is one of the best.
Once you enter the URL, the tool generates a comprehensive report, including backlink information, competitors, broken links, anchor texts, and potential link-building opportunities.
The Pro version (premium) of the tool offers you more in-depth details about each of the attributes.
Also, this tool allows you to access the Page Authority and Domain Authority of websites. Install the Chrome or Firefox extension of the tool and view this information on the go using MozBar. It’s 100% free.
Are you looking for a tool to help you with end-to-end website audits? If yes, Screaming Frog is the ideal choice. The tool comes in handy for both on-page and off-page SEO.
Specific to link building, this tool helps you to identify broken/ faulty links (404 errors) and redirects. This way, you can stop users from getting lost when navigating through your site. Plus, fixing broken links will have a good impact on your SEO.
While the paid version of the tool has more features to offer than its free counterpart, the free version is still a great choice to begin with.
Link Building: A Case Study From Stan Ventures
Actions speak better than words.
Let me give you a practical example of how we helped one of our clients rank #1 in SERPs in just 2 weeks.
Kitchenroom, a UK-based website offering fitted kitchen services, found it difficult to generate organic traffic despite having a great website with unique content and being in business since 2017.
Jason, the founder of Kitchenroom, wanted more prospects across Oxfordshire to contact him and also needed to rank on top of the search.
Our SEOs rolled up their sleeves to figure out the challenges we will meet going forward.
The major challenge we faced was that some of the client’s competitors had a robust online presence with 10x more referring domains compared to Kitchenroom.
On the other hand, Kitchenroom was lagging behind in terms of authority due to fewer backlinks.
After a thorough competitor analysis, we found that even though the competitors leveraged backlinks to stay at the top of the search, those links lacked authority.
And that was our trump card.
We figured out that building high-quality backlinks through genuine blogger outreach will help the client’s website rank higher.
Proceeding further, our outreach experts started contacting niche-specific bloggers to ensure link placements for Kitchenroom on relevant sites.
Once the sites were narrowed down and approved by Jason, our native content writers produced content with the anchor text placed naturally. We shared the content with the bloggers and received the live link shortly.
Within two weeks, Jason started receiving more calls while the original traffic was going up.
The keywords we wanted Kitchenroom to rank for were in the top 3 positions and the overall traffic of the site increased by 79%.
Here’s a look at the numbers.
Traffic – 387 +40%
Keywords – 111 +107%
Traffic Value – $739 +3X
Link Building Tactics You Should Avoid
It isn’t always about knowing the dos. You also need to know the don’ts so that you dodge or unlearn them in time. This holds true for link building as well.
Let me pinpoint some black hat practices you should avoid in the course of your link-building journey.
Paying for Links
Paid link building manipulates search engine algorithms and is clearly a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. So, you may end up with a penalty and that’s very risky.
A majority of paid links come from sites with a lot of outbound links and are naturally of low quality. Again, low-quality links can negatively impact your SEO.
If you purchase paid links to outdo your competitors, remember they can buy links too. In that case, your investment may bear no fruit.
However, if paid marketing isn’t the chief focus for your SEO strategy or if you want to buy links just to boost your brand authority, you can opt for paid links.
Remember to include rel=“nofollow” or rel=“sponsored” attributes to your paid links so that they don’t affect your website’s SEO.
If you leverage paid links purely to boost your search engine rankings, it is, of course, a red flag.
Are you placing links just because you want to increase your backlink count and rank higher on searches?
Don’t do that. The tactic can backfire on you.
Your link placement has to add value to the users and the website. It should either drive users to a relevant source of information or allow search engine crawlers to comprehend the context better.
Links that don’t meet the criteria are enlisted as spammy links you may face a penalty for the same.
Private blog networks (PBN) intend to create lots of links from a cluster of websites (often with no authority) to a money-making website. This is done to pass link juice to the money-making site and improve its ranking unethically.
Google hates PBN as it tricks the search engine algorithm into ranking a site higher using unfair means.
If you use a PBN to get your site ranked better, the whole strategy will collapse when Google finds and imposes a penalty upon it.
Link building is a consistent process and you can never expect to arrive at a dead-end. While it may seem like demanding more effort than any other SEO strategy, the reward is huge and lasts in the long run.
Once you achieve link building success, your site will already be generating considerable organic traffic. Then, you may not be required to put in as much effort as you did initially. After all, you don’t have to start from scratch every time. All you need to do is maintain your website’s standard while featuring user-focused content and keeping a constant eye on search engine algorithm updates.
Link building is an ocean and I have touched upon all possible aspects of it to give you a 360-degree view of it. Hopefully, all your link building questions have been answered.
Stay tuned for more.