Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide (2023)

Link building is a crucial aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own, with the goal of increasing the authority and visibility of your site. In this definitive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of link building, including its importance, strategies, tactics, and tools. By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of how to create a link-building strategy for SEO in 2024.

What you will learn from this article:

  • The importance of link building for SEO
  • Different strategies and tactics for building links
  • Useful tools for link building and common FAQs about backlinks

What Is Link Building?

Link building, in simple terms, is the process of acquiring backlinks from external websites to your own. These backlinks act as “votes” of confidence in the eyes of search engines, indicating that your website is valuable and trustworthy. The more quality backlinks your site has, the higher it is likely to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Why Are Links Important?

Links are a fundamental element of the web. They connect different websites and pages, enabling users to navigate the vast online landscape. From an SEO perspective, links are important for several reasons:

  1. Authority: Backlinks from authoritative websites signal to search engines that your site is credible and trustworthy. This can lead to higher rankings in SERPs.
  2. Relevance: When external websites link to your site, it shows that your content is relevant and valuable in a particular niche or industry. This helps search engines understand the context of your website and improve its visibility in relevant search queries.
  3. Traffic: Backlinks can drive direct referral traffic to your website. When users click on a link from another site and land on yours, it presents an opportunity for engagement, conversions, and potential customer acquisition.

How Do Search Engines Use Links?

Search engines like Google use links as a major ranking factor in their algorithms. They analyze the quantity, quality, and relevance of backlinks to determine the authority and trustworthiness of a website. Here’s how search engines use links:

  1. Crawling: Search engines use links to discover new web pages. When a search engine’s crawler comes across a link on one website, it follows that link to find and index new content on another website.
  2. Indexing: Once a search engine’s crawler discovers and visits a new page through a link, it adds the page to its index. This index is a massive database of web pages that search engines use to generate search results.
  3. Ranking: When a user performs a search query, search engines analyze the relevance and authority of web pages in their index to determine the most appropriate results. Backlinks play a significant role in this process, as they help search engines gauge the popularity and trustworthiness of a website.

How to Build Links

Now that we understand the importance of link building, let’s dive into some effective strategies and tactics you can use to build high-quality backlinks.

1. The Skyscraper Technique

The Skyscraper Technique, coined by SEO expert Brian Dean, involves finding popular content in your industry and creating something even better. Here’s how it works:

  1. Research: Identify popular content in your niche that has attracted a significant number of backlinks.
  2. Improve: Create a piece of content that is more comprehensive, up-to-date, or visually appealing than the original.
  3. Outreach: Reach out to websites that have linked to the original content and inform them about your improved version. Ask them to consider linking to your content instead.

The Skyscraper Technique leverages the existing interest and authority of popular content to attract valuable backlinks to your own website.

2. Guestographics

Guestographics is a link building strategy that combines guest blogging and infographics. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create an Infographic: Design an informative and visually appealing infographic related to your industry or niche.
  2. Find Guest Blogging Opportunities: Identify websites that accept guest posts in your industry.
  3. Pitch Your Infographic: Reach out to these websites with a personalized pitch, offering your infographic as valuable content for their audience.
  4. Write an Article: Once your pitch is accepted, write an article to accompany the infographic. Embed the infographic within the article and include a link back to your website.

Guestographics is a win-win strategy that provides valuable content to the host website and earns you a backlink in return.

3. Guest Posting

Guest posting involves writing and publishing articles on external websites as a guest author. Here’s how you can leverage guest posting for link building:

  1. Research: Identify websites that accept guest posts in your industry or related niches. Look for websites with high domain authority and engaged audiences.
  2. Pitch: Reach out to these websites with a well-crafted pitch, highlighting your expertise and proposing relevant article ideas.
  3. Write: Once your pitch is accepted, write a high-quality article that provides value to the host website’s audience.
  4. Include a Bio: In your guest post, include a brief author bio with a link back to your website. This serves as a valuable backlink and can drive traffic to your site.

Guest posting allows you to showcase your expertise, expand your reach, and earn valuable backlinks in the process.

4. Broken Link Building

Broken link building is a tactic that involves finding broken links on other websites and offering alternative content as a replacement. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find Broken Links: Use tools like Ahrefs’ Broken Link Checker or Check My Links Chrome extension to find broken links on relevant websites.
  2. Create Alternative Content: Create high-quality content on your website that can serve as a replacement for the broken link.
  3. Outreach: Reach out to the website owner or webmaster, informing them about the broken link and offering your content as a replacement.

Broken link building provides value to website owners by helping them fix broken links and offers an opportunity to earn backlinks to your own website.

5. The Moving Man Method

The Moving Man Method, developed by Brian Dean, capitalizes on the opportunity to acquire backlinks when websites undergo changes or rebranding. Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify Websites Undergoing Changes: Monitor industry news, social media, and other sources to identify websites that are moving, rebranding, or closing down.
  2. Reach Out: Once you find a website that fits the criteria, reach out to the webmaster or website owner, notifying them of broken links on their site that you have a relevant replacement for.
  3. Offer Your Content as a Replacement: Provide a link to your content that serves as a suitable replacement for the broken link.

The Moving Man Method allows you to leverage the timing and relevance of website changes to acquire valuable backlinks.

6. Foundational Links

Foundational links are essential for establishing a strong link profile. These links come from authoritative websites and are typically more difficult to acquire. Here are a few strategies to build foundational links:

  1. Directories: Submit your website to relevant directories, such as industry-specific directories or local business directories.
  2. Industry Associations: Join industry associations or organizations that provide backlinks to their members’ websites.
  3. Partnerships: Form partnerships with other businesses or influencers in your industry, where you can mutually promote each other and earn backlinks.
  4. Sponsorships: Sponsor events, conferences, or charities in your industry to earn backlinks from their websites.

Foundational links provide a strong base for your link profile and signal to search engines that your website is a trusted authority in your industry.

Link Building Strategies

In addition to specific link building tactics, it’s important to have a well-defined link building strategy. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Build Links Using Google Sheets

Google Sheets can be a powerful tool for organizing and managing your link building efforts. Create a spreadsheet to track outreach, monitor progress, and record important details such as contact information, response rates, and link acquisition status.

2. Get Backlinks From Your Content Partners

If you collaborate with other businesses or content creators, leverage those relationships to acquire backlinks. When you create content together, ensure that both parties include a link back to each other’s websites.

3. Get Backlinks From Your Friends

Reach out to friends who have relevant websites or blogs and ask for a backlink. Friends are often willing to support each other’s endeavors and can provide valuable backlinks to boost your website’s authority.

4. Get Backlinks From Your Personal Branding Campaigns

Invest in building your personal brand through speaking engagements, podcast appearances, or interviews. When you establish yourself as an authority in your industry, you are more likely to earn backlinks from websites that reference or feature your personal brand.

5. Get Backlinks From Your “Low-Hanging Fruit”

Review your existing network of contacts, customers, and partners. Reach out to them and ask for backlinks or guest blogging opportunities. These relationships already have a level of trust and can provide quick wins for your link building efforts.

Link Building Tactics

Now that we have covered link building strategies, let’s explore some specific tactics you can implement to build high-quality backlinks.

1. Create a Linkable Asset

A linkable asset is a piece of content that is valuable, unique, and shareable. It can be an in-depth guide, a research study, an infographic, or any form of content that attracts backlinks naturally. Invest time and effort into creating linkable assets that provide value to your target audience and make it easy for others to link to.

2. Use the Moving Man Method

As mentioned earlier, the Moving Man Method is an effective tactic for acquiring backlinks when websites undergo changes. Keep a close eye on industry news and website changes, and be proactive in reaching out to offer your content as a replacement for broken links.

3. Leverage Public Relations

Public relations can be a powerful tool for link building. Establish relationships with journalists, reporters, and bloggers in your industry. Offer them valuable insights, data, or exclusive content that they can use in their articles, with a link back to your website as a source.

4. Write Competitive Content

Identify popular topics in your industry and create high-quality content that is better than what currently exists. Analyze your competitors’ content and find ways to provide more comprehensive, up-to-date, or unique insights. This will make your content more attractive to websites looking for valuable resources to link to.

5. Use the Guestographic Method

The Guestographic method, as mentioned earlier, combines guest blogging and infographics. Create informative and visually appealing infographics and offer them as valuable content to websites accepting guest posts. This tactic can attract backlinks and increase the visibility of your website.

Link Building Tools

Several tools can help you streamline and enhance your link building efforts. Here are a few notable ones:

Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker

Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker allows you to analyze the backlink profile of any website. It provides insights into the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the quality of those links. This tool is valuable for competitor analysis and identifying potential link building opportunities.

Moz’s Link Explorer

Moz’s Link Explorer is another powerful tool for analyzing backlinks. It provides comprehensive data on link metrics, such as domain authority, page authority, and spam score. Link Explorer also offers insights into competitor backlink profiles and helps identify high-quality link prospects.

SEMrush’s Backlink Analytics Tool

SEMrush’s Backlink Analytics Tool allows you to analyze backlinks, referring domains, and anchor text distribution. It provides valuable insights into your backlink profile, allowing you to monitor your link building progress and identify areas for improvement.

Link Building FAQs

Let’s address some frequently asked questions about link building:

What is a backlink?

A backlink is a hyperlink on one website that points to another website. It is also referred to as an inbound link or an incoming link. Backlinks are a key factor in determining the authority and relevance of a website.

What is a nofollow link?

A nofollow link is a hyperlink that includes a special HTML attribute called “rel=nofollow.” This attribute tells search engines not to follow or pass any authority from the linking page to the linked page. Nofollow links do not directly impact search engine rankings but can still drive traffic and provide exposure.

What is a dofollow link?

A dofollow link is a regular hyperlink without the “rel=nofollow” attribute. Dofollow links allow search engines to follow and pass authority from the linking page to the linked page. These links are valuable for SEO because they contribute to a website’s authority and can improve its search rankings.

What is anchor text?

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. It provides context and tells both users and search engines what the linked page is about. Optimizing anchor text with relevant keywords can help improve the visibility and rankings of the linked page.

What is a good link profile?

A good link profile consists of a diverse and natural mix of high-quality backlinks. It includes links from authoritative websites, relevant industry sources, and a variety of anchor text. A good link profile demonstrates a website’s authority, relevance, and trustworthiness to search engines.

Link Building Resources

To further expand your knowledge and enhance your link building efforts, here are some valuable resources:

  • Backlinko – Brian Dean’s blog offers in-depth guides and actionable insights on SEO and link building.
  • Moz – Moz provides comprehensive resources on SEO, including link building strategies, tools, and industry insights.
  • Ahrefs Blog – Ahrefs’ blog offers a wealth of information on SEO, backlink analysis, and link building techniques.
  • Search Engine Journal – Search Engine Journal features articles, case studies, and expert insights on all aspects of SEO, including link building.

In conclusion, link building is a vital component of SEO that can significantly impact your website’s visibility and rankings in search engine results. By implementing effective strategies, leveraging proven tactics, and utilizing the right tools, you can build a strong link profile that drives organic traffic and establishes your website as an authority in your industry. Remember to focus on quality over quantity, seek natural and relevant backlinks, and continuously monitor and adapt your link building efforts to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of SEO.

Posted in

Xavier Berkness

Xavier Berkness is the President of PERC, a renowned Digital Marketing Company. With an impressive career spanning over two decades since 1996, Xavier has earned a reputation as a leader in the field of digital marketing. He has leveraged his deep understanding and expertise in building websites to author a highly-regarded book, 'Mastering On-Page Optimization - The Secret Sauce of an SEO System.' Xavier's impactful contributions to the industry have been recognized in a Star Tribune feature, where he was hailed as a 'Mover and Shaker.' Outside the professional realm, Xavier is a nature lover who cherishes time spent near the ocean. He continues to fuel his passion for digital marketing, relentlessly seeking new knowledge and strategies every day. His combination of professional prowess and personal charm make Xavier a trusted authority in the digital marketing industry.