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How to Build Links in 2020

Yes, link building is time consuming. Yes, link building is full of rejection. But, just as with anything worth pursuing, the longer you stay at it the more like you are to find those “golden nugget” link-building opportunities that can boost your search engine presence and help you gain valuable traffic for years to come.  

If you thought actively pursuing links was an outdated practice, think again. While some of the strategies behind building links has changed, the practice itself is still alive and well in the SEO world.  

So, if you are ready to jump into (or jump back into) a consistent link building practice, let’s take a look at what it is, how it has changed, and how to gain some shiny new links.  

What is link building? 

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. 

Link building happens organically when: 

  • You create frequent, valuable content that others want to read, share, or be associated with.  
  • You have a blog. Companies who engage in blogging receive 97% more backlinks to their site (HubSpot). 
  • Your company is a thought leader in your industry. 

Link building happens manually when: 

  • The owner of a website conducts outreach to other websites to gain new potential links. 

Why you should add link building to your marketing strategy 

Building links is used in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because links signal to Google that your site is a valuable resource that deserves to be shown. SEO experts rank link building as the #3 most important thing you can do to improve your SEO strategy, behind content and keywords.  

Building links can help you gain new website visitors through referral traffic. The more third-party websites your link is present on, the more likely a new user is to stumble upon your company.  

Link building can help establish domain and industry expertise through the affirmation of other companies and people. When your website is present on third-party content like company highlights, ‘best of’ lists, or as an expert citing, that’s yet another layer of proof to your expertise. The more websites mention your company, the more trust people will have in your brand and products. 

Here is an example of link building outreach we received for some content we made – that we added to your content!

How link building has changed 

Not all links are created equal. It used to be that any link was a good link, and websites were created for the sole reason of link stuffing. Google now takes into account ‘black hat SEO’ and empty link-building tactics – so the easiest link to gain is not the best link to gain. In fact, a toxin backlink can damage your SEO presence and reputation with Google. That’s why nowadays we have to check the validity and value of potential links to experience the full benefits of a link building strategy. 

Bloggers, businesses and misc. website owners are privy to the value of links. Because of this, there may be more people with a “what’s in it for me” attitude when you reach out asking for a link. You may have to pay or do a ‘link for link’ agreement to gain new links. These agreements can range from a small purchase to a large investment depending on the quality and reach of the website you want to work with.  

Boilerplate outreach won’t cut it. Because so many people are picking up on the value of links, companies won’t give a half-baked outreach request the time of day. You can send those emails all day every day, but Generic outreach is no longer worth your time. It’s all about being human  build a relationship instead of a link. That will get you the responses.  

How to build links in 2020 

IF YOU DO ANYTHING, MAKE QUALITY CONTENT 

Our first tip, last tip, and every tip in-between, create content people would actually want to link to. Whether it’s your homepage or a blog post, your content should look great, read well, and be usable. This not only increases organic back linking, but it will also make backlink outreach much more persuasive when you share very beautiful and well-written content.  

Download our checklist of 30+ ways to promote content here.

VET YOUR LINKS FOR EAT 

Some links will help your website gain traffic for years. Some can offer no benefits or even hurt your website’s rep. To assure that a backlink is a productive, valuable addition to your link strategy, check the E-A-T of the website. EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. It’s the holy trinity of ideal markers of a great backlink.  

If a website holds expertise in your industry, is ranked well on search engines, and doesn’t use shady website practices, it’s a total link building win. If a website doesn’t reach one or all of these markers, you may want to second-guess that connection. 

SAVE TIME BY SETTING GOOGLE ALERTS  

Feel overwhelmed searching the world-wide web for possible links? You’re not alone. To save time and research efforts, you can set up a Google alert to catch relevant websites and pages to reach out to the second they publishThe newer the link you reach out to, the more likely the creator will be around to update the content. Setting up alerts means that new content will be sent straight to your inbox so you don’t have to miss an opportunity for link outreach. 

For easy wins, set an alert for your branded terms. This can help you catch any recently published content that may mention your brand, but not link to it. This type of outreach is usually the most successful, because the content creator already mentioned your brand, and linking to you only adds value to their page. 

You can also set up goal keywords for industry-specific blogs. For example, if you own a rafting company on Snake River, you may set up a google alert for the term “Snake River Rafting.” That way, you can catch any blogs, listicles, or other content that your company can improve by being included. 

CONSISTENTLY CHECK AND FIX 404 ERRORS 

Always keeping a finger on the pulse of your 404s is a great way to maximize the productivity of your backlinks. If someone links to a 404 error, that link doesn’t help you or them. By 301 redirecting all of your 404s regularly, your broken backlinks at least can heat to your homepage, even if they can’t link to the original content.  

FIND WEBSITES THAT WOULD ACTUALLY BENEFIT FROM YOUR CONTENT, INSTEAD OF JUST YOU BENEFITTING FROM THE LINK 

Everyone creating digital content wants to make the best thing possible to reach the most people possible. If you can explain how your content increases the value of their content, you can create a link-building request that is hard to ignore.  

Some examples of content improvement would be adding your company to a list of recommendations, including your gated content for further research on a subject, or linking back to your statistics or data to prove a general point. 

DON’T CONSIDER IT LINK BUILDING CAMPAIGN WITH A START AND END 

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no end to a good link building strategy. Link building should be considered more of a business growth effort instead of a marketing campaign.  Every time you make new content, you can go through your process. Any time new industry content is created, your content may improve it. It’s easy especially after many rejections to feel like it’s a lost cause, but you will only increase your chances of building links if you keep at it. 

MONITOR RECENTLY LOST LINKS 

As you keep an eye on your broken links, you need to understand what links you’ve lost, and more importantly, why you lost them. 

There are usually standard explanations for lost links, like someone updated the page or the website was redesigned, and the link got lost in the process. Check out those pages, and reach out if it looks like you lost that link on accident. If it doesn’t look like an accident, you can still reach out with updated content or explanations on why they should continue to link to your content. 

MONITOR COMPETITOR BACKLINKS 

Spy on your competitors to replicate their link building efforts. There are tons of SEO platforms that can monitor competitor backlinks and help you identify possible linking opportunities.  

Monitoring competitor backlinks can help you uncover recommendation lists, product highlights, and other content that would benefit from your company information as well.  

CREATE CONTENT WITH LINKS IN MIND 

Create backlink-friendly content. This link building-friendly content can look like in-depth explanations of industry topics, listicles that mention other companies in relevant industries, product highlights, or other types of content that companies would want to be connected to.  

GOOD OLD-FASHIONED RESEARCH 

Nothing can beat some great keyword research for finding the highest-ranked link building opportunities for any search term. 

Standard link building research is straightforward – Type whatever you want to rank for in Google. All of the results that pop up are potential link building opportunitiesDepending on what you typed in, you may not see a great and realistic link building opportunity at position number one, but you may find some great opportunities on pages two or three.  

Repeat this for any keywords you want to rank for, and look for those blogs, listicles, and other content that mention other companies in the industry or could benefit from the data and information in your content. 

 

 While yes, it’s time consuming, link building is a low-risk-high-reward practice that can be streamlined and optimized. By creating consistent and modern link-building tactics, you can minimize your rejections and find the ‘golden nugget’ links that can grow your business for years. If you need help creating your link-building strategy, reach out to our team! 

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