Marketing Bootcamp

Link-Building 101: Wanna Take the Course?

Link-Building 101: Wanna Take the Course?
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Organic search is a big component of most digital marketing plans, and for good reason: Studies have shown that placement on the first page of search engine results is critical for driving traffic to your website.

Related: 5 Creative Link-Building Techniques For Your Website

In fact, only 8.5 percent of all searchers bother to look beyond the first page of search engine results. The lion’s share of clicks, or about 91.5 percent, go to the page one results.

Given these stats, it makes sense to focus more of your time on boosting organic search. Among the many SEO tweaks you can make to a site, few have as much power to boost your page rank as link-building. So, what does that entail?

Link Building 101: How do you get links?

Link-building is actually very simple. You can reduce it to two steps:

  1. Identify websites you’d like to have link to your website.
  2. Ask those sites to link to your site.

Sounds simple enough, but within those two steps lies a sequence of tasks you’ll need to tackle in order to build your links.

Identifying websites for link-building

The first step is to make a list of sites to target for your link-building activities. Link-building can include guest posts, requests to link to your existing content or a free offer of content that includes a link, such as an infographic with an embedded link.

After you’ve made a list of sites you think would be great targets for a link-building campaign, visit them to read their policies on guest posts or requests for links.

Related: 6 Advanced Techniques for Link-Building as a Future SEO Strategy

Another way to identify sites for link-building purposes is to assess your competition’s links. Using tools such as Moz, Ahrefs or Majestic, you can plug a competitor’s URL into the tool and see which sites link to theirs. Then you can approach those sites and pitch them on reasons to link to yours.

A third way to identify websites for link-building is to run Google searches for your brand name or use Google alerts to learn when your brand is mentioned. Then send a simple note to the website owner asking for a link from your brand name. It’s a simple step but one often overlooked by many business owners.

Key takeaways:

  • Look for sites closely related to your niche, industry or topic.

  • Review their policies on links. Can you request them or provide guest posts, for examples?

  • Create a spreadsheet and start saving URLs for your link-building campaign.

  • Use tools like Ahrefs, Moz and others to identify links to your competitor’s sites, then use them as a springboard for your campaign.

  • Identify sites already mentioning your brand by name, and request a link.

Ask them to link to your site: the content question

Webmasters will link to your website only if you give them a compelling reason to do so. That means offering great content that appeals to their readers.

For your link-building campaign, you can either create new content or make a list of your best content. New content in the form of guest posts offers an original post to a website in exchange for a link. It’s time-consuming to write new posts, but it can yield great benefits if you’ve targeted the right sites.

If you don’t have time to write posts, you can find freelancers on Craigslist, Guru or other sites to ghost-write posts for you.

To make a list of your best content, review your website statistics and see which pages get the most traffic. These are the starting point for your campaign. If you can find related content in your list of target websites, email the website owner with a short, polite pitch to link to your content. Keep track on your spreadsheet of whom you’ve approached and their responses.

Between these two approaches, guest posts usually get better results. Busy site owners love the opportunity to publish fresh, new posts. If your pitch is targeted to their audience, you may end up with regular opportunities to guest-post for them. Links from these posts are under your control, so you can link from great anchor text, or long-tail keywords that will enhance the boost from the link.

Other link-building tips

Infographics are hot right now, and offer great link-building potential. You’ll want to hire a designer to create an original infographic based on specs that you provide. The final output should be a great graphic, as well as Javascript and HTML code that can be easily embedded into your target websites. Make it as simple and easy as possible for webmasters to embed your graphic, and include your target links inside the code.

Start with your customer profiles, and develop infographics that appeal to your target audience. Use your website list to approach potential webmasters about your infographic opportunity. Bloggers are especially open to infographics that fit in with the quick, short bursts of information typical of blog posts.

Related: 6 Link-Building Tips for Bootstrapped Entrepreneurs

For more great link building resources, see the Single Grain Ultimate Link Building Guide with Great Content.