What is Link Building and Why Do I Need It?


Published: October 26, 2015 Author: Jason Holicky - Hometown Design Studio Inc.
What is Link Building and Why Do I Need It?

This installment of our SEO for Beginners series will talk about link building. It is one of the most important aspects of SEO, but it can also be one of the most challenging. You’ll learn about what the idea behind all of it is, plus a few tips for link building the right way.

What is Link Building?

When a website has a link from one of their pages to one of your pages, search engines treat those like a vote in your favor. After all, if your content is so good that a company will point their visitors to your website, it must be worthy of more attention. While great content and good keyword strategies will help search engines understand what your pages are about, inbound links tell the search engines that your content is good enough to share.

In the past, a link was a link. Where the link was from did not really matter, so some SEO companies constructed thousands of sites for the sole purpose of linking to other sites. While this was a good idea for anyone trying to get to the top of a Google search, it was not giving Google’s customers anything useful. Therefore, they refined their algorithms to better determine the quality of the site providing the link. The more trusted the site, the more that link to your site will be worth—especially if the topic or industry is similar to yours.

Link building is the process of establishing relationships with companies that have trusted websites and working on getting links back to your website.

How to Build Links

Unlike other aspects of SEO, link building requires the cooperation of others who do not always have something to gain by linking to your content. For that reason, link building takes a bit of creativity and people skills. You will also need plenty of time, and maybe a few bucks to toss into your strategy.

One common way to build links is by commenting on blogs, signing guest books, or posting in forums. Keep in mind, however, that these types of links barely have any value at all as far as SEO, and search engines will usually see them as spammy if you accumulate too many. Save these types of links for when they actually make sense to use in the context of what you are posting.

For example, if you are commenting on a blog post and you link to one of yours with a similar or dissenting view, that makes sense. Dropping a link to your kitchen supply store in the comments of a tax attorney’s blog is spammy.

Two Ways to Get it Right

There are two ways to get solid links that will boost your SEO:

  1. Natural Links.

    These inbound links will show up when you have great content that others want to link to either as a source or as a reference. The only thing you have to do to get these is to make sure you have plenty of outstanding content available, and that you are promoting that content so others can find it.

  2. Reaching Out.

    The second way to get links is to ask for them. This method works when you have something to offer the person you are asking so they can see the value behind giving you the link. For example, you can offer to write a guest blog post or ask for a promotion for one of your pages. You can also connect with your existing network of people and find out what you have to offer that is worth linking to. What this give and take will look different for every business because every set of relationships is different.

Link Building is Relationship Building

When you hear the term “link building,” it sounds like a mechanical operation that you can do from the comfort of your own computer. The truth is that link building is all about building connections with real people. Just like in real life, when you have an industry expert who can vouch for your skills during, say, a job interview, having one vouch for your website is just as valuable. But you would never call up a CEO and ask for a reference if you’ve never spoken to her before, would you? The same goes for link building. Start thinking about it as building a network of partners and friends on the web, and you’ll be headed in the right direction. 

For more on Search Engine Optimization, check out these articles:

What is Local SEO
SEO: The Very Basics for Beginners
Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices Part 1
Deciphering Some Technical SEO Best Practices Part 2

About the Author

Creative Director Jason co-founded Hometown Design Studio of New Lenox, IL in 2013. He spends his days guiding and consulting industrial clients and small businesses owners on their marketing strategy and projects. Jason enables everyone to be successful and grow their business by sharing his knowledge and experience.
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