When it comes to digital marketing, there’s literally hundreds of various steps and tips designed to elevate your brand presence. Each of these outreach methods serve a specific purpose, but few have the potential to directly impact both brand visibility and SERP ranking. One of the best strategies for online marketing is also one of the easiest to manipulate (for the good and bad). Throughout the past several years, link building strategy has found its way into the marketing toolbox of startup ventures and established eCommerce businesses. While the concepts of link building aren’t new, the technologies fueling this impactful SEO process have never been more robust and versatile.
In the most simplified definition, link building strategy relies on a vast array of data to trigger high-impact ranking signals for search engine crawlers, most specifically, Google. As access to data becomes greater, and the push for greater quality search results continues to become more intense, link building can mean the difference between a successful venture or a struggling online business.
The push for quality link building hit a fever pitch in 2015, when Google’s John Mueller officially recognized the concepts of link building as being a major component of ranking algorithms. Of course, online technologies have come a long way in the past three years. For a brief moment, it was possible to increase SERP ranking by hiring a “link farm,” which would simply link back to your site from its massive collection of external “sites.”
As you can imagine, this resulted in low-quality websites beating their legitimate counterparts. Google algorithms soon adjusted so it’s not just the quantity of external links pointing back to your site, but the quality of the linking website. Essentially, the only way to maximize this ranking factor is by encouraging natural links, which are external sites who refer to your platform due to its topic quality and information relevance.
For many website owners, the promise of Google love from external links is too tempting to pass by. However, unless you fully understand the various principles and tactics of white hat link building, you run the risk of serious penalization from Google.
Current Link Building Strategy in Actionable Steps
So, what exactly is the recommended method for link building strategy in 2018 and beyond? The answer may be complicated, but in short, it’s taking data we know from how algorithms works and implementing these actionable suggestions. Still confused? Let’s break this topic down even further:
#1 – Enhance PageRank by Attracting Similar Topic Links
Several years ago, Google introduced an algorithm known as PageRank, which values websites based on two scoring systems: trustworthiness and authority. The updated algorithm, however, adds a third scoring factor: topical relevance.
Have you ever searched for a specific topic, but received unrelated results? Achieving 100% accuracy is the goal of Google and other search engines. Unfortunately, translating requests into relevant results is much harder than anyone realizes. This is where the PageRank algorithm comes into play.
Essentially, PageRank seeds pages in topic-centric groupings. This means, pages are attributed to a primary topic/category. While this makes sense for website visitors, how can page topic categorization actually impact link building?
Outbound and inbound links that are related to the primary page topic are given a higher score. The reason for this is simple: it increases the linkable relevant content available to users. In terms of SEO, topical relevance is paramount as Google favors sites that are “part of the conversation.” Basically, when multiple external topic-relevant sites link back to your site, it shows that your site is closely related to the type of information users are interested in. PageRank, in many ways, is responsible for creating a more accurate search experience.
#2 – Leveraging Hub and Authoritative Pages
When Google released its Hilltop algorithm, it essentially gave preference to websites that satisfy the hub-authority relationship. In brief, a hubs are external (non-affiliated) websites that are linked to within authority content. This symbiotic relationship satisfies the topical relevancy element of PageRank and generates a larger connection between non-affiliated websites. For clarification, the term “non-affiliated” means any website that you or your brand doesn’t control. For example, if you run a health website, linking to WebMD or The Mayo Clinic would be linking to a non-affiliated hub.
The official definition of an expert, or authority, page is one that links to numerous external websites to support information and facts discussed within the article. Think of it as a living bibliography of websites your readers will find useful.
The term “authority content” is used quite frequently in the modern digital marketplace, but achieving this label isn’t as easy as publishing a lengthy research paper. Google identifies authority pages by who links back to it. Essentially, to become an authority within your niche, and profit from better SERP ranking, you should strive to have as many expert websites link back to your site, while simultaneously linking back to their platform.
#3 – Building Beneficial Relationships with Topically Relevant Sites
It’s so easy to consider all other websites as competitors that you fail to grasp the heart of link building. While link farms were a popular choice in the past, the current era of SEO is all about relationships.
While it’s easy to see the benefits of link building, how do you actually go about creating and sustaining these beneficial relationships? Here’s a quick rundown of the most effective ways to start your link building strategy:
- Select a target keyword and topic by searching Google and creating a list of websites that are ranking well with users and Google algorithms.
- Use third party tools, such as Simple SERP Scraper, to generate a list of websites that target similar topics/keywords. Your goal during this phase is to identify the root domain of websites that rank well within Google.
- Identify the organic incoming traffic for your newly found authority/hub websites with a third party tool, such as SEMrush. The goal is to identify the current SERP rank position for specific keywords and the average organic traffic flow.
- Link to the most influential authority sites you find in your research within your on-page content. Moreover, become involved with their site by commenting on their posts, guest blogging and sending them your latest research-based content for their input. Essentially, become part of the conversation.
Looking for the best web-based tools for digital marketers? Checkout my list of favorite webtools here.
Try SEMrush for yourself with the interactive widget below. Type in a domain, keyword or URL to get insights into search volume, competitor positioning, search trends, and current CPC rates.