Fundamentals of Link Building: What is it and Why is it Important?

In the world of SEO and traffic generation, link building is more important than ever. To create dynamic digital marketing campaigns and thrive in a highly competitive environment, you need to add high-quality backlinks to your website. This process—called link building—is essential if you want your site and business to move up the search rankings.

However, what exactly is link building, and why is it important? Read on to discover everything you need to know about this crucial process.

What is Link Building?

Link building involves attaining hyperlinks from other websites back to your own. A hyperlink, commonly known as a link, is a way to navigate from one page, or one site, to another. Building the number of links to your website is an effective tactic used in SEO.

Link building can also be extremely challenging, as not all links are created equal. A backlink from a highly authoritative website, such as BBC News, is deemed much more valuable by search engines than a link from a two-month-old personal blog. The more valuable your inbound links are, the higher your site will rank in search engines.

Different Types of Link Building

The links your website receives are typically categorised into four sections:

  • Organic links: Considered the holy grail of SEO. In a nutshell, organic links are those you never even asked for. You simply produced high-quality content that influential websites genuinely liked and wanted to share with their audience. Unfortunately, creating content that other websites want to share is tough work, and this is one of the reasons Google ranks organic links so high.
  • Outreach links: Involve manually reaching out to website owners and bloggers within your industry and directly asking for a backlink. Like anything in life, don’t expect a one-way streak. It’s crucial you offer value in return, and to be successful, only contact relevant websites you share common ground with.
  • Self-owned links: These types of links can, at times, be classed as ‘black-hat’ tactics, such as leaving links in the comments section of a blog post or forum. Creating these links is frowned upon as they’re mostly designed to trick search engines into thinking a piece of content is important when it actually isn’t. It is recommended you focus on created editorial links that add value to your business and website.
  • Social links: A branch of self-owned links. They involve listing your website domain on social media user profile pages and posting articles that link back to your website. While social media backlinks often aren't counted in the realms of usual SEO, social signals from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media site play an essential role in directing a targeted audience to your site.


Why is Link Building Important?

Search engines specialise in quickly connecting users with valuable solutions. However, due to the dynamic nature of the online world, search engines must continually monitor changes to ensure search results always offer the best answers. Google uses automated “spider” bots to crawl websites, extract information and index content. In this way, they can determine whether a page offers sufficient value to rank for a particular keyword.

But, what factors determine the value of a website? Content quality is undoubtedly a factor, but as mentioned earlier, search engines also take into account how many links are pointing to a specific website from external sites. They also rate the calibre of those external sites. Therefore, having numerous high-quality websites that link back to your site will increase your ranking in search engines.


How Link Building Has Evolved

Rating websites according to the number of links were one of the main reasons Google began dominating the search engines in the late 1990s. The theory was underpinned by the belief that a link was primarily a vote of confidence. Websites wouldn't receive a link if they didn’t deserve it, right? Wrong.

Over the years SEO marketers learnt how to manipulate PageRank and skillfully target keywords. But the largest tech giant in the world couldn’t be fooled and began rolling out algorithm changes designed to penalise websites that were taking advantage of their processes and improve the value for the end user.

Google has now devalued several link-building techniques that were once judged as fair and valid. For example, listing your website in a web directory, and receiving a link in return, was previously a strategy recommended by Google. However, as these tactics became overused and manipulated, Google has continuously changed their algorithm, meaning these links no longer carry the same weight.

The current consensus among SEO experts is that an equal balance from all link sources is will benefit your rankings. In particular, Google will compare your backlink to your social signals. If you have plenty of backlinks, but very little presence on social media this could be a red flag.


Take Your Link Building to Another Level

Overall, the most important aspect of link building is acquiring high-quality links. Links from credible websites will stand the test of time. Focus your efforts on fostering organic links and consistently delivering high-quality content that’s not only relevant but provides useful, actionable information. With great content and engaged audiences, you can start reaching out to leaders in your industry and asking for backlinks with confidence. Be authentic, and you’ll stay in Google’s good books.

Curious about how link building can help your website succeed? Contact us with any questions you may have.


About the Author

Sertan Djelal is head of online at Five Geckos Digital Marketing. He has worked as an online marketing consultant and strategist for over 14 years, having held positions both in-house as well as agency side, working with a variety of businesses and brands, supporting them to improve their online presence, web visibility & SEO.

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