Over the past decade, a debate has raged on. It’s a debate that began in the highly technical circles of the SEO world and has gradually spilled out onto the main stage of marketing. We’re talking about the debate over the efficacy of backlinks and link building, of course. And if you have an improper understanding of the truth, it could have a dramatic and decisively negative impact on your SEO and marketing efforts moving forward.
Link Building: Dead or Alive?
Back around 2014, high-ranking Googler Matt Cutts sent panic waves through the internet marketing world when he announced that guest blogging and link building were on the verge of becoming an ineffective means of improving search rankings and online visibility. And while he certainly had strong words for spammy link building, his words ultimately got taken out of context. They were exaggerated and overstated.
Before too long, a myth began to take root in the industry. It goes a little something like this: Link building is dead.
But that’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s patently false.
Link building is more important and effective than it’s ever been. And if you want to drive traffic to your website, it needs to be a focal point.
Recent research supports this idea. In a study of nearly 12 million Google search results, it was discovered that the number of linking domains a website has is strongly and directly correlated to rankings – more than any other SEO factor, including schema markup and rich snippets.
The data also shows that 99 percent of all top-50 search results have at least one high-quality backlink from an external site. Most have many more.
You can even study Google’s very own patents and you’ll notice how strongly they believe in backlinks – even if they’re squeamish to say as much publicly.
3 Tips for White Hat Link Building
The key to link building is to do it the right way. A good link building strategy will provide a healthy ROI, while a spammy strategy will leave you penalized and reeling. How do you ensure you do the former and not the latter? Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Create High Quality Content
The only way to attract a large quantity of high quality links from authoritative domains is to have content that’s worth linking to. And it’s for this reason that content is at the heart of any white hat link building strategy.
The two most important components of creating high quality link building content is to prioritize value and shareability. Value is required, because you must give people a reason to link to your content. (If it’s vague or too elementary, there’s no incentive.) Shareability refers to the “contagious” nature of your content. In other words, what provokes somebody to share? (Emotional resonance like fear, nostalgia, surprise, or excitement are big.)
Shareworthy pieces of content tend to be digestible and skimmable, yet in-depth and authoritative. In other words, don’t create a post talking about the three steps to washing your car. Create a “guide” outlining the 33 Secrets Expert Car Detailers Use When Washing $100k Cars. Do you see the difference?
- Encourage Organic Sharing
Quality content is good, but it’s not going to generate backlinks without a little push. It’s up to you to encourage the initial sharing. You can do this by tapping your own network and marketing resources. This includes social media, email lists, and/or influencers that you know.
Once you get that initial boost of organic shares, you’re on the radar. From this point, people will start to notice your content and you’ll pick up additional shares without having to lift a finger.
Finally, always build relationships. The more you can build relationships with other bloggers, business owners, journalists, and influencers, the more linking opportunities you’ll get your hands on. This opens the door for guest blogging and other powerful partnerships that produce backlinks.
Ignore Link Building at Your Own Peril
You’re certainly free to listen to the myths and avoid link building. But we’d advise you to do so at your own peril.
Link building has and will continue to be one of the top ranking factors in the Google algorithm. And as long as you’re avoiding spammy practices, any link building investment you make will be returned to you multiple times over. If you build it, they will come!