Nick Baird

Nick, the SEO guru, specializes in catapulting businesses to the forefront of search engine rankings. With a keen eye for cutting-edge tactics, he’s dedicated to maximizing client revenues. Elevate your online presence with Nick’s tailored strategies for unparalleled success

Link Building 

Ranking in Google comes down to two key factors:

  • Quality content
  • Quality links. 

Last year, I was doing research into the financial advisor niche. I came across an Indianapolis financial advisory firm with a simple (low-quality) one-page website with no content, no GMB reviews, and none of the SEO best practices being followed. 

It was ranked on the first page. And as of 2/24/2024, they still rank third.

I was confused. But then, I took a look at their link profile. With just two quality links, one from CBS News and another from Mint.com, they were ranking above objectively better quality websites. 

It’s still important to optimize for SEO: that firm could be earning 40% of clicks in the first position, rather than ~10% they’re earning now, with a better optimized website; but the point still stands. Quality links move the needle.

What is Link Building?

Link building means getting other websites to link to yours. It happens both organically and with intentional work by professional SEOs.

What Makes a Quality Link?

Not all links are created equal. The more “authority” the site has, the more valuable the link. For example, a Forbes link would have me dancing for days, while a link from my website to yours would have little to no impact. 

Most SEO multitools estimate authority; I use Ahrefs. 

Here’s what makes a quality link:

  • Backlink profiles: If a website has quality links themselves, they pass authority by linking to yours.
  • Content quality: Google algorithmically evaluates content. High-quality content bestows authority.
  • User experience: Optimizing your website for mobile users and for core web vitals is a positive signal.
  • Website age and history: Older domains are better than new ones. Additionally, many URLs are on their second or third owners. If an old iteration of a site was spammy or illegal, it will harm its authority.
  • Social signals: Follower count isn’t a direct social signal, but “branded” searches are. If visitors Google a website or brand directly, it’s a positive signal of authority.
  • Engagement Metrics: Click-through rates, bounce rates, and time spent on the page help more than just SERP rankings; they’re authority signals as well.
  • EEAT signals: Google employs people to manually evaluate websites for quality. It’s important to optimize websites to earn their approval.

What are the Exceptions?

Earning links from authoritative websites is challenging, but the link also has to be relevant to your niche. For example, if your law firm earns a link from Nature.com, one of the most authoritative scientific websites, it’s not valuable. 

A link’s position on a page also makes a difference. In-content links like this one are more valuable than those in the footer or sidebar.

For more information, Google published a list of spam signals that impact relevancy:

Content that Organically Generates Links

Any content can earn a link, but these types stand head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Original Research: Writers need data to support their claims, and original research attracts them.
  • In-Depth Guides:  Quality content, even if it lacks originally researched data, also brings links. I regularly cite SEO authorities like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Search Engine Land.
  • Resource pages that curate information, tools, or guides specific to your industry

Inorganic Link Building Techniques

Organic links are important, but they take time. SEOs use various strategies, including resource page link-building, broken link-building, and the “skyscraper technique.”

Outreach

Quality content, such as the guides and resource pages mentioned above, can earn links organically and inorganically. SEOs promote such pages on their websites with networking and targeted outreach.

Guest Posting

Reaching out to bloggers and offering to write content for free, in exchange for a link, is a well-practiced SEO strategy. 

Broken Link Building

SEO tools, such as My Links or LinkMiner, identify links leading to 404 errors. Letting the owner you found an error earns you goodwill; if you have a piece of content that can serve the same purpose as the original link, sometimes they’ll fix the error by linking to you.

The “Skyscraper” Technique

This technique involves creating exceptional content that surpasses existing resources on a particular topic, then reaching out to sites linking to inferior content and suggesting yours as a superior alternative. 

Harmful Link Building Techniques

“Black hat SEOs” try to game Google’s algorithm. These techniques are shortcuts, violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and carry risks of penalties. It would be a disaster to spend 6-12 months climbing the SERPs only to be penalized.

  • Buying links: There’s no end of Fiverr “SEOs” selling spammy links. Whether from link farms or private blog networks, they’re against Google rules and can get you in trouble.
  • Excessive link exchanges: Link schemes in which websites trade to manipulate the algorithm are frowned upon. Google can detect unnatural patterns of reciprocal linking.
  • Irrelevant NAP directory submissions: Local citations are important for earning a position in the map pack, but a tattoo shop listed in a restaurant directory does more harm than good.
  • Comment spamming: Reddit and Quora are places to build links, but only if you engage naturally and helpfully with the discussion. Showing up and dropping a link is seen as spammy by Google.

Conclusion

Links are a crucial component of earning search rankings. Quality content earns you organic links, and inorganic techniques can accelerate the process.

For help earning your business customers through Google, contact me for a complimentary audit and DIY guide!

Discover the secrets to skyrocket your business’s visibility and dominate search engine rankings in 2024.

Nick Baird

Nick, the SEO guru, specializes in catapulting businesses to the forefront of search engine rankings. With a keen eye for cutting-edge tactics, he’s dedicated to maximizing client revenues. Elevate your online presence with Nick’s tailored strategies for unparalleled success