Link building for SEO

Think of link building as a vote of confidence. Google likes this signal in terms of it's SEO algorithm. There are typically two methods, or approaches to building links.

  1. Attracting links naturally
  2. Building links manually

How natural link building works

It sounds overly simplified, but it works by creating high-value assets. This is the kind of content that meets people’s need for information. This is the kind of content that people will naturally share, show their friends and followers — the kind of content they will want to link to.

This approach has some incredible advantages:

Others — your customers, industry stakeholders, followers, journalists — will build the links. This approach completely circumnavigates risk with a penalty from Google — you’re not manipulating the link building.
Massive potential exists for your content to “go viral”. If it’s valuable enough, and it can be shared virally, you can earn untold levels of visibility from millions of people.

There are some incredible risks:

Control of link building really isn’t yours. You do have to trust people you don’t know at all to build links for you. You can’t control which sites will link to you, and you have less influence and control on your overall strategy.
Total bust — your content might not get any traction whatsoever — resulting in somewhat wasted effort.

How manual link building works

This approach is very straightforward too, but it does require more effort and can be trickier to pull off effectively. It means developing high-quality content for a targeted audience of a specific publisher.

This approach has some incredible advantages:

Control is much more in your hands. Instead of publishing a piece with the hope of people linking to it, you target specific publishers knowing they will link back to your site.
Reliability is one of the key advantages of the manual approach. It gives you the opportunity to target high authority websites. One link from a source like this trumps a dozen links from low authority sites.

There are some incredible risks:

Penalties are a real risk because if you’re not careful you can be building links on bad sources and end up getting penalized.
More investment is required with manual link building. It can be a heavy investment of time, and it is an ongoing process to build and manage all your publisher relationships.

Both of these approaches are valid link building methods. Both have strong advantages, and legitimate disadvantages. The key to keep in mind is you don’t have to choose one approach to building links over the other. In fact, a really solid link building strategy will leverage both of these approaches.

These two fundamental approaches to link building are very different, but they share some very common problems.

Common problems to building links

If you’re exploring link building for the first time, or you’re looking for some guidance with a current initiative, you’ll want to ensure you don’t make these common mistakes.

Spending too little time building links is detrimental with either approach. You’ll need to put in lots of time, money, and effort. Without it you aren’t going to get the results you’re looking for. It demands commitment in order to see the return.

Quantity of links will never out value the quality of the links. Quality is far more important, and it means you’ll have to work hard to ensure your natural link building remains as strong as possible.

Link building is part art, and part science. Both approaches are valid. Used together they can be very effective. Link building is one of the top off-page SEO tactics at your disposal. It’s time to look at how you can tap into the power of link building.

Main photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash.