If you want to improve search visibility of your business, link building, or increasing the number of inbound links to your website, still remains a critical and powerful online-marketing tool. But it’s getting tougher to build the kind of links that increase organic search traffic and which eventually encourage strategic business growth. But it can be done.
Let's look at how link-building has evolved and four ways you can use the strategy to improve SEO.
1. Contextual relevance has become super important
Arrival of the Google Hummingbird algorithm update reemphasized the need for building links to amazing content that is extremely relevant to end users. This update focuses on understanding the context of the search query rather than identifying and then chasing specific keywords in the query.
Related: 5 Strategies for Better 'Link Building' and Improving Your SEO
What does this mean for link building? Plenty.
The whole thought process of link building has changed dramatically. Your links not only must help improve search influence but also provide value to target users. Hummingbird has put long-tailed keywords back in business and you need to keep these in mind while optimizing content. This gives you an opportunity to come up with useful content that is need based and not keyword focused. Thus, you have a better chance of ensuring your links will provide real value to users.
It’s about making your web pages "worth it" for intended visitors. Link building has become more about them (users) rather than you (online presence).
2. Building relationships is the next level of link building
Relationship building is the new link building. What you need to start doing is build relationships with websites and the people who are their driving force. For example, if your business is operating in the content-marketing domain, start searching for reputed websites in this domain and the people (influencers) who are behind them.
Identify a common goal that you and this website share, which can act as a catalyst for a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with the website.
Outreaching is an integral part of relationship building. You must get your outreach strategy absolutely right. It needs to be personal, must grab attention and lay out in very clear terms why you need to build a relationship with the website and how it will benefit from this association.
What you must offer is a quid pro quo; this could take the form of guest blogging on the site (high authority content that attracts more readers to the blog), a product offer the influencer can’t refuse, a mention on your own website, the opportunity to connect with your own followers or something else.
It is the nature of your relationship with the website and the people behind it, which will set the stage for natural link building, the kind that Google appreciates.
Related: 7 Creative Link-Building Techniques to Improve Your Website SEO
3. Think long term
Relationships cannot be built in a hurry. There is a very good chance that a blogger will ignore your outreach for various reasons. He might not consider you and your online presence worthy of building a relationship with (ouch), there might be a trust issue or he might not be interested in the quid pro quo you’ve offered.
Your job is to convince this person that an association with you (your brand) can actually contribute towards his own brand building efforts. As can be imagined, this will take time. It will demand a fair degree of consistency and persistence as far as your interaction efforts are concerned.
It’s all a question of trust. Why would the influencer trust you? He’ll only do so if your brand name has a certain amount of niche credibility and influence. This is where long-term planning enters the picture. Your brand building efforts need to run alongside your outreach strategy.
You can't come across as somebody who’s only interested in building links and improving rankings on search-engine results pages. If you do, influencers will prefer staying away from you. On the other hand, if you genuinely come across as somebody who wants to make a meaningful contribution to his niche, you will be trusted. It is this trust that helps develop sustainable relationships.
4. Think convergence
Digital-marketing activities — including content marketing and social-media marketing — have intricately woven themselves into the link-building process. If you get your content and social-media tactics right, high quality link building will follow, and it will happen naturally.
If your content goes viral on social media, it will lead to the creation or natural links. Also great content acts like a link magnet — more and more people are willing to link to content that offers tremendous value to its audience.
This is the reason why contemporary link building is actually a convergence of various tactics that are a part of the brand’s overall marketing strategy. For instance, content marketing complements your link-building efforts and vice versa. The same goes for social-media marketing.
The way SEOs look at link building has changed dramatically in the last few years or so. It’s still as important as ever in the scheme of things, but it no longer can be seen from the prism of search visibility alone. It is target audience driven more than anything else. Google wants to fetch only the most relevant results for searchers, and the evolution in link building falls in line with this aim.
Related: How to Promote a Website Through Link Building in 10 Easy Ways