Link Building for SEO: Which Strategies Work in 2020 (and Which Don’t)

My Post (25)If you want to rank a website on Google in 2020, you can’t ignore the importance of link building and the need to put together a solid strategy that will help you earn high-quality links. In fact, links remain one of the top three most important ranking factors out there.

That said, whether you are a total SEO beginner and are learning how to build links for the first time or have been doing it for years and just want to find new tactics that still work, there are literally dozens of approaches you can take.

In this guide, you will learn how to build links with strategies and tactics that are still effective and that will help you to earn those top-ranking positions, as well as knowing those that will see you wasting time and resources and that could potentially have a negative impact on your organic visibility.

We will share quick win tactics alongside those that need a little more time and planning, but that can truly help you to get those ‘can’t buy’ links.

If you want to learn how to build better links than your competitors, then read on…

What is Link Building?

Link building is a key part of any successful SEO strategy that involves getting other websites to link to yours — a simple hyperlink from one site to another. It is also agreed by many that it is one of the hardest parts of ranking a website, whilst one of the most rewarding when you get it right.

Not familiar with how links work?

When website A links to website B, it s a strong hint to Google’s algorithm that it deserves to rank higher for relevant keywords, and you might hear these referred to as inbound links, backlinks, external links, or, quite simply, just links.

You can think of links from other websites like votes.

The more high quality links that point to your website (and form part of your backlink profile), the higher you should rank on Google, and, therefore, the higher level of organic traffic you should receive.

However, links aren’t all created equal, and some can even cause your website to decrease in visibility, something that we will cover shortly.

There are many different tactics that you can use to build links, some easier to execute than others, and knowing where to get started can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are aware that some can do more harm than good.

Why is Link Building Important For SEO?

Link building takes time and effort. There is no hiding from that fact.

It is also hard to get right, meaning that those who can successfully execute tactics to build better links than their competitors typically see significant growth in organic traffic and revenue.

And that is why you need to understand why links are so important and should account for a considerable portion of your SEO campaigns’ resources.

We delved deep into the importance of link building for SEO in our guide to backlinks, which you should check out for a detailed introduction to the what and the why behind this key pillar of any successful campaign.

However, the main reasons why you need to make sure you are placing a strong focus on link building as an SEO are:

  • You will rank higher on Google and other search engines.
  • Google will find new pages on your site faster.
  • You’ll enjoy increased credibility and trustworthiness as a business.
  • You could benefit from targeted referral traffic.

You can’t ignore link building, and you need to make sure you are rolling out tactics that give you a competitive advantage, something that we will show you how to do in this guide.

What Are the Key Elements of a Successful Link Building Strategy?

There is more to link building than it may seem, and not just in terms of the complexity of those tactics that deliver the best results and impact.

When planning a link building strategy, you need to remember that not all links are equal and that there are key elements that drive forward success.

You shouldn’t be building links blindly.

By that, we mean that you need to know what a great link looks like for you and fully understand that the more effort you put into getting the right links, the better impact you will see.

Here are some of the key components that you need to focus on that make up a great link building strategy to help you understand what a great link profile looks like.

1. Contextual Links

Links on a page that are more likely to be clicked are typically those that hold the most value and can have the biggest impact on rankings and the way that Google measures the value of a link is with PageRank, and its ‘reasonable surfer model‘ parent indicates that different features associated with links change how this flows.
Bill Slawski explains this as:

If a link is in the main content area of a page, uses a font and color that might make it stand out, and uses text that may make it something likely that someone might click upon it, then it could pass along a fair amount of PageRank. On the other hand, if it combines features that make it less likely to be clicked upon, such as being in the footer of a page, in the same color text as the rest of the text on that page, and the same font type, and uses anchor text that doesn’t interest people, it may not pass along a lot of PageRank.

— Bill Slawski

Contextual links, those placed in the body of a web page’s content as opposed to the footer or sidebar, as an example, are typically higher quality links and are key to a successful strategy.

2. A High Percentage of ‘Followed’ Links

Not all links pass PageRank and impact a site’s rankings.

Links can have different attributes applied, with the main ones you need to know to be nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links.

Links that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute give a hint that Google should not crawl them and that they should not associate the two sites from a ranking perspective.

Rel=”sponsored” attributes indicate that a link has been paid for (and therefore should not pass PageRank).

Rel=”UGC” showcases links that come from user-generated content such as forums and comments and indicates that these links are not editorially placed and may be manipulative.

If a link is referred to as a ‘followed’ link (or sometimes, a ‘dofollow’ link – even though this is technically not the right terminology), it means that there are no attributes in place that prevent PageRank from being passed and a great link profile should contain a high percentage of these, so long as they come from quality sources.

3. Editorially Placed Links

Editorially placed links are simply those that exist because a third-party has taken the decision to add a link from their website to yours, rather than because of payment, some other incentive, or that you were the one responsible for placing it and did so to increase your rankings.

The most effective links are editorially placed, and Google themselves highlight in their guidelines that links that don’t fall under this categorization can be deemed unnatural. – Read more