What Is Link Building and Why Do You Need to Do It?
Link building is an essential marketing strategy for websites. It is closely linked to search engine optimization (SEO) and helps drive high-quality visitors to your site.
A good link building strategy is also timeless. Unlike paid advertisements that will disappear as soon as your budget runs out, an established network of links will continue to work in your favor each and every day.
So what, exactly, does link building accomplish?
Improved Search Engine Ranking
[Note: Other search engines exist, like Yahoo! or Bing, but for the sake of our discussion we will be referring only to the most popular search engine: Google. Link building is an important strategy no matter which search engine your audience primarily uses.]
Google uses a complex algorithm to determine which websites to display in search results. Their goal is to display the most relevant information possible, and to do it at an incredible speed, all for the satisfaction of the end user.
The algorithm takes into account certain information from the user: their location, their recent searches, the keywords they typed into the search box, and much more. It also takes into account information from websites across the web: whether those keywords can be found on the website, whether the website is credible and whether the site is popular.
Of course, other factors are taken into consideration, but for the purposes of link building we are primarily concerned with making a website popular and credible, and with associating the site with certain keywords.
When these things are accomplished, the site is more likely to appear higher in search results. This is very important, since most people look at only the top result. If your site isn’t the first to be displayed, it should at least be in the top three. And barring that, it should at least be on the first page.
Sites that appear beyond the first page will experience a dismal trickle of traffic from search engine results. That’s why having a smart link building strategy is so important.
Additional Sources of Traffic
Have you ever spent time on Wikipedia, browsing one topic and clicking on interesting links as they appear? You might have intended to simply look up, say, the history of bread, but soon you found yourself reading about the dialects of North America. The reason you end up on a different topic altogether is thanks to a detailed network of links, which allows you to bounce around from topic to topic.
Now imagine that you’re reading some articles by thought leaders in your industry. These articles have links too, and before you know it, you’re reading an article on someone else’s website. And it’s a really interesting website … in fact, you’d like to read more of what this person has to say, and so you subscribe to their RSS feed.
This is an example of how web links can drive additional traffic to a website and also lead to more conversions—such as more subscriptions, leads or sales. These links are especially advantageous because they are targeted to a very specific audience: readers of a related website. When done correctly, link building will allow you to subtly market your site on top industry websites, where you can reach people who will be genuinely interested in your product or service.
The key is to make sure the links are relevant to readers. Blatant advertising or spamming of links is frowned upon, and won’t afford you any favors among other website owners. Remember that you’re not just building a network of links, but also building relationships. The more relationships you build, the easier it will be to grow your link system.
Now that you know the ultimate goals of link building, read the section on “3 Fundamental Link Building Strategies” to discover what it looks like in practice.