Link building isn't always easy, but if you're looking to rank with SEO, links are often the cost of entry.
While Google says that SEOs sometimes focus too much on links, links remain one of the few verified ranking factors. In fact, every study over the past decade shows a high correlation between links and ranking. And while links alone cannot guarantee a # 1 spot at the top of Google, previous research has shown that it is almost impossible to rank without links.
Link building is also a challenge for many. People are genuinely frustrated with wasted link building efforts, poor outreach processes, and lack of results.
It doesn't have to be like that.
Good link building actually helps everyone involved: the content owner, the linker, the audience, and the search engines alike. Google rates links in so many ways that it could be said that the search engine couldn't exist without them. Good link building also encourages the creation of useful content and good marketing practices. When done right, link building can be a joy (and profitable!) Too.
Read the guide!
1. Update an instant classic
Moz first published the Beginner's Guide to Link Building in 2014. Back then, the SEO world was still adapting to the impact of Google's Penguin algorithm, which was used to penalize websites that employ manipulative link building practices. The SEO world wanted to move to more holistic forms of link building with added value that would not violate Google's initiatives to search the web of shady practices.
Enter Paddy Moogan.
By that time Paddy was already a respected voice among link buildingers and had written one of the few good books on link building. It was the same year that he and co-founder Matt Beswick conceived Aira, the digital marketing agency that was supposed to take them to new heights. Moz was honored that Paddy wrote the first edition of the Beginner's Guide to Link Building.
Now, in 2021, Paddy has done it again.
A lot has changed in link building since 2014, and strangely enough, a lot has stayed the same. Many of the tools and tactics have certainly evolved, along with the Google algorithm (rel = ugc anyone?). In working with Paddy to update this edition of the manual, we discovered how many of the basics of link building are as true today as they were when the first edition of the manual was launched. As Paddy writes:
"Link building is more like great marketing these days, and the organizations that understand it are usually the ones that win in the long run."
Without links, Google probably wouldn't have been invented at all. By understanding how websites are linked together, the founders of Google were able to create a search engine so superior to any other that it became world domination. In fact, over 20 years later, links remain one of the most consistent Google ranking signals we know.
In this chapter you will learn why link building is important, how websites are supported in ranking and how links are important for a web-based company.
Read Chapter 1 – What Is Link Building And Why Is It Important?
2. Types of links
The truth is that not all links are created equal. The truth is that the web is made up of billions of links. Google may only consider a fraction of these links in its ranking algorithms. In fact, algorithms like Penguin, released years ago, are specifically designed to ignore many types of links.
Understanding the types of links you actually need and which will help you rank is critical to effective link building.
This chapter covers:
- Editorial links (the most important type)
- User generated links
- Nofollow links
- Risky vs Non Risky Links
- Sustainable connections
Read Chapter 2 – Types of Links
3. Structure a link building campaign
Everything starts with a plan.
Some websites may attract links without much foresight, but this is rare. In truth, most successful websites have a plan to gain links sustainably and on a large scale. Planning the right strategy ahead can mean the difference between success and unnecessary hassle.
Questions covered include:
- What are our goals?
- How many links do we need to rank?
- What assets can we use / create?
- How long it will take?
- What types of links do we need?
Read Chapter 3 – Structuring a Link Building Campaign
4. Find your audience that you are getting links from
Would you like to know what distinguishes successful link builders from unsuccessful ones?
- Successful link builders almost always know in advance who is linking to their content, even before they create it.
- Unsuccessful link builders create content based on guesswork and only work later to find an audience who may or may not be linked to it. Most of the time, this approach fails.
This is a big, important chapter that includes a little competitive SEO research to lay the groundwork for your link building campaign and better ensure its success.
This includes identifying the types of content that have already been linked, the audiences associated with them, finding contact information, and more.
Read Chapter 4 – Find Your Audience That You Are Getting Links From
5. Link building outreach
Range good. Range bad.
Outreach has earned a bad rap in search engine optimization. We almost all got really bad, really terrible emails.
Good range makes the difference.
Good reach is not marked as spam. A good reach actually provides added value for the person you are contacting. Good reach creates connections – and relationships.
In this chapter, you will learn the exact outreach tactics agencies use for successful link building campaigns, including detailed tips and real-world email templates to find inspiration.
Read Chapter 5 – Link Building Outreach
6. Link Building Tactics
That's what you came for, didn't you?
There are hundreds of legitimate link building tactics out there. Which one you choose will depend on your business goals, the resources available, your niche, and the time available.
Some of the tactics covered include:
- Content-based link building (with examples)
- Guest blogging (no, it's not dead!)
- Defective link establishment
- Link complaint
- Buy links – against Google's guidelines!
Read Chapter 6 – Link Building Tactics
7. Link building measurements and metrics
If you create links, will you get traffic?
Link building does not happen in a vacuum. Whether you work for an agency, work in-house, or create links for your own projects, measuring the success of your efforts is critical.
In this chapter, you'll learn how properly using metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority, and even PageRank can help you build and report on links.
Also, take a look at how the number of anchor texts and raw links may or may not affect your link building campaigns. For more advanced link builders, even the position of the link on the page can be tracked!
Read Chapter 7 – Link Building Measurement and Metrics
Bonus: link building case studies
Updating the link building guide was a lot of fun. It was an absolute pleasure to work with Paddy and his experience and expertise have added immense value.
We also wanted to include real-world examples from some of the top link builders in the industry. For this purpose we have experts such as:
- James Wirth, Citation Labs
- Garret French, Citation Labs
- Amanda Milligan, Fractl
- Nick Katseanes, Page One Power
- Colby Stream, Page One Power
- Maddie Baker, Page One Power
- Norm Vogele, Page One Power
- Danica Barnack, Page One Power
- Kyle Ochsner, Page One Power
- Tim Legore-Hand, Side One Power
- Aoife O'Connor, Aira
- Shannon McGuirk, Aira
- And many more!
Together, these people have built thousands of links for some of the world's most successful brands and campaigns. They have generously contributed their expertise to the guide, and we have spread that wisdom throughout.
What are your biggest link building tips? Let us know in the comments below.
Read the beginner's guide to link building