This is a strategic link building guide that will provide you with inbound links that will boost your keyword rankings and prevent low quality, spam links.
If you want to build inbound, authority links to your website and rank your copy in Google, enjoy this guide.
What are inbound links?
Inbound links are links from referring website pages that link to your website’s content. Inbound links are also known as backlinks or incoming links.
Google sees links from other websites as a vote into the quality of your page content. Pages with inbound links from relevant domains receive a boost in ranking keywords in Google.
Why do you need inbound links?
Google has revealed that the top three factors into ranking your website’s pages in Google are:
- Rank Brain
Google also uses 200+ ranking factors when determining which pages will rank in their search engine results.
Other ranking factors are:
The number of relevant domains vs. the number of inbound links.
The more domains that link out to your content, the more relevant Google sees it.
Web pages that have a few referring domains with many links do not rank as well as websites with more domains with links pointing to your page content.
With Google automating search rankings with their AI Rank Brain, they can use these metrics along with their 200+ ranking factors and algorithms to compute which web pages to rank in search results.
Link worthy content challenges
Companies face a few challenges when it comes to building content that is worthy of receiving links from other relevant websites.
Here are a few of these challenges:
The copy tends to be brief and not comprehensive on topics.
The copy does not include proprietary statistics.
Topics and keywords are included across multiple pages or posts. When this occurs, it creates page content that competes for the same keyword (keyword cannibalization).
Copy topics are redundant across sections of the website.
Page copy can be generic and does not portray a unique point of view vs. other copy online.
The copy does not support the awareness or consideration stages of the buyer’s journey with question queries and answers.
The copy does not speak to the pain points of the user.
The copy does not provide buyer enablement by speaking directly to how the company’s position is different from its competitor’s points of view.
6 Ways to change copy to be more link worthy
1. Have a content audit completed on your website, and catalog content by:
Google Analytics: Page Views (determine a min page view requirement as well as a time frame for all Google Analytics metrics in this audit).
Google Analytics: Time On-Page (use a minimum of 30 seconds or more)
Google Analytics: Conversions (identify pages that do Not convert)
Identify pages with Inbound Links from Referring Domains
Document Page Topics, Sub-Topics, and where page topics overlap.
Identify Brand Voice Discrepancies
Create a pivot table to sort through this data easily.
2. Identify which pages speak to the same topics or sub-topics within the pivot table of data, then look at:
Pageviews that are under the minimum page view requirement
Pages with Time On-Page under 30 seconds.
Pages with inbound links from referring domains
Pages with Brand Voice Discrepancies
Pages without conversions.
3. Consolidate pages which speak to the same topic or sub-topic:
Redirect the URLs of the pages that you are consolidating to the new page URL. If there are backlinks to these pages that are being retired, they will now be pointed at the expanded content.
Links that are redirected will lose 10-15% of their link authority, but still, help power the content they are redirected to.
Use keyword research to expand the copy to include question queries, related keywords, and latent semantic index keywords (LSI) keywords.
4. Retire Older, Non-Performing Content
When content has no page views, it is time for this content to either be rewritten or retired and redirected.
When content has 30 seconds or less dwell time, consider either rewriting the content or retiring the content and redirecting it. When doing this, consider the purpose of the content.
If this content has no conversions, all three of these issues highlight that the content is not providing value to the user.
If the brand voice is off, either re-write the content or retire and redirect it.
5. Use statistics in your copy
Including proprietary statistics within your web copy can separate your pages and posts from other copy online that speaks to the same topic.
Statistics are some of the most linked-to copy online.
6. Add multimedia to your copy
Add video to your copy to expand upon different topics and expand your reach with YouTube and Google Maps.
When video is added to a web page, it can act as a focal point and bring the attention of the user to the media.
When quality video is included to expand upon the topics being discussed on page, Time-On Page can increase, which can help rankings.
Link Reclamation Opportunities
It is not uncommon for a website to change their branding ever 2-4 years. In some cases, the website platform is even changed.
This provides an opportunity to find page URLs that were linked to that have not been redirected.
Why is link reclamation an important step?
Link reclamation allows you to redirect broken pages that have backlinks from referring domains to relevant pages.
This allows you to reconnect the link authority that had originally pointed to content on your site but is leaking through pages with a 404 page not found error.
When link reclamation is done correctly, several link metric tools are used to provide a comprehensive historical data set of the URLs that links have been built to on your site.
Domain and sub-domain link reclamation opportunities
In some cases, sub-domains or older domains that were being used by the brand or from acquisitions have links from referring domains, but the domains and sub-domains are Not currently in use.
In these instances, the domains and sub-domains should be forwarded with wildcard expression to the most relevant URL topically on the site.
This will ensure that all URLS on the domain or sub-domain will be forwarded.
I highly recommend this historical link audit be performed bi-annually to all companies.
This is one of the fastest ways to jump-start content ranking.
Link Sculpting With Internal Links
You can use the data that you have collected in the above section to sort your website pages by topic and by referring domains.
This allows you to identify the pages with the most links from referring domains and while observing their topics.
You can now propose changes to those pages so that they link out to topical content on the site.
Some of the link authority (link juice) will travel through the internal links and help to push the rankings for the keywords on the linked pages.
Link Sculpting Through Redirects
It is not uncommon for websites to have hundreds or thousands of redirects.
By conducting a quarterly or bi-annual redirect audit, you can find:
Redirected URLs with backlinks from referring sites that are no longer pointing to a relevant page.
Redirected URLs with backlinks from referring websites that are pointing to a 404 page not found.
Redirect chains, where a redirected URL points to another redirect.
It is critical to inspect the original URL that was being redirected with a link metric tool.
By looking at the intent of the linking web page, you can make a more accurate redirect on your site. This makes the redirect more relevant
3rd party websites don’t always link to the most appropriate resource no matter what their intent.
Why is it critical to schedule bi-annual redirect audits?
You improve the user journey by sending users to the most relevant content.
You can reconnect link authority that was leaking when it was being redirected to a broken page or that is no longer on your site.
You can reconnect link authority that was leaking when it was being mis-redirected through a redirect chain.
You can change the flow of link authority to connect to the most relevant page on your site that is a close match to the original topic.
You can boost keyword rankings by redirecting link authority to content that is relevant.
These redirects are directly under your control.
Other websites can remove links when they see that there is a broken outbound link.
Other websites can remove links when they review outbound links and find the content it is linking to no longer relevant. If this happens, it is unlikely that this website will link to your content in the future.
Inbound links that can help grow your traffic and keyword rankings with low risk.
1. Unlinked Mentions – By monitoring when your brand is mentioned, your SEO team can reach out with a link request to sites that mention your brand, but do not link to them.
2. Partner Links – Companies who have a partner ecosystem should consider incorporating a requirement for linking copy on the partner’s site.
When done correctly, this is in the legal contract to partners, and your content teams work in tandem with the partner company to develop content that provides a benefit to the partner’s website users.
This type of content typically spells out how the partner works with your organization.
These links could point to the product or service that the partner works with or a piece of copy that addresses the pain points in the awareness and consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
3. Competitor Links – Reverse engineering who links to what content on your competitors’ site can provide you with a list of relevant links as link outreach targets.
4. Resource Links – Identifying web pages that have a keyword specific resource list. This is a great opportunity for your SEO team to reach out to the site with a relevant piece of content that fits a need within the resource list.
5. Topical Content Links (Live Content) – By using SEO link metrics, an SEO team can identify by keyword or topic, (LIVE) pages that have referring domains pointing to them.
The SEO analyst can then vet the referring domains and commence link outreach with a topically relevant piece of content.
6. Topical Content Links (Broken Link Building) – By using SEO link metrics, an SEO analyst can identify by keyword or topic, (BROKEN) pages that have referring domains pointing to them.
The SEO analyst can then vet the referring domains and commence link outreach with a topically relevant piece of content to replace the content the referring domains were linking to.
7. Influencer / Blogger Links – Build relationships with bloggers and social influencers. Over time, they may share content on their site and through their social circles.
This type of link building takes a long time.
8. PR / Corporate Communications – PR can provide great links through analyst websites and high authority websites. Usually, there is a corporate communications team or a PR team that handles these relationships.
SEO Blackout List – These relationships are critical to the corporation. As such, there should always be a blackout list of sites and persons that the SEO department should be off-limits from contacting in order to preserve these critical relationships.
9. Local Newspaper Sites – Local news sites are a great source for mentions of your brand and coverage. These types of links typically go together with the corporate communications and PR teams.
10. Podcast Interviews – Podcast interviews are a great way to earn more backlinks. When reviewing sites, ensure that they use a full transcription of their podcast episodes with reference links.
11. Association Links – Links from organizations that you belong to can help build trust, especially when you display links and badges to your profile on their site.
12. Video Links – Ensure that your video channels and your video descriptions link back to relevant content. This can drive referral traffic to your content.
13. Trust Sites – Sites like the BBB provide nofollow links. While these links don’t help your site rank in Google, they do impart more trust to users about your business.
While there are many other types of links that can be earned online, I limited this list to the types of links that would provide a clean link profile.
Businesses need to be assured that the links they acquire are quality links that can help improve their organic traffic and keyword rankings. While not worrying about what tactics they use today might get them penalized in the future.