Google considers a whole host of factors when deciding how to rank your webpages, but backlinks have long been cited as one of the most powerful signals. In fact, some SEO experts are confident that it's impossible to rank well without them (The Upper Ranks).
However, link building has become a divisive subject in recent years, due to some SEOs using black-hat strategies to secure links in ways that aren't exactly ethical. Google has definitely cracked down on this lately, and anyone found to be using dishonest techniques to build links is penalised with a drop in rankings and, ultimately, traffic. But, when done properly, link building can have a whole host of benefits for your website and business.
Here, we're going to outline just some of the advantages that come with building links effectively and ethically, so you can see what you'll gain by making it part of your marketing strategy.
It'll boost your rankings
As we've mentioned, when Google is deciding which websites should rank for a particular query, one of the most important factors it considers is the quantity and quality of inbound links a website or page is getting. Google sees links as votes of confidence, because the idea is that a page wouldn't receive links unless it deserves to. Anyone who provides you with a link is essentially saying that your website is a valuable resource, and this is important when a search engine is deciding whether a searcher is going to find your site helpful.
But, it's worth noting that not all links are created equal. When SEOs discovered that links were a powerful ranking factor, they soon found a way to manipulate the search results by building as many links as quickly as possible. This has led to Google discounting a range of previously common link building techniques, such as submitting your website to online directories, and swapping links with other sites. So, in order to see ranking improvements as a direct result of your link building efforts, you need to make sure you operate within Google's guidelines, but it will certainly pay off if you can manage it.
You can position yourself as an authority within your industry
As we explained in our guide to Google's E-A-T ratings, the search engine is focusing heavily on ranking pages based on their levels of authority and trustworthiness. And, one of the ways in which its algorithms can determine your authoritativeness is by registering how many high-quality sites have provided you with links. Again, Google works on the premise that, if a page or website is receiving links, it must be a valuable resource.
Not only will building links to your site help to establish your company as an authority in Google's eyes, but it can also help to build trust with potential customers. Generally, the ultimate goal of marketing your business is to make more sales, and building trust and authoritativeness by securing links is a great step towards this.
It will send referral traffic your way
An obvious — but often overlooked — side effect of building links to your website is that it can send referral traffic your way. If publications mention your business or products and link to your website, the interest of their readers might be piqued, which could lead them to click through and make a purchase.
If a website shares a link to your website, this is almost like a recommendation by word of mouth, which is seen as one of the most powerful marketing tools out there (Social Media Today). This, again, can help to build trust, authoritativeness, and could help you to secure more organic sales.
You can improve your brand visibility
In a similar vein, the more mentions of your brand there are on the internet, the more people will hear about it. This can increase brand recognition, build trust among potential customers, and hopefully lead to more sales.
You might even find that, once you've built some high-quality links, other publications start to learn about your brand and begin to write about (and link to) your company without you even having to ask!
The effects will last forever
Unlike some other marketing techniques, such as using paid ads and sending promotional tweets, building links can help to boost your search and brand visibility indefinitely. Unless a website or piece of content is deleted, a link to your site should be permanent, so you'll be able to reap the benefits long after it's published. Some liken link building to accumulating equity in a home, rather than paying rent to use the space temporarily — spending time securing links is a real investment, and it's bound to pay off in the long-run.
While link building can be an incredibly effective way of boosting your online visibility, it can be time consuming, and you need to ensure you're operating within Google's guidelines to avoid being penalised. If it's a technique you would like to try, but aren't sure you have the time or skills, you might be interested in our outreach service. We can build links to your website in an ethical and effective way, so you can get the results you're looking for. Get in touch to discuss what our SEO agency can do for you today.