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What is link building, and why will your SEO efforts go to waste without it?

Posted 14 October 2021

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Picture this scene: you’ve made the decision to improve the SEO of your website and have invested time (or money on an agency) to research all of the relevant keywords for your products and services. You’ve created new content to target your desired keywords and have technically optimised your website to make it load quickly and convert traffic as effectively as possible.

Using Google Analytics, you carefully monitor your organic traffic, waiting for the influx of new visitors to arrive, thanks to all of the new keywords your website will be ranking for. You wait. Perhaps a little longer. Quite a bit longer. Still no major growth.

Why has this happened?

All of the above on-site tasks are all critical steps for getting your website in the best shape possible, and of course, keywords and content are major players in the SEO game. However, without following these actions with a strategic link building plan, all your hard work could result in lack-lustre SEO growth.

Why should I do link building?

Search engines evaluate the relevance of a website, among other things, by how well it is networked with other websites. It’s about the number and type of backlinks pointing to your pages, because in the eyes of the search engine, a link from one website to another is a sign of good content that offers the user added value.

The more websites link to your content, the better.

The goal of link building is therefore to increase the relevance and thus findability (ranking) of your own website in search engines such as Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo and to make it easier for the user to navigate your website.

What is a backlink?

Technically, a backlink is the linking of your domain from a third-party website.

But why do backlinks arise? Backlinks are generally created when the content of your domain is viewed as being of such a quality that it will add value for visitors on a third-party website – for example, your webpage may contain statistics that have been quoted in an article or blog post.

Backlinks can therefore be understood as a recommendation or reference.

Search engines use the number and quality of these incoming links and their websites as a basis for the placement of your content in the search results. The more high-quality backlinks you get from as many third-party websites as possible, the better. Because that means that your content is always recommended by others, and for search engines, this is a crucial criterion for the relevance of your page.

How can link quality vary?

Whilst the number of backlinks pointing to your domain is important, the quality of those links is just as important.

What makes a low-quality link, then?

This depends on the popularity of the website a link is coming from in terms of the amount of traffic it attracts monthly, and how many other ‘quality’ websites are pointing to that website. For example, the BBC website is regarded as a very trustworthy source of information, therefore a link from this domain will be very beneficial. A small, irrelevant blog that garners little to no monthly traffic, and doesn’t have any backlinks itself, will be considered low quality, bringing little SEO value to your website.

What are follow and nofollow links?

To confuse matters more, the nofollow attribute was introduced by Google in 2005. It is intended to prevent backlinks from forums, comments or advertising content from being used to falsely manipulate the keyword rankings of a website. This means “nofollow” links don’t pass on the SEO benefits of “follow” links

This is what a “nofollow” link looks like:

<a href=”http://www.domain.com/” rel=”nofollow”>link text</a>

When are no-follow links useful?

When link building for a relatively new website, trying to keep your link profile as natural as possible is critical for ensuring you don’t receive any red flags from search engines – if your website received 100 follow links from high authority websites like the BBC, the day it went live, this would indicate a high level of search engine manipulation. Instead, focus on developing a natural link profile that contains a consistent number of no-follow links combined with the gradual growth of high value follow links to promote healthy growth without the possibility of running into trouble further down the line.

The Wrap

Backlinks are a central ranking factor of search engines. Without backlinks, a website can have the best content and user experience as some of the best sites online. However, the timeline between publishing your content and ranking for your desired keywords may be punishingly slow.

Not sure where to start, or want to hear more about international link building for improving your rankings in overseas markets? Get in touch with one of our experts today, and we’ll guide you through the process.

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