Without link building you will not get to the top of the search engine rankings for a common keyword or phrase (and here we are referring to external or inbound links which are linking to your site, not the ones you use to link to external resources and sites).
This is the bottom line – no link building = no high search engine ranking.
So, the question becomes, “What kind of links and how do I get them?”
As with any great question, to get to the answer you usually need to ask a lot more questions, so flip this one around and instead of asking how you get good links, ask yourself what you need to do to make your site attractive enough for other people to want to link to you?
Focus on Great Content
Your website content is the primary reason anyone will want to create a link to you, whether it be another website, a user sending a link in an email or something posted in an article or social media posting.
The ultimate reason a stranger will create a link to your site is because of your content.
If you create really excellent content, that is going to be so much more attractive to users and the web community at large than creating content which is OK, maybe even good, but is simply not exceptional enough to warrant the effort.
Really great content will dominate attention because it stands out so much more; it is likely to be selected for inclusion in mainstream sites such as news boards, perhaps mainstream media sites and generally more likely to be referred around the online community – all of which creates inbound links.
Great content does more than create more inbound links; great content creates better quality inbound links, and you must not forget that it is not just the number of inbound links which affects search engine rankings but the quality of the originating website too.
Develop Content for Your Own Site First
Resist the temptation to dive into directories, article submissions, social media posting, blogging and issuing PR releases to create backlinks to your main site or landing pages. Instead, concentrate on developing the content which will reside on your website first; this follows from our earlier point about creating great content, but in any event, you will be getting backlinks from people using your site content in any event.
Do NOT Spam!
By this we mean do not employ spam nor any of the techniques which are broadly associated with spam sites. Linking to a known source of spam is very damaging (see our earlier post on the Top 3 Negative Ranking Factors), but the reason why this can be so harmful to your efforts comes from simply considering what search engines are doing in practice.
Google spends most of its time developing methods to generate highly relevant rankings for users and then to identify spammers and avoid them!
External Link Building: Quality Counts
When you come to start developing external, inbound links for your landing pages and website you will have two broad categories of links. There will be links from sources that simply link to you, and you have little or no control over who does this but generally, the more the better (so refer back to our first point on creating really great content).
The second broad category will be inbound links which you solicit or create yourself, for instance, by writing articles, blogging, engaging in social media activity or simply asking a complementary website for a link. In this instance, you have a great deal of control over the quality of the link which is created and a link from a quality source is worth many times more than a gaggle of poor quality links in the eyes of the search engine.
Apply Differentiation to Your Business and Content
Identify and develop unique selling points (USPs) for your business, but do the same with your content – if you have figured out how to run Flash on a smart phone, keep this content on your website but use social media to create a buzz about what you’ve done and what you’ve got with links back to where you have placed your content.
Your content is a highly valuable asset which needs to be leveraged to gain the most return, but your content must offer not only relevant information but something users can’t get somewhere else.
The first and last issue with link building is quality: quality content attracts users and admirers (i.e. links) and avoiding spam or spam-like activity means you avoid the ire of the search engines.
Equally, the quality of an external link source plays a large part in the value to your own rankings efforts so remember that not all links are equal. Ideally, the external link should be from a relevant site, itself ranking highly (the higher the better) and linking to you using anchor text which is congruent with your target keywords and phrases.
Differentiating your business from the competition is a well-known technique, but you can do the same with your content too. People are looking for the unique and that which gives them value they cannot gain elsewhere – using your content to sell your USPs makes it easier to generate external links and create greater interest in your main site and landing pages.