Links are a way for users to get relevant information on the internet. They are also a ranking factor for your pages. Of the 200+ ranking factors, Google is known to use, links share the top three spots with content and RankBrain.
However, having links is not enough. Their quality matters. Google takes into account not only the number of backlinks a web page has but their quality as well. Sadly, some SEOs, in the rush to make their sites appear popular to search engine crawlers, invest in low-quality links. High-quality link building, however, is the only way to get desirable results.
Chasing the quickest and cheapest results, some SEOs resort to the wrong methods of generating backlinks. These are often blackhat techniques that could lead to Google penalties and destroyed reputations. What’s surprising is that even SEO agencies employ poor link-building techniques. A 2018 study conducted by Assertive Media of 230 UK link-building agencies found that nine out 10 used unscrupulous techniques.
To avoid their fate, you need to know what makes a high-quality link.
So, what determines high-quality links?
Below are three factors that determine the quality of the link.
a) Authority of the linking page
The authority of the page linking to you is important to Google. The logic is that if an authoritative page has noticed your content, it must be impactful and relevant. This authority, referred to as PageRank, shows Google how authoritative the page that noticed you is, signaling your own authority.
b) Authority of the linking site
The site-wide authority of the linking website is also an important indication to Google that your site is authoritative. Much like page authority, website authority measured by domain rating (DR) and domain authority (DA) scales on Ahrefs and Moz respectively is transmitted by the linking website.
c) Content relevance
Page rank and domain authority are of no consequence if the web content is irrelevant. For instance, the prospect of getting a link from NYTimes.com sounds amazing. However, the link is useless to you if the subject matter of the article doesn’t relate to the subject matter of your website. This is because at the base of all link-building is the relevance of the linked information to the user.
How to get high-quality links in 2019?
It’s no secret that high-quality link building is still one of the most essential SEO skills. However, to master it means mastering several other skills, necessary for getting others to link to your site.
To get a link that meets all three criteria discussed above and do it consistently so your website is strengthened by high-quality links takes a deliberate effort. It requires you to spend an ample amount of time doing the right things.
The following are some of the most effective things you can do to improve your link-building efforts in 2019:
1. Publish content strategically
Content marketing is at the heart of quality link-building. Before you can expect backlinks, you have to provide useful content. But that’s not enough. Having a strategy will help you see what type of content performs best, where to publish it and when to change tactics.
For instance, according to Backlinko, visuals, list posts, research data, and in-depth guides perform the best. With a sound strategy, you can distribute the various types of content across a diverse range of top ranking sites. Ultimately, a content marketing strategy will help you publish content that not only aids the user but also gets you high-quality links.
For example, in 2015, we did an in-depth article at Effective Inbound Marketing where we called on the most noted link-building experts in the industry and asked them to give their thoughts on guest blogging. The article took nearly one month to complete but was the best performing piece on several article ranking sites for the day. Suffice to say, it generated tons of organic backlinks as it was widely discussed on several blogs. This is mainly because it answered people’s problem at the time and the strategy we used ensured that the thought-leaders shared the article with their followers.
2. Use email outreach
In link-building, often you get only what you ask for. Whether it’s link reclamation, reverse image search, submitting your blog to relevant directories, pitching guest posts or using broken links for link-building, many techniques will require you to email people.
Don’t shy away from it. Approach it knowing the challenges of reaching people by email in 2019. In order to avoid ending up in people’s spam folders, I’d suggest the following approach:
- Personalize your email to the recipient.
- Address their questions and aim to solve a problem rather than being direct in your request.
- Identify the best time to reach out to people, and you’ll get a higher response rate.
3. Be active in your online communities
First, you need a presence on various online platforms that allow you to create a profile with a link to your website. For instance, Product Hunt, the place where users meet to discuss the latest technologies, is also a DA 75 site. All it takes to get a link from it is creating a profile. For best results, be active on the site by reviewing products, commenting, upvoting, and downvoting the content regularly.
Crunchbase is a similar community of people who want to stay on top of the digital shift. By creating an account, you automatically get a high-quality link from the DA 91 website. The more active you are, the more you benefit from your account. These and other online communities are a valuable source of high-quality links, but you must remain active to reap maximum rewards.
4. Polish and optimize your website
Poor website design is bad for SEO. To start with, if your design turns people off, they will leave your site quickly. Google will take it as a signal of poor service.
Another design factor to consider is website speed. Research shows that 47% of users won’t wait longer than two seconds for a website to load.
You also need to take into account the diversity of the devices people use to access your content. More specifically, you have to optimize your website for portable devices, such as smartphones, as a substantial amount of traffic is continually coming from them. Smartphones and tablets make up more than 61% of internet traffic.
In 2019, having a flexible site design that can be modified on the fly is crucial. The ability to quickly tweak your website allows you to stay responsive to the needs of the consumers while adopting new design trends as they develop. Settling on a rigid design denies you this chance. However, if you choose to use a CMS based design like WordPress it would allow you the convenience of making changes easily.
For more than two decades, link-building has been a sound SEO strategy for many. This is unlikely to change in the coming years. If you hope to succeed, you must learn to recognize a high-quality link and, more importantly, how to get one.
Ayodeji Onibalusi is the Founder of Effective Inbound Marketing.
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