According to Search Metrics, backlinks continue to be one of the most important SEO ranking signals. Search spiders analyze the links leading to your site to determine the way in which your pages are related and the quality of the content that you have on them. If you have links leading to your content from high-authority domains and your competitor doesn’t, it’s only a matter of a few month when you’ll see your site outrank your competitor’s in the SEO rankings.

What is Link Building?

In the post-Penguin world, link building is a well-planned strategic activity that thrives on great content. The days when you could buy thousands of links on irrelevant, low-quality domains and fool the search engines, are gone. While black-hat SEO tactics may still work, their effects are disastrous in the long term. Hence, it is crucial that you drive your link building strategy with high-quality content, and target only high-authority domains.

Getting Quality Links through Content Marketing

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Following are some of the key factors search engine crawlers analyze for determining your backlink quality:

Popularity and Trust Rank of the Hosting Domain: The more traffic a site attracts and the more links it has leading into or out of it, the more popular the search engines consider it. The Search engines also analyze the ‘proximity’ in which a particular link exists. If there are too many irrelevant keywords leading to other domains from the site under analysis, the ‘link neighborhood’ score will come down.

Local Popularity and Relevance: The search spiders analyze the local context of the backlink and compare it with the search terms to determine relevance. The more relevant and geo-specific a link, the higher the probability of that page appearing on top of the local searches.

Anchor Text and Keywords: Search engines attach a lot of importance to the keywords in your anchor-text. You should always use keywords instead of a generic “click here” for this obvious reason.

Freshness and Social Sharing: There’s a debate about whether or not social sharing impacts your SEO ranking, but in all likelihood, it does. To search engines, social shares do not create the kind of links they can analyze, but the number of shares and the currency of your content to have a positive effect on your ranking.

Natural Link Building

In a word, search engines now value the quality of your content like never before. Link analysis is one of their main tool for the purpose. Natural link building is not a campaign, it is a strategy. You have to devote resources, talent and time to create content that creates links due to its uniqueness and value. Some of the natural link building strategies include publishing guides or eBooks, creating videos, infographics, or offering embed codes. These content assets encourage organic link building and will not only get you better search engine rankings but also continue driving qualified leads for a long time.

Competitor Backlink

Don’t go for reinventing the wheel when you’re planning your link-building strategy. There is a number of Backlink Checkers available using which you can ‘steal’ your competitors’ backlinks. Some of them are AhrefsMajestic SEO, and SEO Spyglass. Use them to analyze your competitors’ domains (and, if you would, to analyze the top 10 search results for any keyword, as those domains are likely to have the best quality links). The answers that you get can give you a lot of material to plan with.

Link Building through Email

There are two ways you can use email for link building. One is to pitch valuable offers directly into the inboxes of your prospects. This type of link building won’t give you any SEO advantage. The second way is called “email outreach” for link building. When you have a list of target domains, you can reach out to their owners/editors with thoughtfully drafted emails. You can offer them links to content that will be helpful for their users. Or you can send them high-quality posts to publish on their blogs.

Guest Posting

Don’t get this one wrong. Google’s antispam head Matt Cutts warns against the dangers of spammy guest posting. Don’t go splashing your posts on any site that would gladly publish it. Building backlinks on quality domains take a lot of homework. You need to select your topics carefully and send out customized cover emails to blog owners. You’ll also need to follow up and keep trying if you get rejected. Eventually, when you succeed in getting your post published on a highly read and rate blog, it will be well worth the wait and effort.

Got questions? Want to share your ideas about link building? The comments section is all yours.