Truth be told, most of our clients need an introduction to the most important elements of SEO at the beginning of building a website. Many people have an idea about the look of the site, but aren’t quite as clear on how to create an optimized one.
When you are just starting a new website, (and especially a new business) digital marketing tasks can seem daunting. It is important to focus on learning one component at a time, and eventually, all will come together in a more cohesive-strategy package. Below explains the basics of link-building and building links when you are first starting a website.
One of the best descriptions of link-building I have ever read comes from Moz, Chapter 7 of their “Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” it reads:
“For search engines that crawl the vast metropolis of the web, links are the streets between pages. Using sophisticated link analysis, the engines can discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways.”
When people ask why links are so important in website content, this quote sums it up well. If you want search engines to rank you in relation to your competitors, similar websites, and ultimately things that your audience is interested in, then you need to (A) cite/link reputable “like” content from others on your own website, and (B) produce reputable content that is instantly valuable, so that you will be cited/linked-to. Link-building does more than SEO, it enhances overall relevant visibility.
Two Parts to Building Links
There are two parts to building links, the first is actually the easiest and the second tends to be a more difficult aspect of a content marketer’s job.
Link to Others
The first step in getting into the world of building links is actually linking to other websites and credible authors. This does a few things:
- It establishes that your content belongs in a genre, and this sends important signals to search engines.
- It shows value and credibility when you are first starting out, and you do not have a whole lot of content backing you.
- It positions your brand. It is incredibly easy to start doing this, because as you are researching for content to write about, you can easily include links to those articles where you got information. Just make sure you are being selective and only positioning yourself with the best sites and brands.
Get Others To Link to You
The second and most challenging part of link-building for your new website is having other sites link to you. This is something that takes time and a lot of effort, but in the end, it actually means more than you linking outwards. Think of it this way, when you have someone link to your website, they are giving you an endorsement and saying you are credible. There are several ways that you can start making this happen:
- Outreach to Blogs and Writers. Writers are ultimately the people deciding what they want to link to. One of the best things you can do is email a link to a relevant article you have written that you think might benefit them, and see if they would be willing to link to your site (this happens more than you would think). Better yet, send them an article where you’ve linked to their writing and tell them how that informed your article and what you learned from them—flattery goes a long way in getting content writers to link to you!
- Create AWESOME content. This cannot be stated more strongly. Building links means generating awesome content that people want to link to. You can do all of the outreach in the world, but if people don’t like your content they are not going to go for the opportunity to link to you. Focus on strong writing that is well cited to more influential authors and blogs, so that people want to use your writing and site in their own work.
- Build Partnerships. One of the best ways to build links is to build partnerships with non competing websites and businesses that still share the same audience as you. Building a partnership with another organization can help both of you get external links on your site.
- Directories and Social Media. Search Engines do recognize links on directories and on social media sites. Be careful to only list your business on the most credible and relevant sites (at the risk of looking spammy or cheap by flooding every directory you can). This is a really good place to start, but this alone is not enough to champion the SERPs, so while it is good to put energy here you still need to have your brand referenced in more content-heavy contexts.
- Customer Testimonials or Case Studies. Do you have key customers or clients that you have already helped? Feature their story on a page of your website and offer to link to their business website or blog, in exchange for them doing the same for you. This does two things. First, it shows your customers that you value their story, even in the short time your website has been live. Secondly, it allows both of you to get an external link on your website—similar to business partnerships, always try to offer something in exchange for getting a mention or link.
- Link to Yourself! Yes—once you have more content and especially articles on your blog, you can absolutely link to yourself. While not viewed the same as an external link, the link and associated anchor text will be recognized by search engine crawls!
These are just some of the ways that you can start to build links as you start a new website. It is by no means exhaustive, but these strategies are a really good starting point. My advice is to get creative when you can and think about link building as you develop content for your site!
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor in chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all things digital marketing, both as a ghost writer, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!