If you’ve heard of link building before, it was probably in the context of search engine optimization (SEO). And to be sure, link building is highly associated with SEO; in fact, it’s a critical component of any SEO strategy.
But if you’re not interested in SEO, or if SEO isn’t your primary marketing strategy, you might write off or underestimate the value of link building services. The reality is, link building is about far more than just SEO—and it has a role in almost any online marketing strategy.
Link Building 101
Let’s start with a basic explanation of what link building is. Basically, link building is the practice of establishing and/or attracting links to your website—usually a combination of your home page, core pages, and internal pages like blog posts. While it’s possible to physically place links yourself, modern link building strategies prioritize link value not spam—which means including contextually relevant links in the body of high-quality content. Oftentimes, this content is published and syndicated with high-quality external publishers.
Link Building as Part of SEO
Link building is vital for SEO because it’s the only reliable way to increase your domain authority. Google and other search engines selectively rank websites and pages within websites that are considered trustworthy. This “trustworthiness” is measured in terms of authority, and the way authority is determined is—you guessed it—through links. The more links there are pointing to a domain (or page), and the higher quality those links are, the higher its authority will grow. And the higher its authority, the higher it will rank in search engines.
There are some other considerations for link building as part of your SEO plan, including anchor text optimization, but this is the basic outlook.
In other words, if you spend enough time link building, generating authority from your external content, you can reliably increasing the search engine rankings of your website. This is best used in combination with other SEO strategies, including technical onsite SEO and onsite content generation.
The Secondary Benefits
We’ve established that one of the primary roles of link building is to pass authority to your domain and individual pages, but there are too many other benefits to ignore, including:
- Referral traffic generation. The links you build on your external posts are still clickable to users. If you place a link that includes valuable information or interesting further reading, the readers perusing your content will be likely to click the link and visit your site. Visitors you earn this way are considered part of your “referral traffic.” It’s a great complementary traffic channel to your organic traffic (the traffic you earn via search engines), and in some cases can be even more powerful than your organic traffic stream.
- Brand visibility. Just mentioning your brand in the context of an article can improve your brand visibility, and subsequently increase your direct traffic and sales. It isn’t always possible to cite your brand by name in the context of an article, but if a user hovers over the anchor text of your link, they should be able to see your domain plainly.
- Author reputation. Writing and publishing content for your brand offsite requires the creation and maintenance of author accounts. As you write more content for these publishers and get to know your audience, these authors will become more well-known and more authoritative. They may even attract a social media following. Over time, they can serve as a valuable means of traffic generation for your brand.
- Content promotion. SEO and content marketing go hand in hand, but for some brands, content marketing is much more valuable than SEO. If this is the case, you can tailor your link building strategy to emphasize your most valuable and well-written onsite posts, giving your onsite content strategy a massive boost.
- Gateways to better publications. Link building is a highly scalable strategy. As you get more attention and build trust with lower-tier publications, you’ll gradually find it easier to get published on more valuable publications. This increases the ROI of the strategy over time, introducing you to more authority and bigger audiences.
- Synergy with other strategies. Finally, link building has great synergy with other online marketing strategies, allowing you to complement and enhance strategies like social media marketing, influencer marketing, and even email marketing.
If you’re interested in SEO, link building is a practical necessity. But even if SEO isn’t a priority for your brand, you should consider link building as part of your comprehensive online marketing campaign. The best part is that you can customize your link building strategy to your liking, capitalizing on what you perceive to be the best benefits, while trimming the fat you don’t need. As any good content marketer will tell you, link building is time-intensive. Prioritization is key to succeed with link building long term.