Links are important for SEO. And link building should therefore definitely be part of your holistic SEO strategy. But more importantly, link building should be part of your growth strategy. Links should help generate traffic to your site directly. In this post, I’ll describe 6 important steps for a successful link building strategy, the holistic SEO way.
Link building as part of your growth strategy
Links will help your pages to rank higher in Google search results, this post explains why. That’s perfectly true. That, however, is not the only thing links do. Backlinks will also help in getting more (referral) traffic to your site via those links. When you determine your link building strategy you should keep in mind: the reason links were invented was to send you off to pages you might enjoy as well. Use link building as a strategy for the growth of your website audience and place links on sites that will actually generate traffic to your own site.
A good link, first and foremost, drives traffic to your site.
Step 1: Get to know your audience
If you want your audience to grow, you need to find out how to expand your audience or how to find a new audience. You should therefore know two things: who is my audience right now and what does my ideal audience look like. At Yoast.com for example, we started out with an audience mainly consisting of (web) developers, but we aspired to reach an audience consisting of a more general group of WordPress users (whilst keeping our initial developers audience). We adapted our content to this new group of people, but in order to reach these ‘new’ audiences, links from other websites to our new (less nerdy) content were also important. You should do some research in order to get to know your audience.
Step 2: Make a list of websites that appeal to your desired audience
If you have a clear picture of your present and desired audience in mind, you can make a list of websites that could possibly help you in reaching your new audience. Find those websites that already appeal to your desired audience. Links from these websites could help you to reach your new audience.
Step 3: Write amazing content
In order to get other websites to link to your content, your content simply has to be amazing. And more importantly, it should appeal to the audience you’re aspiring to make your readers or buyers. Make sure your pieces and articles are well structured and nicely written.
Step 4: Match content to websites
If you have written an awesome blog post, you should dive into the list you made as part of your growth strategy (step 2). Choose sites from that list that could possibly link to the article you have written. If you have a long tail keyword approach (writing about small and niche subjects) the number of websites which will be fit to link to your blog post will be small. Make an effort to find those websites that really fit the specific topic of your blog post or article. These websites will probably be very willing to link, as your blog post really fits their content. More importantly, visitors that will come to your website following that link will really be interested in the topic of your article (making chances of conversion and recurring visits much higher).
Step 5: Reach out
If you’ve really put an effort in both writing content as well as finding websites that fit the content of your article, you should contact the website you would like to link to your site. Tell them about the content or product and ask them to write about it and link to it. Most people will be happy to write about your product if this means they’ll receive it for free! You can use email, but in many cases Twitter or even a phone call is a great way to contact people as well. Make sure to reach out in a personal way, never send out automated emails.
Step 6: Use social media!
If your content is original and well structured, you’ll be able to reach new audiences (and get links) by using social media as well. Make sure you tweet about your blog, perhaps send some tweets to specific persons of whom you think they may like your article. Facebook is also a great way to get exposure for your articles (maybe… even promote it a bit?). And as many people like, tweet and share your articles, you’re bound to receive some more links as well.
Conclusion: link building is a growth strategy
A successful link building strategy should always be aimed to bring a new, aspired audience to your website. A (welcome) side effect will then be a higher ranking in Google. As long as you consider link building as a way to reach out to other sites in order to get more visitors from that site, you’re doing it the ‘right’ way.