To illustrate link building with an image of a chain

What Is Link Building & How Does It Help SEO?

Link building is the process of getting your URL posted on other websites. SEO people do this to help websites rank better in Google. But why does this help?

In short, it helps because if your website is referenced by another website, Google thinks that your website must be high quality, and will more inclined to show your website in their search results. Google wants to gives their users the best quality sites, and if your site is referenced by lots of high quality sites, then yours is deemed to be high quality too.

When Google crawls websites to find relevant content for its users, one the factors it takes into consideration is a site’s link profile. A link profile is the sum of links a website has on other sites, and Google will analyze both volume and quality – if your site has high volume of links on other sites and a lot of those sites are high quality, then you have an edge on your competitors and can expect to rank highly.

Link building is all about getting your URL on quality sites

But what constitutes high quality in Google’s eyes? Well, that’s impossible to say without knowing their algorithms, but broadly speaking, Google assigns a score to the top websites in any field. For example, the BBC news website and The Washington Post will score highly. If these sites link to other sites, those sites are deemed high quality too, and if those sites in turn reference other sites, those other sites deemed are considered high quality as well.

In Google’s eyes, a lot of links from high quality sites means they consider yours trustworthy and influential, and will prioritize your site over other sites with fewer back links in their search results.

Link building is (usually) the process of manipulating Google

Now, link building is basically the manipulation of this system. Let me explain. In a purely white hat SEO world, you would publish your content on your site, and quality publications would find it and want to reference it on the site, and link back to you.

In reality, that’s not how it works. Unless you have an established site with an established audience that creates great content, nobody’s going to link to your site because nobody knows or cares who you are.

How do you actually ‘do’ link building?

So nobody is going to find your site and link to it. Harsh but true. But you still need to rank in Google if you want people to find you. And for that, you need backlinks. So what do you do? You basically ‘game the system’ in one of two ways:

  1. You buy them from sites who sell links
  2. You create content and push it aggressively to other websites and hope they publish it

In scenario A), you hire an SEO agency and pay them to get you backlinks. The agency will contact a whole range of sites they have relationships with and give them articles with a link to your site. Those sites publish the articles and then you have some backlinks. The agency pays the website some money and make a profit on the difference. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 for a link, depending on quality. I use Click Intelligence who are a decent link building agency. Or you contact a link broker who basically does the same thing, but operates independently.

In scenario B) you create high quality content like an infographic, e-book, research report, or press release and send it out to all the relevant sites in your niche and on the PR wires. You hope the editors of the sites that receive it deem it to be worth publishing. If so, your link ends up on their site. This is preferable to scenario A for because it’s mroe natural and if the content your sending out it really good, the number of people linking to it theoretically unlimited.

And there you have it. This article is designed to introduce people to what link building is. If you want to learn how to do it yourself, check out our article on how to find quality back links, taking things like Domain Authority and Trust Flow into account.

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