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What is Link Building?

What is Link Building? – The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building for SEO in 2023

What is Link Building?: Businesses that incorporate link building into their content marketing strategy report a 45% higher success rate than those that don’t (Siege Media + Clearscope).

Driving organic traffic through link building is a cornerstone of SEO best practices, so it’s no wonder that most major marketing agencies find success and use it as one of their top strategies.

When Google took over the search engine game, they created an algorithm that identified the number of links back to every webpage and added value to that metric.

What is Link Building?

This is why link building is the bread and butter for so many content marketing strategies — if playing Google’s algorithm game of hierarchy gets you rankings and links, then why not?

Link building is the process of strategically increasing the number of hyperlinks (or backlinks) pointing to a website. It is an important part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which aims to improve a website’s visibility in search engines.

Here are some of the most popular ways to create links:

  • Content marketing
  • Email outreach
  • Broken link building
  • Unlinked brand mentions
  • PR

Let’s get down to the details. Here is your beginner’s guide to link building in SEO.

The higher the quality of a page’s backlinks, the higher it can rank. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for Google.

Google and other major search engines consider backlinks as a “mark of trust” in the website receiving the links.

Every vote shows that your content is relevant, reliable, and useful.

Therefore, if you want your pages to rank high in Google search results, you probably need to create a backlink.

Most link-building tactics and strategies fall into one of the following three areas.

When you ask for links, you are actively contacting a website and asking them to link to your website.

You can ask them to create a link to:

  • Blog posts
  • In-depth guides
  • Ebooks
  • Visual assets (like infographics)
  • Case studies
  • Original research and data

And so forth.

With the link-building tool SEMrush you can quickly find contact opportunities. You will learn how to do this later in the Best Backlink Building Strategies section.

Adding links means going to another website and adding your link there.

For example, you can manually add links to:

  • Social Media Profiles
  • business documents
  • Forums, communities, and Q&A sites (like Quora)
  • blog comments
  • User Profile Pages

And so forth.

Note: Adding SEO links manually is one of the easiest and possibly the least effective ways to build links.

These types of links often come from low-quality sources. The kind that Google doesn’t want to give too much weight to.


Because you make yourself and you let yourself.

That’s not what Google is looking for when it comes to figuring out which sites deserve better rankings.

And because these links aren’t provided by programming (unsolicited links), they carry less weight than other types of links.

Although these links will not help you in any practical way, they will not harm you either.

The best way is to find your links.

When you earn links, other websites will link to yours without you asking them.

And the best way to get links is to create quality content that people want to link to.

Links come naturally when someone wants to link to something like a resource or learn more useful.

Here are some types of content that people commonly link to:

  • Visual Assets (Infographics, Charts, Charts, etc.)
  • Current research and data (industry studies, surveys,
  • proprietary research, etc.)
  • Online tools and calculators
  • Detailed guides and tutorials

and other

Check out your competitor’s backlink profiles for more content ideas.

(We go over each step again in the Best Backlink Building Strategies section.)

It’s important to know what makes a good (or bad) link.

Because then you can focus on building links that will improve your Google ranking.

To see which links should be created:

1. Authority

“Authority” is an SEO concept that refers to the overall quality of a website or webpage. The higher the score, the more weight the backlinks can have.

Therefore, a link from a high authority site is usually very valuable. This means it can help your page rank higher.

For example, a link from the Wall Street Journal is likely to have more impact than a link from an anonymous blogger.

To quickly find website authority, you can use SEMrush’s backlink analysis tool.

First, enter any field and click “Analyze”.

2. Compatibility

When it comes to links, website relevancy is also important. A lot.

There’s proof of this on Google’s How Search Works page:

“In addition to search terms, our systems also analyze whether the content is relevant to the search query of others.”

3. Placement

The position of the link on the page is important. A good backlink comes from the body of a website.

Google has a patent that deals specifically with link placement.

Various possibilities are considered, including the possibility for the reader to click the link based on where they are.

The higher the probability (usually higher on the page), the higher the authority of the link.

4. Anchor Text

Anchor text is important because both search engines and readers use it to determine what the linked page is about.

The more relevant and descriptive the anchor text is, the better.

For example, the anchor text “How to buy coffee” above tells Google that the next page is about how to buy coffee.

Although standard anchor text like “his site” provides little context and isn’t helpful.

5. Nofollow vs. Follow

“Nofollow” is a link attribute that tells search engines not to follow an outbound link.

They are typically used when website owners want to link to another website but don’t want to imply endorsement.

The nofollow tag is used in your page’s source code. And it looks like this:

In addition to nofollow, there are two additional attributes site owners can use:

  • REL=”Sponsored” to identify links that were created as part of ads, sponsorships, or other agreements
  • REL=”UGC” to identify links within user-generated content, like comments and forum posts

All link attributes are considered suggestions for how Google should interpret links.

There are many link-building techniques. But here are some that are very successful.

Access Link Building

Link building is all about reaching out to others and asking for a backlink.

This is important because no one can link to your content without finding it. Even the best products need promotion to attract links.

To find ways to reach them, use a tool like the SEMrush Link Building Tool.
Then enter your domain and give your project a name.

Note: Giving your project a name is optional, but it helps keep things organized once you start creating lots of links.

You can customize your emails to make your pitch specific to your campaign. For example, you can:

  • Choose which email addresses to send your pitch to
  • Drop placeholders for automated items like the prospect’s URL and your domain
  • Add formattings like bold text, lists, and headers

Become a Source Link Building

A great way to build quality links is to be a resource for journalists, journalists, and bloggers.

One of the most popular resources you can use is Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

Services like HARO connect people who need resources (authors) with people who want links and exposure (you).

You will receive emails daily with a list of authors and companies in need of professional resources.

Large media companies also use this type of service.

We’re talking Mashable, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider to name a few.

Broken link building is all about finding broken external links from other websites in your niche. Then they get in touch and recommend linking to your content instead.

It works very well as no one wants to direct visitors to broken pages. And it offers a sensible alternative.

The easiest way to start building broken links is to look for broken pages on competitor websites.
Now you can see all your competitor’s broken pages. Sort by the number of target domains.

Each referring website is a potential source of one or more backlinks for you.

Good opportunities tend to have:

  • The content you can easily replace with your own
  • Lots of backlinks pointing to them

For every good opportunity you find, export the report. You can come back to it late

Create Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a type of content that tends to earn backlinks naturally.

These often include resources like infographics, original research, and in-depth guides.

But before you create any asset, you must understand what people in your niche are linking to.

To do that, check out your competitors’ backlink profiles. You’ll uncover plenty of content ideas.

Head over to Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool and add one of your competitors’ URLs.

This strategy is about adopting and replicating the same link-building strategies as your competitors.

Reverse engineering your competitors’ backlink strategies can tell you:

  • Which types of content tend to earn the most backlinks
  • Who is linking to leaders in your niche

To start, go to Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool.

Enter your competitor’s domain. Go to the “Indexed Pages” tab.

This tab shows a table with all of your competitor’s pages sorted by the number of referring domains (i.e., websites linking to it).

For example:

  • What does your competitor write about—how-to-style or controversial subjects?
  • What is the format—long-form or short?
  • Do they use a lot of pictures, videos, graphics, GIFs, or just plain text?
  • What is the style like—casual or formal?

These are all important things to notice because they should guide your content strategy. Replicate what’s working in a better or similar way.

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