In the dynamic world of over 1.98 billion websites, search engine result pages (SERPs) have transformed into fierce battlegrounds. The heavy artillery in this war? The mammoth corporations pouring millions into search engine optimization (SEO). To compete, you need an ironclad SEO strategy, a significant part of which revolves around adept link building.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need deep pockets to conquer SEO. We’ve spoken to nearly 200 marketers who’ve successfully stormed the SERP fortress. Surprisingly, 40% of them confessed to having no budget for link building, while a third spend under $200 monthly.
If you’re looking to craft a robust link building strategy without breaking the bank, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of potent methods to help you build free backlinks and outrank your competitors, even on a shoestring budget.
Backlinks, also known as ‘incoming links’ or ‘inbound links’, are created when one website links to a page on another website.
Google and all major search engines factor in backlinks when evaluating your website’s significance.
Why Link Building Matters: The Top 5 Reasons
Link building is the process of generating backlinks, and it’s one of the cornerstones of SEO. But why is it so crucial? Let’s delve into the reasons.
Skyrocketing Search Rankings (SEO)
This is the primary reason why link building is vital. Google and other search engines view backlinks to a specific page on your site as a vote of confidence, indicating that its content is valuable and highly relevant. Consequently, the more backlinks a page earns, the higher it ranks on SERPs.
Backlinks have been Google’s primary ranking signal for almost two decades, and they continue to be the best way to assess webpage quality. In fact, the top-ranking Google result has 3.8x more backlinks than results ranking #2 to #10.
However, jam-packing your content with backlinks won’t cut it. With updates like Google Penguin, Google now prioritizes link quality over quantity.
Boosting Referral Traffic
Backlinks are excellent for generating referral traffic. When a user clicks a link leading to your website from another website, Google recognizes the visitor as a referral, which also serves as a ranking factor. The more quality backlinks you have, the more likely you are to generate quality referrals and, in the long run, potential customers.
Enhancing Brand Awareness and Authority
The more quality backlinks your brand earns, the better its reputation and authority. Providing quality content and getting it linked back to not only earns you points with Google but also with your readers. It makes it easier for new clients to trust your company and your offerings.
Link building is essentially relationship building. You include backlinks to websites in your industry and vice versa, fostering a network of potential prospects.
Backlinks help search crawlers discover your website page(s) faster and include it in their databases, making your content more discoverable. This is particularly beneficial for new websites or blogs.
Decoding Good and Bad Link Building Practices
Imagine you’re strolling down the street on a sunny afternoon. Suddenly, a shady figure in dark sunglasses and a black hat approaches you, offering to sell you “high-quality backlinks”. He promises quick results and top SERP rankings at a bargain.
While the offer may seem tempting, you should steer clear of such risky links. These links not only offer negligible SEO value but can also trigger Google penalties. Any attempt to manipulate page rankings is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
This could be you. Don’t do this.
To avoid penalties, here are some link-building practices you should dodge:
- Excessive link exchange – While it’s great to link to websites in your niche, avoid overdoing it as it can hurt your rankings.
- Guest posting links with over-optimized anchor texts – Link creation should be a natural process. If it doesn’t make sense from a user’s perspective, keep refining it.
- Listing your site on too many web directories – Vet the web directories you plan to list your website on. Some directories may not appear in Google’s search results as they offer no value. Instead, look for niche directories that appeal to your target audience.
- Buying links – This violates Google’s guidelines. Google views backlinks as votes of confidence, so buying them is unethical. Instead, focus on creating quality content that naturally attracts backlinks.
Any link building that involves unethical or illegitimate measures is considered black hat link building and will be severely penalized by Google.
So, steer clear of the shady guy in the black hat, and stick to white hat link building guidelines.
Although climbing the rankings may take time with these tactics, they are proven and tested, and you avoid tarnishing your site’s reputation (or your own).
PRO TIP: How to Analyze Your Best Pages for SEO Performance
To optimize your website for organic search, you probably use Google Search Console to learn which pages receive the most impressions and clicks, and which queries drive them. Now you can quickly assess your SEO performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, including:
- Which search queries drive traffic to my website?
- Which of my website pages generate the most impressions and clicks in search engines?
- What’s the average click-through rate (CTR) for our website pages in search?
- What’s the average position our website pages show up in search results?
- How many clicks have our website pages generated in search results this month?
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Search Console experts, who have put together a great Databox template showing the most important KPIs for monitoring organic search performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up this Google Search Console Dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Search Console account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Link Building for Beginners: 19 Free Tips
If you’re new to SEO, you might not have a large budget for link building. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to build high-quality links on a budget. Here are 19 free link building tips for beginners.
The simplest way to start building backlinks is by asking for them, particularly if you know someone who owns a blog or a website. When making your request, opt for in-content blog links. Ensure that the website linking to your page operates in a similar (or the same) niche as yours.
Building relationships is at the heart of link building. Participating in industry discussions, contributing valuable insights, and being present in social groups, online forums, and blogs can help you build high-quality backlinks consistently and for free.
Offer a Testimonial
Testimonials can help boost your online visibility, website traffic, and build trust. They create a win-win situation where you help businesses build trust, while you get a backlink to your website. This is perhaps the simplest way to build links and attract more people to your site.
Produce Exceptional Content Consistently
Producing exceptional content is the most efficient way to build quality links. It’s not a shortcut, and it’s nothing revolutionary. But it’s the best link-building strategy out there and always will be.
“Stop trying to game the system. There is no quick way to link-building success. There is just grinding sweat equity poured into creating content that’s worth being linked to and shared.”
Senior Account Manager at ClearVoice
List Your Site on Trustworthy Directories
Listing your site on web directories is another great free link building technique. However, be selective when choosing these directories. Look for directories where you can post both a link to your website and a short description of what you do that can interest potential prospects.
Write Guest Posts
The process for guest posting can be complex. But guest blogging is the most popular free link-building technique:
Remember to provide something relevant, informative, and useful that the readers will actually be interested in. This way, you can grab the attention of potential blog readers and increase your web traffic, ultimately boosting your ranking.
Get Interviewed on Podcasts
Podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity. Appearing on a podcast not only gets you a backlink, but it’s also a great way to promote your brand to potential prospects.
Harness the Power of Social Media
Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram can be powerful tools for link building. Promote quality content and engage with followers to promote your brand and attract backlinks.
Resource Page Link Building
A Resource Page is a web page that provides valuable information on a certain topic. It’s a great place to target for link building.
Roundup posts have several forms, but most marketers agree that the best one for link building is an expert roundup. Writing a roundup post is great for link building because the experts you’ve mentioned are highly likely to promote the post.
Participate in Roundups
Aside from creating roundups, you can also get more links by participating in them. Participating in these posts will help you attract a wide audience and get great referral traffic due to your link in the posts.
Use “Pre-Curated” Lists of Link Targets
Use websites that have curated high-quality sites to speed up the link-building process.
Do a Reverse Image Search
If your images are being used without attribution, you can request for a backlink. To find your unattributed media, you can use Google reverse image search.
Learn How to Use Google Search Operators to Find What You Need
Google Search Operators are special commands you can use to narrow down Google’s search results.
The Skyscraper Link Building Tactic
The skyscraper method involves finding the most popular content in your niche and creating a better, more detailed, and more up-to-date version.
The Content Syndication Tactic
Content syndication is when one (or more) third-party websites repost an exact copy of content that originally appeared somewhere else.
Submit a Press Release
Submitting a press release is a great way to obtain natural backlinks, but only if you do it correctly.
Participate/Host Local Events
Speaking at a conference or a local event is an amazing way to raise brand awareness and get local backlinks.
Answer Questions on Q&A Sites
Q&A sites present several awesome opportunities for you and your business. From building links to meeting people in your industry who may become collaborators in the future.
4 Advanced Link Building Tips
Quality link building isn’t easy. For the best Google rankings, you’ll need to incorporate some advanced link-building techniques into your strategy.
Analyze Competitors’ Backlinks
Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks can help spot gaps in your own link-building strategy.
Monitor and Recover Your Dead Backlinks
Recover your dead backlinks by reaching out to the site owners and letting them know about the problem.
Broken Link Building Tactic
Broken link building is a highly effective method for helping other webmasters to fix their broken links.
Discover Your Mentions and Turn Them into Backlinks (Link Reclamation)
Link reclamation is the process of identifying websites that mention your brand, your name, or your images in their articles without linking back to you.
How to Earn Backlinks
When it comes to getting backlinks, most companies will focus their efforts on building links. However, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of earning links. There’s practically only one way to earn links, and it’s by creating awesome content.
If you create interesting and informative infographics that are actually shareable, you can be sure that a lot of people will share them on their websites and link back to you.
Research Reports and Statistic Posts
By conducting surveys and doing a research report, you get data that is entirely yours and can’t be found elsewhere.
List-based articles are incredibly popular among readers. You can create lists for practically anything – lists of tools, examples, best practices, tips, you name it.
How-to guides are another linkable “currency” you should have in your wallet. It’s an informative piece of content that showcases the completion of a specific process with step-by-step instructions.
Optimize Your Link Building Strategy with Databox
There are tons of link-building methods that will supercharge your search rankings and make your brand stand out from the competition. But, link building methods aren’t enough to climb to the top of the rankings; you’ll also need to stay on top of some of the most important link building metrics.
Databox can save those countless hours that you spend on filtering data, analyzing it, and then presenting it in a spreadsheet.
Here’s how it works:
- Connect your data source(s)
- Identify the metrics you want to visualize
- Drag and drop the metrics to the dashboard
We have 300+ templates in our gallery that you can download in 2 clicks if you don’t have time to build a dashboard from scratch.
Sign up for a free trial now and watch how the hours you spend on link building diminish.