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Link-Building Strategies to Master in 2024

6 min read

Ah, link building – our familiar companion. It could be the most misconstrued SEO strategy over the last two decades. Some website owners steer clear of it, others attempt it in-house with mixed results, and many opt to enlist an external agency to handle it, crossing their fingers for success.
But what’s the optimal path to follow? Who should be the key players? Is it even worth the effort? The answers to these questions largely hinge on various factors, yet as we approach the conclusion of 2023, there are several strategies to contemplate and pitfalls to avoid.

 

Steering Clear of Guest Blogging for Link Building

 

Let’s address this head-on. Were you aware that using guest blog posts for link-building goes against Google’s guidelines? By now, this should be common knowledge, but unfortunately, it often isn’t.
Following my attendance at Pubcon last month, I was shocked to discover that many SEO professionals I spoke with were unaware of this fact. I was even more surprised by the number of service providers openly promoting their ability to secure thousands of monthly links from their network of bloggers.
Google has been explicit about this in recent years, rolling out a link spam update explicitly aimed at this tactic and asserting that such links hold no long-term value.
Of course, you could apply a no-follow or sponsored link attribute to stay within the guidelines, but without any potential ranking benefit, is it a worthwhile endeavor?
The allure of guest posting for link acquisition is undeniable – securing links from “relevant” content and websites at an appealing cost is a compelling proposition.
Regrettably, the primary beneficiaries of guest posting as a link-building strategy are the agencies offering this service, with clients often reaping limited rewards.
Guest posting is primarily a numbers game. It scales exceptionally well, enabling any company providing this solution to offer an almost limitless quantity of links.
However, this approach often fails to serve their clients who aspire to achieve success, entangling them within a network of blogs that link out to anyone with a few dollars to spare.
In the best-case scenario, it results in a squandering of budget and time. In the worst case, links obtained through this method can skew your overall link profile in a manner that may lead to subsequent issues.
Key Point: If you currently employ guest blogging, sponsored content, or article syndication for link building, the optimal time to discontinue these practices was yesterday.

 

The Significance of Links in 2024: A New Perspective

 

Recently, Google’s Gary Illyes discussed the role of links as a ranking factor, emphasizing content as Google’s primary ranking indicator (for a detailed summary, refer to Danny Goodwin’s article).
To a significant extent, we concur with this perspective. The landscape of ranking factors has evolved considerably over the past two decades, and low-quality websites and subpar content no longer secure rankings solely based on their link profile. Those days are long gone.
From a content standpoint, fundamental principles still hold. Keywords and related phrases must be on the page, and the content should effectively satisfy user intent to gain and sustain rankings. Ideally, you should aim to surpass these basics, striving to create content of the highest quality for any given topic, making it a candidate for objective ranking due to its excellence.
However, the question arises: How can this outstanding content be discovered without relying on links, particularly in competitive verticals?
Gary highlighted an example of an obscure, presumably non-commercial Porsche car resource ranking without links (though the keyword and URL were not specified). However, can the same principle apply when aiming for high-value, high-volume commercial keywords?
Is it feasible to secure rankings for a page related to topics like credit cards, web hosting, or even a local law firm without relying on links? Our stance is that it’s improbable, and most SEO experts would concur.
From a contrarian perspective, one could argue that Google’s intent might be to discourage webmasters from investing time in sourcing low-quality links (as discussed in the context of “guest posting”) and generating excessive link spam, which would then need to be managed by their algorithm.
Instead, Google prefers that businesses and website owners concentrate on enhancing their websites and content to provide the best user experience.
In this regard, we wholeheartedly concur.
Key Point: While it might be conceivable to rank a non-commercial page for a niche, long-tail keyword, for most individuals targeting commercial phrases with substantial search volume, links remain a crucial and indispensable element of the ranking equation.

 

Aligning Outreach with Your Content Strategy

 

Rather than solely generating content for external websites with embedded backlinks to your own, shift your focus towards crafting link-worthy content assets for your website’s blog or learning center.
Unless your website is perceived as a comprehensive and genuine resource, attempting to secure links to your SEO landing pages may not be sustained as a long-term strategy. There are limited reputable websites that would link to commercial pages, which is why employing educational, value-added content on your site becomes a pivotal approach for consistently earning links.
These linkable assets can manifest in various formats – from resourceful articles and data-driven infographics to interactive calculators.
For instance, if you’re involved in car insurance lead generation, you could create a visual map highlighting the most dangerous roads in America or a research article on DWI statistics. Subsequently, you can pitch these assets to local news outlets in the cities or towns referenced in each piece.
Are you operating as an online fashion retailer? Consider producing content that educates users on how and where to recycle or donate old clothing or delve into the environmental impact of various fabrics. Once these resources are prepared, you can inform local governments and non-profit organizations about your valuable content.

Are you running a B2B SaaS company? Consider conducting interviews with subject-matter experts in your industry or create resource materials tailored for college students aspiring to launch careers in your field. Afterward, contact industry publications and universities to bring awareness to these valuable resources.
Irrespective of your industry or target audience, there’s always a strategic approach to identify and implement these opportunities as the core of your link-building strategy.
This approach empowers you to engage with a more authentic audience for link acquisition, encompassing universities, governmental organizations, non-profits, industry associations, trade publications, news outlets, and other valuable link prospects across the internet.
Effective link building through content creation and subsequent outreach is a demanding endeavor. Yet, the consistent, impactful links attained through this method are often indispensable for specific industries to retain their competitive edge.
But what if you need a dedicated outreach team for daily prospecting?
Whenever possible, explore opportunities related to resourceful and evergreen content within keyword clusters and user intents that exhibit substantial search volume. Seek to obtain earned links by crafting high-value content aligned with these keywords.
For instance, consider this quick example: Are you in the business of selling bedding? You might be surprised by the monthly search volume related to mattress stain removal techniques. Create a comprehensive, top-tier page on this subject and similar topics.
Frequently, exceptional content residing on a reputable domain will commence ranking organically and, in the process, garner links over time without the need for active outreach.
In addition, consider the significance of internal linking and how it can effectively leverage your site’s link equity to enhance rankings across your entire spectrum of keywords.
Key Point: Google favors outstanding content that naturally garners authentic references. Therefore, it’s imperative to initiate your link-building endeavors by establishing a robust foundation of content assets on your website that naturally attract links.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

As the trend of the past decade continues, link building has evolved into link earning. Linking has become an integral component of the broader SEO strategy rather than a standalone, enigmatic activity.
The era of shortcuts or treating link acquisition as a separate entity, detached from your other digital marketing endeavors, has passed.
Maintaining a consistent approach to link acquisition is crucial, particularly in competitive industries, and the cornerstone of any successful link-earning initiative seamlessly integrates with long-term content planning.
SEO leaders, strategists, product teams, content creators, digital PR experts, and link builders are collaboratively crafting a strategy in which compelling content consistently garners genuine citations.
In doing so, your website and its content will be recognized as the trusted authority in your field, enhancing the likelihood of consistent search engine rankings over extended periods.

If you’re still finding it challenging and perplexing, consider exploring our monthly SEO packages and allow our experts to assist you.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]