A Guide to SEO Link-Building Strategy

By Vicky Carrillo

By Vicky Carrillo

Vicky Carrillo is EWR Digital's Technical SEO Manager and senior web developer. Read Vicky's blogs, and find out more about what EWR Digital can do for your web design and Digital Marketing.

Link building is not simply a buzzword used to sell optimization services or drive blog traffic. It is a viable SEO link-building strategy you must have if you’re an enterprise SEO company. Link building will continue to be important for years to come.

Why? Good question. A question that Google’s PageRank algorithm can only answer in detail. For those of us not working side-by-side with John Mueller at Google, simplistic answers will have to do.

The following serves up answers surrounding link building SEO in 2021. From why link building is important to critical link building SEO nuggets of knowledge you need to know, let’s dive right in.

Why Is a Link-Building Strategy Still So Important?

SEO Link-building Strategy | EWR Digital

It is safe to say that you know what link building is. At the core, link building hasn’t changed all that much — Earn backlinks from other sites to improve search visibility. But why is link-building SEO still so important in 2021? Now, this is the million-dollar question for businesses large and small. Quick answer: Google still has everything to do with it. But in a good way, as long as you do link-building SEO right.

Many years ago, in a far, far away land, the PageRank algorithm was created. It was indeed an SEO game-changer. And it still is to this very day.

In the early days of SEO, the content was the only thing analyzed for search engines to rank a page accordingly. This was when keyword stuffing was an optimization strategy that worked. But then Google came along and dropped the PageRank algorithm and revolutionized search entirely. Instead of content being the undeniable truth for ranking, PageRank looked at how many other web pages or sites linked to a page.

And link building was born. Google still relies heavily on backlinks as a ranking signal. This is why an SEO link-building strategy is a must in 2021. Although, some things have changed. 

For instance, Google Penguin looks at the quality of links, not simply quantity. This means that your link-building efforts in 2021 and beyond need to be next level. To satisfy Google and earn those coveted top positions in Google SERPs, you need high-quality backlinks in your link portfolio.

Understanding High-Quality Links For Better SEO Link-Building Strategy

Going deeper into high-quality links is essential to your future SEO link-building strategy. Focusing on high-quality backlinks is a sure-fire way to improve your Google rankings and boost online visibility. How do you identify links that are worth building? There are a few hallmarks to strong links critical to understand.

Page Authority

Page authority, also known as PageRank, is one of the most important factors in finding high-quality links. This is because the authority of the linking page passes to your page. Thus creating a strong signal in the eyes of Google.

You can find page authority using several SEO tools, like Ahrefs. Using Ahrefs’ site search, the page authority is showcased under the “UR” or “URLRating” designator. The higher the page authority, the higher the quality of the link.

Domain Authority

The domain authority of a link is also important when finding high-quality links. For example, the domain authority of The New York Times will be much higher than someone’s blog. Using Ahrefs, you can check domain authority or “DomainRating” the same way you did for page authority. 

Ahrefs is not the only SEO tool you can utilize to check a link’s page authority and domain authority. The MOZ SEO toolbar is also worthwhile. And most features are free. The MOZ SEO toolbar lets you compare page authority and domain authority of different sites after a Google search query is made. This can save you time when researching high-quality links in bulk.

Site Relevancy

The site’s relevancy also makes a big impact on how a backlink will improve your search rankings. Google PageRank algorithm not only looks at the quality of the page and domain. It also examines how relevant the link is in comparison to your page.

What does this mean exactly? If your website encompasses everything Yoga, and you get a link from a high authority tech site, the power of that authority may not pass on to your site. This is because the tech website is not relevant to your site. To ensure authority passes in terms of link-building SEO in 2021, you need to build relevant links.

Link Position

Netting a link from an authoritative site is the aim. However, where the link is located has importance. Generally, you want that link to be within content, like an article or blog, and near the top of the page. Links in website footers, sidebars, and other hidden away places will not be worth much, even if that link is from a high-authority, relevant website.

Link Anchor Text

Another major factor in the link-building process is link anchor text. Anchor text is the actual text used for the URL placement. Make no mistake, Google uses anchor text as a ranking signal.

For example, when Google sees link anchor text “beginner yoga classes” for a link pointing to your yoga class website, it assumes your website is about yoga classes for beginners, and thus, it is a strong link.

This would be an exact match anchor text, which could be considered spammy by Google if done too often. This could result in a Google penalty. Keyword-rich anchor text should generally be avoided when building links. But if it happens naturally, it is a big win.

Nofollow Links Are The Name Of The Link Building Game

SEO Link-building Strategy | EWR Digital

Since link building is essential to improving a website’s page rank, businesses large and small have employed massive link-building efforts. The result has left many high-authority websites to give out only Nofollow links. A Nofollow link is essentially worthless to your link portfolio. For example, Forbes only uses Nofollow links. 

To get the link juice you need to boost your site’s page rank, you need to ensure that the links you’re building are Nofollow.

SEO Link-Building Strategy Via Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of your most valuable assets when it comes to link-building SEO in 2021. Unfortunately, pumping out any old type of content will not land you the plethora of backlinks you want. There are specific types of content that have the most link-building potential. Let’s take a closer look at the highly linkable content marketing assets that work:

List Posts (Listicles)

List posts, a.k.a. Listicles, are simply blogs or articles with a numbered title style and format. Why do list posts work in terms of link-building power? They provide a ton of actionable value in small easy to digest chunks, making them easy on which to draw from and link.

A BuzzSumo link study found list posts to net the highest number of referring domains. This paints a pretty clear picture of just how important it is to leverage list posts for link-building SEO. Just be sure to serve up value for others to use.

Visuals For an SEO Link-Building Strategy

Having visuals in your content can increase content marketing link-building success. Images, infographics, charts, and diagrams are all top visual assets for building links. Charts and diagrams are often the best way to net those high-authority backlinks. You can see first-hand how diagrams and images are used in this article. Note the image above from the BuzzSumo link study. Normally, when a visual asset is used from another article or study, a link is given as an additional resource. This is why visuals drive more connections.

Post Original Research

Another great way to build links via content marketing is by posting original research and data. New data is always useful to others, and if someone pulls data from one of your studies, they will surely give you a link shout-out.

Case studies are one of the best ways to deliver new research to the masses online since it showcases real-life examples of what works and what doesn’t work. HubSpot does case studies to perfection, with over 300+ case studies across multiple industries available on their website. Here’s one example. 

Create In-Depth Pillar Content (Ultimate Guides)

SEO Link-building Strategy | EWR Digital

Pillar content is content that is all-encompassing for a specific topic. You have most likely seen ultimate guides online while searching for SEO link-building strategy articles. Brian Dean and Neil Patel are famous for their top guides. 

Why are pillar content pieces, i.e., ultimate guides, exceptional link-building assets? It’s because they are jam-packed with information on a topic, and they are generally 2000+ words, making it highly ranked on Google SERPs.

SEO Link-Building Strategy For 2021 Review

Building high-quality links is a must. It may be easy to pay for a link. However, sites that generally offer up “pay to play” services have a lower page authority and domain authority. Google is also pretty smart. The algorithms Google has in place can easily determine if a link is natural or not. And natural links from highly authoritative websites will generally pass more authority to your site. What’s the takeaway? Tether your SEO link-building strategy to content marketing efforts. You will be surprised by how quickly your link portfolio will grow.

Do you have a content marketing link-building campaign that works wonders? We want to hear about it.