Link Building SEO 2021 Strategy: Build High-Quality Links Via Content Marketing

By Matt Bertram

By Matt Bertram

Matt Bertram is Head of Digital Strategy at EWR Digital. He is a nationally recognized expert in SEO and the Co-Host of the top rated SEO Podcast, "The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing." Author of Build Your Brand Mania: How to Transform Yourself Into an Authoritative Brand That Will Attract Your Ideal Customers with contributing articles in Forbes, Search Engine Journal and numerous other publications pertaining to digital marketing.

Link building is not simply a buzzword used to sell optimization services, or drive blog traffic. It is a viable, must-have SEO strategy in 2021. And 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 Link Building Still So Important?

It is safe to say that you know what link building is. At the core, link building hasn’t really 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 in order 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 link-building SEO 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 Link Building SEO

Going deeper into high-quality links is essential to your future 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 when it comes to 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 a number of 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 personal blog.

Using Ahrefs, you can check domain authority, or “DomainRating” the same way as 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 doing research on high-quality links in bulk.

Site Relevancy

The relevancy of the site 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. It looks like this . . . 

And 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.

Dofollow Links Are The Name Of The Link Building Game

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 simply 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 Dofollow.

Link-Building SEO 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 that have a numbered title style and format. Like these . . . 

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 for others to draw from and link to.

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 Link Building SEO

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 links.

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)

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

Why are pillar content pieces, i.e. ultimate guides, exceptional link-building assets? 

They are jam-packed with information on a topic. And they are generally 2000+ words, making it highly ranked on Google SERPs.

The Neil Patel example above netted 26 linking domains and 71 links . . . 

This is just one article. Times this by 10 and you have a robust link portfolio with high-quality links laying the foundation.

Link Building SEO Strategies 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 link-building SEO 2021 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 definitely want to hear about it.

 

Learn More