Home » Link Building for SEO | Your Ultimate Guide in 2021 [Updated]

Link Building for SEO | Your Ultimate Guide in 2021 [Updated]

by | Jul 24, 2020 | Link Building | 0 comments

Search Engine Optimization - PlayMedia

Is your link building for SEO strategy ready for 2021?

When you mention SEO, the first thing you probably think about is keywords. But, it’s the links that are crucial when you are building your online presence.

Links determine your website’s rank, and they tell the search engines where to show your website.

Along with Google 200 ranking factors and few recent ones that will change the search, backlinks and outstanding content are still hugely important as we going through 2021.

Yet, many resources are explaining how to create quality content, there’s less valuable information about link building.

To help you connect the dots on your link-building strategy in 2021, we’ve jumped into action. This is your beginner-friendly guide to link building for SEO.

 

 

Chapter 1: What Does Link Building Mean in 2021?

External Links Structure - PlayMedia

 

So, what are links, and how are they changing in 2021?

Inbound links, also known as external links or backlinks, are HTML connections that link websites together. You may think of them as the avenues of the internet, mapping out the digital world for the search engines, and your customers.

Links act a lot like real-life reputation.

Let’s say you visited a new city. You ask the people there where you can get the best cup of coffee, and they all send you to Papa Café. Now you feel pretty confident that you were getting the right information. 

Similarly, the more links from relevant and authoritative sources that link back to your website, the more reputable you become.

As you can see, we drew attention to the links from relevant and authoritative sources there. That’s because link building for SEO in 2021 is all about three things:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trust

The E-A-T guidelines are still relevant in 2021, according to information taken directly from Google:

Expertise Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness - PlayMedia

 

The links that you cultivate for your website need to be carefully chosen based on those three factors. That’s something we’re going to concentrate on in this guide.

 

Link Building with E-A-T Guidelines

When it comes to link building for SEO, there are a few things you need to know:

  • First, you’re never going to earn backlinks without amazing content.
  • Second, without links, you’ll never crack the front page of Google.
  • Third, the links that you get can’t just come from anywhere.

Google E-A-T Guidelines for Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

Studies have shown that backlinks have the same value as they did in 2016. While there were a lot of changes to the Google algorithm, the value of links hasn’t changed.

Link building for SEO is still about acquiring backlinks to your site from other relevant websites. The difference for 2021 is that you are getting the backlinks from the relevant companies to your business.

You want to get the links from sites that follow the E-A-T to succeed this year. It’s the difference between having a valuable link, and just another connection that’s weighing your business down.

When the PageRank algorithm was first introduced, the number of links to a specific page was more important than anything else. Now, it’s the quality of the links that matter more than the quantity.

 

 

Chapter 2: Defining Valuable Links for Your Link Building Strategy

Link Building for SEO Strategy - PlayMedia

 

So, how do you track downlinks that are E-A-T ready?

Easy!

There are 6 critical indicators that today’s businesses can use to separate high-value links, from SEO trash.
These indicators are:

  • Page Authority
  • Domain Authority
  • Website relevancy
  • Link position
  • Anchor text
  • No-Follow vs Do-Follow

Let’s dive a little deeper…

 

Page Authority

Google Page Rank Algorithm - PlayMedia

 

In link building for SEO, the authority of the page refers to how much credibility the page that is linking back to you can have. It’s similar to how you would think of improving your social circle at school.

You’ll be more popular if you hang out with the popular kids at school. So, when you get a link from a high-authority website, Google and the other search engines assume that you’re also a high authority brand.

You can discover the authority rank of your site using a MozBar extension to determine “Domain authority”.

 

Domain Authority

Ahrefrs Domain Authority in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

Domain authority is similar to page authority. The main difference is that domain authority focuses on the credibility of the entire website, not just a single page.

A link from a blogger is less likely to make an impact than having a backlink to your website from a website like Huffington Post or the New York Times.

You can check the domain rating section of Ahrefs to find out a site’s authority. You can also compare multiple domains against each other:

Ahrefs Domain Comparison Toll in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

Website Relevancy

Ahrefs Domain Relevancy - PlayMedia

 

Now a link from a high-authority site is excellent -but only if it’s relevant to your site.

If you’re running a website about social media marketing and you get a backlink from a health and fitness website, Google is going to wonder what the connection is.

If you want your backlinks to make the right impact, they need to be connected to the main theme of your website. So, the golden rule is to concentrate on reaching out to websites that are within your industry or niche.

 

Position on the Page

Backlinko Traffic Case Study - PlayMedia

 

This is an odd part of the link building strategy for SEO, and something that many people overlook.

It’s not just the link that matters for your search engine ranking or the authority of the website/page. Another factor is the position of the backlink as it appears on another website. In-content links of a blog post are more valuable than links in footers or sidebars.

Generally, it’s better to have a link back to your website in the heart of someone’s article, than just a random mention in an author bio at the bottom of the page.

 

Anchor Text

Anchor Text Types - PlayMedia

 

The term “Anchor text” in SEO relates to the text that you attach a backlink to.

For beginners, it’s the clickable text that’s usually underlined and highlighted in blue color.

Google uses anchor text as a crucial ranking signal.

So, when you’re linking to a website about email marketing tools, you want the anchor text to be something like “the best email marketing tools”. If the anchor text has nothing to do with the website link, then Google is going to assume that you’re trying to trick visitors into going to a page that they’re not interested in.

 

No-Follow vs Do-Follow

No-Follow vs Do-Follow links are another aspect of link building for SEO that often gets ignored.

No-Follow is the HTML attribute that websites use to tell search engine bots not to follow a specific hyperlink. The reason for this is it reduces the effectiveness of spam on search engines and to improve search results.

Links are “Do-Follow” by default, but you can use tags in your content to suggest the search engines that you don’t want links to be counted towards a specific ranking. You want more Do-Follow links to improve your SERP ranking.

 

 

Chapter 3: How to Start Your Link Building Strategy: Essential Skills

Ahrefs Baclinks vs On-Page Factors - PlayMedia

 

Now that you know the difference between a good link and a bad link, we’re ready to get to work.

Effective link building for SEO in 2021 is a process that requires several steps.

Yet, before we begin learning more about some of the ways that you might be able to build your links, let’s examine the skills you’re going to need.

 

Competitor Research

The first most valuable skill that any link building guru can have is a passion for research.

You should start by analyzing the backlink profile of your competitors. These insights are going to help you to fill gaps that you missed or to copy their whole link building strategy.

Ahrefs competitor Research in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

Tools like Ahrefs allow you to analyze your competitors’ rankings when you enter a domain name into a search bar. The key to success is figuring out why your competitor got the link they have, and whether you can get one too. For instance:

  • Resource links: If you want to appear on the same resource pages as your competitors, you’ll usually just have to reach out to the site and ask if they can add your resources.
  • Guest post links: Guest blogs are one of the easiest ways to develop backlinks. If your competitor appears on another authority site with a guest blog, there’s a good chance that they’ll accept a guest post from you too.
  • User-generated links: Your competitors might have links from users on social media and personal blogs. You may not be able to replicate these exactly, but you can encourage similar backlinks from your dedicated followers.

Something that is going to need a little more work is editorial links that are popular on your competitor’s site. Using ‘Best By Links’ by Ahrefs Site Explorer can help you to quickly determine what is most linked.

Ahrefs Best by Links - PlayMedia

 

Outreach

Outreach in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

That leads us to the second most valuable skill of building links for SEO.

Outreach skills are something that all SEO and marketing experts need to master. Also, it’s one of the hardest talents to master.

There are cases when content can organically create traction on its own, but most of the time, you’ll need to get your site or content out to the right people at the right time through communication.

While you can invest in outreach through direct mail, phone calls, and social media – the easiest and most effective option is still email.

Link Building outreach is such an in-depth topic that it deserves an eBook of its own. However, there are a few basic rules you can follow. For instance:

  • Stay relevant: Always appeal only to the companies that have a direct connection to your website and the page that you want them to link to.
  • Show value: Highlight why it’s a good idea to link to your page. Perhaps you can offer valuable information to the target blog’s customers?
  • Get the timing right: Sharing a link to a brand-new relevant blog with another company is more likely to get you a backlink than a link to an old, outdated article.

 

Two-Step Email Outreach

Two-step email outreach should be a standard practice when you are reaching out to prospects for link building opportunities.

Instead of demanding a link from the get-go, warm up the prospect first. Show genuine interest in topics they cover, share value, and earn their trust. 

Here, this is an email type you can modify to meet your needs and use it for outreach.

Two-Step Outreach Email - Play Media

This approach is genuine, and it helps you build relationships and earn more backlinks for your link building campaigns.  

Once you establish relationships, you can use them to plan your future link building campaigns.

 

 

Chapter 4: Effective Link Building Strategies for 2021

Now that you know what high-quality links are and the skills that you need to master to earn them, let’s take a look at some link building for SEO strategies to use in 2021.

Notably, the strategies below won’t all work for you. However, you should test and mix and mix a few options to create your customized link building campaign.

 

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is easily one of the most effective methods of link building for SEO and will boost your content marketing efforts.

Not only do you get backlinks from high-quality websites, but you can also reach visitors and potential customers that you might not have found organically this way.

To have success with guest blogging, first, you need to do a couple of things:

  • Find a website that’s relevant to your niche (and accepts guest blogs)
  • Get your post ready – make sure that it will appeal to the target audience of the website
  • Send your pitch, and follow the guest blogging instructions provided by the brand
  • Follow up if you don’t hear back, highlighting the value of your guest post

To maximize your chances of a successful pitch, follow all the guidelines provided by the website that you’re writing to. For instance, Huffpost has articles like this to guide you:

Huffington Post Guest Post Pitch - PlayMedia

 

Additionally, make sure to introduce the added value of your content to the editor/publisher. For instance, it’s a good idea to showcase how many readers come to your blog regularly and highlight the fact that you share your posts on social media.

Let the brand know that they won’t have to do all the work of promoting their new guest post on their own.

 

Podcast Link Building for SEO

Podcasts are huge, and, heading into 2021, there are no signs of slowing down In the following year, your aim should be to appear in as many quality podcasts in your industry as you can.

Competitor research will give you an insight into how many backlinks your competitors have earned from podcast appearances.

Podcast Link Building - Play Media

Appearing in podcasts allows you to build your authority and earn quality backlinks. 

This link building strategy includes: 

  • Finding podcasts in your niche 
  • Doing an ongoing outreach campaign
  • Preparing materials for guest appearances 

When you collect all the info you need, start with an outreach campaign. 

Search for one or more authoritative people in your niche who regularly appear on podcasts. Screenshot their image, and enter it on Google reverse image search.  

Find the links to the podcasts where they appeared as guests. Reach out to the podcast host and ask to participate in the podcast.

Podcast Rand Fishkin - Play Media

After they invite you to the podcast, prepare well, pick a trending topic in your niche, and give valuable insights. Take advantage of the opportunity, and show that you are an authority on the subject.

Give it all you got, and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

 

Create Some Link Bait

Link Bait in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

Using link bait is a wide and complex strategy that can take on many forms.

The idea is to design content that attracts links naturally because of its incredible value.

In works like this, you write an amazing blog post or record an amazing video, and people will naturally link back to it because of how helpful and engaging it is. If you can do this successfully, you’ll have a link building for an SEO strategy that’s more natural and organic than anything else.

Link Bait is often defined by things like:

  • Unique data and in-depth research
  • Attractive graphics or video
  • Free tools or lessons

While you creating high-value content for SEO in 2021, always remember to make each piece as compelling as possible as potential linkbait. Perhaps instead of just reporting on the latest statistics for social media marketing in 2021, you can conduct a survey or case study.

Or instead of commenting on the content marketing preferences of millennials and Gen Z, you could host an interview with someone from the industry and use that to share unique information. Backlinko’s Google keyword study is a great example of link bait:

Google Keyword Study - Play Media

 

Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is a fantastic link building for SEO strategy to include in 2021. There are three different segments to this strategy, including:

  • Fixing the broken links that already point to your website
  • Finding and looking for unlinked brand mentions
  • Identifying the uncredited use of copyrighted content

Let’s start with fixing the broken links that point to your website. If broken links are leading back to your website, then you’re losing valuable credibility with the search engines.

404 Page in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

You can run the “Broken backlinks” report in the Ahrefs tool site explorer or Check My Links extension to get a list of all the broken links that you’re dealing with. Once you’ve found them, create a 301 redirect for each link using your Redirection plugin so that you’re getting the credit you deserve. Also, contact the site admin and ask them to update the link.

The second way is to find unlinked brand mentions and track what people are saying about you online. There are many tools online that can help you to track down people who are talking about your product or company. If you notice a brand mention that doesn’t link back to your site – reach out.

Thank the company for mentioning your business in the first place, and ask them if they want to add a link to that mention to help your SEO strategy. Most business owners won’t mind doing this if they already like your brand.

Finally, searching for uncredited use of copyrighted material is something that all companies should do. Whether you’re link building for SEO or not, you need to make sure that people aren’t using your material without permission.

Using Google’s reverse image search will help you to find sites that are using your copyrighted content. You can then ask the site either to add a link to your website or remove the image.

 

Resource Page Link Building for SEO

Resource page link building is hard to perform. But, it’s a highly-rewarding strategy that can earn you a bunch of backlinks if you do it correctly.

There are a lot of opportunities for resource page link building. However, to do it right, you have to create quality, cornerstone content people can use and link to. 

To find quality resource pages is not an easy task, so use these 10 advanced Google searches for the best possible results:

  1. “{your keyword}” + inurl:resources
  2. “{your keyword}” + inurl:links
  3. “{your keyword}” + inurl:recommended
  4. “{your keyword}” + “top websites”
  5. “{your keyword}” + “top sites”
  6. “{your keyword}” + “recommended websites”
  7. “{your keyword}” + “recommended resources”
  8. “{your keyword}” + “further reading”
  9. “{your keyword}” + “recommended reading”
  10. “{your keyword}” + “useful sites”

You’ll begin reaping the full benefits of this strategy when other websites start using your resources. Every time they link to your resource page, you get a backlink. 

So, when you write, focus on creating valuable, high-quality content, as the extra effort is bound to pay off in the long term.   

 

Unlinked Brand Mentions

Unlinked brand mentions should be a part of your SEO audit and a standard part of your link building. 

You miss a lot if your brand gets mentioned, but it doesn’t include a link to your website.

To find new unlinked brand mentions, set Google Alerts for your brand mentions. Find them, contact the content publisher, and get a backlink.

Unlinked Brand Mentions on Quora - Play Media

Reach out and ask them to include your link. In 9 out of 10 cases, you are going to give you a backlink.

 

Visual Content Link Building for SEO

Visual content is still an important part of the SEO landscape – particularly as we are in 2021. If you want to improve your link building for SEO this year, make sure that you’re thinking about how you can make the most of your images, infographics, and other visual elements.

Visual content or visual assets are:

  • Images
  • Diagrams
  • Infographics
  • Charts and other visual-oriented pieces of content

You want to include more visuals in your posts since this type of content is much easier to share than text-based content. For example, publish an infographic, and if someone shares it, you get a link.

Infographics in SEO are a great way to maximize the potential return on your outreach campaigns when you’re just getting started. Companies of all sizes are in constant search for valuable visual content to share on their website or reference on social media.

Check out this amazing infographic on the history of life – it’s sure to grab attention on any website:

History of Life Timeline - PlayMedia

 

The host site gets a cool piece of content with a great infographic, while you get a reliable backlink. Other ways that you can leverage custom images and graphics to earn backlinks for your site include:

  • Creating memes for social media that are specific to your niche (better for younger audiences)
  • Providing stock images that companies can use with attribution
  • Creating images with quotes from your content
  • Offering charts or graphics with access to specific data

 

Publish Stats

If you do it right, publishing stats help you build links by themselves.

Publishing stats requires a lot of research and data. However, you can prepare for this in advance, as a part of a long-term strategy.

Publish Stats in Link Building for SEO - Play Media

Write long-form content based on data specific to your niche. Aim for content that is unique and worth linking. Also, include something to hook bloggers and journalists and attract users to your stats.

Work on creating value for the people in your niche. Once they cite you and use your data, you’ll get backlinks in return. 

When you have quality stats and expert data, you can outreach to virtually anyone in your niche. Numbers and facts are the fastest way to reach a status of authority.

 

Answering Customer Questions

Although the direct SEO value of interacting on forums like Quora and Reddit is still up for debate, many companies are beginning to adopt this tactic.

Links from question and answer style websites are a great way to navigate traffic to your website. At the same time, they can help to highlight your position as a thought leader or authority in your industry.

You can also use sites like Quora and Reddit to figure out what kind of questions your customers are asking and use that information as inspiration for your blog or keyword research.

Answering Customers Question - PlayMedia

 

Try tactics like:

  • Posting answers to common questions on Quora: Make sure that the answer is in-depth and brimming with useful statistics. Link back to your website where possible, but don’t be overly promotional.
  • Responding to questions on Reddit: There are specific subreddits for virtually everything these days. Getting involved with a subreddit that’s relevant to your company industry is an excellent way to gain more exposure for your brand.
  • Answering questions on specific forums: If there are industry-specific forums in your sector where you can interact with people from your target market – get involved. You could build a powerful reputation here and earn some new business too.

Although the link juice that you receive from each connection you make on a Q&A website might be modest, your efforts will help to build a stronger connection with your target audience.

Also, this could mean that your customers begin linking back to your website when answering questions elsewhere, increasing the number of user-generated links that you get for your profile.

 

Refurbish Your Top Content

Top Content Refurbishing in Link Building for SEO - PlayMedia

 

Finally, here’s a method of link building for SEO in 2021 that will both enhance your SERP ranking and improve your chances of capturing audience attention.

If you’ve been online for a while now, then you should have insights into which type of your content attracts the most traffic and converts the most visitors. You can easily turn that content into link-building potential by refurbishing it for other platforms.

For instance, transform your latest blog post into a podcast that you can share on iTunes, or a video that you can add to YouTube. That way, you’ll have more links from other websites and environments direct people back to your website.

Also, you can dust off and update old content, then add smaller versions of whatever you’ve written to social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Let the industry websites that have shared your content in the past know that you’ve updated your old content so that they can share a new link. You can also ask them if they’d like a unique quote from you about the topic, to enhance the content’s shareability.

You can even use this strategy with images. Reach out to the websites that have used your old images and let them know that you’ve just updated the content where that picture came from.

 

 

Link Building for SEO in 2021

Website Traffic - Play Media

There’s no denying that link building is changing and evolving in 2021.

The online environment is growing more competitive than ever. Algorithms are changing, and even the way that your customers search for the information and products that they need is evolving as well.

Still, link building is one of the most valuable things that any company can do to set themselves apart from the rest of the digital noise. A strong online strategy in 2021 will be built on the perfect combination of valuable, high-quality content, and a well-thought link building strategy.

With our strategies above, you can ensure that in 2021 you’re ready to drive as many eyes back to your content as possible.

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Goran Kezić

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