To those outside of the marketing or digital professions, understanding the Google algorithm can seem like mystical, guarded knowledge. The seemingly ever-evolving ranking factors that affect your search engine ranking position are not just the realm of digital marketers, however. According to a survey by SEMRush, the search engine optimisation software, 67% of marketers say that search engine optimisation is their most effective marketing tactic. One of the many simple ways to boost your website’s chances of ranking at the top of search engine results is through link building. Link building one of the most important of these search engine optimisation methods, and arguably one of the most overlooked.

What is link building?

Link building is the name given to the process of acquiring backlinks, or links from other websites to your own. Link building increases your website’s authority, because backlinks demonstrate to search engines that your content has been cited multiple times, and is therefore high quality. To search engines such as Google, a backlink is essentially a ‘thumbs up’ from that website endorsing your content. Google regularly issues updates to combat certain link building techniques.

For example, entering your website into online directories can have a tangible impact on your results, and this technique was even recommended by Google in the past. However, this method is also open to abuse, and Google downgraded the search engine optimisation value that can be gained from those types of links. That is not to say that this particular tactic is not worth doing, particularly for local SMEs. It is therefore worth staying informed about the most effective methods of link building to maximise the value of the time you are spending on link building.

What does Google say?

Matt Cutts, engineer in the quality group at Google, explains how Google searches work in the video below:

The most effective way of signposting to Google that your website is a useful resource is through organic link building. Organic link building involves earning links rather than obtaining them through other means. Although it is possible to purchase backlinks, this is known as ‘black hat SEO’, which can lead to your site being removed from Google’s search results altogether. Google’s guidelines expressly forbid this, as it is in their best interests, and the best interests of their users, to give high ranking positions to websites that genuinely deserve to be there. Building organic backlinks can be a slow process, but there are some straightforward steps to build links that will positively influence your search engine ranking position.

Create and promote compelling content

By writing content that fulfils a real user need, you are far more likely to gain links from people who find it genuinely helpful. This therefore encourages them to share it on their own websites and online platforms. As we are fond of saying at Mackman, content really is king, and all link building needs to begin with something that is worth linking to. According to SEMRush, this is why it takes 65% more time to write a blog post than in 2014: people are becoming more aware of the importance of high quality, evergreen content.

Starting with a resource, blog post, video, how-to guide or infographic that your audience will find useful or share-worthy means that link building becomes a far easier endeavour. To discover content ideas that meet user needs, try using websites such as Answer the Public or even experimenting with Google searches to see what key terms your audience is searching for and what questions they want answers to.

Collaborate with Others

A hugely beneficial method of link building is to reach out to your professional network. Asking people you know within your sector or reaching out to relevant websites for links can provide value to your own site. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it encourages working relationships with influential websites, organisations and individuals within your industry. By seeking out official bodies and key influencers to align your business with, you build trust with your audience and can cultivate supporters and advocates for your business.

Another technique in link building is known as ‘ego bait’. This encourages people to link to your content through mentioning them in a positive light in the hopes of achieving a backlink from them, while simultaneously creating quality content for your website. A popular method of doing this is in the form of a ‘Top 10’ list. If you ran an interior design business, for example, you could list the most useful interior design blogs you have come across for inspiration. By following up the post with a message to any individuals featured, this encourages them to look at your post, and to link to it if they wish.

Are you looking to start a link building campaign? Or perhaps you want to improve your search engine ranking but don’t know where to start? Contact Mackman today to speak to one of our friendly team, or email