Link Building in 2018

Backlinks are essential to any business’ SEO strategy. But there’s a conundrum around link building:

  • Getting links requires high-quality content
  • High-quality content is created by creative professionals.
  • Most creative professionals are terrible at sales.
  • Earning links to your content requires sales-type outreach.

So, what can you do to help build SEO-friendly links in 2018? The first step: don’t make it harder on yourself. That’s why we put together this quick guide to link building in 2018. We’ll cover the basics for earning those sweet backlinks – but the hard work will still be up to you.

Quality over Quantity

The first thing to remember about modern link building is that you should prioritize quality over quantity. Shotgun approaches to link building are more likely to get you penalized that optimized in today’s SEO climate.

As of the Google Penguin update, chasing after high numbers of low-quality links isn’t going to get the results you need. So, what do high-quality links look like?

High-quality links have the following attributes:

  • Authoritative – Good links come from sites that Google trusts as authoritative. This applies to both the individual page and the overall domain. The higher that authority of the site/page, the more impact the link will have on your SEO. You can check page and domain authority with the Moz Open Site Explorer.
  • Relevance – Any natural link from a quality page is good. But links from relevant pages are even better. Google uses content signals to determine relevancy, so pursue links that are in related fields.
  • Location – Google also prioritizes some links based on their location on the page. The most valuable links are found in the main body of the content and should be the most valuable to your business. Links on a sidebar, in the footer, or in an author bio are less important but still valuable.

Anchors Aweigh

The relative value of your links will also rely heavily on the anchor text of the link. As with all good SEO, your anchor text should be focused on the user experience first. Google recommends that your anchor text be useful, descriptive, and relevant. And who are we to disagree?

When it comes to backlinks, you often have no control over the anchor text. But if you do, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  1. Don’t overuse exact match anchor text. Exact match anchor text is when you use the page’s main targeted keyword as the link. It seems like a good idea, but too many exact matches and Google will start to suspect you of running a link scam.
  2. Don’t be too generic. As you’re avoiding overusing exact match, you should also look out for generic links. The most common form is the click here anchor text – not terrible but lacking in keyword potential.
  3. Provide a mix of anchor text styles. Your best bet is to vary your anchor text format between branded (Fusion Group USA), exact match, and partial match links.

Guest Posting, Still a Thing?

At least one Google representative has said that guest posting is dead, but don’t be so fast to plan the burial. Spammy guest posting is dead. And like obvious link-buying schemes, it will likely get you penalized.

But honest, natural, and hard-earned guest posting is still a great way to build high-value links. But here’s the difficulty: earning natural guest posting opportunities requires establishing yourself as an industry expert. So, before you start pitching guest posting ideas, make sure that your blogging is at the top of the game.

Link Magnets

In 2018, one of the best ways to get backlinks in by creating link magnets – pieces of content that are easily shareable and generate interest among your target audience.

Link magnets will vary from industry to industry, but there are a few types of content that see success across a wide range of markets:

  • Infographics
  • Influencer Round-ups
  • Original Data & Case Studies
  • Buzzfeed Style Listicles

But even if you are using a link magnet format, you still need to put in some hard work. Link magnets only work when they are original, high quality, and promoted – just any like any piece of content that you want to go viral.

Go Forth and Earn Links

Got it? Good. Now get out there and start earning links.

I know it’s not really that easy. But hopefully, I’ve provided at least a glimmer of hope that earning high-quality backlinks is possible. It’ll require amazing content, consistent promotion, and a willingness to do some sales work; but the payoff is worth the effort.

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