Link building is one of the most misunderstood topics in SEO. Many people think it’s black magic, but it’s not – at the core, link building is like marketing & advertising in offline sales environments. Everyone can learn it; however, if you are unprepared for link building, you are likely to fall between two stools.

An Easy Guide To Understanding How Link Building Works
Myriam Jessier

This guide will help you understand the process behind link building and walk you through the basics that you need to know.

As is always the case, this guide will assume that your website’s content is worth sharing in the first place – if it is not, spend some time improving it, so it IS worth sharing. A good rule of thumb for knowing whether you have decent enough content to build links for SEO purposes is to ask whether you would think it worth sharing with a friend (or colleague) and why.

If the answer is no, then there’s work to be done.

What Is Link Building?

The simple answer: link building is acquiring links from other websites that pass on PageRank or authority. In turn, this helps your website rank for specific keywords or brand terms.

SEO link building is the practice of acquiring these links through different methods that are considered “white hat” (not spammy) and encourage other websites to link back to yours.

Different Types Of Link Building

There are many types of SEO link building where you can gain links from other websites that will help you rank your website and increase brand awareness. SEO gurus behind understand how to use the different types of link building to help website owners. They use link-building strategies like guest blogging on other websites, sharing infographics on social media and marketing tools, curating content and sharing it on a dedicated blog section of your site, and many more.

How Does Link Building Work?

Link building is adding new links to your website on other websites that point back to your domain. Search engines use these links to discover which sites are essential on the web, how popular they are, and what keywords they are targeting. The more links your website has, the higher it will rank on search engines results pages (SERPs).

Building links can sometimes seem daunting, but you can make it a simple process by utilizing the right tools and techniques.

Types of Link Building Offered By Major Search Engines:

There are two main types of link building offered by major search engines – reciprocal and manual. Standard link building is when one site owner reaches out to another site owner and asks them to link back to their website. Manual link building uses search engines’ webmaster guidelines for your site to receive a site-wide or directory link from a major search engine.

How Does Reciprocal Link Building Work?

Reciprocal linking works by reaching out to another website owner and asking them if you can link to their site on yours. The only caveat here is that the other site must also link back to your domain. This means that both sites are giving away free links, which can potentially hurt their rankings.

If you don’t want to risk your rankings and want to focus on building links, you can use a tool called Reciprocal Link Manager. This is a simple tool that allows you to quickly find potential sites to link back to yours without going through the hassle of contacting them individually. It’s worth noting this tool only works with major search engines – Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

How Does Manual Link Building Work?

Also known as site submission or webmaster link building, manual link building works by finding specific web pages on search engine websites that allow you to submit your website’s information. The more site-wide and directories you have to point back to your domain, the higher it will rank in search engine results pages.

Tools & Resources to Help You Build Links:

Reciprocal Link Manager: Manage and find reciprocal, directory, and webmaster links for your site.

Google Sites Submission: This straightforward tool allows you to submit your website’s information to Google quickly and easily. Be sure to read the guidelines once you have submitted your site.

Google Analytics: Keep track of your website’s traffic by setting up Google Analytics. You can even set up to receive email notifications when a website visitor has engaged in certain behaviors on your site, such as downloading a PDF file or visiting a specific page.

Remove Web Optimization: This tool allows you to optimize your website’s code, images, and text content for better visibility in search engines.

Search Engine Spider Simulator: Find how Google views your site by entering your URL into this tool. Read about the page descriptions given to your site on the bar below the Google logo.

Open Site Explorer | Moz Open Site Explorer, is a free tool for collecting data on the links pointing to your website. You can find out who is linking to you, who they are, and what anchor text they used with this tool.

Cool SEM: Cool SEM is an excellent resource for researching competitors’ link-building strategies. You can see how others have built their link profile by viewing what sites link back to them and their anchor text.

Several prominent search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, use link manipulation algorithms to detect sites taking part in manipulative link-building practices.

Some of the significant signs that spammers are manipulating your site include:

  • Abnormal amount of incoming links from spammy websites or low-quality directories.
  • Extremely low-quality incoming links from sites that you aren’t familiar with.
  • An inconsistent pattern of incoming links from various websites.
  • A high amount of outgoing links to spammy websites and directories.

Search engines such as Google and Bing use link manipulation algorithms to detect the signs of manipulative link-building practices on a domain, such as reciprocal links or spammy directories. If you use these kinds of manipulative link-building techniques, search engines will likely penalize your site.

The easiest way to boost your SEO is to build high-quality links naturally, without trying to game the system—the more helpful content and the more reputable sources that link to you, the better.