Link Building in 2021: Still a Worthwhile Investment ?

There are two ways of investing money in link building for SEO purposes:

  1. You pay relevant and prominent sources to link to your website
  2. You pay a link building service to build backlinks organically on your behalf

Over the years, the former of the two has proved the most popular approach for most businesses. Understandable, given how paying for a bunch of backlinks is exponentially easier than earning them the old fashioned way.

Even today, the practice of buying backlinks is rife. Though perhaps with greater focus on quality and relevance than ever before, rather than buying spammy backlinks from sketchy sources.

Unfortunately, there’s growing evidence to suggest that all purchased backlinks are diminishing in value. And by evidence, we mean a direct warning from none other than Google’s John Mueller. 

A Stark Warning for Backlink Buyers

Even if the source in question is as relevant and authoritative as it gets, links for cash are apparently worthless. The issue was raised in a recent Office Hours hangout, during which a participant asked whether paying hefty prices for a premium paid backlinks is a cost-effective strategy.

To which, Mr Mueller could not have been clearer in his response:

“Artificially building links, dropping links on other sites, buying links, all of that is against the webmaster guidelines. And we take action on that algorithmically, we take action on that manually,” he warned. 

And the actions that we take include demoting the site that is buying the links, demoting the site that is selling the links. Sometimes we also take more subtle action in that we just ignore all of those links.”

He continued to emphasise the point that even if the source site is as relevant and authoritative as it gets, the same applies. 

“If we recognize that a site is regularly selling links but they also have other things around that, then we often go in and say okay, we will ignore all links on this website,” he said

That basically means …a lot of these sites are things where people still sell links because it’s like they can sell it and they find a seller then of course they’ll try to do that.

But those links have absolutely no effect. So that seems like a big waste of time from my point of view.”

Link Building Lacking from Most Marketing Strategies

While the practice of purchasing backlinks remains rife, the value of backlinks is still being overlooked by the majority of businesses. According to a recent study conducted by Ahrefs, up to 94% of all online content does not feature a single external link.

More remarkably, 90% of all web pages do not attract any organic search traffic from Google. 

Link building has the potential to be one of the most beneficial SEO tools today’s business has access to.  It can be an affordable, flexible and surprisingly simple technique to drive organic traffic and climb the SERP rankings.

It is just that buying backlinks as a shortcut is no longer an option, irrespective of how much you pay for them. 

The Most Effective Link Building Methods

Backlinks form the backbone of a quality SEO strategy and you need as many of them as you can get. As for the techniques that deliver the best results, adopting a ‘back to basics’ approach is a good start.

Focus on the kinds of link building techniques that have remained timeless since the dawn of SEO. Stick with the tried, tested and trusted methodologies that are proven to generate a good ROI. 

A few examples of which are as follows:

1. Leverage Email Signatures

A poll conducted in 2020 found that almost half of all marketers plan to boost their email marketing efforts going forwards. Each and every time you send an e-mail, you have the opportunity to embed a backlink in your email signature. 

This is a simple yet surprisingly effective way of generating organic traffic.  The easier you make it for a person to click through to your website, the more likely they are to do just that. Every time you send an online communication (or attachment) of any kind, ensure it features at least one link to your website. 

Or better yet, a targeted landing page (or even direct product page) of interest to the recipient.

2. Use Q&A Sites Like Quora

Quora came out of nowhere to become a social media phenomenon in its own right. The site currently has a global audience of more than 300 million active users – all on the lookout for informative answers they can trust.

Answering questions on Quora can be a great way of building brand authority and boosting traffic to your website. Each time you provide an answer, including a backlink could send more visitors to your website while contributing to your SEO score. 

Quora isn’t the only Q&A site on the web, so feel free to distribute your efforts liberally on as many similar sites as you like. Just don’t make the mistake of prioritising quantity over quality – make your answers count and keep things relevant to your niche.

3. Reach Out to Local Reporters and Journalists

Contrary to popular belief, most local newspapers don’t spend their time frantically searching for stories to cover. Instead, the stories they need come to them. Reaching out to local reporters and journalists can be pure gold for building authoritative backlinks.

If you have something even remotely important or interesting to offer, share it with as many viable online news sources as possible. Prepare a PR, pitch your idea by email or call them directly if preferred. 

More often than not, you’ll find they’re more than willing to publish your story and include a link back to your website. You’re technically doing most of the hard work on their behalf, so you might be surprised just how accommodating they are. 

4. Regularly Publish Industry Statistics

Numbers are everything for publishers these days. The latest statistics form the basis of the content campaigns for millions of online businesses. If you can provide a regularly updated source of key industry statistics, you will naturally attract quality backlinks. 

Best of all, you don’t even need to own the data you publish. You can curate statistics from a wide variety of sources and simply refer to the sources you’ve used somewhere on the page.

Ultimately, the goal is to become a one-stop resource for as many other bloggers, publishers and industry watchers as possible. All of which will be happy to save themselves time and effort, by visiting you to find everything they need.

4. Make the Effort with Manual Outreach 

Even today, traditional manual outreach represents the single most effective way to build quality backlinks. Of course, it is also the most labour intensive and time consuming. At least, if you make the effort to send manually curated emails to each potential source for your links, one at a time.

But what is worth remembering is when you get it right with manual outreach, you also make important contacts for future guest posting. If you delight them with the first post you pitch, they will most likely be willing to consider future posts with more backlinks. 

You improve their site and entertain their readers with quality content; they reward you with an authoritative backlink. The original (and arguably best) approach to link building. 

5. Ask for Backlinks 

If you want something, why not just ask for it? Asking for back links is not the same as paying for them. It is also something that goes far beyond the usual sources that spring to mind.

With a few exceptions, anyone who may be willing to pop a backlink on one of their pages is worth approaching. This includes your customers, clients, colleagues – even your friends and relatives who are active online. 

That said, it is important to be mindful of relevance and ensure the links are coming from a source (or at least a piece of content) that is relevant to your niche. Don’t cross the line into backlink spam, where quantity takes prevalence over quantity.

If in Doubt…

While the manual approach to link building can be beneficial, it can also be a drain on resources. If you are unable to confidently handle your link building requirements in-house, we’d be delighted to help.

Call the team at Tait Pollack anytime for an obligation-free consultation, or send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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