Backlinks from other sites are one of the most precious commodities in search engine optimization (SEO). Each backlink acts as a vote of sorts, signaling to search engine algorithms that your page is worthy of ranking.
No matter how many you have, you always need more links from high-quality sites.
Unfortunately, ethical link acquisition takes a lot of creativity and persistence. Small achievements — such as getting one high-quality site to link to you — are a big deal.
There are certain shortcuts you can take to build more links faster, but beware: Those methods can get your site banned. (Read more about the risky ways to build links.)
For long-lasting value, use these five steps to get started collecting high-quality links today.
1. Ask for Them
The simplest way to gain a link is to ask for it. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of some of these requests, though, and deleted them all.
So what’s the secret to getting links by asking? Have a reason besides, “Because I need it.”
When you ask for a link, consider what the person you’re asking needs and formulate an approach strategy based on that need.
2. Give Something
Asking for a link is far more likely to result in an actual link if you have something to offer in return — something that the recipient will value.
Some ideas include testimonials or reviews, guest posts, scholarships or contests, infographics or videos, podcasts, etc. If the first thing you think of is money, go back and read about the risky ways to build links.
3. Join the Club
Local and national organizations are an excellent source for both networking and receiving relevant links back to your site. Many organizations and clubs have lists of member information, including links to their websites.
Look at national or international industry-specific organizations; local groups like your Chamber of Commerce; business practices certifications; and best-of sites that list the top companies in your industry.
4. Share Something
Before they can link to your website, people have to know about it. They need to have a reason to visit your page and engage with it to the point that they feel compelled to create a link.
No visitors on your website means no links. If one person engages with your site, you have one chance to earn a link. The more people engage with your website, the more chances you get to earn links.
That’s where sharing comes into play: Social media is an excellent way to introduce more people to your brand and your site. The more impressions and engagement you get … that’s right, the more chances you get that some of them will link to your site.
To be clear, neither sharing on social media nor visits to your site directly produce links. They’re an indirect way to increase your likelihood that people will link to your content from other sites.
This step works best when you have something valuable to share or give, as discussed in the second step to building links. When you produce valuable, engaging content that can be used across multiple digital channels — such as blog posts, top 10 lists, industry insight or opinion, how-to videos, webinars, and any of the other things mentioned above — you increase your ability to attract links exponentially.
5. Make a Friend
Lastly, the request for a link or the invitation to share great content is much more likely to succeed if you already have a relationship with the person, at least in the digital sense. Networking increases the likelihood that one of those contacts you’ve made — maybe in one of the groups you joined earlier in the third link building step — will mention, share, or link to the great content you created in the second step.
These five steps will help you build more links to your site, thereby improving your ability to rank in organic search. Each step builds on the next, so start at the top and work your way down.
They’re not easy or quick steps, but they’re the best way to build links that will benefit you consistently in the long term, rather than chasing after riskier methods that either lose their value as algorithms change or get your site banned outright.