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Link Building: 6 Rules of the Road for 2021

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There are no two ways about it – finding authority websites and getting backlinks from them is one of the most challenging parts of any SEO strategy. But if you want your business to rank on Google in 2021, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of link building.

Here are 6 rules of the road to help you enhance your SEO link-building strategy and bring needle-moving links.

#1: Keep the Link Growth Rate Natural

There’s no hiding from the fact that white hat link-building strategies take time. Even if you have the ability to build a large number of links all at once, try to start slow and gradually accelerate so that the pace of link acquisition appears more natural.

A quick-win strategy is rarely enough on its own and building links too fast might backfire, especially in highly competitive sectors.

#2: Ensure a Brand-Oriented Link Profile

Your link profile contains information about the inbound links you have earned, including their total number, diversity, and quality. Even more, your profile helps search engines understand how your page relates to other sites.

Because branded anchor attributes – such as name, logo, and homepage URL – tell Google what the topic of your page is all about, ensure that many of your backlinks have branded anchor text.

That said, do bear in mind that Google’s algorithm will see excessive use of optimized anchor text as a red flag. Your link profile should consist of a natural mix, avoiding any obvious spikes of links with optimized anchor text.

#3: Aim for a 50:50 Ratio of No-Follow/Do-Follow Links

“No-follow” tells Google not to follow the link and, consequently, doesn’t pass any link equity. No-follow links, however, can still be useful when linking to an untrustworthy source or using unnatural links (i.e. a page that was paid for/created by the owner of the destination page).

While it might feel counterintuitive, keeping a balanced ratio between do-follow and no-follow attributes could send valuable traffic to your page and even attract future followed links.

#4: Consider the Links Geolocation

Links from relevant websites hold the most value. When planning a link-building strategy, you need to make sure most of your backlinks come from the country where your business is located.

For instance, if you are a UK-based business – from a geographic distribution standpoint – it would only make sense if the majority of your links also come from the UK.

#5: Prioritize Relevancy Over Domain Rating

Links and quality content remain two of the most important ranking factors. What’s even more, Google is increasingly prioritizing the context around a link, as well as the relevancy of the topical theme of the linking site to your topic. This means that having a good match on topical relevancy can far outweigh a higher domain rating (DR).

In essence, if you’re aiming for long-term organic search success, you will need an SEO link-building strategy focused on quality, authenticity, and relevance.

Instead of going for big names like Forbes and the New York Times, consider pursuing links from other sites in your niche that are closely related to your own site’s topic, even if they have a lower DR. This way you ensure that you are not just building any links, but instead, you are building the right ones.

#6: Plan a Separate Link Building Budget

Doing link building for SEO will often require its own separate budget.

Link building expenses can get high and the results could be just a handful of links. If, however, you want to rank in competitive niches, this is definitely a worthwhile investment.

There are two main aspects to consider when planning for a link building budget:

Cost of Labor for Link Building

Getting backlinks is a laborious activity, and you need to be prepared to compensate for someone’s time to qualify link-building prospects, prepare unique content for them, and negotiate content and link placements through outreach.

Cost of Acquiring Links

Every good link-building strategy needs an efficient outreach campaign in order to get through to the right prospects.

Most of the top sites and blogs you reach out to, however, will feature or link to your business in return for payment, regardless of how amazing the content you give to them might be.

Truth is, the best opportunities for gaining exposure and earning referral traffic will come at a cost, and you should have a separate budget for this. With this in mind, remember to carefully evaluate each prospect before closing a deal.

For example, the interest in collaborating with travel bloggers to build links is rising, and so are their fees. Before accepting a do-follow link rate, make sure to check the website’s domain authority, its blog pages PA (page authority), and its monthly traffic.

Taking Your SEO Performance to the Next Level

Building backlinks is arguably one of the most straightforward SEO strategies to optimize.

Paired with strong technical and on-page SEO, good user experience, and excellent content, link building can be a highly effective way to drive more organic traffic and boost your rankings.

Not sure where to start? Head to our blog and learn how to use content to attract quality links.