Link building is a technique in search engine optimization (SEO) that aims to increase the search engine rankings of a site by acquiring hyperlinks from other websites.
Link building on the Internet works similar to word-of-mouth recommendations in real life. If someone is new to the neighborhood and asks the locals for great restaurants in the area, their responses essentially act as “links” that direct the “user” to a “site.” The higher the number of links a site gets from external websites, the more search engines will flag the site as reputable and high-quality, and therefore bump up its position in the search results. Generally, this makes sense because if a domain leads their audience to an external site, they are essentially giving it their vote of confidence. Circling back to the word-of-mouth analogy – most people wouldn’t talk about bad businesses, nor would they lead others to it, or else they run the risk of damaging their own reputation. Meanwhile, companies that have gained consumer trust will generate a lot of buzz and have lots of people recommending them to others.
The importance of link building in an online business
Given the definition of link building, it’s easy to understand why it’s a vital tactic for an online business. In fact, a lot of companies go as far as hiring link building services in the hopes of increasing their visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). The ease of starting online businesses compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses means the online market is prone to oversaturation. Without investing in the right services and resources, your business could easily fade into obscurity. Studies show that 28.5% of users click the first website on the SERP, 15.7% click the second, while only 11.0% click the third. From these numbers, we can infer that a higher rank on SERPs directly translates to increased traffic for online businesses, coinciding with increased sales.
Success indicators for link building campaigns
Running a link building campaign without first identifying the success indicators is like running a marathon without knowing where the finish line is. You could spend months working on link building without realizing that you’re not actually attaining any tangible results, all because you don’t even know what indicators to look out for and what data to gather. Before you start a link building campaign, you need to have adequate data and concrete goals to streamline your efforts into tactics that work. We asked a few link building services for some advice, and they gave us a few key success indicators for any link building campaign:
1. Number of links
This is pretty self-explanatory. While an increased number of links alone is not a surefire success indicator, it is still a useful metric to track for multiple reasons:
- First, it can help you identify which sites have linked you in the past, as well as any new links from new sites. The frequency and diversity of new backlinks help you know if your campaign is gaining or losing momentum. It can also alert you to any lost links.
- Second, it can be used to compare your own performance to those of your competitors who are ahead of you in SERPs. See if they are also experiencing similar growth or decline in links and use their numbers as milestones for your own campaign.
- Third, it can immediately alert you of any anomalies in the trend of your campaign so far. Is there a sudden spike in links? Are you stagnating? Is your linking frequency decreasing? Keeping track of your numbers makes it much easier to narrow down the root cause of any changes in the pattern and adjust your campaign in response to it.
2. Unique linking root domains
A successful link building campaign isn’t just measurable by the number of links. While the number of links is essential, it loses credence if they’re all coming from the same few websites every time. It’s more valuable to a business to have links from multiple high quantity and unique domains. To illustrate, having ten links come from 10 unique domains is generally better than ten links coming from only one domain. Think of these links as reviews for a product. If a consumer saw many different people giving five stars to a particular product, it would signify that this is superior. However, if the same person gave the product 5 stars multiple times, it wouldn’t add to its credibility. Prioritize getting backlinks from new websites rather than having the same site link you over and over again.
3. Relevant linking pages
If you run a business focusing on health and wellness, then having a link from a fitness blog is more relevant to your business than a link from a cosmetics blog. Both may count as one link each but being linked by websites with a similar target market to yours results in more valuable traffic to your business. The audience from the fitness blog already has a pre-existing interest in health and wellness and is more likely to become paying customers instead of remaining site visitors. Search engines also prioritize relevancy in their algorithms. This helps discourage companies from cheating their way up the SERP through link farms.
4. Rank in search engine results pages
This is also self-explanatory. A tangible goal for your website is to attain a higher rank on SERPs, and if you observe an increase in your ranking position over time, then that is a clear indicator that your campaign is working. Similarly, if you notice your site has been demoted in the rankings, be quick to identify what went wrong and work towards finding a solution.
5. Organic traffic increase
Many businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on increasing their SERP ranking while forgetting that it is simply a stepping stone to the main goal, which is to increase user traffic to their website. Compare your link building progress to your organic traffic growth to know if the campaign is working efficiently. You could be getting upwards of a hundred referrals from different domains, but if it does not translate into organic traffic for your site, then there’s something wrong. Are the domains linking to your site relevant to your business? Are users having issues reaching your site? Does the site load slowly? Is the site difficult to navigate? Diagnose the source of the problem through trial and error and monitor your organic traffic for any improvement.
Patience is key
Success does not happen overnight for link building campaigns. Depending on how competitive your market is, it might take anywhere from 3 to 12 months to see significant changes. This is why it’s all the more important to be aware of your success indicators, so you can keep an eye out for change, be it positive or negative, the moment it arrives. Good business decisions are based on data, and you should also learn to interpret and analyze the data correctly to draw accurate conclusions and modify your campaign based on those.
If you’re having trouble getting your link building campaign off the ground or if previous link building campaigns have failed, consider enlisting the help of link building services. There is no quick and easy way to run a link building campaign. Still, when you’re working in partnership with experts who are experienced in how to do link building effectively, you take fewer risks and gain the valuable insight you may not find elsewhere.