The most important factor for SEO is your content. If you have the best answer online to a searcher’s question, you will probably show up at the top of the search results. The second most important factor is the links you have. Since Google’s algorithm can’t make human judgements, they use people’s decisions to give links to your website. This is why linkbuilding is a worthwhile activity. Even linkbuilding in the pandemic is worthwhile. If you have some extra time to think about your website, linkbuilding is something to think about.
What is linkbuilding?
When one website links to another with a hyperlink, that’s the kind of link we’re talking about. Some websites probably link to yours. You can find out which ones do by checking your Google Search Console. You can see in the screenshot below how the Links report looks. It basically lists the websites Google sees linking to your website.
Each of the websites listed has a link to some page of your website on at least one of their pages. Google uses the quality of the websites as well as the number of sites, their anchor text, and the types of links as information for the algorithm that determines your Google rankings.
Pretty much all of the 6,000+ links our lab site has are organic: someone just decides to link to one of our pages. We neglect our lab site pretty badly these days, and that include linkbuilding. We haven’t tried to add links in years.
You too? That’s understandable. We’re all busy. But some of us are getting a little downtime right now, so you may have time to work on linkbuilding in the pandemic. Here’s how.
Clean up your website
If you are going to request links, you should assume that the people you contact will come to your website. Make sure it looks legit. For our lab site, that meant making sure that we had some recent posts. “Christmas in Australia Lesson Plans” on the homepage in the spring is not a good look.
If your website isn’t link worthy, take the time to fix the issues. Your online presence is absolutely the most important thing for marketing efforts during the quarantine and the reopening, so website improvements should be your priority.
If your website is ready, identify websites that should link to you and make yourself a spreadsheet with their titles, URLs, and webmasters. This allows you to be efficient in your requests.
The Links report in Google Search Console is a great starting point. We hadn’t heard of most of the sites that have linked to our lab site, so that’s definitely a source of new information for us.
We went to TravelingLantern.com and saw that they link to the Pinnocchio Lesson Plans at our lab site. We see that they are a theater troupe serving kids and schools, and this suggests reaching out to other theater troupes of the same kind. Since we have built websites for this kind of theater troupe, we have some basic knowledge that could help us succeed with this group.
We can Google and look at the websites that come up, making sure that they are good, non-spammy websites. We won’t reach out to webmasters with too many ads or with content errors. In fact, we want to find websites that are better than ours, if possible.
Some of the links may be gone or they may not be good choices for you, but you should be able to come up with some ideas in this way.
You can also check Google Analytics and see what kind of website sends referral traffic. Identify similar sites and add them to your list.
You can also look at the link profiles of your competitors’ websites. One way is to do a link search at Google.com. To look for links to our lab site, we would type
into the search box. We will see a lot of social media and even quite a few links from our own domain, but we will also see other domains that linked to our website.
There are also backlink search tools. Search for “backlink search tools” at Google and try out a few. Put your competitors’ web address into the search box and see where they are getting links.
Find the connection
Marketing during the pandemic can be tough. Some of the people who see your emails don’t want to hear anything more about COVID-19, ever. Others will feel that you are heartless if you don’t mention it.
Ideally, everyone you ask for a link will be glad you offered that content to them. If we were reaching out to theater troupes for our lab site, which is a K-12 education site, we would tell the webmaster that we think parents and teachers alike are grateful that they offer online learning resources. We’d say that we also care about families trying to learn at home — or even just to keep their kids entertained during the quarantine — and we have a page we think would support their mission.
That’s an authentic connection.
Do your best to find a connection with the webmasters you write to.
There are directories where you can just fill out a form and get a link. There is nothing wrong with using that method to gain links.
The best links, however, will require you to ask for those links.
Write a real, original email for each one. Mention something you noticed or admired about the website you’re asking for a link from. Suggest a specific page they might want to link to because it has resources their readers will value. Thank them for their time.
Many of the people you reach out to in this way will ignore you completely, but some will place the link, and some of those people will thank you for pointing out that valuable resource.
Linkbuilding in the pandemic
Linkbuilding at any time is difficult and time-consuming. It requires skill and creativity as well as an analytic mind. You may get more rejections right now, when people’s minds are occupied with serious issues.
It can also be worthwhile. This is a service that we offer. If it’s not the best use of your time right now, feel free to contact us for help.