Link building is a complex and hotly debated topic within the field of search engine optimization (SEO). Most professionals agree that links are indispensable in helping you rank higher in search engines, but disagree on the right strategies for getting those links.
One subset of strategies in the realm of link building is collectively referred to as link earning. But how exactly does link earning work? And is it the best approach for your business?
Domain Authority and SEO
Let’s start with the basics. Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about increasing the likelihood of your site ranking highly in Google searches that are relevant to your brand. Ensuring your site is indexable and functional and developing keyword-rich content are good ways to get started. But if you want to rank higher, you have to increase your perceived trustworthiness.
Your perceived trustworthiness is measured in terms of domain authority (DA), which applies to your whole site, and page authority (PA), which applies to individual pages on your site. When a new link from an authoritative source is built to a page of your site, that page sees an increase in PA, and your domain sees an increase in overall DA. The more authoritative the source, the greater the value.
There’s a small catch, however. Your links have to be natural. If they seem unnatural, irrelevant, or downright spammy, they could earn you a Google penalty or otherwise interfere with your ability to rank.
Link Building vs. Link Earning
Some SEO strategists get around this with advanced link building strategies that focus on the quality and relevance of a link first and foremost. These link building tactics are consistently effective for modern webmasters. Generally, optimizers develop high-quality offsite content for relevant external publishers and include a link back to a high-quality post on the target website. This strategy provides web users with a valuable resource and is generally seen as high quality.
However, some people struggle with this strategy. If you use unnatural anchor text, if you choose bad publishers, or if you publish too many links too quickly, it can work against you. For some strategists, this is too much of a risk.
That’s where link earning comes into play. Link earning is all about earning your links as naturally as possible. Instead of building the link yourself, you establish conditions that let the links come to you. So how can you do it?
How to Earn Links
If you want to earn more links for your site, these are the most important steps to follow:
- Create amazing content. The first and most important step is to create amazing onsite content for your own site. If you want people to build links to your site, you need to give them a good reason. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of something both inherently valuable and original; for example, you may publish recent research you’ve done on a popular topic, or you may post a thoroughly described opinion that contradicts the norms in your industry. Whatever you do, your content should be sufficiently detailed, informative, and eloquent. Once you have a handful of these posts in place in your blog, you can move to the next step.
- Distribute and popularize your content. Even if your content is some of the best on the web, it’s not going to get found on its own. If you want to get attention for it, you need to do the work. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this. For example, you can share your work on social media. You can post it in forums and online communities. You can even buy ads to send initial traffic to your site.
- Engage with other content creators. Finally, work on engaging with other content creators. Compliment their posts. Link to their sites. Consider collaborating with them on new pieces of content. If you’re an ingrained part of the community, the links should start coming in naturally.
The Best of Both Worlds
Link earning is inarguably natural, so it carries practically no risk of inviting a Google penalty. However, it can also be inconsistent; there’s no guarantee you’re going to get links, even with amazing onsite content, and it’s incredibly hard to scale your strategy consistently.
That’s why most modern SEO strategists attempt to capitalize on both link building and link earning. These collections of strategies naturally complement each other and can lead you to consistent, scalable, and yet safe and steady results. If you’re reluctant to jump in and start doing your own link building, you can always hire a link building agency to do the work for you—just make sure you do your research and avoid link schemes at all costs.