What Is a Link Profile and Why Should You Care?

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There is a direct correlation between search engine rankings, website traffic, and inbound leads. This is why it’s crucial to be ranked as highly as possible when your targeted prospects search for companies like yours online.

While most businesses acknowledge the importance of ranking well for relevant searches, many do not know about “off-page search engine optimization (SEO)”.
What Is “Off-Page SEO”

Off-page SEO is the process of securing credible links from external webpages to your webpages. The premise is that when you secure an inbound link, someone is vouching for your content; they are pointing their audiences to that content.

Search engine rankings are heavily influenced by off-page SEO. Good quality inbound links (or, “backlinks”) are a significant factor in Google’s algorithm.

SEO Moz says that, “…growing the link profile of a website is critical to gaining traction, attention and traffic from the engines…link building is among the top tasks required for search ranking and traffic success…”. And according to Hubspot, “Backlinks tell search engines that your website is an authority on a certain subject – so the more backlinks you have from high quality, high authority sites, the better your website will rank in search engine results pages.”

How to Secure Links

Securing high value links is not easy, and takes planning and consistent execution. However, when done properly, the payoff can be significant. In general terms, the activities required for building a strong link profile are:

  • Develop Valuable Content
  • Identify Target links
  • Perform Link Building in Phases
  • Assess Results/Make Adjustments

Develop Valuable Content

Nobody will point their audiences to your webpages if you don’t have valuable, relevant content to share. Without valuable and relevant content, produced in various formats (e.g. infographics, blogs, white papers, etc.), it is virtually impossible to build a strong link profile.

So job one is to create and post content that provides the insights prospective buyers are searching for online.
Identify Link Targets

The sources of desired links must be well understood and documented. This will require research and input from people across your organization.

Sources of links can include:

  • Directories
  • Websites that post third party content
  • Business Partners
  • Public Relations
  • Industry Publications
  • Bloggers/Industry Experts
  • Highly Visible Sites or Publications

Perform Link Building in Phases

Link building takes time, so it is best to proceed in phases. An example of a phased approach is:

  • Phase one could focus on links that are the easiest to secure such as directories and business partnerships. Even though these links may not be of as high value, the activities required to secure them will initiate a disciplined link building approach and result in some early successes.
  • Phase two may target industry publications, bloggers/writers that concentrate on your industry, or chambers of commerce.
  • Phase three entails targeting the most difficult link sources, websites such as the Huffington Post, the New York Times, Forbes, etc.
    Assess Results/Make Adjustments

NotepadOnce link building activities are initiated, results must be evaluated to determine whether they have had an impact on search engine results, inbound leads, brand awareness, and so on.

Based on this analysis, you can determine if you must make adjustments to your link building strategy.

Other Keys to Link Building Success

  • Be a good online citizen by pointing to/sharing other people’s content (Law of Reciprocity)
  • Build relationships – both online and offline
  • Make link building an ongoing effort
  • Stay aware of industry trends and be known as a thought leader

Quality Trumps Quantity

Developing a strong link profile requires a focus on quality, not quantity. Not every link is created equal; a single high-quality link can boost your website ranking more than a number of low quality ones.

Link building activities take significant effort, so it is best to proceed in an organized and strategic manner. A well thought-out link building plan is essential.

Over time, the payoff for getting high quality links and improving your link profile can be substantial. Figuring out how to secure high quality inbound links is worth the effort.

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