Link building is the practice of getting more backlinks or inbound links to a website, which is one of the most critical elements of building a successful digital presence.
In growing B2B businesses, link building has two prominent and critical roles in achieving success. First, it can help drive valuable traffic to the website, which will, in turn, help you acquire more customers.
Second, getting inbound links from reputable websites in your niche will signal the search engines that your website is trustworthy, relevant, and credible. When this happens consistently, your website’s search engine ranking will rise higher.
In short, a comprehensive, strong link-building strategy is critical if you want to establish your B2B business as a credible player in your industry.
In this article, we will explore all you need to know about building link-building strategies for B2B businesses. By the end of this guide, you’d have learned about the following:
- What is link building, and how it works
- The importance of link building for B2B business, including how it can help drive traffic
- How to identify high-quality sources for link building
- Effective link-building strategies you can implement in your B2b Business
- How to measure the success of your link-building campaign and make adjustments as needed
- Common mistakes to avoid in B2B link building
Without further ado, let us begin by discussing the basics of link building.
What is link building?
As briefly mentioned in the introduction of this article, link building is any effort directed at acquiring backlinks to a website.
To really understand link building, it will help to first understand what a backlink first.
In the internet world, a backlink, also called an inbound link, is one of the three types of links.
A link, or to be more exact, a hyperlink, is a clickable element of a website that, when clicked, will direct the website visitor to another page. The page can be a part of the same website, or another website altogether, and is typically displayed as differently colored and underlined text.
This, for example, is a hyperlink to our home page.
However, hyperlinks can also come in the form of buttons or clickable images.
We have mentioned that there are three types of links, and they are:
- Internal links: hyperlinks pointing to other pages or coming from pages on the same website.
- External (outbound) links: hyperlinks pointing from your website to a page on another website.
- Backlinks or inbound links: hyperlinks coming from another website to your website
Why are backlinks important?
All three types of links have their roles and benefits, but when it comes to SEO and digital marketing, backlinks play two unique and important roles:
- Driving referral traffic
When reputable websites with a lot of visitors link to your website, their visitors may click this link and visit your site. Once they do so, these visitors are considered to be referral traffic.
Referral traffic can be a valuable source of visitors to your website because they have been directed to your site from a relevant, qualified source. These people may be interested in your content, products, or services and may convert into actual customers in the future.
Building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites in your niche or industry will allow you to drive more referral traffic to your website, amplify your brand’s reach, and potentially increase your customer base.
- As a ranking factor
To put it simply, backlinks are treated like a vote of confidence on the internet.
When website A links to another website, website B, website A is essentially saying that website B’s content it linked to is trustworthy and credible. The search engines will capture this signal and will also consider website B more credible and authoritative.
The more inbound links you have, especially those coming from high-quality and relevant websites, the quicker your website will climb the search rankings.
Link building: quantity vs. quality
Since backlinks are votes of confidence, a common mistake made by marketers and SEO experts is to focus solely on getting more of these votes.
In truth, however, the quality of inbound links coming in is much more important than the quantity.
If, for example, your company is a B2B legal service, then getting a backlink from a prominent legal blog in your area will send a much stronger ranking signal than getting 50 backlinks from totally unrelated or brand-new websites.
In fact, if you acquire too many low-quality irrelevant links, especially in a short time frame, Google and the other search engines may consider this as a form of spam and may penalize your website. This penalty may lead to a drop in traffic and rankings or even a permanent “ban” from the SERP.
In the not-too-distant past, many websites and SEO marketers rely on black-hat link-building tactics to quickly climb in rankings. These black-hat tactics often involve publishing low-quality blog posts (often using automated “content spinner” programs) to generate hundreds or even thousands of backlinks in a short amount of time.
Yet, search engines have become much more sophisticated since then and are now very accurate in understanding the context of a website, detecting duplicated content, and identifying various forms of black-hat tactics.
It’s critical to use legitimate means to build high–quality links from reputable websites that are relevant to your industry or niche. Obviously, this approach takes time and effort, but it will be worth it in the long run.
How to identify high-quality websites for link-building
Now that we’ve established the importance of focusing only on high-quality and relevant websites in link-building, how can we identify these high-quality websites to target in our link-building efforts?
Unfortunately, identifying relevant and authoritative websites in your business niche can indeed be time-consuming and challenging, but it is crucial to ensure you are building links only from reputable sources that will contribute to your website’s SEO performance and won’t get you penalized.
Here are some tips on how to check the quality and relevance of a website for link building:
- Domain Authority (DA): Domain Authority is a scoring system developed by Moz, a software company specializing in SEO tools. You can check DA scores with SEO tools like Moz and Ahrefs, and the score is based on a scale of 1 to 100; the higher the scores, the better. Consider only websites with a DA score of 50 or higher.
- Relevance: ensure that the website is relevant to your business’s niche. For example, if you are a B2B business specializing in accounting SaaS, a link from an accounting blog or a tech website will be considered more relevant than a link from a culinary blog. Building links from irrelevant websites can harm your website’s SEO.
- Traffic: search engines consider the amount of traffic an important factor in determining the site’s authority. Not to mention, a website with higher traffic is more likely to drive referral traffic to your site. You can use websites or tools like Alexa or SimilarWeb to check the website’s traffic.
- Social media presence: check if the website (or the company behind the website) has a significant following on social media and whether they consistently post high-quality content on their social profiles. Brands with strong social media presence tend to be reputable and credible sources.
- Link profile: use tools like Ahrefs, Majestic, SEMRush, or others to check and analyze the website’s link profile. Ensure it doesn’t have any history of low-quality or spammy links, and make sure the website hasn’t been penalized by search engines in the past.
Again, identifying high-quality sources of links is a critical step in ensuring the success of your link-building campaign. Take the time to research and evaluate potential websites, and make sure that you are only building links from relevant and reputable sources.
Effective link-building strategies for B2B business
Now that you’ve understood the concept of link building, its importance, and how to identify high-quality link sources, we can move on to this guide’s main dish: effective link-building strategies your B2B business can adopt.
In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most effective link-building strategies in 2023. Keep in mind, however, that every business and industry is unique, so you may need to experiment with different strategies and find what works best for your B2B business.
- Effective content marketing strategy
Before we discuss any other tactics and strategies, it’s important to set things straight:
There’s no shortcut to actually having high-quality, relevant content people would want to link to.
If your content is high-quality, relevant, and has something interesting in it, naturally, you’ll get those backlinks from relevant sites. It will probably take some time before your content gains some traction, but you will get there.
On the other hand, no amount of “advanced,” “holy grail” tactics can help low-quality, spammy content get links from authoritative websites.
Your content should be well-researched, informative, engaging, and should meet your target audience’s search intent.
In optimizing your content strategy for link building, here are some actionable tips you can follow:
- As a foundation of your site’s link profile, publish evergreen content that remains relevant and valuable for a long time. This type of content can continue to attract links long after it has been published (probably with minor refreshes/updates,) so it can help maintain a healthy link profile for your website.
- Consistency is key. Try to publish at least two high-quality blog posts (or other types of content) per month, which can help improve your site’s visibility and build awareness.
- Diversify your content formats. You can experiment with other forms of content than blog posts, such as infographics, videos, ebooks, and whitepapers, to help diversify your content. This way, you may appeal to different types of audiences and potentially increase the chances of earning backlinks.
Once you’ve ensured the quality of your content, we can move on to the next tactics and strategies below.
- Incorporating link hooks
The “link hooks” strategy involves adding specific elements or features to your content that are designed to attract (hook) others to link your content. There are several different variations to this link hooks strategy, and here are some effective ones for B2B businesses:
- Data-driven hooks: including useful and valuable data in your content so people can cite or reference it. You can use statistics, research results, case studies, success stories, or other types of data to create data-driven hooks. Backing your content with data, in general, will also improve its chances of getting linked.
- Resource hooks: similar in principle to the above, this type of link hook offers a resource that people may find valuable. For example, you can include templates or tools (i.e., calculators) in your content so people may link it.
- Emotional hooks: appealing to people’s emotions so they may link your content. For example, you can include inspiring, funny, or even sad stories in your content.
- Ego hooks: a type of link hook strategy that involves mentioning an influencer or a brand in your content to attract their attention and potentially earn a backlink from them. For example, you can interview an influencer or publish a case study about a brand. Once the content is published, reach out to the said influencer/brand and let them know that you’ve mentioned them in your content. Chances are, they will promote this content to their followers and link your content.
- Visual hooks: using visual, aesthetically pleasing assets in your content to make your content more shareable. These visual assets can be images, infographics, videos, or other formats, and they may increase the chances of your content being linked.
- Interactive hooks: including interactive elements in your content, like a quiz or survey, that may engage visitors and encourage them to share it. When they share the quiz, you may get a backlink.
- News hooks: including current events, news stories, or even controversial content to generate buzz and attract people to the content, which can lead to more backlinks.
There are many other types of link hooks available, and some may be more effective for your B2B business’s specific niche than others. You can also experiment and combine different types of link hooks in your content strategy, but the idea is to make your content more likely to be linked and shared by adding an attractive and/or valuable element—the hook—in it.
- Broken link building
Another effective strategy you can try is to conduct what we call “broken link building.”
This strategy involves finding broken links—links to pages that are no longer available or have been redirected to a different URL. Broken links typically result in a 404 error when they are clicked.
The gist of this strategy is to find broken links in authoritative websites relevant to your niche, reach out to the website owners or webmasters, and suggest your content (either the ones you already have or brand-new ones you just developed for this purpose) as a replacement.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide for this strategy:
- Find broken links. You can use various tools like Ahrefs, Check My Links, and Broken Link Checker, among others to find broken links on websites in your niche.
- Create content. Assuming you don’t already have a piece of content that is a suitable replacement for the broken link, you need to create a new one.
- Outreach. Reach out to the website owner or webmaster, inform them about the broken link, and suggest your content as a replacement.
In this broken link strategy, you are creating a win-win situation for both the website owner and your own website. You are offering a functional and useful link on their website, so typically you’ll get less resistance.
The key to this strategy is to only suggest high-quality content that is relevant to the replaced link and to the website’s audience. When done right, you can establish a valuable relationship with the website owner/webmaster for more link-building opportunities in the future.
- Guest posting
Guest posting—or guest blogging—is another popular link-building strategy that involves writing a blog post (or other types of content) for another website in your niche/industry. You can then include a link back to your own website within the content’s body or in the author bio section.
Besides generating valuable backlinks, guest posting also offers an additional benefit in generating exposure for your brand. You can amplify your brand’s reach to the readers or followers of the website you are contributing a post to, establishing your position as a thought leader in your field and possibly converting these readers into your readers instead
Here is a basic step-by-step guide on how to use guest posting as a link-building strategy:
- Find and research websites in your industry that accept guest contributions. There are tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Pitchbox, among others, that can help you with this purpose, but you can also leverage Google Search by using search operators such as:
- “industry keyword” + “write for us”
- “industry keyword” + “guest post”
- “industry keyword” + “contribute”
- “industry keyword” + “submit a guest post”
- “industry keyword” + “guest post guidelines”
- “industry keyword” + “become a contributor”
- “industry keyword” + “submit an article”
- “industry keyword” + “guest author”
- “industry keyword” + “guest post opportunities”
- “industry keyword” + “write for our blog”
- Most likely, these websites will provide guidelines and formatting requirements for guest posts, as well as how to pitch your contributions. Follow these guidelines and contact the website’s owner/webmaster.
- Once your pitch has been approved, develop high-quality, informative, well-researched content. Make sure it’s relevant to the website’s audience.
- Include a link back to your website. Refer back to the website’s guidelines on the appropriate way to do this.
- Engage with the website’s audience, for example, by responding to comments. This can help build awareness of your B2B business or for yourself as the author/expert.
- Share your guest post on social media, your email newsletter, or other channels to build awareness.
Guest posting can be a very effective strategy not only for link-building purposes. When done correctly, it can also help you build relationships with influencers and other websites in your industry and gain exposure for your B2B business
- Relationship-based link-building
This link-building strategy involves building sustainable relationships with relevant websites in your niche or industry influencers so you can secure a backlink (or backlinks for your future content) to your website.
The main idea behind this strategy is to build a genuine connection and relationship with the influencer or website/business owner first before asking for a backlink.
There are many ways you can try to build relationships with influencers and websites for link building, for example:
- Connect on social media: follow the website or influencer you want to build relationships with on their social media profiles. Then, engage with their post, for example, by leaving useful/compelling comments or joining their conversations in an interesting way to win their attention.
- Engage with their content: comment, share, and give likes to their posts. By showing your support, you may get on their radar. This way, when it’s finally time to reach out to them, you’ll meet less resistance.
- Offer help: if you notice that the website or influencer in question is currently struggling with something, you can offer to help. This can be as simple as helping them promote their content or offering advice on something you’re an expert on.
- Propose collaborations: reach out to influencers or websites in your niche and propose a collaboration. This can be a guest post contribution to each other, a joint project, or any other kind of partnership.
- Attending events: you can attend online and offline events (conferences, trade shows, seminars, etc.) to meet influencers and industry professionals and build authentic relationships with them. Networking in person can especially help in building stronger and lasting relationships.
- Case studies or testimonials: if you’ve used a product or service from a website you’d like to build a relationship with, then you may want to reach out and offer to provide a testimonial or even be a part of a case study/success story. This is a great way to get noticed and start building a relationship.
- Leveraging social media
You can also use social media to promote your content and eventually build links on your website.
Here are some actionable tips you can try:
- Share and promote your content: sharing your content on relevant social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can help increase the content’s visibility, drive traffic to the website, and increase your content’s chances of getting linked.
- Engage with your audience: respond to comments and messages, answer questions, create polls, etc. Actively engaging with your audience can increase the chances of your followers sharing your content, which in turn, can increase the chance of getting backlinks.
- Outreach: find influencers and brands in your industry/niche that are active on social media, and send a personalized message to them. Share your content with them, and ask them to share it with their audience.
- Participate in communities: join relevant communities and groups on social media platforms, and engage with their members. You can share your content to improve its visibility, drive traffic, build new relationships, and, eventually, get more links.
- Social media listening: use social media listening/monitoring tools like Hootsuite, Mention, or Buzzsumo to monitor social media for mentions of your brands and relevant industry keywords. This can help you identify opportunities to engage with influencers and potential link partners that are often mentioned by your audience.
As you can see, while social media might not directly help you in getting more backlinks, it can be valuable for building relationships with relevant brands and influencers, as well as promoting your content to improve its visibility.
Measuring and analyzing your link-building results
To ensure success, it’s crucial not to treat link-building as a one-off thing that can be completed and forgotten about.
It’s possible to see immediate results from link-building tactics, like in guest posting, where you may get a backlink right away. However, building a strong backlink profile, as well as seeing significant improvements in search engine rankings and traffic, may take months or even years.
Thus, it’s best to see link-building as a continuous, long-term campaign. Consistent effort, patience, and continuous improvements will be the keys to success.
Another important consideration is that search engine algorithms used by Google and others are constantly changing. Meaning, your SEO efforts and link-building practices that work today may not work tomorrow. This is why it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest algorithms and adjust your link-building approaches accordingly.
Therefore, you must continue to monitor and maintain your link profile and your link-building efforts, and here are the key steps you can take:
- Track your link profile
Use link monitoring tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Moz to track your link profile, especially your backlinks profile.
With these tools, track the number of backlinks you get, where they are coming from, and other metrics like
- Referring domains: the number of unique domains linking to your B2B business’s website. The more unique referring domains you have, the better your site’s chances of ranking higher in the SERPs.
- Domain Authority: track your website’s DA score over time so you can assess whether your link-building efforts are effective. Also, monitor DA scores of incoming backlinks.
- Page Authority: Page Authority (PA) is similar to DA but for the individual pages of a website rather than the overall domain. Track the PA of the pages you are trying to rank to assess whether your link-building efforts are working.
- Anchor text distribution: anchor text is the clickable text representing a link. It’s critical to have a diversified, varied anchor text profile that includes both non-branded and branded words. Too many exact match anchor texts (anchor text similar to your target keyword) can send a red flag to the search engines and might result in a penalty.
- Monitor improvements in search engine rankings
Monitor your pages’ search engine rankings for the targeted keywords. You can use tools like Google Search Console, SEMRush, Ahfrefs, or others for this purpose.
Your rankings should climb gradually as you get more high-quality backlinks. If not, then you should monitor other metrics to identify the issue and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Monitor your website traffic
Use Google Analytics or other traffic monitoring tools to monitor your website traffic.
You’d want to track the following:
- Organic traffic: the number of visitors who come to your website by clicking on the search results pointing to your page. Your organic traffic should climb steadily, directly proportional to the increase in search ranking. Track your organic metric over time to assess the impact of your link-building efforts and overall SEO strategy.
- Referral traffic: the number of visitors who come to your website by clicking on backlinks on other websites. This metric can help you identify which of your backlink sources are sending the most traffic to your site and measure the quality of your backlinks.
- Pageviews: the total number of pages viewed on your website. This metric can help you understand which pages on your website are currently performing well and which ones may need to be improved. Pages with great pageviews tend to generate more backlinks.
- Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing just a single page. A high bounce rate may indicate that visitors are not finding your website relevant. This can affect your ability to get more backlinks and may negatively impact your search engine rankings.
- Time on site: how long visitors spend on your website. Longer time on site can indicate that your visitors find your content relevant and valuable.
- Measure your ROI
Measure the ROI (Return on Investment) of your link-building efforts by measuring your site’s conversion rate.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who take the desired action (signing up for an email newsletter, downloading your free trial, making a purchase, etc.) on your website.
Tracking your conversion rate can help you determine whether your link-building efforts are attracting the right kind of traffic in enough quantity.
You can also measure ROI by measuring cost per acquisition (CPA). CPA refers to the total cost of acquiring a customer through your link-building efforts.
Tracking CPA and conversion rate can help you determine whether your link-building campaign is cost-effective, so you can make an informed decision to adjust your strategy as needed.
- Analyze your competitors
The next step is to analyze your competitors’ approaches to link building and their overall SEO strategies.
Doing so can help you:
- Identify more link-building opportunities you can pursue
- Identify gaps in your strategy. For example, by identifying potential link sources your competitors have leveraged that you haven’t used.
- Gain a competitive edge by learning from your competitors’ mistakes and imitating what worked for them
Here is the step-by-step guide on how to perform competitor analysis:
- Identify your competitors: you can identify the direct and indirect competitors in your niche by searching for keywords related to your business/niche on Google. The websites ranked on the first page are your main competitors.
- Backlink analysis: use a backlink analysis tool (i.e., Ahrefs, SEMRush,) to identify backlinks pointing to your competitor’s websites. This will give you insights into their backlink sources and the quality of these backlinks.
- Identify opportunities: look for websites that are linking to your competitors but haven’t linked to your website. These are potential link opportunities you can pursue.
- Analyze competitor’s content: analyze the types of competitors’ content that are attracting backlinks. This can help you in creating your own content strategy.
- Assess their link profile: especially evaluate the quality of your competitor’s backlinks. Look for websites that are linking to them and evaluate their authority, relevance, and other metrics.
- Identify link-building tactics: if possible, identify your competitor’s link-building tactics, such as broken link building, guest posting, or social media outreach.
- Adjust your strategy
Adjust your link-building strategy based on your analysis above.
If your tactic is working well, keep it up, or double down on it. On the other hand, make the required adjustments when a certain tactic isn’t performing as intended.
For example, if you are using outreach as a part of your link-building strategy, track your success rate and refine your outreach strategy as needed. Test different outreach subject lines, use different outreach templates and track results, and test different follow-up strategies to determine which is the most effective for your target audience and goals.
Continuously monitor your link-building results and optimize your strategy over time.
Common mistakes to avoid in link-building for B2B businesses
Above, we have discussed many effective strategies for building high-quality backlinks for B2B businesses. Yet, it’s also important to be aware of common mistakes that may prevent the success of your link-building efforts.
Some of the smaller mistakes may seem harmless at first, but when not managed well, these mistakes may cause your website to be penalized by the search engines, causing negative long-term impacts on your online presence.
Avoid the following:
- Focusing too much on quantity over quality
A very common mistake performed by many businesses, SEO “experts,” and marketers is to put too much focus on getting more backlinks (quantity) but not paying enough attention to the quality and relevance of the websites you are targeting in your link-building efforts.
Again, remember that not all backlinks are created equal, and quality backlinks from authoritative websites always have better impacts on your SEO than the larger quality of low-quality backlinks.
- Using black hat or grey hat link-building tactics
Using black hat link-building tactics may offer quick results but can harm your site’s SEO performance in the long run and may even result in a permanent Google penalty.
Some examples of black hat link-building tactics to avoid are:
- Buying links from low-quality or spammy websites
- Participating in link schemes or link exchanges
- Using private blog networks (PBNs) to create and manipulate backlinks
- Using automated link-building software
- Hacking into other websites to insert links to your site
Also to consider are grey hat tactics that are not actually ilegal, but are considered ethically questionable. In some cases, grey hat tactics can lead to penalties, so you should be extra careful when using them:
- Guest posting on websites solely for the purpose of acquiring backlinks
- Participating in scholarship or award programs solely for the purpose of acquiring backlinks
- Press release distribution solely for the purpose of acquiring backlinks
- Linking to your website from forum comments or social media profiles with the intent to manipulate search engine rankings
- Article marketing solely for the purpose of acquiring backlinks
While some grey hat tactics may not be against Google’s guidelines, they may carry some risk. We’d recommend sticking to legal (white hat) tactics for link building that we’ve discussed throughout this article to avoid any negative consequences.
- Not diversifying your link sources
Relying on only one or two sources of backlinks can appear spammy and unnatural to Google and other search engines and can harm your site’s SEO performance.
It’s important to diversify your link sources to keep a natural link profile. Target a variety of websites of different types: blogs, industry publications, and even nofollow links from social media. A mix of backlink sources can improve your SEO performance.
- Not tracking and analyzing the results of your link-building campaign
If you fail to monitor and analyze your link-building efforts, you can’t objectively assess whether your link-building strategies are effective or if you need to adjust your tactics.
As discussed above, it’s important to regularly monitor and analyze relevant metrics, so you can measure the success of your link-building campaign and adjust your strategy when needed.
Link-building is a critical aspect of any successful SEO campaign for B2B businesses.
Having an effective and ethical link-building strategy can greatly enhance your B2B business’s visibility and online presence. By driving more organic traffic to your website, you’ll also be able to generate more leads and, ultimately, convert them into customers.
Above, we have discussed actionable and effective link-building practices you can implement in your B2B business. By implementing them, avoiding common mistakes, monitoring relevant metrics, and continuously improving your strategies, you can achieve success in both your link-building and SEO efforts.