The 3 Strategies of Link Building – Why & How You Build Links

October 14, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Do you even know why you’re building links to your site? Links are the currency of the web and are immensely valuable because of the traffic potential that they represent. In the online world, traffic equals money so it’s no surprise that webmasters frantically build links with various techniques hoping to explode exposure and become the “next big thing”.

But really, do you know why you’re building links? Your reply may be “to gain traffic”, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. Depending on your goal and your purpose, your strategies will differ wildly. If you don’t know WHY you’re building links, then you won’t know HOW either.

So what are the main reasons why webmasters build links? The 3 main strategies are listed below.

  • Branding exposure
  • SEO value
  • Direct traffic

Of course you’ll use a combination of all 3 depending on your site and situation, but it’s important to know your motivation behind your link building efforts.

1. Branding exposure

If you’re looking to build a brand online, you need to put emphasis on your brand name – especially when building links to your site. For example, would Pepsi aim for links that say “cola drink” to its site? Of course not. They spend millions of dollars every year to increase exposure for the Pepsi brand with extravagant advertisements and sponsorships.

If your main focus in building links is to build up your brand, then you need to concentrate on getting as many eyeballs as possible to your brand. Buy banner ads in highly visible sections on top sites in your niche, use a familiar logo in all banner ad creative, and place your brand name in link anchor text (e.g. Winning the Web instead of Internet Marketing Strategies). With the ultimate goal of branding exposure, you want to make your potential customers associate your site with a particular niche or idea. This can be done by constantly reminding them of your brand name (in links and in banner ads on related sites) everywhere they go.

2. SEO value

A big reason why links are so valuable is because search engines use them as a large factor in determining the rankings for search results pages. All other variables being the same, a site with more inbound links will usually outrank competing sites with fewer links for relevant keywords.

If your main focus for building links is to increase your rankings in the search engines, you’re going to have to take a different approach than if you were looking for branding exposure. For SEO value, you have to ensure that the link anchor text you are aiming for is more general in nature and keyword-rich (e.g. “internet marketing” rather than “winning the web”). This will enable your site to rank more favorably for those targeted keywords. You should also favor text links rather than images and ensure that your links are not using the nofollow attribute so that they pass value.

In order to increase rankings for your targeted keywords, you need to constantly build links from a wide array of sources using varied link anchor text. Text links on high authority sites will be especially valuable for this cause. There are hundreds of methods for attaining links for SEO, but we won’t get into those here. πŸ™‚

3. Direct traffic

Finally, the last reason for building links is for direct traffic. Not only do you seek branding exposure and higher search engine rankings, but you also want users to click through to your site from the link. This will always be a benefit of a link (in fact, it’s the main function of a link) but there are instances when you might want to engage in a link building campaign specifically for the direct traffic.

For example, if you want to promote timely content such as a news article, a long term branding or SEO effort probably won’t be effective. Instead, you can build links in a way that will provide a short burst of traffic with high impact. When I build buzz around my contests, I focus on links from blog reviews, press releases, and social media sites to provide a huge influx of new visitors. Sure, these links have long term value as well, but I’m more concerned about the immediate traffic potential.

I’ve found that links for direct traffic usually need to be surrounded by descriptive text that explains the benefits of your content and uses a call to action. The more enticing your link, the better.

What’s your strategy?

Now that you know the 3 strategies for link building, you’ll be able to better tailor your campaigns around each of them. Knowing the ‘why’ will facilitate the ‘how’.

Which of the 3 strategies do you focus your link building efforts on? Have your efforts been in line with your motivations? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.

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43 Responses to “The 3 Strategies of Link Building – Why & How You Build Links”

Make Money Blogging on October 14th, 2008

I think thats about all that is behind the myth of link building. But if you want to look deeper, maybe too increase the value of your website? Most valuators look at the number of incoming links too.



Super, duper explanation of link building and more importantly why it’s so incredibly important!

Maria Reyes-McDavis

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

Thanks Maria! I’ve never received a super duper compliment before. What’s the main strategy you use in building links to your own blog?

ZK@WebTraffciROI on October 14th, 2008

Most online sites get into link building to increase SERP and direct traffic ..I gues its less of brand exposure that factors link building activity

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

If you think about it, all 3 strategies are included in every link building campaign. You build links for traffic, which then increases your search rankings, which then increases your brand equity. It’s just a matter of determining which of these 3 components is most important to you.

kouji on October 18th, 2008

true. they do feed off of each other. for me, the second and third are most important, as i’m not looking to push a brand, merely to bring in readers. πŸ™‚

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willbill on October 14th, 2008

branding is something that is way out of my mind as of now. I’m just starting and I think if I put a brand on my self, it will do no good because there are already lots of big names on my niche. Instead, my motivation will be on direct link and seo. But I believe, time will come that I’ll be able to wear a brand for myself. Yeah, I think, by priority, its down to top, direct links, seo then branding exposure.

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

Hey willbill,
I’d have to disagree with that. In order to compete with those “big names” in your niche, you’re going to have to build a brand for yourself. Brands are trusted much more than generic sites (kind of like megabrands and generics brands at the grocery store) and they will continue to take on the brunt of the traffic – both direct and in the search results. I recommend that you focus on branding and branch off your SEO and direct linking from that.

Ann Arbor Web Design on October 14th, 2008

What an excellent post; really informative. And that is such an accurate analogy, that links are the currency of the internet.

Gyutae Park on October 14th, 2008

It’s so true that links are the currency of the Internet. Traffic is extremely valuable and links are the way to get it. Here’s another analogy for ya… you’re building an amazing city that many people would want to live in – now you have to create the roads that will get them there.

Make Money Blogging on October 15th, 2008

Great way to picture that..Just like building up your community.

Dennis Edell on October 15th, 2008

So many posts, yet not one as clear as this one! Great job.

Currently my main ‘tactic’ is blog commenting (hello!)…

Great exposure, SEO & Alexa helpful (so I’ve heard), MASSIVE direct traffic (so far) which is bringing readers, subscribers, and linkers. πŸ™‚

BTW, I’d love to see a subscribe-to-comments plugin utilized here. I never actually “remember” to return for possible replies πŸ˜‰

Gyutae Park on October 15th, 2008

Thanks for the commenting, Dennis! Blog commenting is a great method to interact with bloggers and get their attention. Heck, you got mine right?

I thought I had the subscribe to comments plugin installed, but I’ll have to double check.

Dennis Edell on October 15th, 2008

I now notice it under the 3 fields…usually it’s under the submit button…is that it?

Gyutae Park on October 15th, 2008

Yep, that’s the one.

Trontastic on October 16th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

After reading this I wrote out all the reasons I could think of for link building and they all fit into one of these three areas except one… and while a bit of a stretch (IMO), it could still be considered a branding tactic.

I have deployed link building campaigns for the specific purpose of building newsletter subscribers. While this has derivative traffic associated to it as well as brand equity, the main goal was to have new users sign-up for the free newsletter.

All in all, a great summary. Bookmarked fo shizzle.

Gyutae Park on October 17th, 2008

Thanks Trontastic. Just out of curiosity, what was the reason that didn’t fit into these 3 areas?

You’re right about the derivative traffic. You should focus on just 1 area of link building, but you’ll get the benefits of all 3 in the process.

Archiseek on October 16th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

That’s a good explanation of a link building strategy – perfect for explaining it to management πŸ˜‰

Gyutae Park on October 17th, 2008

Convincing management is difficult, even with the best of explanations. Good luck with that! πŸ™‚

SEOAly on October 16th, 2008

Great info regarding three very distinct strategies and goals of a link building campaign. I recently tested the third strategy with what was really nothing more than a rant on my part with regard to AIG’s $440,000 retreat.

I received a surprising amount of traffic from the Social Media sources to which the post was submitted…nearly half of which came from StumbleUpon in the 5 days following the post. I believe it’s also important to note that the bounce rate of visitors from StumbleUpon was, on average, 40% to 60% lower than that of the other Social Media sources that drove a significant number of visitors.

Gyutae Park on October 17th, 2008

Thanks for sharing those results. I’m glad you’ve seen success in your link building campaign. I went ahead and checked out your AIG post, and it’s really no surprise why it’s done so well. Long opinionated posts tend to do well in social media as well as for link bait. I stumbled the post as well. πŸ™‚

Seo Dave on October 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I too do believe that if you are placing branding at the bottom of your list you will have a problem. Branding = trust. If you’re on #1 in Google and getting 10.000 visitors a day, your linkbuilding for seo did it’s job but it won’t guarantee you any conversions if they don’t trust you…


Gyutae Park on October 17th, 2008

I’m with ya Dave. Branding is becoming more and more important, not only for conversions and links, but also for SEO. Google is gravitating more towards brands in the rankings and will continue to do so in the future. That being said, with a strong brand, you don’t even need to rely on the engines to provide the majority of your traffic as you’ll get it through other sources.

SEO Stuart on October 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I spend most of my time on SEO link building strategies, for my clients websites, mainly directories, forum posts and socil media.
“There are hundreds of methods for attaining links for SEO, but we won’t get into those here.” – Gyutae, I cant think of a hundred, it would be great if you did an article on this subject, there are others out there, but I’m sure yours would be a bookmark worthy post! πŸ™‚

Gyutae Park on October 18th, 2008

Thanks Stuart. I’m actually working on an Internet marketing checklist that will include the “hundreds” (hopefully) of strategies I mentioned. It’s going to be very comprehensive and I know you’ll like it.

SEO Stuart on October 18th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Excellent stuff, i’m now looking forward to that, sure it will be a great read. πŸ™‚

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Downloadic on October 18th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

It’s a good explanation of a link building strategy…

JR @ Verizon Ringtones on October 19th, 2008

My strategy is all of the things you listed, and while many people are looking for do-follow links, I link all over the place with a very diverse linking strategy you can get all the benefits and a more balanced link campaign.

Eva White on October 24th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Currently I have no strategy in place. I’m at a hit or miss trial stage. That’s why articles like your help.:)

Whateverebay on November 14th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I need to work on my logo. Couldn’t agree with you more about the importance. Love social media, for my online store and other blogs it works great! I am able to get instant traffic. great post, plenty of work ahead for me. πŸ™‚

Ryan Jenkins on November 18th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Link building will always be an important part of ranking well in search engines. I found one of the best ways to find relevant, quality website to get links from, is a tool called Trackur. It is primarily meant to monitor your brand online, however I have found it to be a better link building tool. You enter a keyword that you are looking to rank for and the tool will scour the web for websites, blogs, forums, discussion boards, videos, images, and social media sites for any mention of the keyword. The tool is reasonably priced for what it can do, or you can try their free trial before you buy. Hope this helps with everyone link building campaigns.

SEO Stuart on November 19th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Ryan, Trackur looks interesting it’s a similar idea to Google Bookmarks, that I use every day, but seems a very comprehensive service. I have bookmarked and will give the free trial a go soon. I would use it for link building too. ty.

Doug Firebaugh on November 28th, 2008

Have been using Trackur and really does work well. Great article- and rocking hot ideas! Great post and thanks for sharing!LOVE your blog Gyutae!

wayne on December 7th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I think this is an excellent post full of a lot of good feedback.

Matt Helphrey on December 17th, 2008

My link building campaign right now is concentrating on blog comments. Not only does commenting on blogs bring me links, it also is a great way to develop relationships and networking partners.

Matt Steel on January 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

It’s so good to read some fresh copy on link building! So many blogs are just sounding like the next unfortunately which does not leave much room for learning. thanks for this post…

Quality SEO Services on July 3rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Link building strategies I am interested in, not link farms as that is black hat seo but fair and simple link exchange

SEOmarketing on October 6th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Just used this post to illustrate to a client the values of link building, great post.

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