The importance of link building is changing, slowly but surely, no matter how much small business wants to keep things the same. In the past, link building started as a way to improve organic search rankings, and the secondary benefit was helping readers and actually generating traffic that way.

Google of course wanted to change that because readers are (and will always be) the most important thing to Google.

Link building is still a great way to climb your way to the top of a SERP, but you can’t forget that generating traffic should still be a focus, especially now that Google algorithms are changing to help link building succeed only when natural (more on this later).

The question, then, is simple: How can you make link building more about generating traffic and less about improving your ranking?

Build Traffic Generating Links

Most small businesses will have to put a conscious effort into link building for traffic generation. This is not to say that your old tactics should necessarily be eliminated, there are just other ways to build links that should be added to your strategy.

Consider some of these tips below:

Nofollow Links are Still Valuable

Nofollow is a link attribute that is put on a link that tells the search engine bots not to crawl that link. Unlike the attribute that works only for a link it is added to, Nofollow meta tag prevents all links on a web page from being followed.

Many authoritative companies use the nofollow attribute so that when someone tries to place a link on the company website, they know it is for value and not for an SEO gain.

Links on social media accounts and in comments sections of a page are also typical nofollow. Some companies will avoid these types of links because they don’t pass any PageRank, but the truth is that these links are still valuable.

They send relevant readers to your website and help you generate that traffic. If you’re working with a site that gets a lot of visibility, that nofollow link could be even more important than the dofollow link you got on that smaller site a day earlier.

Wikipedia is nofollowing all its links but would you pass on a link from Wikipedia just because it is a nofollow link? Quora is nofollowing all its links but it also has a huge content discovery and traffic generating capacity.

If traffic is not a good enough argument for you, I have good news: Google might be using nofollow links in their algorithm. Google announced that they might use nofollow links in their algorithm when and if they see fit. So dofollow or nofollow, a link is worth pursuing if there’s traffic building potential in it.

Quality Over Quantity

The old assumption for companies was that the more links on a bigger variety of sites, the better. Google has cracked down on this logic with things like Penguin updates to try and let people know that quality is more important than quantity.

Paying for links on websites and directories or going around and getting links on unrelated websites is no longer going to help you, so put a focus on quality. Quality link building means getting relevant links, and this is where readers are going to click and you’re going to generate that traffic.

But in reality, how to tell a quality resource from a mediocre resource?

For one, in many cases you will recognize an authentic quality by simply looking at a site. Most sites in your niche will be familiar to you, or you will recognize people writing for them.

Apart from a simple manual review, sites like Ahrefs will be able to tell you if the site is getting organic search traffic and how much. Organic traffic is a great sign of value: If Google is sending people to a website, that website is trusted by Google.


Authoritative Websites

This idea overlaps with the last point. Not only do you not want your links on poor-quality websites, but you want to put a focus on authoritative websites that have been around for a while.

These websites have the most visibility, so you’re most likely to generate traffic from these sites. Try to earn links on two websites with a higher PR and position for every one website you write for that might not be as developed.

Quality sites require high-quality content assets they would want to link to, so take some time to evaluate your current content strategy if your content actually deserves backlinks:

  • Compare your content to your competitors’ content
  • See what’s written and linked in your niche
  • Diversify your content assets by creating infographics (using online tools) and videos (using tools like Movavi)
  • Implement marketing automation to make the most of every connection you manage to build: automate follow-ups and track every lead.

The question is usually how to successfully reach out to those authoritative sites?

I recommend finding people behind each site (writers and editors) and reaching out directly to them instead of using a generic on-site contact form.

There are several ways to reach out to writers and journalists including social media (Twitter and LinkedIn are the best for these kinds of touchpoints) and their personal websites.

If you are going to start a full-scale link acquisition strategy, you will need a separate domain to set up your email addresses as outreach emails should be separate from your customer support and official email address. You can find a cheap domain using this brand name generator.

Make sure to have your domain and email address set up a few weeks or even a couple of months prior to starting your outreach to ensure your domain is established enough not to be caught in the spam filters.

Asking for a link right away is not a good way to build a relationship with a niche writer or editor, so come up with an engagement strategy. Inviting them to host a webinar or inviting them for an interview are both great ideas, especially with the multitude of platforms that make the job easy.

Changing your link building strategy to focus on generating traffic is the only way to yield any results from your SEO strategy. Good luck!

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the brand NINJA at Internet Marketing Ninjas and the founder of numerous startups including MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU, ViralContentBee, and TwChat. Her content marketing ideas have been featured in The New York Times, Mashable, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Land and many more.