Link building has always been a part of SEO, and although its role in SEO, and the practices used in link building have changed over the years due to search engine algorithm changes, link building still remains an important part of search engine optimization strategy, a part you must not neglect.
The main change imposed by the search engine algorithm updates is the fact that we should focus on getting quality links, as otherwise low-quality links can even harm rankings instead of helping them. One way you can try to look for quality links is to focus on authority sites.
1. What are authority websites?
Authority website is a website that provides quality content, a website that can be and is trusted and as such it enjoys credibility and influence. Authority websites are often (but not necessarily) ranked at the top of the SERPs, as they are associated with high quality content that people find helpful and informational. These websites are usually focused on a single topic, which provides great value for those interested in such topic. Furthermore, high quality content on the websites also results in more traffic and social sharing, which are also characteristics of the authority sites.
2. Why are authority sites important for SEO?
The importance of high authority websites is mirrored in their ability to rank high in the search engines result pages. Obviously, high ranking results in more visits, which will increase the chances of you getting the traffic through a link posted on a authority website.
As said, authority websites enjoy a certain amount of credibility on the internet, as they are associated with high quality content. Their audience implicitly trusts them to share high quality links, which is why obtaining links from authority websites has positive influence on your website’s traffic. Furthermore, “dofollow” links from authority website are a very strong ranking signal and can be the source of lot of “link juice”. Although links from authority websites are not easy to get, they are very valuable and they are totally worth the time you are going to invest in getting them.
3. How to find authority sites?
You can do it manually or automatically. Let’s discuss the manual method first.
Manually finding authority sites
One of the ways to find authority websites is to use Google. Start by using keywords that are related to your website. It is advisable that you use the following separators combined with the keywords in order to get relevant results:
- Site or site extension (such as .org, .edu, .gov) – This will restrict your search to a specific domain or a type of domain.
- Intitle: keyword – This way you browse the results that have keywords in the title.
- Inurl: keyword – This way you browse the results that have keywords in the URL.
- “keyword” (or keyword phrase) – The word(s) must appear exactly as written.
You can find more search operators in these two links: Google operators, Googleguide. You can also combine several separators, so we have used site: “analytics” .org, in order to narrow down the search.
Additionally, if you want to improve your search even further, you can add expressions that are usually associated with link building, such as: links, recommended websites, useful resources, related websites, list of websites/links, etc. You should create a list of websites that you would consider contacting, and then, you should use a tool to help you evaluate the authority of those websites.
A simple way to identify authority websites is to use a tool, such as Moz SEO toolbar. This is a free tool available as a browser plug-in for Chrome or Firefox.
MozBar displays information about the website and page metrics which are relevant for determining authority and credibility. This way, you can see different metrics about each website, in order to determine which websites are considered as authority websites, as those are the ones you want to reach out to. MozBar provides you with information for the following metrics:
- Page Authority
- Domain Authority
- Page Analysis (on-page elements, general attributes, link metrics, markup, http status)
When you enable Moz bar while you are browsing the internet and conducting the search, you will see the most relevant metrics, such as page authority and domain authority, below each website shown in the search engine result page. This means, that the search page will look something like this:
This will help you to quickly determine whether this is an authority website you should be contacting.The automatic method is as follows:
Automatically finding authority sites with relevant metrics
linkbird’s Sitehunter feature scans comments, blogs, forums, and any other kind of web-page for the keyword you enter. You can use keywords and additional filters to find the most relevant authority sites. The found sites can also be easily added as link sources as well as important into a contact data base.
4. How to get in touch with site owners?
Getting in touch with the owners of an authority website is not always easy. Once you have found an authority website you want to contact, you should try to find an email address of the owner. This might be difficult, as this information is often not available. Instead, you could try using a contact form if there is one available on the website. If you are still unable to contact the owner, you could try following the owner’s social media accounts. Social media can help you establish the initial contact with the site owner.
The most important thing when addressing the owner of the authority website is to send a personalized message, however when you want to send messages to several sites it’s great to have templates that you can adjust. You do not want to send a generic message as it will result in zero replies. Instead, you should try to find some common interest and an “excuse” for contacting the owner. You might want to offer to help, or you want to point out to some issue, etc. Regardless of the reason you find for establishing contact, you have to be both professional and personalized in order to be able to attract attention of the owner, and eventually receive a reply.
For example, if you want to ask for on opinion about a certain article or e-book that you have written, you could write an email, such as:
Hi <owner’s name>,
My name is <your name>. I write for a blog <blog URL> and I have recently written an article about <specific topic>. I noticed that you have a lot of experience with this <topic>, I wanted to ask you for your opinion about my article.
If you are interested, here’s the link:<link>
Looking forward to your reply.
Factors that affect the likelihood of a positive reply
Your own website and content you publish is equally important when trying to establish contact with the owner. It is pointless to try to reach to authority websites and ask for a link, when you have a low quality website. Why should they link to you? What’s in it for them? Having a high quality website is a starting point in the process of link building.
Have in mind that you should try to establish contact first, without immediately asking for links. Ideally, the owner of the authority website would consider your website relevant and include a link in a post or share it on social networks. You should choose to ask for a link only after you have established an initial contact with the owner of the authority website, as this increases chances of owners being willing to link to your website.
Since the idea behind the latest algorithm changes is to create websites that naturally get links, meaning they are able to earn them, modern link building activity is often referred to as link earning. This concept is based on the assumption that only high quality websites will be able to earn links, and that is why the quality links are so valuable in modern SEO. It is not about getting hundreds and thousands of links. This strategy is not only outdated, but counter-productive. The idea is to try to earn links from relevant, authority websites which will increase the authority of your own website.
5. Your Key Takeaways
- Authority websites have high credibility, trust and influence in their industries.
- By getting back links from authority websites you benefit from lot of traffic and “link juice” in case of “dofollow” links.
- You can find authority websites by manually looking on via search engines or use tools that can automatically look and organize high authority sources.
- After identifying and selecting high authority sources you can get in touch with site owners. This is often harder done that said.
These were my two cents on acquiring or earning back links from authority sites in your industry. What have been your experiences and lessons learned?