An SEO tech engaged in link building

What is Link Building: An Introductory Guide to Link Building

M.C. Escher created masterpieces of precise, geometric optical illusions during his noteworthy career as a graphic artist.  When it came to crafting such accomplished feats of visual wonder, Escher said, “My work is a game, a very serious game.”  This gives you a bit of insight as to how SEO link building services work.

While we don’t approach search engine optimization (SEO) as a game, we do recognize some similarities. For instance, effective SEO must follow certain rules, and it should also factor in key players. One of these key players is link building.  So, if you’re asking, “What is link building?” we’re here to tell you it is an essential part of winning the serious game of superior, successful SEO.      

What is Link Building?

Link building is part of a full-spectrum SEO plan. It’s also a powerful piece of the strategy to stimulate more organic traffic and achieve higher ranking in search engine results for your website. 

To explain, search engines such as Google crawl through outgoing and incoming links on websites in order to determine several factors such as: A) What the content (article) or website is about, B) Determine the value of the content, C) Discover new websites on the internet, and D) Assess the quality of your entire website.

There are two primary types of links, internal and external. Internal links go out to an already existing article on your website. They serve to help users and search engines navigate through your entire site. Internal links also inform search engines as to the purpose, objective, and subject of an article and its website.

External links are a bit more tricky, but they are SEO gold.  As the name implies, an external link refers to a link from a website other than your own that is linking to an article, post, or page on your site. External links (also known as backlinks) weigh heavily in a search engine’s determination to evaluate and rank websites in search results.  

For instance, a website with many high-quality links from authority websites is deemed far more reputable and valuable than a site with low-quality or no links at all coming into their site.  Therefore, the site that has meritorious external links going into it is more likely to be rewarded that highly coveted first-page on Google page rank results.

When asking, “What is link building?” – think of it like this. Let’s say you own a website about how to care for puppies. Now let’s imagine a mega source like PetSmart’s blog, or an authority site in your niche like the American Kennel Club (AKC) links to your puppy website. 

When this happens, it’s a mammoth coup for your site’s traffic and ranking. Why? Because those external links indicate some heavy hitters in your niche are trusting your information enough to reference it with a link. It also means that a portion of traffic tonnage on those super-websites is going to your site.  

In essence, earning quality external links like this is akin to getting a “high-five” from other websites. Link-building is also a traffic-magnet and as such, it’s a big ingredient in the secret sauce of SEO.

Why is Link Building Important?

The importance of link building in SEO boils down to ramping up focused, organic traffic to your website via search engine results.  And let’s face it. When it comes to online success, big traffic is the ultimate brass ring all website owners are striving to catch. 

Link building is important for more than just optimal page rank in search results and driving more traffic to your site. The benefits of link building in SEO also include increased sales. To explain, when your site is linked from authority websites, it breeds trust, which converts visitors to your site into paying customers. 

Furthermore, successful link building helps to promote your brand.  High-value links into your site lends credence to your product or service.  In essence, link building can set you apart from your competition by building trust, traffic, authority and boosting your brand.

How Does Link Building Help SEO?

In the dinosaur days of SEO before Google even existed, establishing high web ranking was all about using keywords. Incorporating keywords throughout website pages was the easiest way to get found on the internet.  

Over time, this practice was abused and keyword stuffing (inappropriate or overuse of keywords in content) became a shady hack to win high ranking. This is known as “black hat” SEO because it’s a dubious way of getting traffic or better search engine ranks.

As a result of black hat practices, it became clear that a new way had to be devised to determine how web pages are ranked.  Enter the era of Google.  In 1996, Google developed an algorithm called PageRank, named after Google’s co-founder, Larry Page.  This algorithm dove deeply into pages, and assessed far more than just keywords.

Today, Google has around 200 factors when it comes to ranking websites.  These factors can be broken up into three categories: 1) Technical factors, such as website speed, performance, navigation, etc., 2) On-page factors, which deals with keyword usage, optimized images, length and quality of content, and 3) Off-page factors – this is where the benefits of link building in SEO comes into play.

PageRank and subsequent versions of Google algorithms analyze a website’s incoming and outgoing links and place strong emphasis on this off-page criteria, which influences outcomes of a website’s page rank. Simply put, a link back to your site from another website is a vote of confidence and frames you as a trusted authority in the eyes of Google.

Essentially, well-strategized link building informs Google and other search engines that a website is legitimate and worthy of higher rank.  That’s where white hat SEO link building becomes crucial. The reason being is because it’s the virtuous practice of implementing solid, respectable links so your online presence and brand are optimally assessed and ranked. 

What is a Backlink Profile?

As mentioned, a backlink is when a website other than your own links to your website.  Using our previous example with puppies, a backlink would be when a high authority website like the American Humane Society links to your puppy website as a resource.  Therefore, a backlink profile is the collection of links that points and connects visitors from an outside website to your own site. 

A backlink profile shows other details such as anchor text (the words clicked on with the link), types of links, relevance of links and quality of the originating website.  Ideally, your backlink profile should include relevant links from reputable websites.  Obviously, the more upstanding and high-integrity your backlink profile is, the better your organic traffic will be from search engine results.

How Do I Build Links to My Site?

That’s the million dollar question.  There are several different tactics to garnering the all-important backlinks to your website.  Some practices are better than others, but all of them take time, effort and patience. For example, you could contact a highly popular, well-trafficked website that is dominating your niche and ask if they could link to your website. 

Sounds simple, but the odds of you getting that link (much less a response to your email request) are slim.  What’s more, many mega-sites don’t often link to other sites out of the kindness of their hearts.  They link to sites with extraordinary quality, high traffic and good reputations.  Even in that perfect storm, many authority websites ask a fee for inserting external links from their sites to other sites.

A better option might be to write a guest post for a website you want a link from.  If the article is well written, niche-specific, and clearly of value to the website owner, they may publish it on their website with a link to yours.  This is a win-win option because your guest article adds quality content to their website (without their staff having to write it), and you get your external link.  However, as with straightforward link-insertions, some websites charge to accept guest posts.  

Furthermore, writing a guest article takes time, and it’s got to pass muster from the website owners.  Then there’s the same pickle about even getting your article read by the webmasters in the first place.  In many cases, emails from guest contributors are ignored and guest-written articles are often denied.

In truth, getting those coveted links can be time-consuming and arduous, and all your efforts may come to naught at the end of the day.  Therefore, your best bet is to partner with qualified SEO link building services. Why? Because an expert in the industry has long-standing connections and contacts. That means their requests for guest posts with your links or link insertions go directly to the decision makers.  In essence, working with a link-building professional means your site gets the authority links it needs to get that enviable top spot in the search engines.


There are over 1.7 billion websites on the internet today, with over 170 new websites launched every minute.  That means that by the time you’ve read this article about “What is link building?”, anywhere from 1200-2500 new websites have gone live online. The point to these mind-boggling numbers is to emphasize the vast competition that exists online.  

The good news is, you can beat out this competition because many of these website owners don’t know how to play the serious game of SEO.  What’s more, they don’t have an SEO company in their corner to help them navigate the harrowing world of link building and optimizing a website for superior success.

Our professional team at The Agency Engine have a combined 30+ years experience working in this industry.  We’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop startups in all manner of niches – and we consistently get results.  We’ll do the same for you. Why? Because we have the knowledge, skills, passion and drive to deliver the desired outcomes you deserve.

Give us a shout-out today. Tell us about your vision and expectations for your website, and we’ll show you how our battle-tested, multi-step approach to SEO link building will revolutionize your online presence in ways that will reap rewards far into the future.