Organic Link Building: Creating Content That Attracts Links

SUSO 14 November 2023

Organic link building is an essential skill if you want to take your website to the next level by creating content that attracts links naturally.

Author: Johanan Viljoen, Senior Content Specialist

Johanan Viljoen

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want your website to rank well, then getting organic backlinks is one essential element. But what does organic link building entail, and how can you successfully grow your site’s authority with the organic links you need? 

Below, I’ll discuss the process in detail and teach you how to build your site’s organic links.

8 Steps to Creating Content That Attracts Links Organically

While it may sound complicated at first, organic link building is a fairly simple process. In fact, I can define it in three simple words: Content is king. 

If you build high-quality content that’s valuable to your target audience and features good SEO, you’ll pick up organic links before you know it. Let’s take a look at what kind of content is most likely to be organically linked.

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

The first step towards raking in organic backlinks is identifying and defining your target audience. At this stage, it’s vital to realise that there are two distinct target audiences here.

Firstly, you have the audience you’re targeting as readers. If you have a gardening website, these will be gardeners, or if you have a car website, these will be car enthusiasts. 

These are the people for whom you are creating value. Answering questions concisely and providing valuable information is essential here.

Step 2: Understand Your Linkcreators

Secondly, you’re targeting people who are creating links, either in a personal or professional capacity. Some of these targets may include marketing agencies, writers and editors, website owners, and SEO specialists. Mainly, these are the people who require sources to link to in the performance of their duties.

So, what kind of content is most likely to be organically linked to?

Ensure that the content you create is valuable, has a good structure, and meets basic SEO requirements. If you create content intended for readers but constructed well enough to appeal to professionals, you’re well on your way to getting organic backlinks. 

Step 3: Find Your Content Competitors

Competitors in the niche in which you’re selling your product or service (product competitors) generally differ from your competitors for content (content competitors). When trying to build organic backlinks, you need to identify the competitors in your content niche, not your product niche.

So, how can you accomplish this? 

There are several ways, but one of the most effective is to identify some common keywords or topics in your niche. Then, search those topics on Google and see what the top results are on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

You can take sites listed on the first results page and consider those your content competitors. 

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re running a gardening site, and the hot topic of the moment is square foot gardening.

“Square foot gardening” search results on Google

If you search “Square foot gardening” on Google, you’ll find that the top ten competitors include 

  1. Squarefootgardening.org
  2. Squarefootgardening.com
  3. Gardenerspath.com 

Once you’ve discovered your top competitors, you can narrow your search down using an SEO tool. In this case, we’ll use Ahrefs:

discover your top competitors

As you can see here, some of the top competitors in this area, squarefootgardening.org and squarefootgardening.com, have thousands of backlinks. Their domain rating (which demonstrates the strength of their backlink portfolio), on the other hand, isn’t very high.

This indicates that, despite the volume of backlinks, you could probably beat them if you put in some effort. 

If you already have many published articles about a topic or in a niche, you can simply analyse those articles (using your preferred SEO tool). The tool will highlight your top competitors and show you their strengths and weaknesses. 

Step 4: Identify Competing Pages With the Most Backlinks

Once you’ve identified your top-ranking competitors, you can use your SEO tool to analyse each competitor individually and find their ranking pages in your niche. If you’re using Ahrefs, simply run the competitor URL through the site explorer and then click on “Best By Link” in the pages menu. 

You’ll get a display that looks like this:

identify competing pages by links

The idea here is to identify competing pages in your niche that have substantial amounts of backlinks. However, just because a page has many backlinks doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. 

You want to look for pages that have many backlinks but from as many unique referring domains. A page that has 1,000 backlinks from 10 domains isn’t anywhere near as healthy as a page with 1,000 backlinks from 850 domains.

Analyse each competitor individually and identify the pages with the highest numbers of backlinks and referring domains.

At this junction, it’s a good idea to start some kind of document or spreadsheet where you can keep track of the competitor pages with the most referring domains.   

Step 5: Find Linkable Content Ideas

Finding linkable content ideas is another critical part of organic link building. Valuable content may take many forms, but the major concept is that it must provide value to the reader.

Valuable content may be something as simple as a listicle or as involved as an infographic or ebook. But how do you define and create link-worthy content?

At this point, you should have a substantial list of competitor pages with noteworthy numbers of backlinks and referring domains. 

Now’s the time to find the list of linkable content using keyword modifiers in your SEO tool. You can use a wide array of different modifiers in conjunction with your keyword.

In this case, some examples might be:

  • How to (How to do square foot gardening)
  • Statistics (Square foot gardening statistics)
  • Tips (Square foot gardening tips)
  • What is (What is square foot gardening?)
  • How x works (How square foot gardening works)
  • Cost (Square foot gardening cost)
  • Example/s (Square foot gardening examples)

Pay special attention to and make note of pages that rank for these modified keywords.

Step 6: Identify Which Pages Attract Links Organically

Now that you have a comprehensive list of competitor pages, it’s time to start identifying pages that acquired their backlinks organically.

Telltale signs of naturally occurring backlinks include a gradual increase in the number of referring domains. A website with natural traffic usually has a chart with a gradual incline like this:

naturally occurring backlinks

A chart that looks like this is usually a sign of backlinks obtained in an unnatural fashion:

unnatural acquired backlinks

Another sign of good organic link-building is when the referring domains are high-quality and trustworthy. You always want to avoid emulating competitors with many low-quality and untrustworthy referring domains.

Step 7: Identify Which Keywords Attract Organic Backlinks

After you’ve identified the best pages for your application, it’s time to identify the keywords that attract organic backlinks to those pages. Here’s how to extract keywords and decide which of them are worth pursuing.

  • Step One: Extract the Keywords. You can use the SEO tool of your choice to extract all the keywords from any given page. You should place the keywords in a separate spreadsheet, along with vital metrics like search volumes and keyword difficulty. You’ll need this information later to help you evaluate keywords and decide which ones to pursue.
  • Step Two: Eliminate Keywords Which Would Be Hard to Rank For. All keywords have a keyword difficulty. Learning how to calculate keyword difficulty and use it to your advantage is an essential skill when creating content that earns backlinks organically. So, what is keyword difficulty? It’s a means of analysing keywords based on their SERP ranking, domain rating, and competitors. You should always aim for keywords that your site has a chance of ranking for. 

A website with a domain rating of 50 is unlikely to rank for a keyword with a difficulty ranking of 100. So, let’s say you want to rank for the keyword “Square foot gardens,” It has a keyword difficulty of 45. So, even if you have a site with a domain rating of 50, you’ll likely be able to rank for this keyword. Many SEO tools will also give you an estimate of how many backlinks you need to rank successfully.


Ahrefs keyword difficulty

While keyword difficulty isn’t an ironclad rule, it’s a useful rule of thumb. It’s wise to aim for keywords that have a difficulty level within your reach. 

  • Step Three: Don’t use Search Volume As a Defining Characteristic. When you’re writing content with the intent of acquiring organic backlinks, search volume isn’t that critical. What you want is not traffic but backlinks, so you require well-written content, not necessarily content aimed at high search results. Accordingly, look for relevant keywords, not those with high search volumes.

Step 8: Create Your Linkable Content

Now that you have everything you need to create your linkable content, you’re ready to start creating a strategy. The main question you need to ask is, What kind of content is most likely to be organically linked to? Let’s take a look at the aspects you’ll need to consider.

Search Intent

When planning your content, consider the intent of your readers. Why are they looking for this content? What do they hope to learn, discover, or accomplish? Would they prefer long-form text, infographics, charts and graphs, or some other form of information? 

Try to get inside the head of your prospective audience and decide why they are looking for the content and what they hope to find.

Content Gaps

Content gaps are one of the most useful things when creating a content plan for building organic backlinks. When looking for backlinks, you study your competitors to see what they wrote about a particular topic. Then, you look for anything they may have missed. Anything not covered by your competitors is a gap in the content.

If you can find things that the competitors aren’t talking about but which are valuable to your audience, then your content is already on its way to being more valuable. 

The key is to create content that is as valuable to the reader as it is possible to be – which in turn, makes your content more appealing to linkcreators who will link to you. Plan your content so that you provide as much value as possible while meeting the user’s search intent.

Common Themes

Whenever you’re analysing your competitors, before creating your linkable content, look for any common themes among the ranking pages. Especially the ranking pages with many backlinks from an array of domains. Any patterns or recurring themes will likely help you create content that is attractive to link to.

Internal Links

Internal links are an integral part of any valuable webpage. Since you’re hoping to generate natural backlinks to your website, leverage the power of internal linking by linking the content to any important pages on your website. Remember to use accurate anchor links, as this will improve the likelihood of readers opening links.  

FAQs on Organic Link Building

What Are Organic Backlinks?

Organic backlinks, often referred to as natural links, are inbound links that you haven’t bought or traded for; they occur naturally. In other words, natural links occur when someone links to your website because of valuable content. 

What Are the Benefits of Organic Links?

Organic link building has many benefits. Among other things, organic backlinks contribute to the following:

  • Improving SERP rankings
  • Increasing your site’s authority
  • Enhancing referral traffic
  • Benefiting SEO in the longer-term
  • Natural site promotion
  • Lowering the cost of link acquisition

There are many other advantages to organic link building, but mainly, the advantages take the form of improving website authority and overall ranking.

The Bottom Line

Organic link building may sound complex, but it’s actually a fairly simple process. As long as you know how to identify the topics where you want to build links and how to create quality content, you can build natural backlinks.

For all the skills and tools you need to build backlinks successfully, check out our essential link-building tools. We’ll equip you with all the basic tools and information you need to accomplish link-building successfully.

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