Link Insertions Guide: How to Guide + Best Practices for Link Insertions
For the longest time, SEO was all about on-page optimization for keywords, phrases, titles, and tags. However, as the internet expands, user interest evolves and relevance and authority become more important. Understanding how to properly insert links into content, the validity of said links, and how links impact your ranking is critically important.
There are generally two types of links that are inserted into content: internal links and external links. Internal links typically link to other pages or pieces of content on the same site. External links link out to another site that hopefully has relevant and trustworthy information.
One of the primary strategies of link building is to insert external links to relevant sources that build the domain authority of the primary site. Part of that strategy often includes tactics like link exchanges and guest blogging. We’ll dive into both of these topics so that you have an understanding of the importance of link insertions, how link building has changed and how it has impacted the importance of link insertions. This will show you how to make the most of the links you use.
Table of Contents
The Shift in SEO
The first thing to understand about link insertions is that they are much more important than they used to be. The reason why many websites and businesses are turning to link building and SEO agencies is because it takes a much more strategic approach to properly utilize links together with other SEO strategies. Businesses turn to these experts to get help with these complex matters.
Even some SEO experts still swear by only focusing on “the most relevant long-tail keywords,” when in fact, SEO is now a multilayered process. While keyword density and relevance are still important, a unilateral approach will not rank your site highly anymore. Your site can use all the best keywords that exist, but if it doesn’t properly use links to other content to build relevance and authority, you’ll likely see your page ranking way lower than a site that uses fewer keywords.
The reason for this is that keywords are becoming more competitive with more sites on the web. This means that this single metric is not enough to crack the top of the SERP. You can liken it to a person having an Oxford English vocabulary coupled with a terrible personality. He might speak well, but no one will want to talk to him.
What is Link Insertion Exactly?
The practice of link insertion is getting links to your content hosted on other sites. This is the key principle behind the practice of link building, though link building as a whole involves much more than getting your links hosted on other sites.
We don’t want to go too elementary on you, but it’s important to understand the basics. This is so that you know what you’re actively trying to do rather than just going out and begging for links or building sites trying to artificially sell yourself. The former of these options is difficult and is generally unsuccessful, while the latter is technically wrong and will incur the wrath of Google via search rank penalties.
Proper link insertion tactics require you or the hired agency to build relationships with other sites, who agree to put a link from their content back to your content on your site, hence why it’s called a backlink (gasp). It sounds really simple, right? Too bad, it’s not. Like we mentioned, begging for links from anyone doesn’t work, and falsifying backlinks will see you lose ranking. So what do you do?
There are three ways that links are gained to where they are beneficial to the party that is trying to link build.
The first is called a link exchange, which is basically a mutual agreement between two (or sometimes three) parties to share content and backlink to each other. These are quite common but can be difficult to achieve depending on the niche you’re in and your brand’s size, among other factors.
The second is through guest posting. Guest posting is the practice of a person writing content for another site that agrees to link back to the poster’s site. This practice has become quite common as it is mutually beneficial for both parties. One party gets content for their site, while the writing party gets a guaranteed backlink.
The third method is less common and relies more on luck as well as being authoritative in your field. These are basically backlinks you get from sites that link to you because you are useful and offer value to their users, even if no formal link exchange has been formed. These are difficult to gauge, and while you’d think all backlinks are good, that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re constantly being linked to sites with sketchy backgrounds and low domain authority, this can damage your own reputation and ultimately hurt your brand. It’s essentially like the concept of being guilty by association; your reputation suffers because of the deeds of someone you casually know.
We’ll cover all three strategies in detail so that you know which ones will work for you and when to seek out backlinks through different methods.
1. Link Insertions Through Link Exchange
Link exchanges can be immensely beneficial to a brand that is trying to build its site ranking and domain authority. Finding willing partners for an exchange has many challenges tied to it, though.
Beyond finding sites that are willing to backlink to your content, to properly benefit from reciprocal link building, you want to find partner sites that are relevant to the business you are in and the content you produce. An example would be a parts salesman that is partnered with a local mechanic. Both businesses are in the automotive niche and the content that both produce will be able to build off of each other.
Relevance is a large part of the exchange equation, but like any good math problem, there are more variables.
Additionally, if you’re seeking a link exchange, you want a partner who has a similar domain authority to your own or higher. This helps to establish your own domain authority by being tied to a site that has equal or greater authority. It shows that you have value in your field along with your partners. Obviously, you don’t want to partner with sites with significantly lower domain authority, as that will damage your own authority.
The last variable is site traffic. You want partners with similar traffic so that you can accurately measure how many clicks you can expect to get from a given link over a given period of time. Sites with lower traffic don’t offer as much value. That isn’t to say that lower or higher traffic is necessarily a deal-breaker; unlike domain authority and relevance, if your goal is to build your site rank and SEO, those can still be achieved even if traffic numbers aren’t as impressive.
2. Guest Posting For Link Insertion
Guest posting is a heavily used medium for gaining backlinks. While the content is written by you, it is written for another site in exchange for allowing you to link back to your own site. You can think of it as loaning yourself out to other sites in order to help them with content while you get a backlink in the process. This is mutually beneficial for both parties and can be a much more manageable way to gain links.
Many guest bloggers shop themselves around to high authority domains in the space they are trying to get links in. This helps the blogger in two ways, actually. They get a link to their site, which helps provide traffic and higher domain authority, and they also link back to the site they posted for, which in most cases is a high authority domain. In a sense, the blogger gets to piggyback off of sites that have higher authority and improve their own ranking in the process.
Bloggers will typically do this for multiple sites within the same niche so that they build a cluster of backlinks to high authority domains. This is a great way to build a rotation of content and a continuous stream of links. This guarantees relevance for the blogger and the sites getting fresh content all the time.
3. Getting Backlinks By Being Authoritative
So, this is more or less something that happens as a result of putting out good content that people like using. It’s considered good practice for any site that links to you to give proper credit. With the internet being as large as it is, there are times when you may receive backlinks purely by accident. It may even be because someone found your content useful, even if you have no particular affiliation with them.
In most cases, this is a good thing, especially if you find yourself being linked to from places like social media. It can drastically increase your traffic without you ever having to lift a finger. There are, however, a couple of problems with this approach.
Firstly, you have no way of knowing how, why, or when this may happen, so it’s not a reliable link-building strategy. You can liken it to trying to force the popular kids to like you in school. It might work, but then they might ignore you entirely.
Second, if you happen to be linked to sites that don’t fall in line with your brand or that have a negative reputation, that can negatively impact your reputation. An instance of this would be something like a popular conspiracy theory site linking to you because you publish quality blogs, and then spinning the content to suit their needs. In these cases, you get lumped together with sites you don’t want to be part of.
Best Practices For Quality Link Insertions
Now that we’ve talked a great deal about the ways in which link insertions are acquired, we’ll break down some practices to actually go about acquiring good quality link insertions so that you can build out your brand and improve your SEO and site ranking. These will be general tips that you can use in a variety of situations rather than any industry-specific tactics.
Research Top Domains in the Space
The key takeaway is gaining link insertions from high-ranking and high authority domains in the space, as we talked about in our breakdown of link building and good link insertions.
This can be difficult if you’re just getting started building your brand and your own domain authority is low. One way to improve your chances is to show consistency with content generation and that you are trending upward in terms of site traffic and authority. No one wants to partner with a site that is stagnant or going nowhere. Link insertions help you grow your site, but shouldn’t be the only means by which you increase your site traffic and page ranking. The different elements of SEO should feed off of each other.
If you can manage to regularly put out new content that is engaging and provides a good user experience, the more willing a highly authoritative site will take a risk and give you a backlink.
Content is king, and whether you’re trying to facilitate link exchanges or shopping yourself around by guest posting, you need high-quality content to attract top domains. These top domains are at the top for a reason, and like with most things, subpar won’t cut it.
All this is to say, you shouldn’t be shooting for the moon from day one, but knowing who the key players are in your space is an important first step to building your domain authority and establishing yourself. You may need to start with smaller, less authoritative domains, but you should always be striving for the top players.
Use All the Tools Available
No, we’re not talking about breaking out the circular saw or the power drill. We’re talking about the web tools and professional services that are out there to help you build your brand and grow your web presence.
Link building as a whole is a massive undertaking, with getting link insertions being only one part of it. If you’re hoping to make the most of your site and do everything you can to improve ranking, traffic, and authority, then it’s a good idea to get strategic assistance from a link-building company and an SEO agency.
Whether you need help with generating content (after all, you might know your space, but coming up with blogs, social posts, and other content is difficult and time-consuming) optimizing your site for SEO, or finding quality link insertion partners, it’s crucial to get experts to help you do it.
Simply managing all your different content can be difficult as you start to build out your site to scale up and rank higher. Once you add in multiple partners, advertising, and other components, you’re looking at a massive undertaking. There are plenty of benefits to be had from doing the work and building your brand through link insertions and SEO, but trying to go it alone is not recommended.
Stay on Top of Content Trends
Like we mentioned, managing your own content is a lot of work by itself, but part of continuing building quality link insertions is monitoring content in your space.
This means checking feeds, social media, other related businesses, and anywhere else you can for the most relevant and up-to-date content. You want to do this for two reasons.
One is so that you don’t miss any opportunities to build relationships and host relevant content with other players in the space. Whether they be top domains or up-and-comers like yourself, link building is an ongoing process.
The second reason is to help boost your own content’s relevance by staying on top of industry trends. Whether you’re hosting content or guest blogging, relevance is key. If you find yourself behind the learning curve in your industry, you’ll quickly find that your content becomes out of date and stale, like moldy bread. No one likes moldy bread.
Keep in mind that you’re not trying to be trendy, unless you’re innovating on an existing space, but instead trying to remain up-to-date.
Don’t Sit Idle
Our last tip is probably the most important. Whether you’re updating your site’s SEO, trying to gain link insertions with top domains, or just trying to generate more content, you can’t stop once you achieve a little bit of success.
All of our other best practices are geared around this one principle. You should constantly be producing new content and building new relationships. If you don’t know how frequently to put out new content, speak with a consultant from an agency and get help.
The internet is a 24/7 living being and getting more traffic is an ongoing practice. The minute you stop trying is when your page ranking and authority will suffer.
Hopefully, this post has helped you understand how link insertions work, how to go about getting them, and the best practices to use when doing so. To sum up all of the key points, always build upward towards higher traffic and higher domain authority sites, stay on top of trends, get professional help when you need it, and always keep moving and doing whatever you can to build your brand and your web presence.
By following these practices, you’ll be on track to having high-quality link insertions that will build your brand and drive loads of traffic to your site.
Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.
Over the years he's written for publications like Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii. Over the years he's written for publications like Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.