Keyword research for link building and search engine optimization (SEO) are two fundamental strategies for improving the effectiveness of your online marketing. In short, the proper application of keywords ensures Google knows which topic you’re talking about. And correctly executed SEO link building gives your site the authority to rank highly for that topic.
Even if you have both strategies in place, you may be missing out on some value by not combining keyword research into your link-building strategy. This article explores the importance of keyword research for link building.
What Is Link Building Keyword Research?
Link building can be broken into two categories. The first is internal link building — linking different site pages. This creates a cohesive internal network around a topic. It also encourages visitors to stay on your site longer and visit more pages. Using keywords as your anchor text when linking between internal pages is essential.
Today, we are focusing on external link building. This is the process of acquiring backlinks. Backlinks come from external websites and ‘link back’ to your site. Strategies for building up your website’s backlinks include linking from social media, forums, citation building, and press releases. But because these are relatively easy for anyone to do, they aren’t particularly valuable.
That brings us to the more challenging outreach methods. The first is contacting site owners in your industry and asking them to link to your site. You’ll likely have to pay for these links if it comes from a high-quality site. You can get prospects to give you a backlink for free if you identify broken links on their site and offer content to replace it.
The second outreach method is guest blogging — writing content for another site that that site then owns. This adds value to the other site; in return, you can link back to your site. Both of these require time spent contacting prospects with no guarantee of success. You then have to spend money on the link or create content for the other site to get the link.
Correctly executed link-building keyword research allows you to gain backlinks passively. It’s about identifying keywords other sites within your niche will want to link to. You then create quality content around these keywords. When your content is of a high enough standard and adds something unique to the topic, sites will want to link to it organically.
Once you’ve created content that adds value to other sites’ pages, there is no limit to the number of sites that can link to it. You can keep gaining more and more links for as long as the content enriches other sites. This is what makes it passive.
How Does Link Building Help SEO?
Link building is a critical element in improving your website’s SEO. It helps primarily by increasing your website’s domain authority (DA). This is the level of trustworthiness search engines assign to your site. Acquiring backlinks from websites with high DA signals to search engines that your site is also trustworthy. A backlink from a site with a high DA is considered a high-quality backlink. If visitors reach your site through a high-quality backlink, they will likely transfer their trust from the linking site to yours.
Increasing your DA score by getting multiple high-quality backlinks to one page has a sitewide impact. Your DA score is not page specific; it is sitewide. This means even if you only have one page with an excellent backlink profile, your whole site will benefit from it.
There is a longstanding debate about backlink quality vs. quantity. Some will argue that one high-quality backlink is more important than 100 low-quality links. Of course, it is better to have high-quality links. But remember, the most important thing is to create engaging, relevant content that a variety of sources will want to link to. Using keyword research in your link-building strategy will guarantee this relevancy.
Using Keyword Research To Define Your Link-Building Strategy
Keyword research is integral for defining your content production strategy. It gives you a clear plan of articles to write, topics to cover, and how to structure your content. Without keyword research, you are just guessing what kind of content will be successful. The same applies to your link-building strategy. Without a clear plan, you are just hoping other sites will pick up your content. A robust keyword strategy provides you with a roadmap and markers against which to judge your progress.
Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience should be the first step in any marketing effort. Once you understand your audience, their interests, needs, and desires, you can start to imagine the things they are searching for. This will create the basis of your keyword research, which will, in turn, form the foundation of your link-building strategy.
Research Relevant Topics
Once you have defined your audience’s interests, search the topic broadly online to find which sites rank the highest. Look closely at and make a list of the sub-topics these sites cover. Once you have this, you can target specific keywords in more detail.
How To Find Keywords for Link Building
To find keywords for link building, perform an audit of your own content. Identify content that is already performing well for keywords but doesn’t have many backlinks. You can use Google Search Console to check which of your pages perform best and which keywords you rank for.
There are a variety of tools you can use to find additional keywords for link building. Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz offer paid toolkits to find relevant keywords. You can also search for keyword search volume, difficulty, and related terms directly on Google using their Keyword Planner tool.
Types of Keywords
There are several different types of keywords. Seed keywords are the most fundamental to a business or industry. But while they are an excellent place to start with your research, they are not the best to target for link building because they are too general and competitive. Every good industry site will have content formulated around these keywords.
You want to be more specific when looking for keywords for link building. Look for complementary keywords that will help to supplement your site’s existing content and add value. Statistics and trends are good keywords to target. Site owners find content containing this specific information ideal for linking to, as they can use it to strengthen their arguments and improve their content.
Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords are one or two words long. They are commonly used as the primary keywords for content. They are general and fundamental to a topic, making them incredibly competitive.
Long-tail keywords contain more words and are more specific. An example of the difference would be “Laptops” as the short-tail keyword and “Affordable laptops for graphic design students” as the long-tail keyword. Because they have a lower search volume, long-tail keywords are less competitive, meaning large sites have less incentive to create specific content around them. This opens the door for you to create that content — and have larger sites link to it.
Analyze Keyword Difficulty
When analyzing the difficulty of keywords, you also need to consider your site’s current status. If you are a new site that still needs a high DA score, you should target less competitive words while building up your authority. If it is a highly competitive term that authoritative sites are already ranking for, it will be difficult to compete.
This analysis can also help you to identify high-priority keywords you are ranking for but for which improvements could be made. If you are ranking low down the first search engine results page (SERP) with minimal backlinks compared to your competition, this provides an opportunity. Your content must be strong enough to have you ranked on the front page, so focus on getting backlinks to this page to move you further up the ranking.
Analyzing your competitors’ websites can show which keywords they are ranking for and how. This is essential in learning what works and getting new ideas for linkable keywords. Tools like Semrush, Moz, and Ahrefs really come into their own in competitive research.
Your competitor analysis should reveal if you have any backlink gaps. This means your competitors are ranking for these keywords, but you are not. This should tell you which keywords to target for new link-building efforts.
Yes, Keyword Research Is Important for Link Building!
Keyword research for link building remains crucial in creating an online marketing strategy that aligns with your audience’s interests and needs. It gives you a structured roadmap for increasing your website’s authority. And it will improve your SEO rankings and give you a competitive advantage.
Learn more about how Sure Oak helps our clients succeed with their link-building strategies.