How Link Building Affects Your Site’s Authority

Building links to your website is hugely important if you want people to actually find and click on your content in search engines one day. But not all links help equally! Some can totally tank your site’s reputation. That’s why we put together this guide walking through exactly how quality links boost your stats while also explaining the big risks to avoiding making dodgy backlinks using shady tactics (which often feels tempting, we know). Whether a blogger just starting out or an experienced site owner, by the end you’ll get why you gotta be super careful with links.

Positive Impacts of Quality Link Building

Executed effectively, link building provides significant benefits ranging from increased referral traffic and engagement to higher authority metrics and better SERP rankings.

1. Increases Website Traffic

High-quality backlinks from authoritative, relevant sites can boost referral visits and overall organic traffic exponentially. One extensive study by Moz found sites could achieve a huge traffic increase from successful link building focusing on earning placements on quality sites. The cumulative effect of getting links from sites with higher domain authority pays dividends. 

By continually nurturing relationships and delivering value via content and outreach, we’ve built quality links that fueled 104% average yearly organic growth over the past 5 years. Just like any long-term business investment, link building succeeds by playing the long game, not chasing quick wins.” – NICK KATSEANES, PAGE ONE POWER

For example, a health site that secures guest posts links on sites like WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and Medical News Today will enjoy a spike in visitors. Not only will each link drive its own visitors, but Google will interpret links as signals to trust and potentially rank the page higher, sending more organic traffic. The compounding impact makes traffic scale significantly.

2. Boosts Conversions and Revenue

Increased website traffic is great, but means little if that traffic does not contribute to business goals like more conversions and sales revenue. 

Similar to overall traffic increases discussed above, rankings improvements and direct referral traffic from trusted sites convert at much higher rates than non-contextual visits. Visitors coming from recognized medical sites convert more reliably for a health business for instance. This lifts conversion percentages and total revenue as quality links multiply.

3. Increase Domain Authority Scores

Metrics like Moz’s Domain Authority and Google-affiliated sites like Ahrefs that track Domain Rating carry significant weight in Google and other engine algorithms. They represent overarching authority and trust levels, incorporating recent link profiles, citation signals, and engagement metrics.

Domain authority lifts thanks to the compound effect of continually building links on reputable sites. The highest quality placements might impart 10+ or more DA individually with this accumulating over campaigns. Strong authority metrics signal overall site quality and trustworthiness to search algorithms.

4. Enhances Page Authority Levels

Just as domain authority can be boosted site-wide, quality links also increase authority on individual pages where placements are achieved. Moz and other platforms track this with Page Authority scores, representing the authority weighting and value for specific pages.

For example, getting links from industry resources to deep content like guides and technical explainers provides an authority signal for individual pages. This helps them surface for commercial and informational search queries where they provide value. As links build up over time, Page Authority and resulting rankings improve.

5. Lifts Other Core Metrics

Beyond traffic and conversions, link building lifts almost every other metric that search engines value related to overall quality and consumer response. As high-DA resources link out to your pages and content across the web, you benefit from the halo effect of their credibility lending more trust and authority to your site.

Metrics like lower bounce rates and higher pages per session, dwell time on site, and scroll depth improve thanks to more engaged visitors from authority sites. Achieved links also propagate across other discovery platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, enhancing engagement. All of this signals relevance and quality to search algorithms.

Risks of Low-Quality Link Building

While authoritative links provide clear value, low-quality links should be avoided given the potential downsides.

Manual Google Penalties

If search engines determine your link-building strategies violate their guidelines overtly, expect swift and harsh retaliation. Buying links or manipulative anchor text tactics for instance can trigger immediate Google penalties.

These penalties remove site visibility by restricting search crawler access, providing manual ranking demotions, or at worst a complete removal of the site from Google’s index. Recovering from or undoing Google penalties often proves extremely difficult as well once imposed.

Negative SEO Vulnerabilities

Even if your own strategies follow proper protocols, malicious third parties can still attack your domain using negative tactics like building unnatural links. Without adequate safeguards, this succeeds in triggering penalties against the victimized site.

Defending against negative SEO requires extensive disavow protocols within Google Search Console to alert algorithms to malicious links. Still, best practice includes proactively building enough quality links so these risky domains comprise just a tiny percentage of your total backlink profile.

Loss of Rankings Visibility

While not as harsh as specific penalties, manipulating links or acquiring low-DA placements will lead to gradual losses in rankings visibility. Search algorithms can interpret untrusted links as reasons to doubt the quality or authority of pages earning them. Pages will slowly descend for critical commercial keywords and organic traffic to pages will drop as a result.

Declines in Referral Traffic & Engagement

Just as positive links encourage direct visits and engagement thanks to trust signals, risky link building provides the opposite effects. Low-quality discovery and referral sources won’t drive visits or social sharing, cutting into traffic and participation metrics like scroll depth and time on site. Poor links equate to riskier referral sources.

Hurts Domain Reputation & Brand Perception

Participating in questionable tactics even slightly outside ethical link-building practices also hurts the site’s reputation over the long run. If your domain is perceived as skirting guidelines too closely, your credibility and brand trustworthiness suffer both to site visitors and peers in your industry.

These combined risks provide a strong imperative to keep link efforts focused firmly on white hat strategies. While easier and faster in the near term, low-quality placements inevitably extract too high a cost in lost metrics, traffic, and visibility. Play it safe by sticking to ethical practices instead.

Bonus Tips – Always Use White Hat Link Building Techniques

The potential downsides and risks associated with poor link-building practices mean only legitimate, white-hat strategies should be used. Such techniques include:

Creating Worthwhile, Share-Worthy Content 

High-impact content like data studies, visual stories, and research-backed long-form content can all earn natural links without outreach. Focus on topics that resonate with influencers and get widely shared.

Enhancing Content for Linkability

Ensure on-page optimizations like structured data, graphics, videos, and effective SEO that encourages links. Make it easy for others to link to worthwhile content.

Outreach Campaigns to Relevant Sites 

Manual outreach and relationship building to secure placements from quality sites that make contextual sense to link to your content. Takes effort but earns quality links.

Trend Jacking and News Link Building: Create content around trending stories, news events, or viral topics that influential sites are already covering and competing to rank for. Increase the probability of pickups and links with good news SEO.

Contributor Campaigns for Guest Posting 

Pitch and secure authorization to provide guest posts for blogs, news sites, and web magazines related to your industry, securing a natural do-follow attribution link in the process. Focused blogger outreach around this works when done correctly.

Link Reclamation for Broken Resources

Find broken pages 404ing where an editor/webmaster previously linked out to you, and flag these to be redirected or fixed, resurrecting earned links in the process.

The above represents just a sampling of proven white hat link-building tactics to incorporate into your strategy. Avoid anything deceptive and focus on value-added content and outreach. Over time, strong link velocity to your site will boost all of your metrics.

Closing Thoughts

There you have it – a 101 guide on how link building can be your website’s best bud if done right while also quickly turning into your worst nightmare if you pursue all the wrong strategies. Just remember search engines hate anything that looks fake or paid for rather than earned naturally. Stick to white hat relationship building instead of quick link schemes. If you avoid dirty tactics then quality links will work their magic to send more real visitors to your site over time. Got any other link-building questions? Hit us up in the comments! And best of luck 🙂