How to Build Links and Get Traffic for Your Freelance Website
Google has admitted that links are one of it’s top three ranking factors for SEO. Google considers each link from a trusted website like a vote of confidence for your website. Yes, the internet is basically one huge popularity contest and building links is like flyering your high school with signs saying “vote for me!”
On the plus side, this is a popularity contest that, if you win, will bring you lots of great freelance clients and a solid income, which is so much better than being Prom king or queen or whatever.
In this article, we’ll cover what you need to do to get the sort of links that will magically make you more popular with both Google and your future clients, including the kind of backlinks you want and how to get them.
What Kind of Back Links Do You Want?
The perfect backlink for your freelance website is going to have several features. You will want it to be a:
From a High Authority Website
Because each link is like a vote in a popularity contest, the more popular websites carry more weight with Google and with human visitors. Think about it, you’d trust a recommendation from your favorite freelance website (cough. The Freelance Hustle. cough) over a random spammy website, and so will Google and other internet users.
From Relevant Websites
While Google will follow a link from a random website to your website, it will take note that the link doesn’t make sense. Of course, there are exceptions to this but generally, a link from a publication or as a byline on a blog to your writer website will make more sense than one from the image on a plumbing website. People, on the other hand, will be annoyed by links from irrelevant sites and who wants someone who feels grumpy about being misled ending up on your freelance website?
High up on the Page
The general rule is the higher on the page, the better. This is because each link gets progressively less SEO juice from Google. Ideally, the link to your website is the first one on the page, but a link is generally better than no link.
In the Content, Not the Footer or Comment Section
The most valuable link is in the body of the website, not in the footer or comment section. Google really doesn’t give much credit to links in the comment section because, for years, people were using them to build links to their websites without providing any value. Having a link in the footer is better than nothing (and great for catching a human readers eye, if it’s a “Designed by” reference) but shoot for links in the main content whenever possible.
Follow vs Nofollow Links
You want follow links but having nofollow links is ok too. You’ll lose the SEO juice but if the link is on a relevant website that speaks well of you, you’ll still get human visitors as a result.
How Should You Get Those Back Links?
There are lots of different ways for you to build your backlink portfolio and catch the attention of both Google and humans who might be interested in your freelance services.
Be Part of a List Post
Yes, roundups are all over the place but people keep putting them together because readers love them. I was able to get a link from Travel + Leisure magazine simply by providing information about travel to the writer putting together a listicle about travel must-haves. I was quoted as “digital nomad, marketer, and writer” which is a pretty good credibility bump from Travel + Leisure and that sweet, sweet link led to a bunch of freelance website visitors and a bit of client work.
Get Links From Your Work
These links can be author bylines or a “designed by You” credit, etc. If you’re a designer, you could get links to your website in the footer of your client’s website. While it’s nice to have backlinks higher up in the content, you’ll likely catch a few human visitors attention by being in the footer, especially if they like your work.
If you’re a writer, you could leverage your bylines in various publications to link to your website. Many publications and websites will allow you to choose a website to link to as part of your byline and/or your writer profile.
Create Content People Will Want to Reference
People are both lazy and like to rely on the authority of others, so if you’re creating great content (like ultimate guides, infographics, photos) they can share and reference, they’ll be happy to do so and to give you credit in the form of a link to your website.
Contribute to a Community
While you can’t use blog comment sections to build links, you can use websites like Quora and ASKfm to build links to your freelance website. The best way to do this is to find questions you can answer that allows you to link to your website as a reference point. Be sure to answer other questions as well so every response you give isn’t just linking to your website.
Make It Easy to Share Your Work on Social Media
This is as easy as installing a plugin and prewriting some captions for people who choose to share your work on social media. The Freelance Hustle uses the Monarch plugin by Elegant Themes, which is a paid plugin but is well worth the small annual fee. You can also encourage people to share your content by simply asking them to do so. It’s a little less likely to happen than with a plugin because you’re making them do more work, but it never hurts to ask!
While it may feel like building lots of quality backlinks to your website means you can skip the steps of optimizing your website, that’s not true. Links are important for driving people and Google’s crawlers to your website, but what’s on the website matters once they’re there. So links are a way of getting attention, not of keeping it.
Building links is an ongoing process so while that means you don’t need to spend 100 hours on it this month, it also means you don’t get to stop working on your link profile next quarter. Spend a few minutes each week working on your link profile and you’ll have lots of SEO juice and plenty of visitors from various websites and Google in no time.