We all understand the importance of SEO. Think of your website as a physical store aka a brick-and-mortar. Would you rather have a store in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York City or in a hidden street in rural Nebraska? Where do you think you’d get more traffic and sales?

Investing in SEO puts your website at the forefront of the Internet so that you can have more visitors, generate more leads, and skyrocket your sales.

But how can you craft a solid SEO strategy?

The one key element that can make or break your SEO is how good you are at link building.

Link building is gathering a high number of websites other than your own to link back to your website. For example, you can see a backlink to our website from MerlinOne.com where it says “301 Digital Media”.

But why are backlinks important?

Backlinks show Google that your site is worth sharing. They are proof that you are providing valuable content, and that your website should rank higher.

In this recent study, it was found that the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.

Not all backlinks are created equal.

Two elements will define how good a backlink is. First, the theme relevancy to your site: if you write about the car industry, the backlink should come from a car-related website to really help your site. And second, the site authority: links that come from top-publications such as Forbes are worth more than lower-tier blogs.

How can you attract more backlinks to your website?

By now you should already understand how important backlinks are to improve your website’s SEO. But the next step is learning how to make other relevant sites link back to your website.

The first step is to create shareable content.

There is just no way that other websites will share your content if there is no content to share in the first place. In our new article, we explained the great advantages and opportunities that content marketing brings to the table. It allows you to build up your digital assets such as infographics, blog posts, listicles, guides, and original research.

Backlinks come from creating valuable, interesting content that people find worth sharing. You can also help them reduce friction by providing easy-to-share Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin buttons on your website.

The second step is to build relationships with other websites via email outreach.

Simply publishing content, especially if you are just starting out, will not be enough to attract many backlinks. You need to go out and promote your content. Start by identifying people that would enjoy it and are more likely to share it with their audiences.

Let’s say, for example, that you have created an infographic of the best social media platforms for small businesses. You could make a list of a hundred social media and digital marketing bloggers and publications. Find their contact information from their contact page and reach out to them. Don’t push your content, just ask if they are interested in adding it to one of their articles.

Link Building, like most SEO techniques, takes considerable time to see big results. However, it provides a sustainable long-term advantage that brings traffic and conversions organically and at no cost.

Marti writes about digital marketing and entrepreneurship. Find him with coffee and a laptop while traveling back and forth between Barcelona and Charlotte. Connect with him on LinkedIn.