Your status as a thought leader is defined by the network that you build for yourself, both in your professional life and in your online image. When you surround yourself with knowledgeable, high-quality people, you gain respect by proxy. As it is in the real world, so it is in blogging.
Take everything I just said and transfer it over to your company blog or newsletter. Those high-quality contacts I mentioned? The same goes for the sources that you link to in your writing. By creating a path to relevant sources, you will become a source of information that people will come to.
So what makes a strong link? Is it how relevant it is to your audience’s interest? Is all that matters is that you’re linking to a well-known site or author? There are a lot of factors. Think of this as a Venn diagram—all the factors go into building a quality link, and in the center is the link itself. If you want your SEO to go through the roof and your content to fire on all cylinders, you have to be mindful of the following things when it comes to link building.
Relevance—if you’re just lining out because you feel like you need links in your writing to look credible: stop. Find relevant, expansive information to branch out to.
Relevance also if important if your site is the one being linked to. You want to have an influx of people who are in your target audience if an outside source is going to link to you. So maintain a steady eye on where traffic to your site is coming from.
Diversity—if you’re constantly linking to The Washington Post or Psychology Today, eventually it’s going to stop coming across as credible and start coming across as plagiarism. You need to vary your sources of information.
Look for unique sources of information. This means scouting your competitors‘ blogs and carefully avoiding using the same link they’re using. Most of the time, knowledge isn’t exclusive to one credible site.
Here’s another wrinkle: what if another site is linking to you? It’s in your favor to have a lot of spread-out information on your site so that when outside sources link back to you, you share the love among many different pages on your website. This will help establish you as credible in the eyes of Google.
Value—a link should always be additive. If you’re linking to a source that just reiterates the same information that’s already in your blog or article when you could just cite the source, why link to it at all? Then you’re just funneling your audience to a site that’s probably a competitor where they’ll stay and find the rest of the information.
My advice: be the source of information. Link to places within your own site or link out to places you’ve contributed to. This will not only position your writing as a hub for credible information, but establish you as a prime source, and an influence within your industry.