Just What Is A Backlink?
A backlink, (aka inbound link, incoming link) occurs when one website links to another website. Backlinks have always been an important signal for search engines because they help them to find new content and to understand the relationships between content. In a perfect world when other websites are linking to pages on your website it is because you have something worthwhile to share and they feel that sharing the link with their users provides extra value.
How NOT To Do Backlinks
Having a link for the sole reason of providing a website visitor value, however, is not always the case. There are those who try to trick or game the system to boost their website in search by either placing links to their sites on fake websites, or paying for links on what are known as “content farms” or “link farms”. While Google has come down hard on those that used this technique in the past, there are still shady SEO companies out there today that will try to sell you links. While it may seem tempting, I strongly advise my clients against it because in the long run it will get your website penalized and your rankings in Google will suffer.
So, what’s The Right Way to Build Backlinks?
Have great content. Simple, right?
Yes, I know that is not a helpful answer, but it is at the core of what will earn you good backlinks to your website.
As a search engine optimization professional, nothing makes me cringe more than when a new client comes on board with little to no content and yet they have the expectation that I will magically build hundreds of quality site backlinks. Nope, not going to happen. If you have nothing worth linking to, why would anyone bother to link? So, how do you create content that will be valuable to your users? The answer will be different for each company because the solution needs to be a geared towards your unique industry’s information and your customer’s needs.
It starts with research. What are your customers searching for online now? What questions are they asking? Who’s answering those questions? Can you provide a better and more in-depth answer?
You need to think about how you can improve your website by building out content around the topics that your customers are most interested in knowing about your particular industry.
For example, let’s say you own a custom shoe company, where people can order made to fit custom shoes online. You could have a guide on your website for how to properly size your foot so that you get the best fit for your specific foot type. Another idea might be a guide on how to care for your new shoes so you will get the most life out of them.
Okay, So I Put Great Content Up on My Site… Where’s the Links?
Ah, this is the fun part. You need to start sharing your content across all of your owned channels (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Google+). Not just once, mind you, because the Internet is a vast ocean of content. You will need to work your newly created content into an editorial calendar that you will rotate each week or month so that you can be sure to catch your followers for when they are online. Also, if your content is “newsworthy”, you can also share a press release that may get picked up by media outlets.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do To Build Links?
I know, constantly creating new and awesome content is exhausting. There are a few tips or tricks, which are still “above board” that you can try:
- Sign up for social media. In a nutshell, make sure to build out your branded profiles on all of the major social media platforms. Even if you don’t have the time right now to actively manage them, you should secure them for your brand. Most of the important platforms (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram) will let you link back to your website.
- Secure those business listings and citations. No matter your niche, there’s an online directory out there that’s a perfect fit for your industry, and some might already be listing you. Use a Google search to find reputable local citation sites to list your website in.
- Reach out to bloggers in your niche that might be interested in your product. Offer to send them a sample of your product and just ask if they’d consider mentioning it or writing a review. Important note: Don’t ask for a link back or review, that’s against Google guidelines, but you can leave it up to the blogger to decide if it’s worth mentioning and linking back to your website.
- Find unlinked mentions about your company. This tactic takes a bit of research and time, but if another website has already mentioned your brand on their site it’s worth it to see if they can link back to you. One way to identify these opportunities is by searching on Google for “brand name” and see what results you get back.
- Create (and promote) a scholarship. I’m going to have to give complete credit to Brian Dean @ Backlinko.com for this killer idea. What a great way to not only give something back to the community, but, you will potentially create high valued links (.edu) back to your website. For the complete step by step on how to implement this strategy see #6 on his article: 17 Untapped Backlink Sources
- Help a Reporter Out, no really, it’s a thing. You can sign up for the free service here, and get daily emails in your inbox from journalists at news and media outlets that are looking for professionals in various industries to give their “sound bites” about different subjects, and in return you get a link back to your site if they publish your quote or info. Pretty cool right?
Backlinking will always be the backbone and yet the bane of any website. Good links will move up, but bad links can really knock you down. You need links, you just can’t get away from it. But you also need content that is worth linking to. If you need help with your content and backlink strategies, contact us, we’d love to help.
Passionate about digital marketing and helping small businesses succeed online, Shannon has over 15 years of online marketing experience. She loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them become better marketers.