If you have recently finished building your business website and are wondering how to bring organic traffic, you may have discovered something called search engine optimization. Backlinks are an important part of SEO.
You may have also realised that search engine optimization (SEO) is a lot of work and requires expertise that comes from experience. In other words, if you want to take SEO seriously, you may need to seek help from a digital marketing agency.
However, the challenge here is finding the right agency. This is because SEO is a long-term strategy that sometimes takes months to deliver verifiable results. Choosing the wrong agency can result in a huge dent in your marketing budget and discovering that there will be no results, after being patient for months on end.
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What Are Backlinks? Why Are They Important?
- Good Backlinks v/s Bad Backlinks
- What Your Backlinks Should Look Like
- Popular Ways To Acquire Backlinks
This challenge is even more alarming when you realise how difficult it is to find a dependable agency. From fake reviews to websites that blow their abilities and expertise way out of proportion, the digital marketing industry is currently being populated by several inexperienced players. With free tools like a free backlink checker, they can even find information about your website that will enable them to portray themselves as an expert.
Don’t get me wrong, the same free backlink checker will also be used by a genuine agency representative to gather the information that allows them to personalise their interaction with you.
The only way to really ensure that you are choosing an agency that will deliver on their promises is to talk to them and personally verify that the claims they are making about the experience and expertise are true.
However, to do that, you must also brush up on a few basics of SEO. This way, you can have intelligent conversations with agency representatives and choose one that is most likely to deliver growth.
With this article, my objective is to help you gain beginner expertise about one of the most important areas of search engine optimization- link building.
In the following sections, we will be discussing everything you need to know about backlinks and how they will help your business website.
Let’s begin by understanding what backlinks are:
What Are Backlinks? Why Are They Important?
Search engines are one of the most dependable sources of qualified traffic on the web. Naturally, websites compete with each other in the race to rank as high as possible in the results for relevant search terms.
To evaluate websites and decide which websites will be placed higher than the others, search engines use over 200 different ranking factors.
Backlinks are one such ranking factor. However, backlinks are one of the trickiest ranking factors to perfect and hold incredible importance when it comes to deciding the ranks of various websites. Backlinks are routinely counted among the top 10 most important ranking factors.
But what makes them so important?
To learn that, we will have to look back in time and see how webmasters were optimizing websites a couple of decades ago. See, at that time, Google publicly told websites that to rank well, they will have to produce stellar content. However, the ability to technologically verify the quality of content didn’t exist then. So, the search engines came up with a voting system.
They figured, if a piece of content is truly valuable, other websites will want their audience to know about it to improve the experience of their users. To incentivise this, the links to other websites were being used as votes to determine the popularity of a website.
This meant, more the backlinks to a webpage, the higher its ranking in the search engine results.
As one may expect, webmasters found a loophole in this system and started building inauthentic links to rank their websites higher. In fact, buying and selling backlinks was big business in the mid of the last decade. That is when Google found out about and grew tired of all the link spamming that was fooling its algorithms and rolled out the infamous Penguin update.
The update penalised websites that were using spammy practices and as a result, thousands of websites lost their rankings and found their traffic numbers wiped out overnight.
This brings us to our next section, good and back backlinks.
Good Backlinks v/s Bad Backlinks
Link spam was bad because it ruined the experience for the users of search engines. Not only were links being sold and bought, but websites were getting links from irrelevant sources. Since only the number of links mattered, people had developed ‘link farms’ that were websites that only contained outbound links.
The Penguin update changed all this. The tech giant defined which links will deliver value to websites and which ones will devalue them. With the Penguin update, Google rolled out three conditions for links to be considered ‘valuable’. These are:
Relevance is perhaps the most important quality of a backlink, and for good reason. Relevant links lead users to content that will provide them with more value, improving their experience on the search engines and the subsequent websites that they visit. Links from irrelevant websites, on the other hand, will be detrimental to the search engine performance of the website. This means, if you have a website dedicated to selling dog food and accessories, a link from a diaper website will not be relevant or valuable to your website.
Backlinks must come from trustworthy, high authority websites in your niche. Links coming from poor quality websites will also hurt your website. This rule came into being because of the ‘link farms’ we mentioned earlier. Domain authority is a great metric to evaluate the authority and quality of a website.
This one is a little tricky. According to Google, a natural link is any backlink that you had no role in acquiring. In other words, Google wants website owners to produce content that is so awesome and valuable that others find and link to it just because of the value.
In summary, a good backlink is one that is from a high authority website in your niche and has been given to you naturally. Now that we have understood the difference between good and bad backlinks, let’s look at a few backlinking best practices.
What Your Backlinks Should Look Like
Since a backlink is simply a link, it is quite obvious that a piece of text will have to be hyperlinked with the backlink to contextually include the link in the content. This piece of text is commonly known as the anchor text.
There are a few different types of anchor texts that are commonly used:
As the name suggests, an exact match anchor text is actually the keyword for which you want to rank. For instance, if you have an email marketing tool, and have a backlink on the terms “email marketing software”, it will be on an exact match anchor text.
Partial match anchor texts are those that relate to your keyword but aren’t exactly the keyword that you want to target. So, if your target keyword is “email marketing software”, partial match anchor text can be “how to send effective emails” or “automating email marketing”.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Branded match anchors are your brand name with a link to your website.
Generic anchor text is usually in the form of “click here” or “visit now” or another similar term.
Links that are included in the Alt Tag of the image are known as image anchor links.
When it comes to choosing the ‘right kind’ of anchor text, there is just one rule- relevance. Your anchor text should provide relevance and shouldn’t be spammy.
Popular Ways To Acquire Backlinks
Now that we have learnt what backlinks are, what importance they hold, and how they should be used, let’s look at how you can gather backlinks.
Guest posting is perhaps the most common way to acquire backlinks. As the name suggests, the strategy involves reaching out to website owners requesting them to feature you as a guest contributor on their website.
Once your request is accepted, you can include a contextually relevant link within the content. Alternatively, many websites give out direct branded anchor links to their contributors in their contributor bio.
The only real limitation of guest posting is that this strategy is not scalable. One can only produce so much content in a specific period of time. Not to forget, there is a chance that a lot of the websites you reach out to will take their sweet time to respond, and even after taking a lot of time, may reply with a negative answer.
Outdated Content Link Building
This strategy is a little more complex than guest posting but can potentially help you build hundreds of high-quality links in just a matter of days. To execute this strategy, start by looking for outdated resources that a lot of websites are linking to.
Next, build an updated, high-quality resource that can be used to replace said outdated resource and make it live on your website.
Finally, reach out to the websites linking to the outdated resource notifying them about the same, and subtly asking them to link to your updated resource instead.
This link building strategy is also known as the Moving Man Method of building backlinks and it was pioneered by the brilliant Brian Dean of Backlinko.
Build Links On Brand Mentions
This strategy is ideally only meant for the brands that have existed in the digital space for some time now. If your brand fulfils this prerequisite, execute this strategy by using Buzzsumo (or a similar tool) to track down all instances on the web where your brand has been mentioned.
Next, filter out the instances where the mention is not accompanied by a link to your website.
The last step is pretty obvious. Start reaching out to websites that have unlinked brand mentions asking them to (kindly) add a link to your website.
Create Awesome Content And Promote It
As mentioned earlier in this article, one of the most dependable ways to get backlinks is to create link-worthy content. However, simply creating content that is worthy of links isn’t enough, you have to back it up with promotion. When it comes to building links, reaching out to influential websites and bloggers in your niche often pays off well.
While there isn’t a correct way to do this, asking for a backlink on your awesome content in the first outgoing email will not produce impressive results. This is because you are not letting them decide if they like the content and making a request in the first communication.
Instead, try sending an email asking them about their opinion on your content. If the reply is positive, you can easily ask them for a link or even offer to write a guest post on their website (and link to your awesome content within the guest post).
Backlinks are an integral part of driving organic traffic to your website. The best part is, backlinks don’t just offer SEO benefits to your website, they also give your website exposure to the audience of others, helping with metrics like brand recall value. We hope that the tips shared in this article will help you start moving the needs for your website’s backlink profile.
If you have questions or more tips to share, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.
Enjoy This Article? You May Also Like:
- The Power of Backlinks for Ranking to Page 1 on Google
- Instagram Business Captions | Engage, CTA, & More.
- Does Guest Blog Posting Still Work in 2020?
- 5 Smart Ways to Build Backlinks to Your Website for FREE
- What Is Backlink Building & How Does It Affect SEO?