The concept of backlinks is very simple. When another website adds a link that points to your site, that is called a backlink. These backlinks are seen by the search engines as a vote of confidence for your site. The other site thinks your site is worthy of attention, so that is a good sign for the quality of your site and your piece of content. If you collect enough of these kinds of links, it can have a powerful impact on your SEO efforts.
That’s great – but how do you get these links? Well, that’s where it gets tricky. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the popular options for getting backlinks. But first, a closer look at what they are and why they matter.
Backlinks are everywhere on the web. If you are reading a blog post and you see a link that heads to another site, you have found a backlink. That link doesn’t seem like anything notable to you as an internet user, but as a site owner, it’s a huge deal. Collecting plenty of these kinds of links from around the web can go a long way toward boosting your ranking and improving your digital marketing efforts.
It’s important to note that not all backlinks will have a positive impact for SEO purposes. If a link has a ‘nofollow’ tag attached, the search engines will not consider that link as a part of a website’s backlink profile. ‘Nofollow’ links are assigned by site owners/managers and are used for a variety of reasons. For instance, links in blog comments and links from social media networks are typically set up to be ‘nofollow’ links by default.
To be clear, the best kind of backlink requires no active effort on your part. Well, at least it requires no effort in terms of going out to look for a link. These are called ‘organic’ backlinks because they happen naturally. Someone else out there in the world finds your page to have quality content and they link to your website as a way to serve their audience. This is how the backlink idea was meant to work in the first place, and these kinds of authentic backlinks are extremely powerful.
When most business owners hear this explanation of organic backlinks, they drop their heads a bit. Why? Simple – it doesn’t seem like something you can control. Do you just sit back and hope to get some backlinks someday? While there is certainly an element of this that you can’t control, there are things you can do that will make it far more likely for organic high quality backlinks to occur.
Create content that ads value and answers questions. This one should go without saying. If you want other people to link to your site from theirs, create great content! By regularly posting high-quality, original, insightful content, there will likely be plenty of other sites who want to recommend it to their readers. Sure, it will take a bit of time to occur naturally, but you should simply focus on the creation process and let the rest take care of itself.
Do research. Depending on your industry, you might be able to do some original research that uncovers some interesting new insights. If these insights can be displayed statistically, that’s even better. People love to link to statistics, as those stats can help enhance any argument they may be trying to make. Attracting these kinds of links is great because it can help your SEO efforts and also help to position you as an authority in your space.
Present a clean brand. It will be hard for other businesses to link to you if there is something controversial or questionable about your brand. A link to your site is a form of an endorsement, and others don’t want to run the risk of endorsing something that will be objectionable to their audience. If you hope to build a healthy, natural backlink portfolio, do your best to keep your brand free from controversy.
The world of search engine optimization is divided into two categories – ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’. The white hat crowd is committed to doing things by the book and not trying to cut any corners or cheat the system. As you might guess, the black hat community isn’t worried about such standards. These kinds of SEOs will do whatever they need to do to move up the rankings and draw traffic. While black hat techniques can work in some cases, those successes tend to be short-lived.
As an example, a black hat technique related to backlinks is using hidden links. These are links that are technically in place on a web page, but the actual human users of that page can’t see them. The links are made to match the background color of the page, so they are effectively invisible, and they are placed somewhere that isn’t going to draw any clicks. In this way, this black hat technique can provide a backlink to another site without really displaying that link in any meaningful way.
Another black hat link building strategy is buying links. You’ll see these types of services across multiple platforms often. All claiming to be “white hat” links with a low spam or toxic score. But the thing is, Google has come a long way in determining what links are valid and which are not. These link farms, in most cases, will do little to nothing for your backlink portfolio and in some cases could even hurt your rankings. It will ultimately be up to you rather or not you want to roll the dice with buying links. But every expert will tell you, it’s not worth it.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless examples of black hat link building ideas, but you’ll want to stay away from those methods if long-term, sustainable SEO success is your goal.
Want to stay away from the world of black hat SEO but don’t necessarily want to wait around for all of your links to come in organically? Guest posting just might be for you. A guest post is an article or blog post that you write and display on someone else’s website. Commonly, the owner of the website will allow you to place a link or two in the content that heads back to your site. This allows you to build a new link overnight, and this technique can be repeated over and over across the web.
If this sounds too good to be true, you need to understand that it’s easier said than done. Guest posts are added to the web every single day, but they can be hard to come by. Keep these tips in mind if you decide to pursue guest posting to gain some quality links from potential high authority sites.
Find the right sites. Perhaps the hardest part of this process is finding the right sites to target for your outreach efforts. Direct competitors aren’t going to want to provide you with a link, so they are out of the question. Also, huge websites with tons of traffic probably aren’t accepting guest post pitches either. Think about markets that are related to yours but not direct competitors and reach out to sites in that area regarding guest posting opportunities. The research can be time consuming, but the payoff can be well worth the effort.
Come up with ideas. It’s not good enough to send a message asking for a guest post and say that you are willing to write about ‘anything’. That’s putting the work on the owner of the other site, and they will probably just delete your message. Instead, send an email that outlines exactly what you would like to write about and why your content would be interesting to the other site’s audience. Do as much of the work as you can so the other site can simply say ‘yes’ and post the content when it’s ready to go.
Deliver great work. This one is non-negotiable. Anything you expect to be posted on another website should be at least up to the level that you would require for your own site. The writing needs to be good and free of outdated resources– if you can’t produce an acceptable level of writing by yourself, consider hiring a professional writer to do the job. Delivering an error-filled, hard-to-read piece is a sure way to have your pitch turned down in the end.
Are backlinks important? Yes – there is no doubt that building backlinks can play a powerful role in your SEO pursuits. But they are not the only thing you should look at when trying to move your site up in the rankings. If you become so obsessed with finding links that you ignore everything else, your site will be worse off in the end.
It’s always smart to keep the big picture in mind when marketing your business. Put some effort into collecting links by creating great content and perhaps through blog posting. But also do the other things you need to do to rank your site, such as working hard on keyword research and mastering on-page SEO. It’s a well-rounded, diversified strategy that tends to come out on top in the end.