The Basics of Backlinks

If you’re new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you may be wondering what a backlink is. A backlink is basically a link on another site referring readers to your site.

Backlinks are important for establishing the authority of your website in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. Meaning, that if Google sees you are linked on other sites with high authority, they will see your site as also one with high authority, and suggest your site higher on the Search Engine Ranking Page (SERP) when someone searches for a keyword on your site (more on keywords HERE).

In this section I will review the following strategies for getting more backlinks to your site:

Link Gap Analysis is a must-do first step if interested in ranking high on Google’s SERP. It basically entails looking at your competitors’ backlinks, creating content for those sites, and then reaching out to said sites and asking for them to link to you. To do this I use Moz’s Link Explorer Tool. This tool is free for a 30-day trial so if you’re in-house 30-days in more than enough, but if you work for a marketing firm I would say the subscription is worth the price.

To use this tool simply search your domain, and up to 5 of your competitors’ domains. You will soon receive a spreadsheet with all the sites linking to your competitors ranked by spam score (lower the spam score the better). Then, go through the links and on a separate spreadsheet make a list of “Goal links” meaning the sites you think you could get to ink to your own site. Also make note of the kind of content that was linked to on your competitors’ sites, and the content format.

Example: If your competition is getting links to pages describing their products, maybe think about formatting your product page in a similar format.

After creating a list of “goal links” you are ready to create content and reach out to those sites to ask for a link. When writing to said sites, make sure to note that you’re a fan of their work and why you think your content would be useful to their readers.

If you’re working in a small company, which I am assuming you are if you’re reading this blog, it is likely that in addition to marketing you are also this company’s PR go-to. Know that when you are reaching out to these sites to create links, you are also creating a network that can be used whenever your company has public relation needs.

Also, expect that there will be people who do not reply to your request for a link and move on. Just try to continue to do your best work and refine your website. Sites don’t like to link to other websites with a sloppy layout or unclear message. Check out our post Messaging Made Simple.

Keyword Searching

Keyword Searching refers to searching your site’s keywords, and trying to link to the sites that come up first on the SERP page. You should search both short and long-term keywords and try to create content that matches the subjects and layouts of the sites that come up on the first page of the search.

It is important to know that when you do start acquiring back links it will take a few months for Google to realize your site’s authority and for that to transfer into traffic for your site (which you should be tracking with Google Analytics).

By taking the easy road and paying for backlinks, it is likely Google will notice you’re getting too many backlinks too quickly and your site could negatively impact your site’s authority.

Link Round Ups

Link Round Ups are sites or databases that offer a library of sorts for people in your industry or field. To find these sites search your keyword and then “round up” , “best of” , “this week”. When you find a site reach out with the content you would like them to link to.

Again, make sure these are credible sites, using sites that only have links or will take any links at all will not be good for your SEO in the long run.

More than a strategy on its own I would say Broken Link Building is something that you can do in addition to a main strategy like Link Gap Analysis of Guest Posting. In this strategy you simply look through the sites you would like to link to you, find “broken links” or, links that go to a page that no longer exits or that has poor formatting, re-make that content.

When you reach out to sites using the Broken Link Strategy, make sure you show you’re adding value by helping them with the broken link and then immediately offer your content as a solution. This will make the site administrator more likely to link to your content.

Guest Posting

Guest Posting is exactly what it sounds like. You offer to write a guest post for a site you would like to be linked on and in exchange they link to your site in their “author” section.

How do you find sites looking for guest bloggers? You can ask the sites you have in mind in your “goal links”, sites that accept guest posts often have a section under “Contact Us” with guest post instructions. Or, you can search inurl: “guest post” *keyword*

If planning to use this strategy I suggest having a photo ready as many sites like to put a face to their author. If you can use the picture from your LinkedIn profile to make yourself more recognizable to other people in your field you might be reading your guest post.

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