Backlinks are vital to the success of your site, and if you’re unfamiliar with the word, you’ve at least heard it tossed around a couple of times. But despite their importance, there are distractions and misconceptions at every turn.
Today we hope to explain the importance of backlinks and how you can harness their power to take your SEO efforts to the next level.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are votes. At least, that’s what Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, calls them in his SEO guide.
“Backlinks are basically votes from other websites. Each of these votes tells search engines: ‘This content is valuable, credible and useful.’”
In reality, backlinks are links that connect one web page to another web page.
For example, if an author for Site A is writing a blog post about gardening, they might add an external link (out) to Site B, an expert gardening site. In this example, Site B is receiving a backlink.
Examples Of Great Link-Building
Brands that have become a household name usually have no problem obtaining great backlinks. Smaller, independent brands, however, have to work hard for their web traffic. Here are a few of our favorite examples of sites that have leveraged the power of link-building to grow their base exponentially:
Weather Underground (WU) is a weather service dedicated to challenging the conventions of how weather info is distributed. In recent years, the brand invested heavily in SEO and mobile-first design & development. They have over 100M backlinks, and link-building has allowed them to grow despite their highly-competitive niche.
SpoilerTV is the largest independent TV & movie review site on the internet - according to their About Us page. Judging by the 3.9M backlinks and 8.3K referring domains, they’re certainly making their own way.
Search Engine Roundtable posts on a variety of topics that fall under the umbrella of search engine marketing. Judging by their 23.8M backlinks and almost 20K referring domains, it’s safe to say that the general public appreciates the advice.
These sites are from different industries, yet all are taking advantage of proper link-building strategies. It’s not the design, the target audience, or even the grammar that makes these sites successful. It’s the value of their content and the strategies they’ve executed.
Why Are Backlinks So Important?
Search engines like Google and Bing trust what other people say about you way more than what you say about yourself. By earning backlinks from other sites, your web page has a much better chance of ranking high on major search engines.
But not all backlinks are created equal. Some backlinks are not helpful at all!
High-Quality Vs Low-Quality Backlinks
Not all backlinks are the same. In fact, backlinks from suspicious websites can do more harm than good. High-quality backlinks give you a boost, and in many cases, low-quality backlinks can actually sabotage your SEO strategy. 👎
For a more in-depth review of the different types of backlinks that exist, Moz has an excellent guide here.
How Do You Obtain High-Quality Backlinks?
Speaking of strategy, you’re probably how to get some good backlinks for your own blog. The following tips are not new and they won’t lead to massive success overnight. Instead, these are the tried-and-true steps that content marketers have followed for years to get great backlinks and boost traffic:
1. Guest blogging
Guest blogging, also called “guest posting,” is one of the best ways to start your link-building journey. Guest posting is when you write a blog post for another website and they include a link to your domain in the author bio, or somewhere within that guest post.
For example, if you’re in the fitness niche, you could find a related blog that’s doing well and ask if they’d be willing to allow you to guest post on their site. If they agree, you would create the post and send it to them. Then, when they publish the post, it will include a link to your blog somewhere on the post - usually in the bio near the bottom or top.
2. Link roundups
Link roundups are blog posts that review great content from the past week or month and link to each post reviewed.
To find link roundups in your industry, go to Google or Bing and type in one of the following queries:
- [keyword] link roundup
- [keyword] roundup
- [keyword] best of
- [keyword] this week
Once you’ve found a few link roundups in your industry, you just need to pitch your content. Ryan Stewart from Webris has an excellent guide to landing link roundups which you can find here.
3. Consistently create great posts
Great writing takes practice. It seems trivial to say, but you can improve your writing by simply writing more.
Creating great content takes consistency. Not only do you need to publish on a consistent basis, but you also need a consistent voice across all your posts. This requires a process that you can follow and scale.
Here are some basic tips you can use to improve your writing.
- Know your audience
- Write as simple as possible
- Pay attention to the flow
- Add external links to reputable sources with relevant info
- Add relevant images - avoid stock photos whenever possible
- Write in bite-sized pieces
Check out our post on overcoming writer’s block here. And check out our post on target research here.
4. Product or service reviews
If you sell a product or service, physical or digital, you can use that to your advantage to acquire a ton of great backlinks.
First, you’ll need to compile a list of bloggers from your niche that are well-established. Just use Google (of your preferred search engine) and type in “[keyword] blogs.” The majority of these blogs will have contact info listed somewhere on the site, or at the very least most of them will have a contact form.
Once you have a substantial list of prospects, start sending emails. 📧
You can offer your product or service to them for free and, in turn, ask that they add a review on their site that includes a link to your domain.
5. Help A Reporter Out.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) connects writers with experts in their industry. Once you sign up, you’ll receive daily emails with queries from reporters looking for content from experts.
Each email is split up into categories and each category has a list of requests for that day. The queries include the project name, contact info, specific question, and other pertinent info.
HARO is excellent for obtaining backlinks when you don’t have a lot of traffic to entice influencers in your niche.
Before you go
To be on the safe side, make sure that the site you’re soliciting backlinks from meets the following qualifications (at least):
- The site is well-established in its niche
- The site is a trusted provider of great content
- The site publishes content on a consistent basis
- The site topic is relevant to yours
- The site hasn’t linked to you more than once
Did we miss anything?
Let us know in the comments section if you have tips that we didn’t cover or if you have a favorite method for obtaining backlinks!