Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a necessity for all websites. Almost everyone is doing it and just to keep from being overshadowed by your competition you’ll need to have some basic SEO performed on your site as well. There are a number of things that can be done to help improve your website for search, things like optimizing code, heading tags, alt tags, adding schema, etc. These are all basic plug-in improvements but did you know that there is an often overlooked SEO tactic, that is extremely valuable for SEO, and that you can’t simply just ‘do’ to your website? It’s called backlinks and it’s as old as the internet.
Why Build Backlinks
Backlinks are simply links on other websites that link to your site. In its infancy, linking was a foundational process that led to the naming of the World Wide Web in the 90’s. The idea was that useful information and resources were all connected through hyperlinks, creating a ‘web’ of information.
Search engines like Google have integrated the existence of backlinks into their search algorithms as a measurement considered in ranking. Simply put, a backlink from another website to your website is seen as a vote of confidence that your website can be trusted. That means that Google considers backlinks in determining your website’s value and importance in search results.
For this reason, building backlinks for SEO is extremely important.
Quality vs Quantity
It’s pretty clear that backlinks are important, but not all backlinks are created equal. That is to say that every backlink has it’s own unique value and that is set by the overall trust of the website providing the link. Think about it, there are a number of untrustworthy websites and scammers out there, I’m sure we’ve all received an email from a Nigerian prince…
The implication here is that there is a degree of quality to every backlink. And it’s important to seek quality over quantity when building backlinks. To determine quality, search engines like Google give a trust score of sorts to every website. Websites with a higher trust score would have a more valuable (higher quality) backlink. Just a side note : expired domain names that have quality backlinks go for big bucks in aftermarket auctions. Backlinks are valuable!
Some examples of trusted websites (the ones with the best quality backlinks) would be Wikipedia.org, Harvard.edu, or Forbes.com. These are well established websites that have history and a level of authority on a subject. Sites like this are going to be more trusted than a brand new site on a new domain that your neighbor just built.
Build Backlinks / Build Relationships
There are a number of ways to build backlinks but the best method is going to be a natural organic process. There are services out there that will get you backlinks for a fee but beware, the price you pay isn’t only what it will cost you. Oftentimes these services will promise 1000’s of backlinks, but remember it’s about quality not quantity. Also, the means by which you get backlinks can be seen as deceptive or spammy if your website suddenly has 1000 backlinks from low quality, low trust websites. Do you really want to risk having a blacklisted site linking to your site? How do you think Google will view that backlink?
On the same note, it’s not going to be easy to get a backlink from a site like Wikipedia.org. You could try but the amount of time and effort it will take and the likelihood of success is very low. Your time and efforts are probably better spent working with people you know already or have a similar interest.
It’s best to get your backlinks in an organic way. Let other websites link to you because you have good content, or are an authority on a subject they are writing about. For example, if you are in the landscaping business, look for bloggers that do write ups on a subject you already have relevant content for. Then reach out to them and see if they wouldn’t mind linking to your site.
Some bloggers will do resource posts, where they simply link to a bunch of resources on a particular subject. Look for these and connect with the writers. Build a relationship and explain how you can contribute to their resource. Building relationships is akin to building quality backlinks.
Maybe you have business partners you already work with, why not ask them about exchanging backlinks? If you already have that relationship built this should be an easy backlink building opportunity.
Another way to build backlinks is to create good content in a style or format that is most likely to get others to link to on their websites. This is not an easy task and is more of a wait and see approach but there are ways to encourage success with this method. Moz did a study on this a few years back that found that a few different styles of content got more backlinks than others. List posts and tutorial style (how-tos) favored quite well.
Building backlinks organically is work, but it’s the best way to ensure that you receive quality, relevant backlinks. Going about it this way allows you to be in the quality control seat. Another benefit to this method is that you have an opportunity to make connections with other people or businesses related to what you’re trying to do. Build relationships and backlinks!