In today’s digital era, businesses are constantly trying to outdo each other to increase their chances of ranking on search engines. This is where backlinks matter.
Backlinks are one of the many search ranking factors Google uses to measure the relevance and authority of a website.
When you generate high-quality backlinks, Google sees your website as being more trustworthy and authoritative. In other words, incoming links are a signal to search engines like Google that other reputable websites find the content on your website valuable.
But what is a backlink? Why should you include backlinks as part of your SEO strategy?
Let’s find out.
What are Backlinks?
If you are new to the world of digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you may not be familiar with backlinks.
Backlinks are links on other websites that point to a specific page on your website. They are also known by different terms like “external links” or “inbound links.”
Search engines see a backlink as a ‘vote of confidence.’ It is an indicator that other websites vouch for the content on your website and that it is valuable enough to be linked with their own content.
For example, let’s say you run a dental clinic. A local newspaper writes an article on a new dental procedure that your clinic offers. The article mentions your clinic’s name and includes a link to your website where the target audience can gain in-depth knowledge about the procedure and about your clinic.
This would be considered a backlink from the newspaper’s website to your clinic’s website.
Why are Backlinks Important for Your SEO?
Now that we have a basic understanding of backlinks let’s look at how they can help your business.
1. Gives You Better Search Engine Rankings
Even though Google’s algorithm is ever-evolving, backlinks remain a key search ranking signal. As per a survey by Backlinko, pages with lots of backlinks tend to be ranked higher than those with fewer backlinks.
As Google sees natural backlinks as ‘votes of confidence,’ the more votes your web pages get, the better chances they have of appearing at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
It is worth noting that only amazing backlinks from authoritative and reputable websites are impactful for SEO. Low-quality backlinks can do more harm than good for your business.
2. Increases Your Website’s Credibility
As we saw earlier, when other reputable websites link to your site, it is viewed as a sign that your site contains valuable and relevant content worth linking to.
Valuable backlinks from well-respected websites increase the likelihood that the readers will trust the information you have to offer on your site.
By establishing your site as a reputable source of information, high-value backlinks also help in building your brand authority within the industry.
3. Brings Referral Traffic to Your Website
Think of referral traffic as the digital equivalent of ‘word-of-mouth publicity.’ It’s when readers visit your site through backlinks from another website without directly searching for your company on Google.
Referral traffic is often considered to be high-quality traffic. This is because it comprises users who are consciously choosing to access your resources via an authoritative link instead of stumbling upon it through a search engine.
If your site receives a steady stream of referral traffic, chances are, it is providing a good user experience. Google Analytics can show you the main domains attracting referral traffic to your website.
4. Helps Google Find New Pages
Backlinks help Google find new pages on a website by acting as a roadmap for the search engine’s crawlers.
When Google discovers a backlink to a new page, it visits the page and scans it to identify all the links it contains.
Not just that, Google’s crawlers can discover new pages and content that they may not have found otherwise. It then indexes those pages, which makes them more likely to appear in SERPs.
Furthermore, internal backlinks can help Google understand the relationship between different pages on a website and how they are connected. So add relevant internal links to your content.
With a good internal linking strategy, you can aid Google in understanding your site’s structure and the importance of its different pages.
What are the Types of Backlinks?
Now that you know what backlinks are and why it’s important to generate backlinks for SEO, let’s see the different types. Knowing the different types will make it easier to build the ideal backlink profile for your website.
1. Follow Links
Also known as “do-follow” links, these types of backlinks pass on the “link juice” from the linking website to the linked-to website.
In other words, do-follow links tell the search engines that the content on the linked-to website is valuable. So, this endorsement should be considered when determining the SEO ranking of the linked-to website.
You can check if a link is a do-follow link by using Semrush or Ahrefs. Alternatively, you could right-click on the link and select “Inspect.” In the HTML code that shows up, check for rel=”nofollow.” If this is present, it means the link is a nofollow link, else it’s a do-follow link.
A nofollow link does not pass any “link juice” or “link equity” from the linking website to the linked-to website. These links come in handy when you want to, say, mention a competitor in your article without passing them any authority.
Nofollow links use the rel=“nofollow” link attribute to let the search engines know that they shouldn’t pass the link juice to other websites. You can use a free backlink checker to easily spot nofollow or dofollow links.
2. Paid or Sponsored Links
Let’s say you pay an influencer to promote your product on their webpage. This will be considered a paid or sponsored link.
It should include a rel=“sponsored” attribute to inform Google that the link is promotional.
3. User-generated Content (UGC) Links
You may have already come across UGC links in forum posts and blog post comments. These are created by users rather than the official account or website of a brand and include a rel=“ugc” attribute.
4. Toxic or Unnatural Links
Unnatural links are low-quality links from spammy and unreliable sites. These are in direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and are intended to manipulate rankings in Google search results.
For example, automated programs that create links to your site or manipulative tactics like link exchange schemes. These links can severely impact your SEO rankings and harm your site’s performance.
What are the Traits of A Good Backlink?
After knowing their different types, it is clearly evident that not all backlinks are created equal. So, how do you know if a backlink is good for your website’s performance?
Here are some factors that can help you determine if a backlink is likely to be beneficial for your site’s SEO performance.
It is imperative to generate backlinks from sites that are relevant to your website’s content.
For example, if you have a website on gardening, it makes sense to have links from, say, websites selling gardening tools or plants.
This can let Google know what your site is about and show it to the right people.
Backlinks from high-authority sites can help establish trust with your audience and search engines alike. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the better it is for your site.
For example, a backlink from a website like the New York Times will do your site more good than a link from some other random website with no authority.
Generating backlinks from the same website again and again can have diminishing returns.
Conversely, having a diversity of links from different websites and IPs is a good indicator that you have great content that many diverse sources are sharing and appreciating.
Natural links are an indicator of a healthy and popular website. These are backlinks that have resulted from other high-authority websites in your industry voluntarily linking to yours.
They are also those links that have been acquired using white-hat link-building methods. Needless to say, it’s best to acquire links using white-hat link-building techniques for better rankings.
For example, if your website sells fitness products, you can send an email outreach to fitness bloggers, influencers, gyms, or sports clubs to link to your website.
5. Exact Location
Backlinks that are placed in the footer or the sidebar are more likely to get ignored by readers and may not be as valuable to the search engines too.
A good backlink is well-positioned on the page, i.e., placed in the body of the content.
How Can You Earn Backlinks for Your Website?
From crafting quality content to trying digital PR, let’s look at some useful tips and tricks to generate backlinks that can boost your site’s SEO.
1. Create Top-Notch Content
One of the best ways to earn backlinks is to create informative and quality content that other websites would naturally want to link to.
Whether it is a how-to guide or a research study, aims to create different types of content that deliver value to the readers.
Ensure every piece of content you create is optimized for search engines to improve the chances of earning backlinks. Use target keywords (short-tail and long-tail keywords) within the content for better SEO.
Lastly, try blog marketing ideas, such as promoting each post on social media to increase the visibility of your content and attract more potential link builders.
2. Write Guest Posts
Guest posting is a great way to boost your organic traffic and build your backlink profile. You can reach out to other website owners in your industry or niche and pitch your guest post ideas to them. A good tactic would be to come up with 2-3 topic ideas and share existing writing samples in the emails.
Guest blogs also allow you to reach a new audience and establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Moreover, this effective strategy can help build relationships with other bloggers and website owners in the same industry.
Start by reaching out to an editor of a website you’d love a link from. Send them a personalized email and mention some of the other top articles you’ve written before.
Here’s a template you can follow:
Hi [their name],
I’m [your name] from [your blog]. Are you accepting guest posts at the moment? I’ve got a couple of solid ideas for content that you don’t seem to have covered yet.
I know you get pitched all the time, so here are a couple of recent pieces.
[2-3 portfolio pieces from high authority sites]
Let me know If you’re open to hearing my pitch. I promise my article suggestions will knock it out of the park.
Next, you’ll need to write the right type of content for the target website and add their internal links, stats links, and some high-authority natural links to increase the value of the content.
Avoid adding lots of backlinks and bad links to the content. It decreases the value of the content due to link spamming in the content. Adding lots of backlinks to content may lead to a decrease in the user experience.
3. Create Infographics
Infographics are visual content and a powerful tool for building links when it comes to backlink opportunities. They are visually appealing and easy to share on social media accounts, which can ultimately bring more visitors to your website.
Additionally, other high-authority websites or blogs may choose to use your infographics within their piece of content and link back to your site. This could bring more visibility to your website.
4. Check Out HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
Help A Reporter Out is an effective way to generate backlinks from news sites. It’s a platform that connects journalists with sources for their stories.
When you sign up on the platform as a source, you start receiving email requests from journalists looking for information on a variety of topics.
You can look for opportunities that are relevant to your niche and respond with a quote or some information. If the journalist uses your information, they will likely include a link back to your site. A win-win for both!
Here’s an example of HARO email queries.
5. Consider Digital PR
Digital PR is all about getting your content in front of the right people at the right time. By creating newsworthy and relevant content, you can attract the attention of journalists and bloggers who may want to cover your story.
This can help you get backlinks from high-authority news websites, which can strengthen your backlink profile.
6. Analyze Your Competitors
Don’t know how to begin your link-building strategy? You can start by looking at the websites that are linking to your competitors. Competitor backlink analytics can help you to get ideas for link-building opportunities of your own.
To find such websites and links, you can leverage tools like Semrush.
First, you can find all your competitors through its Domain Analytics feature. Then, you can use its Backlink Analytics tool to identify all the websites linking to them.
Reach out to these websites either for guest posting or link insertions.
For example, if you find a website linking to your competitor’s page that has outdated information, you can write better content that’s updated. You can then reach out to those same websites and try to convince them to link to your site instead.
7. Try Broken Link Building
It can be frustrating for users to encounter 404-page errors after clicking on a link, not to mention it harms the SEO of the linking site too.
Broken link building is an effective technique to generate backlinks. It involves finding broken links on other websites and offering your own content as a replacement.
By finding these broken links, you can create a win-win situation where you get a backlink to your website, and the other website owner gets a working link.
You can find broken backlinks by checking the backlink analytics. There are several broken link checker tools like Ahrefs that can help you find broken links in seconds.
Choose a good backlink analytics tool and find broken backlinks on third-party websites that are linking to your competitors. You can then approach them with a resource you’ve created and ask them to replace the broken link with a link to your resource. This can help you gain backlinks from high-authority websites.
In conclusion, backlinks should form an integral part of your website’s SEO strategy. It takes a lot of time and effort to generate backlinks that can increase your brand awareness and boost your domain authority, but it’s well worth it.
Building backlinks can not only help you rank in search engine results pages but also drive referral traffic to your website. They can help you establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche and give you an edge over your competitors.
So, focus on creating a well-rounded link-building campaign that can drive more conversions for your website and improve its overall success.