A Guide to Website Backlinks

SEO or search engine optimization concept. Paper with SEO ideas or plan, cup of coffee and smartphone on wooden table deskWith the expanse of technology has come the onslaught of ideas and an insurmountable level of competition, especially between websites. Billions of people access the internet every day and half a million websites are being created daily. So, how do you acquire the traffic needed to boost your brand and have your company be seen by the masses? Marketing experts will give you a plethora of ideas to boost your website’s visibility, but those ideas will mainly fall under optimizing your site for search engines, also called SEO. Search engine optimization consists of an array of moving parts that must seamlessly work together when Google crawls your site to decide where it ranks, or what number search result it should be within the search engine itself. One of the ways you can increase your site’s ranking is by utilizing the power of the internet’s accessibility to create a fine-tuned backlink strategy.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks, or inbound links, are links that direct the user from one page to another. Similar to likes on social media, backlinks are viewed by Google as upvotes. Imagine trying to be an influencer on social media and having millions of organic followers, not ones you’ve bought. Your page would be deemed as valuable. The same goes with pages that have been shared through the use of another’s website’s high-quality backlinks. So, what determines a backlink’s value? A backlink’s value is determined by domain authority, how topical the referring site is to your site’s authority, and the anchor text used to refer back to your domain.

What is Domain Authority?

Domain authority, or domain rating, is the strength of a website’s backlink profile. A domain’s strength is determined on a logarithmic scale from 1-100 used by search engines to determine how a website should rank based on how relevant a website is to its subject or industry. A domain’s authority increases based upon the number of quality websites linking back to it, the domain authority of the referring site, as well as how many sites the referring site, well, refers to. Domain authority is akin to an influencer having a large quality of quantity followers. Now, the word quality has bee continuously mentioned, but that’s because it’s the most important aspect of backlinking. A website that is referred by another that’s in a different industry or has a low domain rating isn’t going to boost a site’s ranking; however, if the referring site’s domain authority increases, your site’s ranking may increase as well. New websites all start off with a domain authority of one, so it’s best for new site owners to brainstorm and come up with a backlink strategy.

How Do I Get High-Quality Backlinks?

As implied earlier, SEO is akin to a vast social media site, so to receive quality backlinks, you need to network.  However, before you start your outreach campaign and E-mailing site owners from the same industry, you need something valuable to offer in return: content. Content comes in many forms, but lists and why-posts are shared at an average of 21,000 times per month, meaning creating a list or why-post would be the simplest way for beginners to push content and ask for links. Still, this may vary depending on your industry, so it’s essential to perform content research regardless.

Content Research

There are a variety of SEO tools that allow users to search their competitors and see what other sites they’re being linked to. You can also do this manually, but it will take more time. Look up your competitors on Google and see what other sites link back to them and why. They could be linking to another website’s blog post, research, guide, images, or even videos. Look at or read the content being linked to, see if it’s outdated, and then update that information. Write a more compelling guide or blog post, in your own words of course, and make it better than the original. Come up with an innovative article, or something more informative than your competition. Next, you can contact the site owner and explain that you have something new to offer and that they’re already linking to similar sites. They may link your content or not, but outreach is also a numbers game in itself. The main thing to remember is to always make your content sharable using social share buttons, you may end up getting organic backlinks without having asked.

Backlink Outreach

Email outreach is necessary because waiting around doesn’t ensure the right person will share your content. Compile a list of sites that link to other websites in the same industry, these sites are your target. Put them in a list and create an Email template. Explain to the site owners why they should share your up-to-date and thought-provoking content. If they say yes, then you have at least one quality backlink, and, if they say no, there are plenty of sites that might refer yours or you could always try again at a later date.

Anchor Text

We’ve skipped over the idea of receiving links from sites in the same industry because, well the necessity of such is obvious; however, the necessity for keyword optimized anchor text may not be so apparent. Anchor text is the text used in a hyperlink to direct a site visitor to another site or page. You have control over this on your own site, but not on the referring site. Google wants to know what your content is about, so if a referring site has optimized anchor text, your page will fare better than just a link that states “Read More!” Although this is out of your control, you may want to see if the site your targeting has backlinks with informative anchor text, and, if they don’t, you can skip contacting them.

So, now you understand the very basics of backlinks. Use your knowledge of the social media world and apply it to your backlinking strategy. Backlinks are all about collaborating with similar sites and sharing content to help boost visibility. You can’t be shy or afraid to reach out if you want your website to thrive, especially when you’re competing against millions of sites daily.