Behind every successful SEO campaign, there is one consistent element: quality backlinks.
However, the trouble is that a lot of business owners are not crafting their backlink strategies correctly. This could be because they are targeting poor quality links or it could be because they are struggling to make the most of the link opportunities that are out there.
In this guide, we are going to provide you with information on backlinks and how they work. We will then talk you through the many different strategies that are out there in order to acquire more backlinks.
What are backlinks?
A ‘backlink’ is a term that describes when an external site links to yours. This could be another company’s website, a news site, a social media website, a blog, or any other type of website. Backlinks are often referred to as inbound links and external backlinks, giving a nod to the fact that these are links coming from sites that are not your own.
One of the biggest problems with backlinking today is that people tend to jump right into the phase of acquiring links. They don’t build a strong foundation first. However, link building is only going to be effective if you have a strong foundation, i.e. a well-optimised website, in place.
This starts off a chain of events. After all, once your backlinks are more effective, you’re not going to need as money to achieve the results you desire. It is all about quality over quantity. This is good news because it is ultimately going to save you time and money.
What you need to do before you start acquiring more backlinks
So, before we reveal the different strategies that you can use in order to get more backlinks, it is important to first take a look at the areas of your website you are going to need to address to ensure you have that solid foundation in place.
Fix all UX/technical issues
Technical issues can have a detrimental impact on the user experience (UX) that your website provides. UX is linked to your SEO performance, so this is definitely something you need to address.
Some of the most common UX and technical issues websites are plagued with today include the following:
- Incorrect uses of directives, i.e. no follow, no index etc.
- Duplicate meta data
- Canonical mistakes
- Duplicate content
- Mobile friendliness
- Site loading speed
Follow the guide in our website audit guide . If you notice any issues make sure you rectify them before you start trying to acquire more backlinks.
Fix broken external links
All of the external links that are placed on your website leak authority. This is why it is so important to make sure you keep on top of everything on your website with regular auditing.
Part of this process should be to find broken external links. This does not only relate to the links that are included in your content but also by links that are featured in the comment section too.
This may sound like an extensive task. However, Ahrefs makes it easy to find broken links. All you need to do is head to the ‘broken links’ section under the ‘outgoing links’ part on the dashboard.
Reclaim lost link juice
Another way to boost your website and get the solid foundation you need is to make the most of 404 link reclamation. You can find 404s by using Google Search Console. Another way to find 404s is to use Screaming Frog. You then simply need to use the bulk analysis SEO tool on Ahrefs to find out what 404 pages have backlinks. This is a good idea to make sure you do not forget anything.
Once redirect chains have been fixed, this can boost your site’s authority. You need to find any pages on your website that are acting as a buffer. For example, Page A redirecting to Page B and then redirecting to Page C is unnecessary. The Page B is robbing Page C of authority.
Make sure you have a strong site architecture
Aside from ensuring that you fix any problems relating to the technical and UX experience your website provides, you also need to work on developing a strong site architecture. This is the best way to get the most value for your efforts when it comes to link building.
There are many different architectures that you can use when it comes to this. A lot of experts in marketing strategies recommend using a reverse silo. This means that the silo is built to acquire backlinks to content-rich pages, rather than trying to obtain backlinks to non-linkable pages, for example, product pages and homepages. These could be individual information-drive pages or blog posts.
Create linkable assets
Aside from the suggestions that have already been discussed, you need to create linkable assets in order to have a solid foundation for your backlinking strategy.
Firstly, you need to understand what a linkable asset is. This is typically a page or blog post that is driven for information. For example, this blog post you are reading is a linkable asset. This is because it has been designed to educate you and add value.
With a valuable content asset, you will find it a lot easier to obtain backlinks. Not only this but it is going to be a lot more scalable in the long run. This is because you will not need to put in a lot of effort in the future to continue to earn new backlinks over time.
Of course, for this to be the case you need to make sure that the content you have created is truly informative and going to add value. Plus, it needs to be SEO optimised effectively too.
How do you know if a backlink is of good quality?
Now, we’re almost ready to start talking you through the different approaches that you can use in order to get more backlinks for your website. Nevertheless, as mentioned, it is not about getting any old backlink. If you run an accounting firm, and you get a backlink from a cake store in another country with a poor quality domain rating, this really isn’t going to do anything for your business, is it? If anything, it is going to hurt your SEO efforts. This is why you need to be able to tell the difference between a good backlink and a bad backlink.
Here are some of the different indicators of quality that you need to be aware of…
- Indexation – This is the most obvious point of them all. However, it is sometimes the obvious points that we tend to overlook. You need to make sure that the site in question is indexed on Google. Your backlinks are not going to be worth anything.
- Outbound Link Quality – The second factor you need to consider is the quality of the links featured within their content. What other websites are they linking to? Of course, it is going to be more difficult for you to agree on backlinks with websites that are very fussy. However, these are the websites that are going to give you the more value from their links. Some of the questions you should be asking when assessing the links are as follows:
- What are they linking to?
- Do the outbound links appear natural or do they look like they have been paid for?
- Are the links going to websites that are trusted and respected?
- Are the outbound links relevant to the websites and the content?
- Editorial Standards – This is another critical component when it comes to link quality but it is something that a lot of people tend to overlook. You need to make sure that the websites you’re receiving links from have high editorial standards in place. If their content is of a poor quality and they seem to link to every website on the planet, it’s really going to dilute the value offered.
- Traffic – You will change your entire mindset if you approach your link building process with the purpose of driving more people to your website. After all, your aim should be able to get backlinks on a website that actually has real traffic. Of course, this is not automatically going to result in these viewers clicking the link and visiting your website. However, it is a good place to start, and it is certainly better than links being featured on a website that virtually has no viewers.
- Link Quality – While website authority is important, as we will discuss in the next section; you can’t rely on this. You need to dig deeper. You need to make sure the link profile is high quality. The last thing you want is for a dangerous website to link to yours and really hurt your SEO efforts.
- Authority – Quite simply: the stronger a website is, the better the results. A great tool for checking domain authority is moz and they have a free toolbar, you should make the most of this.
- Relevance – Last but not least, relevance is definitely one of the most important factors when it comes to link building. Your efforts in terms of link acquisition must be relevant to your business. Of course, getting one hundred per cent relevance is not always possible, but there needs to be a strong and evident link. A good example of this is for businesses selling car parts; featuring on car news websites and blogs is relevant. However, featuring on a plumbing company’s website is not. You may even want to split your opportunities into different tiers: tier five being zero per cent relevancy, tier four being 25 per cent relevancy, tier three being 50 per cent relevancy, tier two being 75 per cent relevancy, and finally, tier one being 100 per cent relevancy. This will help you to prioritise opportunities.
The sort of backlinks that you should be staying away from
Now that you have a good indication regarding what makes a good backlink, let’s look at the sort of links you should stay away from because they will harm your website:
- Anything that is not relevant to your business
- Public networks
- Automated backlinks
- Footer and sidebar backlinks
- Follow blog comments
Getting more backlinks to your website
Now that you have a good understanding of how to put a solid foundation in place, as well as what makes a good backlink, let’s take a look at how to get more backlinks to your website.
Let’s begin with the links that you should have. These are the links that form the basis of your link building strategy. They help to create trust and establish your website as an authority in your industry.
This is because you will be using links from authority websites that are branded and unoptimised. Branded anchor texts and naked link anchors should only be used for foundational backlinks. So, let’s take a look at the different places for these links to come from…
Niche relevant forum backlinks
One way to build brand recognition is to participate in forums that are relevant to your industry. If you do this correctly, it can drive referral traffic to your website.
A lot of forums today will not allow you to include a signature backlink. However, profile backlinks may still be allowed, which are still valuable because they tend to be relevant, follow links.
To ensure you are making the most out of this opportunity, take the time to fill out your profile. You also need to understand the etiquette and tone of voice of the forum. Start adding friends and work on increasing your post count. Creating threads also helps too.
Niche relevant blog comments
A lot of business owners skip on relevant blog comments on niche websites. One of the main reasons why website owners do not incorporate this into their link building strategy is because of the no follow tag.
However, this does not mean that they are not valuable. In fact, there are a number of ways that these comment sections can benefit you, including diversifying your anchors in a way that is meaningful, improving the ratio of follow and no follow backlinks, and creating a layer of relevancy around your website. Sometimes, you will get referral traffic too, although you should not expect tons of this.
It is also worth pointing out that it is a good way of building a relationship with the blogger so that you can leverage for backlinks in the future.
For local companies, geo-targeted directories are a necessity as a link source. There are a number of different search strings that can be utilised to located geo-targeted directories, including:
- City + directories
- Niche + city + directory
- Submit my site + city
- Directory + city
- City + directory
The vast majority of directories today are worthless – let’s make that clear. However, that does not mean that there aren’t a few that can provide value.
Niche-targeted directories are an exception. This is because they provide a follow link, which is also relevant.
Citations and business listings
If you ever needed proof that business listings were important, you only need to look at the fact that they are part of Google’s local search algorithm. This fact alone should encourage you to use them in your social media campaign.
One of the best things about business listings is that roughly every one in two of them will be you an unoptimised, follow link.
Business citations present you with an exceptional method of building trust around your website. Google trusts business listings, so you do not need such high relevance with these links. The same applies to social media, which we are going to discuss next.
Last but not least, your business needs to have secure social media properties. At a minimum, you should be present on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Pinterest would not hurt either. Of course, the level of content and interaction you have on these social media platforms will depend on your target demographic and the platforms that they use. However, you need to populate these accounts so that you have a base for links to be shared and to point back to your website.
Now that you know about the backlinks that your website should have as a minimum, we now need to look for opportunities to harvest powerful backlinks that are going to accelerate your results. There are a number of different ways you can do this, and hopefully, we will enlighten you to some strategies that you have not heard about.
Powerful backlinks are those that are the most authoritative and the most relevant.
Make sure your approach is content-driven. Producing great content is not easy. But when it comes to driving high authority backlinks to your site, there is no better way to go about it.
There are three key components when it comes to putting together a content-driven backlinking strategy. This involves finding the correct keywords to target first and foremost. You then need to create an exceptional piece of content based on the keyword. The content then needs to be promoted using backlinks and social links.
So, now let’s take a look at the different ways you can build these powerful links…
This is an old technique but it is definitely an effective one. You can utilise a plugin for checking links to discover whether there are any broken links.
The Merger Technique
If you have never heard of this technique before, it is a simple concept. It is all about locating a relevant expired domain and 301 and redirecting it to your website.
However, for this to work, the expired domain must be fully relevant. This is not something you should spend hours and hours on because these sorts of domains are very difficult to come across.
Nevertheless, when you do find something relevant, you should definitely capitalise on it.
Niche relevant guest posts
Guest posts are effective in two different ways. The first is that they can result in relevant, referral traffic being sent to your site. The second is that they enable you to build authority in your realm because you will be contributing value.
You cannot cut corners when it comes to guest posts. A lot of businesses try to do this. However, spammy guest posting is definitely something that Google frowns upon.
Don’t waste your time trying to cheat the system. Instead, focus your efforts on creating guest posts that add a lot of value. If your post offers value, adding backlinks to your website won’t be a problem. After all, you’re not merely stuffing links into the content; you’re informing and empowering the reader.
Your links must be contextual in order to get the most out of this strategy. Author byline links should be a last resort, as they are not as effective.
Last but not least, we have editorial backlinks. For a link to be deemed editorial, this means your link has to pass an editorial review and that you do not have access to the website. This is the most valuable link type in the eyes of Google.
Unfortunately, this means that they are typically the most difficult to get. This is because you are going to need to put in a lot of effort and you are going to have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to meet the editorial criteria the site owner has in place. It will be worth it in the end.
First, though, you need to focus on creating relationships with bloggers in your sector. Once you have done this, you need to work on creating interesting content that has natural links to your website. Once you have built these relationships, the process will become easier and easier but there is no denying that some hard work is going to be needed in the beginning.
Before we conclude, let’s finish by taking a look at how you can earn backlinks. Building links is one thing, but earning them is a different thing entirely. Earning a backlink means you deserve a link pointing back to your website.
It is a snowball effect. Once you start pleasing the user, and earning your stripes, you will get more and more backlinks to your website because you deserve them. Nevertheless, you need to take a long-term approach. This is not something that is going to happen overnight. As Floyd Mayweather says; hard work, dedication!
So, how can you ensure that your business is one that deserves backlinks? Here are some of the steps that you must take.
- You need to become user-centric
- You have to build relationships
- You’ve got to build an email list
- You have got to make an effort to promote your content
- You need to please the user with the content you create
- You must be consistent in your approach
- Your content must be unique
- You need to outperform others
- Your content needs to be creative
- Your content must stand out
- You need to be willing to do what other companies won’t
Some other backlinking ideas
Of course, the backlinking methods mentioned in this guest post should keep you busy for quite some time! However, there are other options if you’re looking to get yourself out there via different mediums.
One option is to backlink using infographics. There is no denying that people tend to respond better to visual data. This is because it is much easier to digest the information. Therefore, being linked in an infographic can help you to drive traffic to your website. It also creates more backlinks because infographics are highly shareable.
You need to select your infographics carefully, though. Don’t merely incorporate them or post them for the sake of doing so. They must follow an interesting and unique story. It is a good idea to see what people are currently looking for by researching trending topics. You can then use statistical data to create your infographic.
It is also a good idea to keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. Of course, this does not mean you should just copy your competitor’s backlinking approach. However, you will want to know when your competitors are publishing new content on their websites. You can set up alerts to assist you with this.
It is also worth pointing out that you can earn backlinks through donating to nonprofit organisations. This is a straightforward approach. Simply find websites in your niche that accept donations. Needless to say, you will be giving back too, which is a great benefit!
As you can see, there are many different strategies that you can use in order to get more backlinks to your website. If you are not using all of the methods that have been presented above, you should definitely give them a try.
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