Around the time search engines came to be, so did backlinking. Backlinking has been of the top ranking factors that determine where you rank in search engine results pages (SERPs), and will likely not change.
In this article, I will be discussing why backlinking is so important and how to effectively build backlinks for SEO safely while improving your chances of being seen in search engines.
What Is A Backlink
A backlink is a clickable link that brings people from a website to yours; that’s the distinction between a regular link and a backlink.
Just like other links, backlinks can take the form of buttons, images, and text.
So Why Do Backlinks Matter?
So why should you care about backlinks?
Besides the fact that they provide your website with traffic, they also pass the influence of a site onto yours.
The reason that backlinks still matter today is because search engines use it as a way of determining the value of your content from the eyes of your peers.
When a webmaster backlinks to your site it’s them giving your site approval and in turn it vouches for the quality of your content.
Search engines see this quality content and will reward your hard work with higher placement in their SERPs for the keyword(s) it’s targeting.
Determining The Value Of a Link
Not all links are equal; backlinks from more influential sites are worth more than those from lesser-known sites.
The influence/authority of a website is determined by the following:
- Average Traffic to the site – More traffic means that a site has the kind of quality content that attracts a lot of visitors.
- Age of site – Sites that have been around longer are seen as more trustworthy and is the reason why domain reselling is so popular.
- Backlinks -Let’s get meta for a second. If a site is being backlinked to by high-quality influential sites then that site will be viewed as high quality as well.
- Site Metrics – Sites with positive metrics are considered to have more value and are another virtual sign of approval.
- Site Extension – Sites that end in .gov or .edu are considered to be more trustworthy because of the requirements needed to be granted those extensions.
Websites that meet this handful of traits tend to carry more influence and carry more weight in the world of backlinking.
The same can be said of the links they put out into the world and the hard to nail down and measure link-juice is more valuable from this kind of site.
The Importance Of Backlink Relevance
There is no way I could get through this guide without talking about the importance of relevance when backlinking.
You could get a backlink from the biggest and most influential beauty bloggers on the world wide web, but it won’t matter a bit if your website is all about doing it yourself crafts.
Relevant links are worth more in the world of SERPs because it helps them figure out what your content is about and how it should rank.
Types Of Backlinks
The world of links is widely varied, but I am going to specifically discuss the presentation of backlinks.
As I said earlier, links can be used in text or image form.
A text link can be plain URL which is made up of the clickable URL link is taking you to, or it can be a clickable link to another article such as another article I wrote called How To Do Keyword Research In 2019.
The latter category of links is useful in telling search engines what your content is about.
The clickable text is referred to as anchor text.
Anchor text is important because it further specifies what your content is about, but you’ll also want to make sure you are using link diversity.
Your backlink profile, or all the links that link back to your site from other sites, should be as varied and numerous as possible.
This means that you should have a nice mix of “nofollow” and “dofollow” links from a lot of different sites instead of many links from the same site again and again.
“Nofollow” and “dofollow” determines whether or not the link juice influence is passed onto your site.
One reason “nofollow” links exist is that there are a lot of websites that allow their webmasters to create backlinks from their sites to other sites.
Nofollow links exist in part because before they did, the influence giving nature of backlinks was abused by marketers. The nofollow link was developed for webmasters so that they had the option to specify to search engines that the link is live but won’t pass the influence from one site to another.
Message-boards and forums are good examples. To discourage webmasters from spamming these message-boards and forums with links back to their sites they are considered “nofollow” links so that the influence the webmaster wants doesn’t transfer.
The two different types of links used to hold more importance, but all links pass on some sort of influence, but it’s more important to note that all links pass on traffic from one site to another.
It’s important to note that while nofollow links don’t pass on the same influence, they still pass on traffic like their dofollow counterparts, so in that way, they still pass on influence in their own way and potential linking opportunities with that traffic.
So, what we really want is a lot of backlinks from varied high-quality websites whether they are “dofollow” or “nofollow.”
How To Build Backlinks For SEO
No backlink how-to guide would be complete without showing you how to get backlinks.
Quality Content – The best way to get backlinks is by creating quality content that webmasters will want to link to.
Any content on your page/site that a webmaster thinks will benefit their audience will be enticing to them and will earn you a link.
Link Bait – Link bait is a very specific kind of content that encourages others to link to it.
You’ll want to study your niche and make an attractive infographic; this is a great way to attract other webmasters in your niche who would like to share your results with their audience.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that quality content equals solid user metrics; this means if you have quality content users will spend longer on your site and the search engines will notice.
This will give you a better ranking in SERPs and will give you more visibility as well as more visibility for your visitors and webmasters who may link to your content.
Finding Dead Links – Finding 404 error pages on sites is a good way to get a link from a particular site.
This means that there is a page they are linking to on their site that is unresponsive, also known as a dead link.
Having a dead link is bad for the visitors going to a site and for how search engines view them.
Dead links equal dead ends for visitors trying to use those links from a website. A bad experience for the user means the search engines are wary of sending visitors to that website with the dead links to begin with. In other words, dead links will hurt your site’s ranking.
You can look for dead links on a site using a simple tool such as dead link checker; with this tool you simply plug in the site you want to check and it will crawl the site for any dead links.
If you find any dead links on the site you can cold e-mail the webmaster and let them know you found a dead link and offer your link as the better alternative.
A lot of webmasters will appreciate you doing some of the work for them, and if you have great content in comparison to what they were linking to, you’ve earned that link.
Checking Competitors Link Profiles – You can do a quick search for the keyword you want to rank for and take the top 10 ranking web pages for it and see who is linking to them.
All the links pointing to that site is known as its link profile.
As you probably already know, backlinks are not 100% of the overall ranking factor, but a site’s link profile can give you a clearer picture of why they are ranking where they are.
It’s important to note that once you have the link profile of your competitor(s) you can look at each link and see which ones you are able to replicate.
Sometimes you can create your own links to your site with little effort; this can be done in the signature, profile, or sometimes post on forums relevant to your site.
You may also want to consider cold e-mailing webmasters that link to your competitors and ask them to link to you as well; you can also see if they will swap links altogether if your content is much better than that of your competitor.
This can provide you with some good link juice and if you have content that is better than your competitor’s then you should not be afraid to try.
Remember that a solid piece of linkbait, such as a relevant infographic, will do you a lot of good when cold e-mailing a webmaster.
There are tons of premium tools available to check the backlink profile of a competitor, and it is a good idea to use two or three tools because no one tool can find all the links for a larger website.
In this article, we go over free and paid tools you can use to check the backlink profile of your competitors.
Check out how to do this with some of the best free and paid tools in our article on how to check the backlink profile of your competitors.
You can also find hundreds of potential links by doing a Google search and checking the pages that come up in SERPs.
Simply search for:
…replacing examplesite.com with the website name that you want to check.
The pages that come up in the SERPs are the ones that list that website somewhere in their code.
Using “-site” operator ensures that it does not list any pages from the website you are searching on.
This does not 100% guarantee that you’ll find any pages that you can get a link from, but it’s a good way to get a better idea of what kind of sites are linking to your competitors.
Guest Blogging – I can’t say enough how important that quality of your content and that webmasters are always looking for high-quality content, and this obviously applies to the content on their site as well.
Reaching out to a webmaster in your niche and offering to write an article for them based on a relevant topic is a great way to get started and get your foot in the proverbial door.
Make sure you ask if you can include a link back to your site in the article and it’s a win for you and a win for the other site.
This also encourages networking within your niche and helps you when you approach other webmasters asking to write for them.
Social Media – Another way to connect with other webmasters within your niche is by making social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.; connecting with other webmasters via social media is another great way to possibly earn a link back to your site.
Make sure you are keeping your social media presence bright and lively and aren’t just posting self-serving content.
The main point of social media is to be social, so make sure you are connecting with other webmasters in your niche.
Make a point to be friendly and say hi and pay them a compliment on their site/content.
All you have to do is start the conversation and this will pay off on its own in time.
Creating Your Own Links – I previously mentioned utilizing forums and message boards. These are generally an easy way to create your own links, but it may require a large amount of time to establish yourself on these boards before you actually have a live link back to your site.
From a search engines’ perspective, these types of links cut down on spam and are therefore a more valuable type of link you can get from a forum.
This is going to sound old fashioned, but article and website directory sites are still ways in which you can get a link pointing back to your site.
That being said, websites where you can create a link back to your site for nothing may not be worth your time and effort because the quality is more important than quantity when it comes to backlinking.
Keep in mind that wherever you are linking from needs to be relevant to your niche; getting a link from another site that has absolutely nothing to do with your content will not help you in the long run.
Private Blog Network – A good private blog network is the exception to the rule and is the one time that creating your own links is very valuable.
A private blog network is a network of websites that link back to one of your page/site and there is nothing else connecting these two sites outside of that link.
It is important that they are hosted by two different hosting accounts and don’t display publicly their WHOIS/owned by info.
To make a private blog network work for you also keeps the following tips in mind:
- Don’t share any analytics for any sites involved
- Don’t share any analytics accounts for any sites involved
- Use a wide array of different website extensions
- Use different hosting providers
- Use different domain registrars
- Use a variety of CMS software to power the separate websites
Private blog networks continue to work because when they are done correctly it looks like unrelated sites dealing with the same subject matter.
The main idea is to make the link look natural and like it is coming from two sites and is owned by two separate webmasters.
Private blog networks work if done correctly because they give the appearance of one website earning a completely natural link from another site.
Private blog networks have a reputation of being a black hat technique, also known as being a bad practice in the eyes of search engine.
They are arguably not nearly as bad as purchasing a link on another network and aren’t really a bad method when executed properly.
Search engines do not have a problem with you owning multiple sites and linking to them when it fits.
If you have two different sites within the beauty industry niche, but they have different focuses,
there is an opportunity to link from one to the other because they can legitimately help your audience.
The difference is that the search engine won’t give the linked site as much of a positive bump in SERPs from the linking from site’s link juice if they can see that they are owned and hosted by the same person.
This is logical because the perceived conflict of interest can be viewed as taking away the quality of the link, regardless of how great the content actually is.
If you take away this obvious connection, then you get the ranking results you worked for.
If you want to create your own private blog network you can’t just buy a domain and throw in some pages of poor content, link to it, and expect to get the results you want.
You will have to put in the time and effort to make each site high quality in the eyes of a search engine.
Buying Links – Buying links is a practice that exists and if search engines pick up on this you will suffer severe consequences which includes getting de-indexed from search engines; in other words, don’t do it!
You may get a short term boost from buying links, but the consequences of using them will definitely hurt you in the long run.
Internal Links – Internal linking is not strictly a backlinking strategy, but it is wise to spread around internal link juice when it’s relevant and applicable.
You probably have noticed relevant examples of internal linking throughout this very article.
If you happen to have a page on your site that has received a high-quality link from a highly trafficked site, be sure to link that page to other relevant pages from your site to spread around the link juice and traffic.
Doing this keeps people on your site and helps to improve user metrics.
Remember that backlinking is designed to work in your favor and will grow over time.
More links equal a better search engine ranking.
A better search engine ranking means better visibility.
More visibility means more traffic.
More traffic gets you positive user metrics and more webmasters who are willing to link back to your content.
This whole cycle continues anew as you rise up in SERPs.
That being said, none of this matters in the end if your content sucks.