Google is well-known amongst marketers for being cagey when it comes to naming their search engine ranking factors and how important each of them is. Still, you don’t have to be a search engine optimisation (SEO) expert to know that a search engine can’t rank a page it can’t find.
In this article, we’re going to go through the history of backlinks and why they’re so important. And more importantly, we’ll discuss whether they actually work and help with growing your website or not. Keep reading for more.
In order to understand why backlinks get the attention they get in the world of SEO, it’s important to go all the way back to 1997. Back when Google was called BackRub, the search engine relied heavily on links between web pages (backlinks) for its spider to discover the World Wide Web and index it.
Back then, backlinks weren’t just a way for Google to discover new web pages and index them. They also acted as a vote of confidence. In other words, the more backlinks a web page receives from different domains, the more popular it would become.
Such an approach helped to fulfil Google’s vision of only showing the highest quality of content to its users. By considering backlinks as a crucial ranking factor, alongside content quality, Google could index most of the web properly.
However, it wasn’t long before people found new and creative ways to manipulate backlinks to their favour. Links exchanges became a thing where people would exchange backlinks with one another. Buying links also became a thing. And an underground marketplace for such services soon became a reality.
What started out as a simple and pure way to determine popularity amongst web pages soon turned into something ominous. Fast forward to today, however, and you have Google’s powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence doing the work. Google has gotten much better at determining which backlinks are natural and should count towards a webpage’s ranking and which don’t.
The somewhat eternal truth about backlinks is the fact that it’s not the number of backlinks that matters but rather the quality. A single backlink from a relevant and reputable website is worth way more than a couple of dozen ones from shady websites.
Why? Because Google knows the difference between a good and a bad backlink. As a result, your website will only get the appropriate amount of “link juice” for the good ones and absolutely no benefit from the bad ones.
So, if you happen to have approached an SEO “expert” lately and they promised you an absurd number of backlinks, we recommend not to go along with them. You’ll probably end up wasting both your time and money.
And while there are numerous businesses out there built around chasing after backlinks, quality content still is the foundation of any backlink strategy. The great thing about all of this is the fact that writing quality content will end up attracting high-quality backlinks.
As a digital marketing agency, we get asked a lot of questions about backlinks and search engine optimisation (SEO) as a whole. People often wonder how much you should focus on backlinks as part of your SEO strategy.
And the answer to that question is a pretty straightforward one. As we have mentioned above, quality backlinks that you gain through quality content are supreme.
Search engines such as Google will give authority to websites that have a lot of good quality backlinks. And the more a website is able to attract these links, the easier it is to get ranked. In other words, link building is important for ensuring online visibility.
So, our other truth about backlinks is the fact that they are definitely important for SEO. Without them, Google won’t get the full picture of how credible your content is.
All in all, backlinks can empower your content and add extra credibility, which is helpful SEO-wise. The people over at Ahrefs performed a study where they analysed 1 billion websites and found that almost 91% of them had zero traffic. None. Why was that? You might wonder. Well, one of the main reasons was the fact that these pages were missing any backlinks.
Now for the fun part. There are many ways that can help you build links, with some being more effective than others. Read along as we go through some of the methods for building quality backlinks from healthy websites.
Linkable content, as the name suggests, is pieces of content that are meant to attract links. A common type of linkable asset is an infographic. Presenting original research about an interesting topic online will usually get you backlinks from people in your industry.
Besides backlinks, linkable content is also a great way of building brand awareness and garnering the attention of social media platforms.
And nowadays, you don’t even need a full-fledged graphic designer to create a good asset. Sites like Canva offer great, customisable templates for free!
Social media can be a good place to try and increase your brand visibility which in turn leads to increased authority and potential backlinks.
Besides actively posting on social media, you should also make sure that your social pages include a link to your website in their bios/descriptions.
Another thing you can do is mention brands or influential people on social media whenever you talk about them. If they’re smart enough to practice social listening, there is a good chance they will share your post, which can help generate backlinks from them.
Guest posting, also known as guest blogging, refers to the process of writing and publishing blogs for other websites. In exchange, you’d get backlinks from blog posts made by the people running those websites.
The links can be mentioned anywhere in the post. You could place them in the body (anchored to a keyword or phrase), in the author’s bio or at the end of the article.
In order to see proper results from this method, the content you submit must be well-written and valuable to your readers. Plus, building a relationship with other bloggers will help you get more referrals in the future. After all, every blogger will know other bloggers that you personally don’t.
HARO is a service provided by Cision where journalists and editors can get in touch with quality sources like your business. If you happen to be seeking PR exposure as well as backlinks for your blog and business, then HARO is a prime solution that you can resort to.
From Monday to Friday, journalists from various publications would send out daily requests via email that would include a list of queries. These queries usually include industries, and if you happen to belong to one of the mentioned industries in that region, you can reach out.
Relevancy is key with HARO, though. If you happen to be in the sports and entertainment industry, for instance, you should reach out to features that cover those topics only.
If your business revolves around selling other people’s products, then you could be missing a perfect opportunity to earn backlinks.
Numerous manufacturers nowadays create a “where to buy” page on their website, which, you’ve guessed it, includes a list of people who sell their products.
And most of these manufacturers will happily link to your website. People will be led from there to you in case you’re the closest retailer to them. And the people who stumble on your site first will likely click on the brand’s name to go to the manufacturers’ website. It’s a win-win situation for both.
Think of this as guest blogging but for products, basically.
Numerous brands find themselves mentioned in the press from time to time without being linked. And the truth of the situation is you can easily turn this into a link with little to no effort. Semrush has a tool called the Brand Monitoring Tool that allows you to monitor whenever someone mentions your brand without linking.
Now, you can politely send an email to the person who mentioned you and ask them to add a link in. Make sure to elaborate on how that can benefit their own readers in order to not come off as pushy. And although this doesn’t have a 100% success rate, it still is better than nothing.
While it’s important to look for new link opportunities, it can also be helpful to keep an eye out for lost backlinks.
Links can be lost due to a page being removed, and there is nothing you can really do about that. However, they can also be lost to page rewrites, in which case you can always reach out. You can suggest a spot in the content where they can put the link again.
As mentioned, building backlink legitimately is no small feat. If you need help doing it, book a discovery call with us today.