Whether you are new to content marketing or have been in the field for a while, we’re sure you have heard of backlinks.
It’s an important SEO tool and has multiple layers to it. It’s essential to have an effective backlink strategy in place as it helps achieve a high rank on Google’s search engine results pages. Besides, it attracts more people to your website and helps popularise your business.
In this guide, we will help you understand why backlinks are an essential tool for any company and how you can build them. So, let’s begin!
What Are Backlinks?
Simply put, backlinks are external links that are placed on another website and point to your website. Also known as inbound links, these are present on third-party web pages and are a vital part of any brand’s SEO strategy.
For example, if you have a fast-food joint, having links on popular food blogs can be helpful for your business. Similarly, if you are a digital agency, then having incoming links on popular SEO companies can be a massive boon for your business.
In 2016, Google confirmed that backlinks are among its top three search ranking factors, content and RankBrain being the other two.
Now, you might wonder how a simple link from another page to yours helps boost SEO rankings? Well, these backlinks are viewed as “votes” for your site, and when placed on websites with high authority or ranking, your webpage has a higher chance of attracting more organic traffic.
For your page to rank highly on Google, the search engine needs to get a clear message that your content is worth amplifying.
It does this by determining the number of backlinks your site has on other websites. When high-authority websites have backlinks to your site, it shows that your content is worth viewing, and therefore, Google rewards you by ensuring that your page ranks higher.
Of course, both quality and the number of backlinks determine your ranking on Google’s SERPs. Now that you have a brief idea of what backlinks are let’s delve into their importance.
But before we get there, let’s take a quick look at the different types of backlinks. There’s something called the “no-follow” backlink that encourages Google to ignore the link and not associate you with the site. And, there’s the “do-follow” link that wants search engines to crawl your site.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Ever since search engine optimisation gained prominence, backlinks have formed an essential part of any marketing campaign. However, backlinks placed on any random site will not help boost your rankings. These inbound links should only be placed on relevant and high-authority pages.
Besides, they should never be out of context. For example, if you own a footwear business, there’s no point in having a backlink on a food blog or any other irrelevant website.
Now, let’s check out some reasons why backlinks are essential:
1. Boosts Organic Ranking
Backlinks help Google determine the relevancy of your site and enable it to rank higher on Google’s SERPs. Several backlinks to your site from authoritative sources send a signal to Google and other search engines that your content is worth endorsing.
As such, the search engines begin ranking your page higher on their result pages. Try creating links to individual pages and blog posts as well as to your homepage. For the longest time, the focus was on the number of backlinks, but today, with Google’s new algorithm, particular attention is paid to the quality of backlinks.
Therefore, you cannot have backlinks from irrelevant websites since it doesn’t help boost the authority of your content.
2. Faster Indexing
Have you ever wondered how Google search engine bots find new web pages? They do it by following backlinks from the existing pages. Once they discover your site via these backlinks, they begin to crawl it, and that’s how your page gets indexed on Google and shows up on search engine rankings.
It’s essential to build backlinks to your website from popular pages that have already ranked on Google since bots revisit these pages. If you do not pay heed to link building, it will become tremendously tricky for search engine bots to locate your webpage.
Especially if you are relevantly new in the industry and looking for effective ways to make your content discoverable, backlinks can be the key to your success. These help increase discoverability and lead to faster indexing.
3. Referral Traffic
Perhaps the most significant advantage of backlinks is that they help your page attract referral traffic. For example, if a reader is on a page that links to another, they are likely to click on the link to find more relevant information or out of sheer curiosity.
In such cases, backlinks generate referral traffic and attract a targeted audience to your page. These people are already looking up posts on the topic that concerns your business and are likely to visit your page with commercial intent.
Terms Relevant To Backlinks
By now, you have a comprehensive idea about the different types of backlinks and why building backlinks is important. Getting all this information at once can be confusing. Hence, we have compiled this glossary of commonly used terms related to backlinks.
1. Link Equity
Link juice (formally known as link equity) is a popular SEO term, which refers to the equity or value passed from one site to another. When a webpage has a backlink to your website’s homepage or articles, it is said to pass “link juice,” which may help rank your article and strengthen its credibility.
Further, you can use both internal links and external links to get higher link equity. Marketing agents often neglect the potential of internal links while chasing outbound links. Although outreach is essential to build your profile and establish yourself as an authority in the industry, do not forget to consider internal links.
Internal links go from one page on your website to another. The links are within the same domain but allow the user to navigate through your website with ease. There are several reasons why internal linking is essential. For one, it helps establish site architecture and hierarchy. This allows bots to crawl your website with ease and spot relevant content.
Besides, when combined with anchor text, it gives search engines a better understanding of your site and helps your page rank on SERPs.
2. No-Follow Links
Sometimes, a web page may link to another, but the link carries a “no-follow” tag. When you include this tag, you prevent web pages from passing any value or equity to your site. Now, you might wonder what importance does a no-follow link hold in SEO.
Well, sometimes, you might be linking out to an unreliable site or affiliate products. In such cases, the site you are linking out to isn’t an authority source. Therefore, to prevent your site from being impacted negatively, you can add the no-follow tag.
Alternatively, the do-follow links allow Google to track your blog or website. It is the default state of any backlink that appears on a website. Here, the link juice is passed down from one site to another, and it helps you rank higher on search engines.
3. Linking Root Domains
It is essential to have high-quality backlinks on different domains. This is because no matter how many times a website links to your page, it will be counted as a singular linked root domain. Linking root domains only counts the number of links that come to your website from unique domains.
4. Anchor Text
A huge part of SEO is keyword optimisation. Anchor texts are hyperlinks that contain the relevant keywords and link to targeted pages. Before optimizing your page and building backlinks, it is essential to understand the importance of anchor text and how it helps your site rank.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Link Building
Before we talk about the intricacies of building backlinks, it is essential to ensure your website is ready for visitors. Here are some quick tips that’ll help get your site ready for more traffic:
1. Check Existing Backlinks
You can obtain your existing backlinks with the help of the Google Search Console. It helps you locate the current links, determine the websites they’re linked to, and understand whether these pages are relevant to your industry. Besides, you should check the ranking of these sites on Google to ensure these are authoritative pages.
2. Get Rid Of Broken Links
If you have outbound links on your webpage or backlinks that display “error 404” when you click on them, it is essential to eliminate such broken links. Error 404 means that the page doesn’t exist or has been removed, and you should either repair or redirect these links. Not doing so will be detrimental to the credibility of your website.
3. Avoid Redirect Chains
If one link on your website redirects to another and so on, it creates a chain that will hurt your user’s experience. These chains are highly inconvenient and make your backlinks less valuable. Google prefers websites that have a lot of backlinks. But, redirects take the user to another page, and the original backlink loses its authority.
So, avoid placing too many redirects on your website and eliminate such chains if they exist.
4. Improve Your Website
Optimise your webpage in such a manner that it takes minimal time to load, be it on desktop or mobile browsers. If your site takes forever to load, users might get impatient and go back.
Similarly, if your site contains duplicate content (in cases where you recycle old blogs or posts), it will be difficult for Google bots to crawl your website. This is because the search engine prioritizes original content.
So, before you focus on getting backlinks, it is essential to fix these errors on your site so that users have a seamless experience.
How To Build Backlinks?
Once you understand the importance of backlinks, we are sure you’d want as many as you can get. However, do not make the mistake of prioritising quantity over quality. Doing so can hamper your organic rankings. Further, some paid services help generate backlinks to your site, but using them can result in a penalty from Google’s Penguin Algorithm.
Remember to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to avoid making any SEO mistakes while formulating your link-building strategy. Here are some tips for efficient link building:
1. Publish Relevant Content
For creating quality backlinks, it is essential to have “linkable content.” This can be an article, blog post, video, etc. The piece of content that you write or the videos you publish should be relevant to the industry and business.
When you write a blog article, ensure that your content is easy to read, grammatically sound, and answers pertinent questions. Users who click on your link are looking for answers from reliable sources. Add a unique angle to any article and divide it into headings and sub-headings to make it easier to scan.
Further, carry out proper research before writing a blog or article to improve your content quality.
2. Stick To Popular Content Forms
Informative blog posts and articles are traditional content forms, but infographics, list posts, and how-to-articles have also become popular. It is essential to stick to popular content forms to boost your site’s ranking.
3. Focus On Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is an important content marketing strategy where you write for another person’s blog and, in exchange, get to include a few links to your site. Many sites invite guest posts, so be on the lookout for them. In addition, you can submit a pitch to site owners, and they can get in touch with you if they are looking for guest posts.
4. Look At Your Competitors’ Backlinks
If you are a relevantly new entrant in the industry, the chances are that your competitors have already established a firm foothold. Check their backlinks and the way they have approached link building - there’s plenty to learn there.
Besides, you can use tools like Keyword Gap that lets you check out sites that are linking to your competitor’s web pages but not yours. You can send an outreach email to these site owners and gently pitch your content.
5. Broken Link Building
Pages on the web change or get deleted often. These lead to instances of broken links (displayed as error 404), where the pages cease to exist. Needless to say, broken links have a huge role to play in poor user experience.
However, they continue to exist since web admins cannot continuously eliminate broken links on different websites. If you are looking for opportunities to get backlinks, this might be a golden one.
If you come across a broken link, re-write the content, and reach out to the site owners linking to the dead content and create your pitch. You can then ask them to link to the recreated version of the content.
However, to find and analyse dead links, you will need the right tools. To do this, you have to enter a competitor’s domain into site explorer and filter the options to find broken links.
How To Create Valuable Backlinks?
Now that you’ve looked at the different ways in which your website links to another, it is essential to remember that simply creating a backlink isn’t enough. You have to build quality links to your site so that it can outrank your competitors.
Here are some tips on creating valuable backlinks:
1. Rely On Authoritative Websites
Websites that have domain authority can pass on credibility to your page. So, when you are creating blog posts or an article, make sure it is well-written and easy to read. This way, you can pitch it to sites with high domain authority, and they can help generate traffic for your website.
In addition, Google keeps revisiting such popular sites, and the chances of your site being discovered are high. Hence, we recommend you keep pitching high-quality backlinks if you want to boost your ranking.
However, keep in mind that since these are authoritative websites, they do not accept sub-par content. Therefore, if you want to link to such websites, you will have to improve the content’s quality.
2. Focus On Anchor Text
Anchor text is an essential aspect of any backlink. It is the highlighted portion of the hypertext that needs to be clicked to access the page. There are many advantages of using an anchor text. As you might already know, keyword optimisation and research are essential components to make any blog post successful.
If you want to generate traffic for your website, the content should be optimised in such a way that your target audience can easily access it. By using target keywords to create anchor text, you can add tremendous value to your work.
In addition, you may link back to an old article or post with the help of anchor text. However, do not simply link back with text like “read more information here.” Instead, insert targeted keywords to improve your site’s rankings.
Lastly, anchor text helps search engine bots understand the content of your website and helps it rank higher on Google. But remember, keyword stuffing is never recommended and may lead to a penalty.
3. Look For New Domains
It is better to get multiple links from different websites than from the same one. If a domain already has a link to your site, explore other domains and establish a wider network.
Multiple links on the same domain isn’t an effective marketing strategy, no matter what you have been led to believe. If you have a widespread network, the chances of attracting more organic traffic to your site are much higher. This boosts your ranking on the search engine results page and helps establish a strong backlink profile.
4. Enter Industry Forums
Becoming a part of an industry forum may not seem important to you. But, it can help you earn backlinks.
Create your profile using relevant keywords on these forums, and enter your site’s link so that other consumers on this forum are redirected to your site. Further, you can start discussion threads, interact with other threads, and post links in the comments to earn backlinks to your site.
5. Get Listed In Web Directories
Although this method is no longer as popular as it used to be, getting listed in local directories is an easy way to get links to your site.
In fact, this is one of the easiest ways to build a strong backlink profile, and once users have access to your webpage, they can navigate through it to discover relevant information. As such, it gives a boost to your rankings on the SERPs.
How To Check Backlinks
With the help of Google Search Console, you can access data about your website and check for internal and external links. Besides, you can access top linked pages and sites, as well as the top linking text.
Another way of checking these links is with the help of a backlink checker tool. Here, you will have to enter the URL, and the tool will provide the required information.
A vital SEO tool, backlinks continue to hold a prominent place in content marketing and help attract organic traffic to your website. Although it will take time for Google to crawl your website, backlinks carry more longevity than paid ad campaigns and social media posts.
Besides, quality links help establish your site as a source of authority and helps you rank above your competitors. We hope our guide has given you a comprehensive idea of why backlinks are important and the role they play in SEO rankings.
With that, it’s a wrap. Before we go, allow us to reiterate that backlinks should never be bought as it goes against Google’s guidelines. Instead, follow the methods we have listed above to get quality backlinks to your site.
Allan is the head of SEO strategy and implementation at sitecentre, in charge of planning and allocating on-page, off-page and technical changes. Allan has more than 10 years in the Search Engine Optimisation industry in addition to online marketing and system optimisations.