SEO Jackpot: What Are Backlinks And How To Get Them

What is a backlink?

A “backlink” is the link created when an external website links to yours. This why some people refer to them as “external backlinks” or “inbound links”.

Google puts it simply:

Backlink is a link one website gets from another website. Backlinks make a huge impact on a website's prominence in search engine results. This is why they are considered very useful for improving a website's SEO ranking.

So in practise, a backlink looks like this:


WHY ARE BACKLINKS SO IMPORTANT FOR SUCCESSFUL, LONG TERM SEO?

Think of a backlink as a recommendation from another website. Imagine you’re considering employing a builder - if a trusted friend or colleague vouches for that builder with an official endorsement, you’re much more likely to trust and hire the builder.

A solid network of relevant, strong backlinks from reputable websites to yours demonstrates to search engines that your content is valuable and worth ranking higher in a search. Ultimately, backlinks will help move your website up the SERP (search engine results page), which is where you want to be.

The other great thing about quality backlinks? They’re highly likely to keep performing for a long time.

It’s common practise to get a backlink to your website when a customer or business mentions your brand - you can definitely ask for a link to be included in any brand mention. But there are other ways to build your backlink network.

Backlinks are SEO gold-dust and having a quality network of them makes a huge impact in ranking for your target keywords and search terms.


How to prepare for building your backlink network

Laying a solid foundation in your existing website and digital channels gives you a much better chance of building a successful network of backlinks. Get in touch with your web agency and make sure:

  • Technical issues like site loading speed, mobile friendliness, duplicate or veneer content, flimsy and missing meta data, redirects and broken links are fixed
  • Your website is well built, easy to navigate and use
  • Content is valuable and educational to potential readers, increasing the likelihood of a backlink

Once your website (and associated platforms like your blog and social media) are largely water-tight, it’s time to get backlinks.


Warning: never buy backlinks to participate in link schemes

It’s more common than you’d think for businesses or more unscrupulous SEO agencies just buy backlinks and participate in link schemes to cheat the system and rank higher, faster.

This is a strict violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (which you can check out here). There’s all sorts of “black-hat” SEO strategies that Google are cracking down on, and Google inevitably catching you out on buying backlinks will result in serious penalties that’ll stem the flow of traffic to your website, or worse.

From all of us at Open Door Internet: don’t do it. It’s a really dangerous tactic and not worth the risk.


GETTING BACKLINKS TACTIC #1: CREATIVE, CONSISTENT AND QUALITY CONTENT

Getting great backlinks is a whole lot to do with your content. Google only wants to promote the very best websites that offer maximum value and usefulness to users, so your content marketing and strategy efforts need to be pretty solid.

What we mean by “value” is that your content is fresh, insightful, useful, actionable, authoritative, compelling. Try:

  • Updating your blog on a regular basis with thoughtful, well-researched and relevant content
  • Keeping on top of industry trends
  • Answering your audience’s questions
  • Promoting content through your social media channels

Whatever your industry or business, having a stream of content will help you earn these backlinks organically as prospective readers find your material, enjoy it and use it, and link back to it from their website/blog.

The best articles and content on any given topic will eventually rank higher on Google, both as Google crawls it and ranks it well for being valuable and original, and as readers link back to it because it’s helpful and informative.

You may hear the phrase “content is king” - and now more than ever, this is true of successful digital marketing.


Getting backlinks tactic #2: get active in your industry

Almost every industry has leading publications and authorities that both competitors and prospective clients look to.

Reach out to an industry publication and pitch a guest post to them. This is essentially a blog post or article that will be published on the guest publication with a valuable, authoritative link back to your website.

The readers are more likely to already know about the industry, and therefore more likely to be impressed by your company appearing in the publication, and more likely to visit your website via the backlink.

Let’s say you’re a garden designer. Start by researching potential publications using Google searches like:

  • “Garden design blog”
  • “Garden designers magazine”
  • “Garden blog guest post”

Or look for keyword-specific pages to zero in on guest post opportunities, like:

  • “Garden design + guest posts”
  • “Garden design + submit an article”
  • “Garden design + bloggers wanted”
  • “Garden design + become a contributor”
  • “Garden design + guest post guidelines”

Visit those websites and see if there’s a good fit there, and if they accept guest posts. There’s mutual benefit: you get a great backlink to a website with lots of traffic and potential readers (and more linking opportunities), and the publication gets content from an expert in the field.

If you’re not sure how to pitch a guest post, or can’t find a contributor guidelines page (like this gardening blog example) use this guide from Influence&Co on pitching for sending prospective emails. Be prepared to send an idea and article outline.

In our garden design example, maybe you’re sending an article about the latest trends for urban gardens in 2019, or low-budget tools that most consumers don’t know about. Something useful, relevant and up-to-date that’ll get clicks. Editors get a lot of pitches, so crafting a good one will make a lot of difference.


GETTING BACKLINKS TACTIC #3: RESOURCE PAGES

Resource pages are common, though they’re rarely called “resource page”. More likely you’ll have seen a webpage called “useful resources”, “further reading” or “helpful resources”. They’re literally a list of links to helpful sources.

Try linking keywords again to find specific pages on Google, like this:

  • “Garden design + useful resources”
  • “Garden design + further reading”
  • “Garden design + helpful resources”

When you’ve found a resource page focusing on a topic in your industry, reach out to the website through their contact page and introduce yourself as an industry authority, offering a useful link to your content for them to use.

Be polite and brief. Explain who you are, what your business does, and why the particular link you’re offering them is useful. You could even look through the resource page for any broken links that you could replace.


GETTING BACKLINKS TACTIC #4: DON’T ASK, DON’T GET

If you’ve found a relevant website or influencer in your industry, consider simply asking them for a backlink.

Email influencers, leaders and journalists in your industry. As always, be courteous and don’t waffle. If you can’t find a direct email, try their social media through Facebook or LinkedIn.

Ultimately, people want to attract more viewers and potential customers to their websites. Backlinks provide mutual benefit to all parties. They’re a long game, and can be hard to earn, but the benefits are enormous.

If the idea of tackling a backlink strategy is a bit overwhelming, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you with your SEO efforts.

Posted by Victoria Brock on May 30th 2019

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