The position of your website in search engine results depends on different factors – good content, loading speed, mobile friendliness, even the presence of an SSL certificate. Of course, there are some very specific perks that are a part of the site search engine optimization (SEO) as well - keywords, page titles, meta tags, image names, etc. Unless your website gets a lot of direct traffic already, you should pay attention to all these things to make sure that you have done everything it takes to give your site a ranking boost. All of the above are a part of the so-called on-page SEO – this is a term that relates to optimizations related to your website.
Focusing on quality [backlinks] over quantity is what can help to protect your site after Google updates.Adam Riemer, SearchEngineJournal.com
You will find lots of tools and plugins that can analyze your site and tell you if you miss some meta tag or if the site doesn’t load fast enough on mobile devices, so we will not focus on your site. Instead, we will give you a few tips what you can do to give your site a small push with backlinks. The latter are considered off-page SEO as they are not something you handle on your site, but they are still related to it and affect its position in search engine results.
- What are backlinks
- Why are backlinks important
- Five easy steps to link building
- 1. Create good content.
- 2. Reach out to start guest posting.
- 3. Contact friends and customers.
- 4. Check out the competition.
- 5. Contact relevant local media/websites.
- Other options
- Wrap Up
What are backlinks
In simple terms, these are links from other websites leading to your website – usually to specific pages, not to the home page. It usually takes time and efforts to get enough links, but in the long run they can boost the ranking of your site and give you an advantage compared to your competitors. There are different types of backlinks and you will find some of them below. You will come across different terms for them depending on the SEO specialist you ask as the definition of each type can be vague.
- Manual/Acquired links. These are links that you request website owners to add after you negotiate with them. These could be paid ads, sponsored posts or a link exchange deal with some website owner. It may take some time to research your options and to select websites that are worth contacting. You should also consider whether the cost of getting sponsored links is worth it as sometimes the potential profit of such a deal may be less than the amount you will have to pay.
- Quality/Editorial links. This is the most valuable type of links. A quality link is one that has been added on a trusted website and is a part of the page body, not in some comment. These are organic, natural links that website owners add because they believe you have the right content, not because you have contacted them. To get good quality links, you should have very good content – guides, solutions to problems, niche content, infographics, original text or media, local news, etc.
One link from The New York Times to your website, for example, will be far more valuable than several links from small, newly created sites. The reason is that search engines look at both the number and the quality of the links to a given website. Not only will a quality link give you a SEO boost, but it will drive more traffic to your website due to the sheer number of visitors that popular websites have.
- Self-created links. These include various links that you create yourself. For example, if you submit your site to web directories, upload a video and add a link below it, or add the site URL to a forum signature or in some wiki article, you create the backlinks yourself. Naturally, these links are low-value ones and creating too many such links can increase the traffic to your site a bit, but in the long run it will not help you with search engines at all.
- Random links. If people come across your website and they like something on it or they want to show it to a friend, they may add a link to one of its pages on their social media accounts, in forum comments or on their personal website. Such links are random as you have not contacted anybody to add them and you cannot know if or when they will appear or disappear. You cannot count on such links, but the better content you have on the site, the more likely it will be for such links to appear. While some of them may not be good, more random natural backlinks can give your site a small SEO boost.
Why are backlinks important
Backlinks are an essential part of search engine optimization. Here are a few reasons why they are important and why you should not neglect them:
- Better ranking. Backlinks show search engines that website owners find your content valuable, which is in turn a signal for search engines to rank your site higher compared to other similar websites.
- More traffic. Good backlinks will generate more traffic to your website. The more visitors you have, the more likely it will be to find new customers.
- Credibility. People will trust you more if they find a link to your content on some respected website. Links on different portals or industry authority websites will greatly improve your credibility.
- Brand awareness. More links means that more people will come across your website and will see your brand name. If you have a lot of competitors, online brand recognition can be quite important.
Five easy steps to link building
1. Create good content.
2. Reach out to start guest posting.
This is a very popular option as you will contact other people from the industry and you will build new relationships with peers. New content is important for your website, but you also need good links to your own site, so you can write some unique content as guest posts for your partners. It is a win-win situation as you will get backlinks from respected websites while they can publish new and interesting content at no cost. Not all websites accept guest posts, but you can look for such sites in your niche. The list you will find on https://www.themecircle.net/5000-sites-accept-guest-posts/, for example, includes 5000+ websites that accept guest posts. For your convenience, you can sort them by industry.
To start guest posting, do some research and find a few websites in your niche. When you contact them, write a personalized email and do not use a template – the latter is easy to recognize and you risk being rejected. After all, why would an editor publish a post from a person who cannot compose an email? Double-check if they have some requirements regarding the content of the guest post. If comments are allowed, make sure that you follow up at least for a while. If readers notice you are active in the comment section, it is more likely they will visit your website.
3. Contact friends and customers.
If people you know have a website, you can ask them to add a link to your own site. Whether it will be just a link, a banner or an article on some topic that links your site as the source of information depends on your agreement with them. This way, you can get some good backlinks without much efforts.
If you have customers that use some service you offer, you can negotiate with some of the long-term ones and offer them a free service for some period or some other freebie if they add a link or an article leading to your site. Of course, whether you will offer anything or you will reach some other agreement is up to you.
4. Check out the competition.
We mentioned earlier that you can check what your competitors do to get an idea what strategy will turn out to be successful. Research what sites have links to your competitors. Unless you come across paid articles, reach out to these sites and ask them to add a link to your site for completeness. Any place where your industry is mentioned and your competitors are listed, is a potential backlink source.
If you notice that a competitor is linked on some website, but their site is no longer active or the linked content has changed, you can try to get your own website linked instead.
5. Contact relevant local media/websites.
If you start offering some new product or service, or you organize/participate in some event, you can contact local media and bloggers to write an article about you. While not all will want to add a link to your site for free, some of them will, so you will definitely get some good links. If you think it will be worth it, you can pay a fee to some of the rest to have your site linked in their article, not just your name mentioned.
Even if no media links your site after the event, other website owners will see the media coverage and may decide to contact you or to write about you. More exposure is always a good thing as you can easily get more editorial links from various websites.
You will find lots of other suggestions online, but they require a lot of time and it is doubtful that they will help you with the search engine optimization at all. Some SEO companies even ask for money to help you with such additional tasks. Of course, you are free to try to boost the ranking of your website in any way you see fit, so if you want to pay extra to try something different, you can do so.
- Broken link building is one such practice. You have to identify websites where you would like to have a link to your site, or some important sites that publish content in your business niche, then look for links to other sites that do not work. If you find any, you can contact the site and ask them to replace the broken link with one to your site, if you have similar content.
- Link reclamation involves searching for websites that have mentioned your brand name without linking it to your website. This option requires a lot of time as well, although the search can be automated to some extent.
- Contextual links are another way to get some backlinks, but similar to the options above, you have to decide whether the time you will have to spend to contact website owners will be worth it. If you find websites that publish relevant content, check if they have a Recommended section. You can quickly find such websites using search engines by typing:
marketing trends inurl:blog intext:"Recommended reading"
- Looking for old content is a rather time-consuming task, but if you find articles that have not been updated for a while, you can create some fresh content and ask the website owner if they are willing to replace the outdated article with your own, and if they are willing to add a link to your site in exchange.
There is no doubt that search engine optimization is important. More and more companies are present online, so if you want to gain advantage in search results and to beat your competitors, you should do whatever it takes to give your site a boost. Along with the site loading speed and the content, one important thing you should pay attention to is backlinks.
It may take some time to get enough quality backlinks, but once you do, your efforts will pay off. Creating good content for your site or for guest posts, asking friends and regular customers to give you a hand, and building new relationships with local media and industry-specific websites will help you to give your website the ranking boost it needs. This will also bring additional organic traffic to your site and will improve your brand recognition.