Every single professional marketer out there will tell you the only other way your search engine rankings are going to improve even more is with quality backlinks. That’s great! You’re going to be ranking higher on Google and potentially reach a whole new level of success! The only problem is … do you even know what backlinks are? Do you know what SEO strategies are? They’re throwing all these terms at you and you have no idea what they mean. Sure, ranking on Google search results is essential, but as a business owner, part of your success lies within understanding each process of your digital marketing package.

As Aristotle once said, “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

We’re here to do just that: teach you everything you need to know about backlinks, SEO, and the power the combination holds for your business.

WHAT IS A BACKLINK?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of your website’s success. This is what gets your website ranking on popular search engines, like Google. But in order to rank your website even higher, marketers use various backlink methods. A backlink is when a webpage links to another niche website (meaning the relevancy is similar, otherwise, there’s no real advantage). For example, if we were a health-related company writing a blog post about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and a health blogger who is writing blog posts about the same subject wants to increase her credibility, she’d provide a link back to our blog post within her content. In that content where she’s referring back to us will be an option to direct the reader to our post that has relevant information.

Google likes to think of backlinks as a “vote. Think of American Idol. The more votes a contestant gets, the more likely they are to get to the top position and win the show! So, the more votes your website gets, the more likely you are to reach the top too … on the web, that is. But remember, they need to be high-quality votes. Lower authority or illegitimate links can hurt your rankings and your credibility in your respective industry.

WHAT IS SEO & WHY ARE BACKLINKS IMPORTANT FOR IT?

An SEO campaign can ultimately be the reason you reach your business goals. As a business owner or website owner in general, you want your website to rank above all others. SEO can do that for you. After conducting an SEO analysis, there are certain keywords, depending on your location and competitors, that will need to be added to your content on your web pages and blog posts in order to put you ahead of your competitors. But the thing with any search algorithm is that is changes constantly. So you may update your keywords one week, but the next they need to be completely different, therefore, SEO can be time-consuming which is why it’s best to let a marketing team take care of it for you. They also have the SEO tools and techniques already available so you don’t have to worry about spending extra money on programs!

But the question remains. Why are backlinks so important for SEO?

Google has over 200 ranking factors, and although SEO plays a huge part in that, the number one factor is backlinks.

Above, we mentioned Google considers backlinks as votes. That’s because, in that backlink, is another relevant website with content with the same keywords your website is trying to rank for. Google also knows how hard it is to get various quality backlinks so they’re naturally going to rank you higher above sites that don’t have relevant, or high-quality backlinks at all.

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE BACKLINK QUALITY?

Having a bad or broken backlink can cause your website to be penalized, meaning your search engine rankings are going to drop drastically. And, everybody knows it, the top five ranked sites receive the most engagement. So, how do you determine what backlinks are good enough?

There are actually tools you can use to determine which website links are legit. Some tools require payment and some are free, but either way, they’ll tell you how high the traffic is to that particular domain you searched, the most linked-to pages, and more. You can sort and filter through link types, domain rating, URL rating, etc.

WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A BACKLINK?

After you’ve chosen which backlink analytic tool to use, you can begin choosing which website links you want to research. But where do you start? How do you know which backlinks to choose for your own website?

Start with your competitors. Competitors backlinks will potentially offer link opportunities for you. You can actually use tools that keep track of their backlink profile so you know precisely who they’re using and when. Besides looking into your competition, some of the best qualities to look for in backlinks are:

  • It's coming from well-known bloggers, businesses, news outlets, professional researchers, etc., who are respected in their industry.
  • The backlink profile is popular and well-liked when you researched it.
  • Their online presence is strong, including on social media.
  • It's a "dofollow" backlink, meaning Google can "follow" them and rank your website. All domains are automatically dofollows unless they're manually changed to "nofollow", in which case, links will not take the visitor to another location and Google also won't rank it. This can help reduce "search engine spam" since they're not as authoritative or trustworthy.

HOW ANCHOR TEXTS RELATE TO BACKLINKS

While you’re link building, you’re going to be using anchor text methods. This will be how backlinks are actually incorporated into your content. In other words, it’s a “clickable text” option that will take the visitor to the other authority sites. There are a few different ways you can use anchor text, so after your backlink research, you should be able to determine how your competitor’s are using them. This can help you determine how you should too. The type of content you’re linking too will also help determine where to include anchor texts, like the title, in the middle of the content, in a subtitle, under an image, etc.

But anchors are called that for a reason. It’s what’s holding your content together. So if your anchor is bad, chances are, you’re not going to see the results you want. Here are examples of both good and bad anchors.

Good

  • Branded: You're linking to the website with the link in the actual name of it. For example, "Caseo's blog mentioned...". The link would be in "Caseo".
  • Exact Match: This means you're linking to a site with the precise word. For example, if it's a marketing website, you'll link to it using the term "marketing."
  • Naked: You just use the actual URL instead of a linked word.

Bad

  • Excessive anchors: Sure, having a lot of backlinks increases your authority, but not all on one page. It looks messy and decreases the user experience. Google can also penalize you if you do this.
  • Generic: You just link through "click here" text. This isn't the level of quality people are looking for and are less likely to click it rather than a branded or exact match anchor.
  • Spammy anchors: Don't link to a website or product that is not relevant to your own.

WHAT IS DOMAIN AUTHORITY?

No matter the industry you’re in, you want to be the one people trust the most, right? You want to be the thought leader on that subject so that, when people immediately hear of a certain product or service, they immediately think of you. Does this happen right away? No, it definitely takes time to build your domain authority and reputation, but in the end, it’s worth it efforts as Google will start boosting your ranking because you’re naturally the trusted professional on the matter! And what is one of the ways to boost your authority? You guessed it! Quality backlinks. Having relevant and other popular resources backing up your product, service, or opinion is one of the top factors in determining how authoritative your website should be. Other ways to improve your authority can be actions like:

  • Consistent, high-quality content on both your website and social media profiles - Professionals typically suggest one or two blog posts per week and once a day for social media platforms.
  • On-page SEO - Your URL, headers, subtitles, images, videos, and rest of your content should all have targeted keywords in them.
  • Desktop & mobile-friendly website - Nowadays, most of your visitors will be coming from a mobile device, so ensuring your website is functional on both desktop and mobile will increase your credibility.
  • Use a web hoster - Web hosting is a great way to ensure your website is running quickly. About 47% of internet users expect web pages to load in two seconds or less, otherwise, they likely won't return.

HOW BROKEN LINKS IMPACT YOUR SEARCH RANKINGS

Sick of clicking on a link that takes you to a page that says, 404 error page? Link building campaigns aren’t always going to be perfect. Every site owner experiences a broken link at least once in their lifetime, but if they’re not dealt with in decent timing, they can negatively affect your rankings on search engines and make for unconfident user experience. Luckily, there are tools that are easily accessible (and free) you can use to determine if there are broken links are your site, including Google Analytics. You can search for broken links on your website and even set email alerts as they pop up.

The longer broken links are on your page, the likelier you are of your rank dropping on search engines and people not trusting your website or wanting to revisit. But rather than removing the content with the broken link, either ask the site owner if they’ve moved to another domain so you can re-direct the visitor, or replace the link with another niche website.

The Relationship Between Backlinks & Guest Posts

Guest posting, also referred to as guest blogging, is the act of writing a blog post for someone else’s blog or website. You’re probably wondering, okay, how does this benefit me? Well, it’s a great way for you to link back to your website somewhere in the content, aka, backlink back to you. This also opens an opportunity for you to share these posts on your social media profiles and improve your online presence even more. The content quality should be valuable and relevant between your blogs/industries. This method can drastically improve your authority and potentially even introduce your business to a whole new wave of customers.

Guest posts are essentially a way of working together to boost both your SEO ranking factors and a great opportunity to build strong relationships with other businesses. You can also help each other gain more social media followers!

DO I NEED SOCIAL MEDIA BACKLINKS?

Again, it all comes down to your ranking position on search engines. From a thorough SEO analysis to quality guest posts, and now social media backlinks, you’re on your way to boosting your website’s position on Google search. You may hear some people say social media backlinks are pointless, but we completely disagree. Though they’re considered “nofollow” backlinks, they’re beneficial for businesses of any sort because of their ability to increase website traffic and attract quality leads.

Facebook is the fastest-growing social app in the world which is why marketers love using it to target specific audiences. A website can be linked through your profile and a call-to-action button can be installed to send visitors precisely where you want them to land.

Twitter allows you to put domains in the “bio” section so as soon as someone visits your profile, they’ll see it and be able to click on it.

HOW DO YOU BUILD BACKLINKS?

Whether you have new content you want backlinks for or you think your web page is already backlink worthy, all that’s really left to do is find people who may be interested in linking to you. If you already have relationships with valuable resources, ask them! Another popular link building strategy is seeking out unlinked mentions on other blogs. Referral traffic is very important so if you make a deal w4ith the unlinked mention and barter a bit, maybe you’ll form a valuable, trusting, lifelong relationship!

The process of emailing different businesses or bloggers to backlink to your page may be lengthy, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run. Just ensure that in your emails, you’re personalizing each message and not just copy and pasting. Be clear, concise, professional, and try to sell them in the benefits of linking to your particular website.

Want to increase your site authority even more? Contact pages that link to your competitor’s sites. If they backlink back to you as well, you have the potential to stay ahead of your competition. But remember, you really have to sell them on why you deserve the backlink referral. Explain why your services or products stand out from your competition.

WHERE DO CITATIONS COME INTO PLAY?

Local citations ultimately help rank you on search engines, like Google, so you’re easily discoverable in your specific location along with your company’s name, website, address and phone number. Your SEO campaign should include local citations in order to improve your local rankings through any listing site Yelp, MapQuest, Facebook, Yellowpages, Apple Maps, Bing … the list goes on. The easier your business is to find, the more credible you’ll become.

BACKLINKS, BACKLINKS, BACKLINKS

So, what are backlinks? We know we got carried away, but understanding the importance of backlinks is just that! Important!

Is link building an easy process? Not exactly. Are they free? No. But it really is an essential factor in determining the rank position of your website and overall, help you reach your business goals. SEO, writing a guest post, getting local citations, and linking your business through your social profiles will all help improve your rankings too. Still, these things wouldn’t actually exist without backlinks. There are many resources and niche websites out there you can message about linking to your website, and if you aren’t sure where to start, there are free tools you can use to determine competitors’ link profile so you can base your backlinks off similar ones. Once you find backlinks you want to include on your site, you can also use free tools to determine how legitimate they are and their popularity rank. When you’re link building, you should be linking to niche websites (similar to yours), that people are already confident in. Backlinks that are completely unrelated resources or that are broken can hurt your search engine rankings. But once again, there are tools you can use to keep track of the broken links on your website in case you need to redirect people or ask for a different domain.

If you’re a business owner trying to do your own marketing, it can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to link building. That’s where marketing companies can come in. They’re ultimately the link building experts that know how to utilize the right tools to find relevant backlinks, write content for you, and stay on top of SEO algorithm changes and increase your online presence across multiple social platforms for you.

There are thousands of backlink options you can use to your advantage to gain a higher website authority from trusted resources that will improve your rankings on search engines. The higher you rank, the more likely you are of reaching your well-deserved business goals.