Backlinks, which are often referred to as incoming links, are links that go from one website to another. So think of a rope that passes through one window to another (but without the obvious intangible aspect behind it). Search engines pretty much value white hat backlinks (we’ll get into this later) as they help to improve search engine rankings. Below, we have put together an in-depth guide on the necessity of backlinks - read on to find out more.
Why are backlinks vital?
Would you rather obtain a link from The Guardian or a random, low ranking website that isn’t updated as often? Probably the former, and Google, believe it or not, feels the same way.
Backlinks, if carried out correctly, suggest to readers that what they’re reading is valuable, credible and relevant in regards to what they were searching for. Backlinks are seen to be a ‘vote of confidence from one website to another.
The above points to a link directly to another page on a completely different website, which therefore makes this a backlink.
White hat link building
Here, it is important to note that not all backlinks are created equal.
Earning backlinks is a vital component of an SEO strategy, and some links are inherently more valuable than others are (this rings true especially if you use white hat tactics). As mentioned earlier, white hat link building is the only form of link building that should be carried out. This is because black hat can actually negate your search results, subsequently resulting in Google penalising your website (you can then wave goodbye to your rankings). Black hat techniques include using link farms to build links, paying for links, placing links in irrelevant places on the internet and spamming links across websites.
By researching sites that you’re trying to secure links on, you’re keeping your website from significant damage that will cost you in the long run. Whether or not a link is followed (e.g. if a site owner gives a search engine authority to pass or not to pass link equity), it’s vital you look into the domain authority before anything else (essentially, the more authority a site possesses, the more authority can pass through a website through a link). Say if a website owner was to gain incoming links from low authority sites, they’re potentially damaging their own domain health, which can cause toxic scores to increase. This then suggests to search engines that your website is full of toxic, spam links and shouldn’t be ranked on search engine result pages at all.
Competitive backlink research
Earning backlinks can be a long process, especially when you take your time to churn out creative, insightful content that will help readers find what they’re looking for. Be sure to examine the backlink profile of those that you want to get links from and gain insight into who they are already linking back to. Not only is this great for competitor backlink research, but you can then compile a list of places where you can try to place links also.
Found a website that you really want to work with to offer an expert comment or opinion? Or simply want to guest post on a website that would complement your products or services? A backlink tool such as the Backlink Analysis tool on SEMrush helps to uncover competitor backlink insight so that websites can target the correct websites in their link building strategies. This also offers some detailed graphs and statistics about the health of the links, keywords that are used and their overall domain scores.
Ways to link build
There are actually an abundance of ways in which websites can improve their link building strategies. Some of these include outreach, HARO, link reclamation and link exchanges. No matter whichever way you choose to link build, the success rates are always better than not carrying it out the right way.
Outreach is a great way to work with bloggers and build your relationships with influencers on social media whilst improving your overall domain score in the background. Not only does this help brands with exposure, but it allows websites to work on improving their relationships with authoritative people on the internet. Below are some of the top ways in which link building campaigns can be carried out.
HARO - which is short for Help A Reporter Out - is an excellent resource for high authority backlinks that tons of news media outlets use. All you need to do is sign up, choose your industries and wait for the emails to pull through to your email. Once these come through, emailing reporters can be carried out throughout the day. Pitching to the journalists is literally endless.
Link reclamation - this simply involves you contacting a website that hasn’t provided you with a link to ask if they are able to pop a link where your site has been mentioned. Instead of hoping one day they may link back to the site, proactively reach out and ask them for a link. Eight times out of 10 they will either respond, or you can follow up.
Broken link building - this is an exceptional way to get in the good books with highly rated websites. All you’re required to do is utilise a good SEO software to sift through 404s on your chosen website in your niche and contact them about fixing it. You can then mention your website and how you’re able to provide them with better ways to improve the content that was on that page.
Guest posting - isn’t dead. In fact, it is one of the best ways to get links back to a website. And a great benefit of it is that most of the time, it’s free to publish (if your content is accepted)! As long as you have valuable insight to provide, nothing is stopping you from websites wanting to use your insight on their websites. The traffic you then get from the guest posts you carry out would help give your organic traffic a huge boost. The more of these that you carry out, the more Google will want to rank you on its search engines.
It’s important to note that each industry has its own, valuable link building opportunities, so content should be curated for each one in a different way. From infographics, videos, blog posts, social mentions and more. It’s imperative to take into account that a ‘one size fits all' approach shouldn’t be taken. Rather, by creating separate campaigns, websites will undoubtedly find fruitfulness with their domain scores when looking for the most relevant, authoritative websites.