Search engine optimization is a technical area of marketing with a lot of moving parts. If you want your website to perform well in organic search (i.e. be discovered by potential customers googling relevant services or products), you have to make sure Google sees it as a relevant and reliable source of information.
This requires a solid SEO strategy. We already discussed a few tactics that will help you succeed at SEO: proper technical setup, keyword research, optimizing for local search, and competitive analysis. Today, we will cover link building – another tactic you need to familiarize yourself with if you want to outperform your competitors in organic search.
If you missed our previous SEO Essentials articles, check them out now:
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO Setup Checklist
- Search Engine Optimization: Keyword Research and Competitive Analysis
- Search Engine Optimization: Content Strategy
- Search Engine Optimization: Local SEO and Google My Business
What are backlinks and why are they important?
Backlinks are inbound links – hyperlinks living on sites other than your own (third party sources) that direct traffic to your website.
For example, if your brand is mentioned in a news article published online, the editor will likely add a link to your website for readers interested in learning more about your business. This would count as a backlink – and a good one, because news websites usually have high domain authority (we’ll go into more detail on what this means in a bit).
Why are backlinks so important?
Research shows that a website cannot reach its full organic potential without inbound links. Links are one of the most important ranking factors that Google takes into account when compiling search result pages. They signify trust and quality (if someone is linking to your content, it means they find it link-worthy) and it is through links that Google’s crawlers discover your website.
What makes a good backlink profile?
At this point, you might be thinking that simply having many inbound links leading to your site will help you rank higher in search results. This is only partially true because not all links are equally valuable. Link building is a quality over quantity type of game.
Here are some characteristics of a good backlink. Keep these in mind when acquiring links to build a strong backlink profile for your site. This is important because risky backlinks can do more harm than good. If Google recognizes that you are trying to manipulate the algorithm, it can penalize you with a hit to your organic traffic.
Domain authority is a popular SEO metric measured on a 100-point algorithmic scale. It is used to describe a website’s relevance for a specific topic or area of interest. A website’s domain authority score reflects how strong the site’s backlink profile is and how likely it is for the site to rank in Google.
Links from domains with high authority are seen by search engines as more valuable than links from low authority sites.
Google deems certain domains more trustworthy than others. Trusted websites usually have an established organic presence and an immaculate backlink profile, and are in good standing with the search engine’s policies. Big news websites such as BBC or The Huffington Post usually have a high trust factor.
You can build your domain’s trust by acquiring links from trusted websites.
Relevance is another measure of link quality. While search engines consider many factors when determining relevance, simply speaking, links coming from websites at least remotely related to your industry will be deemed more relevant than links coming from websites about something completely unrelated.
To perform well in organic search, you should work towards building a diverse link profile. This means that, ideally, your inbound links should come from different domains and different types of domains (e.g. blogs, websites, directories). Diversity also relates to where the link is located on a given page (body, footer, etc.) and anchor texts.
A robust and diverse backlink profile shows Google that your business is trusted by many domains and that your content is useful and universal enough to appear in different contexts.
With all of our bases covered, we can move on to the big question.
How do you acquire backlinks for your website?
Here are a few proven methods to acquire links, improve your site’s authority score, and rank higher in search results.
Create content that people will want to share
This one sounds obvious, but it’s the best way to generate links. Make sure that you share valuable resources on your website – interesting blog posts and case studies or industry-specific insights you can drive from your experience. If people find your content unique and useful, they will be inclined to share it and link back to the source.
Write press releases
I already mentioned that news sites are usually trusted by Google and have high domain authority scores. A good way to generate a mention (and a link) on a news site is to share a relevant press release with the editing team. If something significant related to your industry makes the news, offer your expert commentary or make yourself available for an interview. Doing so will not only earn you links – news features will also help you build your reputation as a recognized industry leader.
Join local business directories
Directories and review sites are usually high-authority, trusted websites that have a very specific audience of targeted, high-intent readers. Creating a profile for your business in relevant directories or listing sites is a great way to generate high-quality backlinks while reaching potential new customers.
Build a strong social media presence
Social media technically doesn’t directly affect your SEO. But think about your profiles as a platform for distributing your content and networking. Using social media to share content that your social following finds interesting and valuable can open up new opportunities for building links.
Summing things up, social media can support your backlink strategy by acting as a platform for:
- Link prospecting
- Content promotion
Remove toxic backlinks
Finally, make sure to audit your existing inbound links regularly. Links that come from irrelevant sources or sites with very low domain authority can hurt your performance, so it’s important to keep track of who is linking to your website.
Need help with your backlink strategy?
If you need help optimizing your website for visibility in local search, our agency is here for you. Our team of leading SEO experts will help you develop a bespoke link building strategy, and outrank competitors in Google’s local rankings.
Soulpepper Digital Marketing has helped numerous businesses of different sizes and budgets succeed, and we look forward to helping you grow your brand’s online presence. Give us a call or get in touch via our contact form to see what we can do for you.