Here’s what you need to know about this popular search engine optimization practice.
Here, you’ll find:
- How backlinking is defined
- Why it’s an important part of SEO
- Best backlinking practices
- Key mistakes to avoid
Many marketing pros consider high-quality backlinks a key component of a solid SEO strategy. Besides helping to bring your website to the top of the search engine results page (SERP), backlinks can defend your rankings against Google algorithm updates.
It’s possible to create a robust backlinking portfolio by building an effective backlinking strategy and taking advantage of all available opportunities. Not only that, but understanding the importance of backlinks can help you better execute a successful SEO campaign.
What is backlinking?
Backlinking is the practice of earning links to your site from other high-quality websites. The more backlinks you have from authoritative, legit websites, the better your site looks to search engines as a result.
Not all backlinks are created equal. Links from popular, high-ranking, and trustworthy websites are valuable. On the other hand, links from low-quality or spammy websites can negatively impact your rankings.
When a high-authority website links back to one of your pages, the authority of your own website goes up. By adding a link to one of your pages, a website essentially vouches for your site. The more high-quality backlinks you can obtain, the better your website is likely to rank.
Here’s the catch: Highly effective backlinks can be tough to earn. However, with the right backlinking strategy, it’s possible to obtain significant links from trustworthy websites, and rise through the ranks as a result.
These statistics highlight the importance of a solid backlinking strategy:
- The #1 search result in Google contains 3.8 times more backlinks than results 2-10. (Backlinko)
- 65% of marketers agree that backlinking is the toughest part of SEO. (SEO Tribunal)
- Websites with blogs get 97% more backlinks to their website. (HubSpot)
- More than 66% of pages don’t have any backlinks. This means that acquiring these links can help you jump way ahead of the competition. (Ahrefs)
Backlinking best practices
While implementing backlinking strategies can time-consuming, they can also pay off in a big way. The earlier you start working on your plan, the faster you can potentially start to see results.
Create high-quality link baits
Besides being the foundation of your SEO efforts, top-notch content is also a great backlink generator. By coming up with valuable, accurate, and unique content for your website, you encourage other companies to link to it.
So-called “link baits” (content that attracts links) include things like:
- Data-driven studies
- Visual content (infographics, how-to videos)
- Long-form guides
- Trend pieces
- Market research studies
Key elements high-quality link baits often have in common include:
- An appeal to a wide audience
- Citation potential (meaning others can link back to your studies, quotes, and stats)
- The ability to create a strong emotional response
- Problem-solving and question-answering ability
Besides content created with link generation in mind, high-quality articles, blogs, and other content pieces designed for your audience can generate links as well. As long as the content brings value, it has link-creating potential.
Take advantage of guest posting
Many authority websites post guest articles penned by a range of experts. As a leader in your niche, this gives you an opportunity to offer valuable insight and advice to the authority website’s target audience. In exchange for your contribution, the website often agrees to post a link to your website in the article (usually in the author’s bio).
It’s worth noting that trustworthy websites are extremely careful about choosing the right content for guest posting — the days of massive low-quality guest posting for backlinks are over. This technique will only be successful if your target audiences are aligned and you have something truly valuable to share.
Want to learn more about backlinking strategies? Let’s chat!
Make sure you’re getting the right backlinks
As mentioned above, not all backlinks are created equal. Quality wins over quantity. Backlinks that work the best often:
- Come from a trustworthy website with high domain authority
- Contain your target keyword in the anchor text
- Come from a website that’s at least somehow related to your products, services, or industry
- Don’t have a “nofollow” tag (when ranking websites, search engines ignore nofollow links)
Pro tip: Keep tabs on your backlink portfolio. Not-so-good links don’t generate the desired results, and their presence can create a false appearance of a good strategy.
Run a backlink analysis
While you may think you have plenty of backlinks, some of them could be hurting your reputation instead of improving it. That’s why it’s wise to take the time to run a backlink analysis of your website. Depending on what you uncover, you may have to rethink your backlinking strategy.
Poor links usually come from low-authority sites and link networks. A backlinking analysis can help you identify bad links. Once you find them, you can contact the website’s webmaster and ask them to remove the link. If they don’t respond, you can disavow the link.
Find link roundup opportunities
Link roundups are lists that bloggers compile to give their readers links to the best content related to a certain subject. These roundups can be published daily, weekly, or monthly. Up your chances of appearing in one of these roundups by:
- Creating high-quality content
- Finding a website in your niche that creates roundups
- Pitching your inclusion to the blogger
Roundups are the easiest type of backlinks to acquire.
Backlinking mistakes to avoid
Consider keeping these practices out of your backlinking strategy:
- Don’t try to generate backlinks by using “black hat” SEO tactics (such as creating numerous profiles specifically to add links to forum signatures or blog comments).
- Never try to buy or sell a link. Authority websites don’t sell links, though some websites may charge you for guest posting.
- Avoid nofollow links.
- Don’t spend time trying to acquire backlinks from websites that aren’t relevant to your niche.
- Avoid site-wide links (like footer links on each page of your website). This could trigger Google’s Penguin algorithm and earn you a penalty.
- Don’t forget to keep an eye on your backlinks. If you suddenly earn dozens of links, for example, it could look suspicious.
If you want to create a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy, backlinking deserves your full attention. By attracting links from trustworthy websites, you are working towards building your website’s authority and getting closer to the top of the SERPs.