Google wants to make sure that the websites they offer to their customers answer their questions and fulfill their needs. They seek highly authoritative sites that demonstrate expertise and provide helpful information. In an effort to sort through the wealth of information available online, therefore, the search engine has to use a variety of signals that help them uncover the best websites that deserve to rank highly on the SERPs.
One of their strategies to understand website authority is backlinks. The idea is that if other websites view your website as authoritative enough to link to, then it helps to boost your credibility. Building links, therefore, can be a great way to help your website claim its spot within the industry and increase rankings on the SERP.
Here is what you need to know about how your website can build its backlinks and boost its profile online.
Some important terms related to link building
Before we get started, there are a few important terms related to link building that site owners should familiarize themselves with so they fully understand the strategy at hand.
- Link quantity: Try and get as many relevant links possible for the website
- Link quality: This is determined by the authority of the link. Authority sites are ones which rank well and known well within your niche. They have strong inbound links which are well insulated against algorithm fluctuations.
- Anchor text: Anchor text is the clickable part of the link you see. Anchor text tells search engines what a link (website) is about.
- Note: Use most important keywords in your anchor text for maximum ranking effect
- Link relevance: It helps establish where your links belong. Search engines read text around links. Linking out and being linked to establish connections. Build links within your neighborhood. Links to and from contextually relevant or “thematically related” sites convey more authority.
- External links, or backlinks: Links coming from other domains back to your site.
- Internal links: Links from pages within your site to other pages within your website.
- Follow/NoFollow: This is an HTML command that gives a suggestion to the search engine about the nature of the link. Paid links to other sites should be marked NoFollow. Most social platforms make user generated links NoFollow to prevent link spamming as a way to build link authority.
Focus on linking efforts that secure as many solid, quality and authority links as possible, using keywords rich anchors from thematically related sites/pages as possible.
Strategies for building your backlinks
Link Tactics: These are the time tested tactics to improve your inbound links.
- Article writing
- Original research
- Guest writing/ reviews
- Press release optimization
We will now dive into each of these strategies individually.
Producing highly engaging and informative articles can attract backlinks. Other websites appreciate finding thought leadership within particular industries. When your content consistently fulfills that need, it will naturally encourage people to link back to your site.
To draw those backlinks, make sure that the content you produce demonstrates trustworthiness. Backup the opinions you produce with supportive links and research. Draw upon the opinions of leaders within the field at your own company or others in the industry–such as quotes from a conference you hosted or attended.
You can also create graphs, charts, and infographics, which people can link to or provide a backlink as a source reference.
Producing your own research also provides you with a great means of gathering backlinks. Your own research adds something substantial to your industry and will naturally invite clicks and then links from others in the field. Research can be promoted to industry publications and industry leaders.
Look for gaps in research and understanding in your industry and find opportunities to produce your own findings. When you complete your research, promote your findings on social media, press releases, and through content development to let others know what you have found and to attract their click back to your website.
If you find people referencing your research without a backlink, you can contact them and ask them to add a link with particular anchor text.
Guest authoring and reviews
Many industry publications also invite guest writing and reviews. For example, you might engage with digital magazines or industry references and see if they accept articles and posts from those working in the business. As a note, often these types of publications will mark the backlinks that you embed to your own website with a ‘no follow’, but these links will still benefit your site. Although they do not ‘count’ for Google, they do help to draw traffic to your site and let others know about your business, which in turn further encourages backlinks in the future.
Press release optimization
Press releases also provide an excellent opportunity to build awareness about your brand, letting those in the industry know about the latest products, services, or research that your business has produced. Keeping those in the industry updated regarding your business can help encourage clicks (even if the links themselves are ‘no follow’), give you opportunities to encourage others to engage with your brand, build recognition, and draw attention to your latest news. As others learn about what your business produced, you will also build opportunities for others to link back to your business from their own websites.
What you should know about directories
In the early days of SEO, business directories were an important part of building backlinks for websites. For yearly fees, businesses could list their websites and thereby build backlinks to their website. However, the Google algorithm has become increasingly adept at understanding the quality of backlinks and knowing whether or not a particular link is “natural,” meaning placed by the editor instead of by the linked site and worthy of attention. They also frown upon businesses ‘buying’ their backlinks as they are not at all natural.
That does not mean however, that all business directories are obsolete. A few reputable ones still have an important role in the broader strategy of SEO, particularly when it comes to local search. As you get your business listed on these directories, you will want to pay particularly close attention to your NAP, or name/address/phone number. Keeping your contact information listed in precisely the same way (such as consistently using either ‘and’ OR ‘&’ and not intermixing them) can help ensure that your business is consistently recognized across all the directories.
Here are a few directories that you should still pay attention to.
Google My Business and Bing Places
These free directories work to understand the importance and popularity of businesses within the community so they can appropriately rank them for local SEO purposes. Make sure that you claim your business on these directories and build a profile complete with quality images, accurate characterization, and answering questions that customers ask through the platforms.
Particularly for local businesses, Yelp remains an important staple within business directories. Customers turn to Yelp to learn more about the local businesses they might want to frequent, so you want to make sure that you claim and monitor your business and reviews on the site. Engage with customers leaving reviews and make it clear that you care about the user experience.
Your state’s chamber of commerce
Your region will have various local chambers of commerce, such as by state or county. While joining your local options is entirely your choice and not required, and may charge a membership fee, it can also provide marketing benefits for businesses. Many offer exposure opportunities and the chamber of commerce is viewed as a reputable organization, unlike the pop-up directories that had been popular in the early days of SEO.
Investigate your local chambers of commerce and see what opportunities they have for small businesses interested in marketing opportunities. Inquire about business listings, opportunities for promotions, and what they offer to help you link back to your website.
Any significant industry directories
In addition to the options listed above, you will also want to consider any important review directories specific to your industry. For example, those in the hotel industry will want to consider the views and opportunities found on TripAdvisor. Similar to Yelp, building your profile on these review sites not only helps you build links back to your website, but it also allows you to monitor reviews and know what customers say about you.
Though backlinks are the foundation of Google’s original Page Rank algorithm and patents, their assumed importance and signal strength is believed to have dropped over the last 20 years. As Google’s AI has become better at understand content and context, it can derive authority from brand mentions and references and give credit for those also. Backlinks still help build authority and rank, but they less required than in years past.
Whether you are building links or references, the requirements are almost the same: make useful, relevant content, that other editors will want to reference and share with their readers.
Backlinks play a significant role in nurturing site growth and reputation. They help to establish your site as a trusted source of information, as others in your industry eagerly link to your pages and information. Consider how the above strategies can help you encourage quality links, which will build your SEO, rankings, reputation, and brand reach.
Read blogs on Milestone’s other digital marketing guides:
Guide to Choosing the Perfect CMS in 2022
Guide to Content Marketing in 2022
Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2022
Guide to FAQs and How to Do It Right
Local Marketing Guide & Framework
Guide to Video Marketing
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