Search engine optimization is big business.
Companies are set to spend a whopping $80 billion on their SEO by 2020. That’s an increase of 10% over previous years.
Clearly, SEO is a crucial part of business success. If it wasn’t, then there’s no way SEO expenditure would reach such exorbitant sums.
It’s easy to see why it does.
After all, more than 4 million new blog posts are published online every single day. The internet is becoming increasingly saturated with content. Effective SEO is an essential way to stand out from the crowd, and outrank the competition.
However, there are good and bad SEO strategies. There are those that may lead to short-term ranking success but will put you in Google’s bad books. Then there are natural SEO strategies. These are slower burning, but work over time and ensure you abide by the terms and conditions.
Backlinks are arguably the most important part of successful SEO. Do it correctly, and you’ll be ranking highly on SERPs in no time, and keeping Google on your side.
But what exactly is a backlink? And what goes into backlink building success?
Keep reading to discover everything about earning backlinks the right way.
Natural SEO 101: What’s a Backlink?
Let’s first consider what we mean by a backlink.
Understanding a backlink begins with knowing about links in general. So, what’s a link?
Imagine browsing online. You come across a blog post on a certain topic of interest. Clicking upon it you scroll down and read through the text. As you go, you see lines of text highlighted in some way. They may be underlined, in a different color, or both.
Clicking or tapping upon it takes you through to another webpage.
That’s a link! It doesn’t matter if it is text, an image, or an advert. They’re all links that take you elsewhere.
Think of links as roads between locations in town. In the same way that you can’t drive from A to B in town without a road, Google’s bots can’t crawl between pages of the internet without links. The algorithms utilized by search engines rely on links to make sense of the web.
They make it possible to interpret how webpages and websites interrelate. This is of utmost importance on a web that’s saturated with content.
Leveraging links, search engines can understand exactly where your website fits into it.
Internal and External Links
There are two different types of link you’ll come across.
Those that open a page from the website you’re already on, and those that take you to a separate site. These are known as internal and external links, respectively. And they’re both important for SEO purposes.
Internal linking helps people navigate around your website.
You can point them towards related content, showcase your featured pieces, link to lead pages, and so on. It creates an internal map that’s as useful for Google’s bots as it is for a user. Providing a link between page A and B of your site effectively builds a bridge between them.
This enables bots to crawl your second page. No bridge, no crawling.
Just as importantly, internal links to new, relevant, useful information on your website will keep users engaged. The longer they remain on your site the better. It means they’re finding value in your site and can’t get enough of it.
Think about it, how long do you stick around on a page that’s boring or irrelevant? You probably click away almost immediately.
Google takes note of this dwell time.
In sum, internal links offer a double whammy of goodness. Firstly, they help search engines crawl and make sense of your site. Secondly, they keep users on your site for longer. Both benefits are essential for higher rankings on SERPs.
External linking is all about credibility.
Remember how bots use links as street maps to make sense of the web?
Well, when you provide a link from your website to another, you show the search engines that your site is related.
It might seem contrary to your interests. Don’t you want users to stay on your website? Of course! But you also want to provide value. Sure, don’t link to a blog post on the exact same subject as yours. That would be nonsensical! But absolutely link out to related, highly informative pieces.
Linking to high-ranking, authority sites improve the authority and ranking of your website too.
Consider the quality, authority, and authenticity of the external sites you link to though. Linking to authority sites is good. Linking to poor-quality sites is bad.
This makes logical sense. After all, wouldn’t you rather Google associate you with a reputable, industry-leading authority than a dubious, second-class site?
Equally, you can actually see which pages link to any given page on your site. This feeds into human psychology. Supposedly, we’re more likely to like someone if we find out they like us. That’s good news for our website!
It means these high-quality websites are more likely to link back to your own webpages, which is essential to rankings (more on this next).
What is SEO backlink building?
Now let’s turn to the process of backlinking.
It’s time to put all that newfound backlink knowledge to work. Backlink building is the act of building links to your website. Remember those external links you’re now incorporating into every blog post? Each one of those constitutes a backlink for the other site.
You want (and need) external sites to do the same for you. Aim to acquire links to your blog posts, videos and website pages. The more backlinks you have, the better.
Backlinks are a crucial ranking factor in Google.
Remember, search engines have to figure out who deserves the top spot on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). The winner is almost always the page that provides the greatest value to a user. It’s the article or video that answers a search query as closely as possible.
Essentially, every backlink to your name is a vote of confidence. Think of an election. In most cases, the individual with the most votes wins, right?
It’s the same with SERPs. In essence, backlinks (those votes to your name) enhance the authority of your site in Google’s eyes. Lots of links? You’re more likely to be deemed worthy of the top spot.
Quality Over Quantity
Times have changed though.
Google didn’t discriminate in the old Wild West days of the internet. The more links you had, the better. This led to all sorts of dubious backlink strategies. You could literally pay for thousands of links to your site and expect higher rankings overnight.
These days it isn’t as simple.
In fact, these tactics are likely to hinder your rankings long term. They’re known as black hat SEO strategies. The short term results may be good, but over time your site can get penalized.
Now it’s all about quality. One link from a high authority website is worth dozens of links from poor quality sources. Moreover, links from shifty sites can be detrimental too.
Endeavor to earn links and as many as possible. But only seek connections with high authority sites. We’ll go through how to do this later.
Why is Linking Important?
We’ve been through the ‘what’ of backlinks.
Now we need to address the ‘why’. Why is backlinking important? We’ve already alluded to some of the benefits. More detail is required though. Here are some of the main reasons backlinks are crucial to your website’s SEO success.
This should, hopefully, be obvious by now.
But we’ll say it anyway: backlinks mean better rankings in search engines.
Remember, this is the entire point of SEO and content marketing.
Your content absolutely must stand out from the crowd. Ranking high on SERPs is the best way to make that happen. After all, what’s the point in creating content if no-one’s going to read it?
Your positioning in SERPs has a huge impact on traffic. Consider these click-through rate (CTR) statistics. The top spot gets 30% of clicks. Third place gets 10%. 10th position gets a mere 2%.
Essentially, content that doesn’t make the first page of SERPs will struggle to get views. High-quality backlinks are the answer. They’ll give you a great shot at reaching that treasured top spot.
Trust and Credibility
Your website must prioritize the user experience (UX) if it’s going to be a success in search engines.
Google places particular importance on the UX. After all, happy users will continue to use their search engine. The need the content they display to be of genuine value to their users.
That’s why trustworthy, high-authority, credible websites will always be favored in results. It’s Google’s way of ensuring they get happy customers. And as we’ve seen, backlinks constitute a major boost to search engine social standing.
Expect a nice upward trajectory. Quality backlinks enhance your credibility, which helps you rank. Content in the top spots is more likely to gain organic links. Those links help you rank. And it goes from there.
Improved Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) is another vital SEO term to wrap your head around.
In brief, DA is a score from 0 to 100 that indicates the quality of your site in Google’s eyes. It’s a reflection of those votes of confidence we talked about earlier. Higher scores usually mean your site has lots of awesome backlinks. You want your DA to be as high as possible.
High DA sites tend to rank more easily.
A backlink from a high DA site is worth far more than from a low DA site. Make it your aim to get backlinks from sites with a DA of 30 or above. Again, these sites are already in Google’s good books. A link will indicate that you’re worthy of praise in the ranking stakes too!
In essence, more backlinks equal a higher DA. Higher DA makes it easier to rank highly.
This is a benefit of backlinks that often gets overlooked.
Every link you get has the chance to direct more traffic in your direction. That’s especially true when you get a backlink from a high DA site with a large following.
More traffic to your website is only ever positive. Traffic that sticks around is even better. If they don’t bounce away and stay onsite for a long time, your rankings will benefit.
Strategies for Gaining Backlinks
With the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ out of the way, it’s time for the ‘how’. Remember, don’t pay for hundreds of irrelevant links. That’ll only come back to bite you. Here are a few ways to gain backlinks the right way.
Create Awesome Content
Poor quality content will struggle to gain backlinks.
After all, why would anyone link to something of no value? Remember, most creators know that Google wants high-quality external links. You absolutely have to create something of real value.
Great content is in-depth, engaging, scannable, broken up with images, and provides value all-round. Find content that’s already doing well on a given subject. Then improve it somehow. Make it longer, make it more engaging, or use visually stimulating strategies like video marketing, and so on.
This provides a solid foundation for building SEO backlinks.
Outreach Like Crazy
You have something awesome.
Now you need to tell people about it.
Marketing your new content is absolutely essential for earning backlinks. Reach out to influencers in related industries, shoot emails to website owners who might be interested, post to social media, and so on.
Remember those external links? Why not get in touch with the websites you linked to. They may be happy to reciprocate.
It takes graft to earn backlinks at the outset. You might send 100 emails and get 2 links in return. But that’s what it takes sometimes! It’ll pay off eventually. As you rank higher you’ll begin to get organic links.
Guest Post for Other Sites
Guest posts are your friend.
The premise is simple. You write a piece of content for a relevant website, in return for a link back to your own. You may hesitate to create something for free. However, don’t look at it like that. See the backlink as your payment!
The difficulty can be finding websites that accept posts. You may have to cold pitch multiple sites before you get lucky. Only target high DA sites to make the effort worth your while.
Time to Get Linking
There you have it: everything to know about backlink building as a natural SEO strategy.
SEO marketing is a fundamental part of business success these days. That much is obvious from the amount of money being spent by companies around the world. Such investment begins to make sense when you discover how much new content is published every day.
A lot goes into successful SEO. Backlinks are undeniably a central tenet of doing it right.
Hopefully, the information here has provided everything you need to start earning backlinks the right way.
Want some help with your backlinks? Our complete range of backlink services has got you covered. We can sort out all of your backlink-related needs with no fuss and at unbeatable upfront prices. We’ll even do it cheaper than you can in-house without long-term contracts.
Contact us now for more information.