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Behind The Backlinks

by Chris Saunders
Link Building

When we see the word Backlinks what comes to mind? It’s not exactly the sort of word you’d use in a common conversation but the importance of them is paramount.

We’ll explain exactly what backlinks are, the types you can come across and how they benefit your business in the online landscape.

A Backlink Brief

Your Backlinks are links from other sites directing to yours, this can be in the footer of a page, in a blog or even as a directory listing. Large search engines such as Google and Bing look at the backlinks from a site and determine their quality and search engine rankings as a result.

A good way to look at Backlinks is treating them like a points system, each point is notifying search engines that the content present is unique, helpful and is beneficial by it being on the site in terms of relevancy.

So by having more points, the further up your website can rank when looked up and in turn, the potential for more conversions for your business.

Of course, over time search engines have evolved and made room for other factors that determine site rankings, though backlinks continue to be critical to ensure your site is as high quality as possible.

Here’s an example of what a backlink looks like, with the highlighted text being what to look out for:

Backlink Example

The Good, the Bad and the Backlink

Backlinks play a key role in the search engine performance of your website, but not all backlinks are welcome. If you are looking to rank well, take a look at high quality backlinks, its all about quality over quantity.

One strong backlink from a reputable website can be much more effective than 100 backlinks of poor quality from poor sites. So, what do you need to look out for when finding good backlinks?

A backlink coming from a site that is Trusted goes a long way in Google’s eyes.

The term is known as Domain Authority, and this means if a website has a high authority rating, the more authority it can give you through a link. There are some very effective tools you can use to determine a high Domain Authority on a site you choose. Ahrefs and SEMRush are some such examples, offering statistics such as Authority Score, Organic Search Traffic details and number of Backlinks a website has. Although high quality links from trusted sites are harder to find, they are well worth it in the grand scheme of things, since Google make notes of Trusted sites when taking your search rankings into account.

The Anchor Text relaying to your site will be a keyword of your choice.

Anchor Text is the visible text you see for your link, as a good rule of thumb it is advised you have this text being your most valued keywords on your website. However, don’t go mad with hundreds of keyword-focused Anchors. Since 2012 Google has made use of an algorithm that specifically spots link-building that is too regular and keyword-heavy, which results in the site being filtered out of ranking highly, so use your keywords sparingly.

Anchor Text

Is the website you want a backlink to relevant to your site?

Say you are a company for a clothing brand, it wouldn’t make any sense to have an article written on a site about scuba diving. When researching sites for your Link Building, ensure you keep an eye out for websites directly relating to the themes and business model you have. High Authority websites will also be taking this into consideration when you offer to place Guest Posts to their site. After all, they would prefer it to be topical for their business as well.

To follow or not to follow, that is the question. In this case, DoFollow is the way to go.

A DoFollow link is one that Google and other search engines will take into account when ranking your site. If marked as a NoFollow this will mean it won’t be indexed and pass the PageRank algorithm. Luckily, a large amount of links online are DoFollow, but it is essential to double check with the website when placing a link to ensure it stays that way.

Last but certainly not least, when Link Building you want to keep it fresh, so focus on Domains you have yet to link to.

If you have placed a link to your site on a domain you have used 5 times before, it becomes oversaturated and is highly unlikely to be as effective as the first time round. One link per website is much more useful to your rankings than 1000 on one domain.

With these pointers in hand, it will be a much more efficient way to find the sites and rankings you are looking for.

A Link for a Link

Just as you would want to see when Link Building, your site must also have something of value to bring to the table.

You could have a vast array of assets to offer, from blogs, technology, tools and media, so long as it is worth a link your way. A strong article or content is a fine example of a linkable asset, this also explains why SEO and content creation go hand in hand so often. If you have a domain in mind, have a look at their website and see if they have a blog, see the kind of content they make use of and consider implementing a similar idea for your site.

Broken Link Building

There is always an unwelcome surprise when you click a link online and you are greeted with a 404 Error, but finding these is a prime way of building backlinks, as now you can place your link here as a replacement. When looking for these 404 links, try looking for ‘Top 10+’ pages around your target keywords, so if you’re in the Gaming business search for ‘Top 10+ Games Companies’. Taking a look on the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th page of the search results will narrow down the lists with 404 likelihoods even further.

At this stage, you could simply contact the owner and ask to be linked, but to aid you and them further notify them about the fact that their site has a broken link and offer to be placed as the alternative, this way everyone wins.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a highly common link building strategy allowing written content of yours to be placed for another company’s site, this will include a backlink of your targeted keyword.

Guest Blogging should be focused on websites directly relating to the industry you are in. For example, if you are a Digital Marketing company, it wouldn’t make sense to post to a Hairdressers blog. By Guest Posting it helps boost organic traffic to your site and at the same time bolsters the content of the company you’ve posted to.

An effective way to find these sites for Guest Posting is to take the URL from one of your competitors and place it in Ahrefs or SEMRush, this will give you a list of the backlinks they have got and from this you can spot site URL’s they’ve guest posted to and can consider contacting them in kind.

Guest Posting

Sending Out Reviews or Testimonials

One of the many key elements of any company, large or starting out, is the opportunity to stand out from the crowd of their competitors, reviews and testimonials are perfect for this.

If you are using a tool or product from a company you like, sending them a review can benefit you both since they want to show customers your review is trusted and sent from a real company, which they will do by linking to your website.

Have a Strong Format for your Content

There are many formats you can implement to build up your backlinks, from free tools you may have on your website such as an SEO Checker to Press Releases and even Infographics, there are many avenues for creating natural looking links.

People love to ask questions, so although they aren’t so popular on social media, posts having words such as ‘Why’, ‘What’ and ‘How’ are linked commonly.

SEO Services

Some SEO packages from agencies offer backlink building as part of their services, which can be very useful when running your business but do not have the time to research and go through lists upon lists of links to determine the best sites for you.

Closing Thoughts

So to summarise, Backlinks are links from other sites directing to a page of yours. These can be links to Directories, Blog Posts, Top 10+ pages, Testimonials and all kinds of online content. The key factor is to ensure the content in mind is relative to your website, this will ensure the target keyword of your anchor text is feel free flowing in the post and does not feel unnatural when a viewer is reading.

Time to get building!

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