If you want your website — or your client’s — to start climbing in the search engine rankings, then it’s essential you have backlinks.
A backlink is a link from another site to your own. They’re sometimes called external links or incoming links. A backlink could point to your site’s home page or to any page within your site. And these backlinks are essential to being found through search engines. (They also help people find you as they’re just surfing the web.)
Now you may remember a few years back there was a Google update that affected how backlinks influence your site’s rankings. What that update actually did was start putting a value on each backlink.
Backlinks that were gained through manipulation didn’t count for much after that update. In some cases, you can even be penalized for what Google calls an “unnatural” backlink.
But backlinks you earn honestly because other people in your industry (or related industries) like what you’re publishing enough to share it… those are golden.
In fact, a study by Moz found that when it comes to competitive search terms, 99.2% of websites in the top 50 results had backlinks… and the more backlinks they had, the better they ranked. (By the way… that link right there is a good example of a natural backlink — the kind Google likes. Moz didn’t ask for it. They didn’t offer me a link in exchange. I just shared it with you, because I think it’s valuable.)
So, how do you get those golden backlinks?
Well, first let’s revisit something I just said: “Backlinks gained through manipulation.”
To get good backlinks, you first need to know what types of backlinks you want to avoid. At best, bad backlinks are a waste of time and resources. At worst, they actually hurt your search engine rankings.
So, if you’re setting out to get backlinks, avoid getting them through:
- Purchasing them. Don’t pay another website owner to post a link to your site.
- A straight link-to-link exchange. Some sites have a resource page where they post links to other websites in exchange for those websites linking to them. Google doesn’t like this. It isn’t adding value for your users — it’s meant solely to manipulate Google’s algorithm for a better search result.
- Posting lots and lots of articles, each containing a high number of links, to article banks.
- Guest blogging on irrelevant, low-quality websites.
What Google (and other search engines, presumably) look for in a good link is one that occurs naturally.
That means the link is posted by a website owner, because they think it will bring benefit and value to their audience.
It also means the link itself is written naturally. These days “click here to learn more” can actually serve you better than linking excessively keyword-dense anchor text.
You can still get good natural links through guest posting, but your guest posts should be to high-quality blogs that are relevant to your own audience. The links you include should be natural. And the anchor text of your links should be different from one guest post to the next.
Keeping all that in mind, what’s the easiest way to generate good backlinks?
The first rule of obtaining good backlinks is simple. Create excellent content. Valuable content that is entertaining, useful, and relevant to your audience.
When you write something worth reading — something that will help your audience in some way and that won’t bore them in the process — you dramatically increase the chances that people will decide to share your content with their audience in their blogs. Or, through their social media channels. This kind of sharing results in great backlinks.
You can encourage this kind of sharing by doing good distribution of your content through social media. Let your audience know when you publish something. Ask them to share it with their audience, too. When you post to social media, make sure you offer an enticing reason for people to click through to read what you’ve written. The best way to do that is to tease one of the benefits in the copy of your social media post.
Writing good content and distributing it are just the first steps. You have plenty of other options that will attract backlinks to your site.
Here are just three low-stress methods you can use…
Be Available for Interviews
Spend some time searching the Internet for people who feature interviews with professionals. Develop a list of those sites, and then develop a list of topics you would feel comfortable speaking about that would appeal to members of your target audience.
Begin reaching out to the owners of those sites with a low-pressure message. Let them know about a past interview you enjoyed. Let them know you’re available for interviews. Tell them a bit about your area of expertise and why you think you’d be a good fit.
Follow up once or twice, and if you don’t hear back, move on to the next.
Search for Round-Ups Featuring People Like You
Another good technique is to search for round-up articles that feature people like you. If you write for the sports industry, you might do a search for “list” + “marketers” + “sports.” See what turns up. Read through the top 10 or 20 and take note of the ones where you could see yourself on the list, too.
Reach out to the writer and let them know you enjoyed their list, especially since you’re part of the group they were featuring. Share a few of your best accomplishments and ask if they would be interested in featuring you, as well.
Let People Know What You’re Saying About Them
If there are specific sites you’d like to receive a backlink from, start reading everything the site publishes.
Find good ideas and good quotes from their blog posts and use them in your own blogs, providing proper accreditation with a link back to the original source.
Then when you publish, just send a quick email to the author of the post you cited and say something to the effect of, “Hey I really enjoyed this article. So much that I quoted it in my recent post.” And then share your link.
Will everyone you reach out to in these ways give you a backlink? No. But some of them will, and those links will be very helpful for getting you found by your target audience and getting you ranked on Google and other search engines.