However, unless you’ve done some deep diving into this concept, chances are, you may not be fully aware of how to utilise this strategy properly in order to get the best results.
In this guide, you’ll learn exactly what backlinks are, how they can help your website rank in 2021, the different types of backlinks available to you, and the various ways in which you can get other websites to link back to yours.
By following these valuable tips, you’ll increase the odds of generating more clicks, traffic, and leads; thus, contributing to the long-term growth of your business.
What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are links that take a visitor from one website to another.
In the context of your own website, whether it be personal or business-related, if the owner of another website was to provide a link that directed a site visitor from their website to your own, then that would be considered a backlink. Likewise, if you were to create a link that took visitors from your site to another, then that would also be a backlink.
Unlike internal links (which serve as a link between two pages on the same website), backlinks are typically created by a third-party source (a website that is not your own), which then directs site visitors from their website to yours. Of course, as previously mentioned, the opposite can also be true.
Benefits of Using Backlinks In Your 2021 SEO Strategy
You may be asking yourself, “Why is it important that third-party websites link back to my own?”
There are many reasons why backlinks are an effective way to promote your own website. For starters …
They help convince search engines that your website is trustworthy
Popular search engines like Google and Bing take into account a range of factors to determine whether your site is trustworthy.
This makes sense, as, after all, people rely on these platforms every day to help guide them on the right path to the information they seek. If these platforms were to start recommending untrustworthy or unreliable websites, people would stop using them.
Therefore, to prevent this from happening, Google and other search engines rely on backlinks as a means to verify the trustworthiness of a website.
This means, if your website was to be linked to from a reputable, trustworthy website (for example, a major news outlet like The Age or The Guardian), then this would signal to the search engines that your website is a valuable source of information. As a result, it will tag your website as trustworthy, and start recommending you in relevant search queries.
Similar to how you would trust the opinion of trustworthy and knowledgeable friends, search engines use the same approach to verify the trustworthiness of your own website; except, instead of relying on the opinion of friends, it relies on the backlinks of reputable websites.
They help improve your search engine rankings
As more and more reputable websites create backlinks to your own site, Google will view these backlinks as a kind of ‘popularity vote,’ and reward your website by ranking it higher in relevant search queries. As a result of this, over time, your website will gradually become more discoverable and visible to potential customers; thus, increasing the odds of you generating more organic web traffic and converting those prospects into fresh leads.
Understanding the Different Types of Backlinks
Not all backlinks are created equal. Understanding the different types of backlinks, their pros and cons, and the best ways to implement them into your SEO strategy, is vital to a successful online marketing campaign. It will also help you avoid the risk of being penalised by search engines for disingenuous practices.
Here are the most common backlinks that search engines look out for to determine the trustworthiness of your website.
In some circumstances, you may need to link to a website, but don’t want to directly vouch for or endorse the website. Fortunately, there is a way to communicate this exact intent to search engines.
What does this mean? Essentially, search engines like Google will recognise the backlink, but it won’t take the link into account when determining the searchability of your website. Or, at the very least, it won’t take the link into consideration as seriously as other, more authoritative links.
To create a NoFollow link, all you need to do is use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. A typical nofollow backlink looks like this:
<a href=”https://www.domain.com/” rel=”nofollow”>this is a nofollowed link</a>
Keep in mind, since you’ve tagged the link as NoFollow, the link won’t help you rank in the search engine results page (SERP). However, recent updates to Google have signalled that may change soon.
Put simply, a DoFollow link is a link that has been permitted to go through Google (and other search engines) link verification process, otherwise known as PageRank.
Any link you create is automatically deemed a DoFollow link, so you don’t have to copy and paste a particular command in the link to make it so. But as a quick reference, your average DoFollow link will look like this:
<a href=”https://www.domain.com/”>this is a followed link</a>
Sponsored and Paid Links
Any link that is sponsored by a third-party, or has been paid for by the website owner that is being linked back to, must be made crystal-clear to any search engine.
For example, if you’ve paid a blogger to write an article promoting your product or service, any links they include in the piece must be labelled as a sponsored or paid link.
Fortunately, creating these identifiers is easy. Simply incorporate the rel=”sponsored’ attribute into the link. In this case, a typical description for a sponsored link will look like this:
<a href=”https://www.example.com/” rel=”sponsored”>this is a sponsored link</a>
Keep in mind, though. You cannot directly pay money or gift someone in exchange for a followed link back to your website. Google and other search engines will penalise your website for this practice, as it violates their webmaster guidelines. Therefore, it will prohibit your website from being found on their platforms.
Standing for User Generate Content (UGC), these are links created by general users on platforms like forums and discussion boards.
Such links are not created directly by you, nor have you requested a third-party to spam these links for you (you can try though, and see how quickly the search engines will penalise you).
These links are generated naturally by real people, who have created these links as a means to share valuable information with other people, or for the purpose of helping a particular user solve a particular problem.
As a quick reference, a typical UGC link will appear as so:
<a href=”https://www.example.com/” rel=”ugc”>this is a UGC link</a>
Low Authority Links (aka Toxic Links)
Generally speaking, low authority link are links created by websites deemed untrustworthy and non-reputable. These websites exist for the sole purpose of spamming links to other website, without any intent of sharing valuable information, knowledge, resources, or services. In essence, they have no inherent value in themselves, they’re just being used as a tool to help other websites rank.
In addition, low authority websites are also websites that share false, misleading, or dangerous content, as they provide no reputable quotes or resources to back up their claims.
This begs the question: What do you do when a low authority or toxic website creates a backlink to your own website?
Fortunately, there are ways to audit backlinks. You can either use one of several free backlink checkers available online. Keep in mind, most free versions of backlink checkers have limited features, so the amount of insight you receive from these tools will be limited until you upgrade to the paid versions.
Or, you can enlist the help of an SEO agency. They can personally audit your website for you, identifying the various toxic links for you, and explain how they can help remove them for you and make other improvements to contribute to the success of your SEO strategy. Best of all? Audits like this are typically free of charge, and there’s no obligation to proceed with the recommendations given to you. Plus, the advice you receive is personalised and tailored to your unique business goals, so you can be confident that the information provided to you is designed to serve your best interests.
High Authority Links
Lastly, high authority links are links created by websites that are deemed as trustworthy, reliable, and reputable.
Common examples of high authority links are those created by major news outlets, scientific journals, company articles (sharing valuable hints or tips or other useful advice), and official government websites, to name a few.
This is probably one of the most sought-after and effective backlinks to strive from, as they – quickly and easily – help you generate more traffic from qualified leads, and signal to Google (and other search engine) that your own website is trustworthy and reputable.
With that being said, let’s guide our attention to how you get high quality backlinks to your website – both in 2021 and beyond.
Ahrefs is a great tool to use to analyse your backlinks.
How to Get Quality Backlinks to Your Website
There are several ways to get people linking back to your website. Some methods are more effective than others. Some take more time than others to deliver measurable results.
The trick is to experiment with different approaches, until you find one that works best for you. This way, you can ditch the methods that are producing the lowest returns, and then focus your efforts entirely on the methods that are working in your favour.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the 5 most effective ways to get backlinks to your website.
1. Write guest posts for industry publications
Guest blogging is a great way to get potential customers to discover and visit your website. These are articles written by you (or an in-house or external writer) which are then posted on print or digital industry publications that are relevant to the field you are involved in.
While the content itself is incredibly important, the main benefit for you is the author bio that will appear at the end of the article. There, you can write a brief summary about yourself (or the writer) including your business, products and services, and overall mission statement. From there, you can include a direct link to your website, serving as a call-to-action to invite readers to see what you’re all about.
How do you get published on industry publications? Most, if not all, publications accept pitch ideas from outside contributors.
Do some searching online (check out this free list of various trade publications), create a list of relevant industry publications, and look for a section of their website that provides details on user-submitted content. They should give you the complete rundown on what info to provide, how to compile it, and who to send it to.
From there, you can start pitching your ideas (just make sure they’re original!), and await a response from them. With enough luck, a publication will accept your pitch, to which you can then proceed to write the article and submit it for them to publish.
2. List your business on industry-specific directories
Many websites exist on the internet for the sole purpose of pairing services providers with potential customers. Popular examples of this include the Yellow Pages, hipages (a directory devoted entirely to connecting tradies with customers), and Yelp, to name a few.
One way to utilise these platforms is to list your business on directory sites that align with your field or industry. There’s heaps to choose from, and chances are, unless your industry is incredibly niche, there’s most likely a directory tailored to your specific field. So find them, and list your business there.
3. Conduct and publish an original study
By creating a unique survey, in which to share with your potential or existing customers via email, over the phone, or in-person, you can gather valuable insight from a wide variety of people, and then use the data gathered to compile and write an engaging study – one that reveals newfound info to spark interest in your readers.
Perhaps you want to publish an article ‘busting’ the typical myths that surround your industry. You could then create a survey, asking questions like, “What are your typical concerns about this particular industry, product, or service?” and “What myths do you wholeheartedly believe about this industry, product, or service?”
From there, you can use these findings to reach logical conclusions on your target market, and then share your findings in an engaging, well-research, and informative article. To which you can then publish the article on your website and share it on your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Once you’ve done this, if the article gains traction, more and more readers will likely share it with their own audience; thus, creating more high quality backlinks straight to your website.
4. Get involved in forums and discussion boards
Forums and discussion boards are where people to go receive help, provide support and advice to others, and share different ideas and views of certain industries, fields, sectors, products, and services.
As a business owner, or hiring someone on behalf of your business, you too can get involved in these discussions. How? By answering people’s burning questions, busting common myths about your industry, or simply sharing valuable insight into little-known aspects of your field or industry.
By making positive contributions to discussion boards, this will not only raise your credibility, but also help create quality backlinks to your website.
You can achieve this by having the URL for your website featured on your poster signature. Most forums give you the ability to leave a permanent signature with each post that you make. So that, every time you leave a comment on a board, there will be a small, permanent signature at the bottom of the post, which has a customised message you have put there yourself.
To create a personalised forum signature, go to your profile and look for the option in the settings.
5. Search for unlinked brand mentions
Sometimes your website or business will be mentioned in an article, but the author will either forget to or choose not to directly link to your website.
One way to track down these kind of instances is to use the advanced search options in Google (i.e. include your business name), which will direct you to relevant articles or posts that mention your business or website by name.
There are also free versions of online tools that help make the process of tracking down unlinked mentions versions. However, to start off with, Google and other search engines will do the job well enough.
From there, you can directly reach out to the authors in question, and request that they include a link in their article straight to your website. However you do this is up to you, but, as long as you’re polite (and thankful that they mentioned your website at all), there’s a good chance they will accept your request, and, then modify the article so that it links straight to your website.
Of course, if you don’t have time to perform this kind of task, don’t worry. Simply enlist the help of an SEO agency, so they can audit your existing website, recommend a number of SEO-enhancing tips, and then – with your blessing – incorporate those tips to help your website rank better on search engines like Google.