It’s no secret that SEO requires a multi-pronged approach in order to be effective.

Some elements are simple and easy to implement while others require more technical expertise, but each one plays a role in great SEO.

This article covers one of the most important elements of SEO…backlinks.

Backlinks are links to your website from an external, independent website and if you’re serious about getting your website to the top of the search engine rankings and keeping it there, you need to work on your backlink strategy.

There’s no secret science to accumulating backlinks and it’s not overly complicated, but when you follow a smart and sustained approach to getting these, you are likely to see significant benefits.

Why are backlinks so important for SEO?

Backlinks have long been one of Google’s most important ranking factors and even though Google has changed its algorithm substantially over the years, they have retained their status as SEO powerhouses.  That’s because they provide Google with key information about the authority and quality of your website – much like character references on someone’s resume.

The key here is quality over quantity.

How does Google (and other search engines) use backlinks?

The Google bots crawl the internet gathering info which helps the search engine giant to index webpages and these bots will identify and count any backlinks they find.   The bots will also take a view on whether the backlink comes from a website of good standing and authority or whether it comes from a dodgy, inferior site.

The higher the quality of the source, the more weight Google attaches to the backlink.  And if Google thinks you have accumulated backlinks by dubious means (ie you paid for them) or if the backlink comes from an unreliable, untrustworthy source, it may punish your website.

Focusing on building quality backlinks will go a long way in helping your website get to the top of the Google rankings – and stay there.

The advantages of quality backlinks

In terms of SEO, backlinks play a key role in:

  • Improving your website’s organic ranking
  • Increasing referral traffic
  • Building your brand
  • Boosting your online reputation
  • Helping to establish your business (or an individual in your business) as an expert and industry leader
  • Improving your website’s page and domain authority

Domain authority is not one of Google’s ranking factors, but it is nonetheless an important metric that can help you assess how your website is doing against your competitors.  Domain authority predicts the likelihood of a website appearing in the search engine pages – and the higher it is in comparison to your competitors, the better.

A backlink is deemed to be ‘good’ if it comes from a website that has high domain authority.  Google also gives credence to backlinks that come from websites that are relevant to your particular industry.  For example, if you had a carpentry or joinery business, you would look for backlinks from established and well-recognised home improvement websites or those offering advice and inspiration on kitchen designs, if you have a virtual assistant business you would look for backlinks from well-known business websites such as the Digital Mums Directory or Business Business Business.

What should I be doing with regard to a backlink strategy?

You can’t approach backlinks in a haphazard way and expect a great outcome.  You need a plan.

There are four main ways of acquiring good backlinks and you should allocate a bit of time every month to pursuing these opportunities in a systematic way.

  1. Earning backlinks organically. This happens when your content makes such a good impression on someone that they share it or link to it.  Your online content has to be exceptional because quality comes first.

Tip:  Publish fresh, awesome content regularly on your website and on your socials.  Write compelling and engaging articles, reviews, how-to guides, case studies, tutorials, videos, infographics, comments on research or trends etc to boost your chances of making your content ‘likeable’ and shareable.

  1. Adding your website link to external sites such as local business directories. You can also add your expert comment on industry forums wherever possible and investigate guest posting opportunities.

Tip:  It sounds obvious, but just a reminder to include your link in your author bio if you write a guest post.

  1. Networking and building relationships with industry leaders and representatives of relevant bodies can be another useful way of collecting backlinks. Even though your working schedule is really busy, it’s worth finding time to reach out to people and ask for a link to your content, offer to write a guest post (with a link of course!) and if you discover websites that mention your brand, request that a working link be added to that mention.

Tip:  The higher up on a page that a backlink appears, the better.

  1. See what your competitors are doing. Let them do the work for you.  Simply Google their business names and then see if any websites relevant to your business appear in the search results.  If you find any that look positive, open them up and see if your competitor’s mention includes a backlink to their website.  If you do spot a link – then you need to follow their lead and see if you can get the same for your website.

Need help with your website SEO?

SEO isn’t the technical minefield that some people think it is.  It’s actually surprisingly doable – and if you’re keen on learning more about how to use SEO to your commercial advantage, you should have a look at a great new online course, The SEO School.

It’s an easy-to-follow DIY course designed specifically for busy small business owners like yourself.  It’s broken up into very manageable modules and you implement all the SEO basics as you progress through each stage at your own pace.  You’ll also get heaps of insider tips, tricks and techniques from the course designer, SEO specialist, Karen Dauncey as well as ongoing support and access to networking groups.  If this is something that interests you, visit The SEO School today.