Getting Backlinks for your site
Why Do I Need Backlinks?
Backlinks have long been considered as one of the primary ranking factors for any site. The more backlinks you have, generally the better your site will rank. Think of backlinks as votes for your site – the more votes you get, the better your site is. There are caveats, of course, but for the most part if your site creates good enough content to earn links from other sites, then your site’s placement in the Google search results will improve.
Keep in mind that Google makes about 95% of their ~$60 Billion each year from search, so their main focus is to ensure than when you search for something on Google, you get the very best results. Basing those results on how many good backlinks a website has is a time proven and highly effective method to determine which sites are good results for the Search Engines.
There is a concept we in the SEO world refer to as “Link Juice” and that refers to the power that backlinks can send to your site. Link Juice can be good or bad. A powerful site sends a lot of good Link Juice. A poor site sends bad Link Juice.
What are Good Backlinks?
The very best backlinks are links from sites that are relevant and authoritative. If your site is focused on how to care for your dog, a link from PetCo would be a very powerful link because it is relevant to your site and it’s accepted as being an authoritative site. That’s not to say that only relevant links are good though. A link from Forbes magazine, for instance, isn’t as relevant as a link from PetCo, but it is still immensely powerful.
Think in terms of relevance and authority.
There are a couple of other types of sites that are generally considered to carry a bit more weight than others – specifically Government sites and Educational sites. If a government site (with a “.gov” domain name) links to your site, it carries more weight than a link from elsewhere. Same with a link from an educational site (.edu). If you think about the difficulty of getting a government site or a college such as Stanford to link to your site, you can understand why they are considered extra powerful. This has lessened a bit lately but still well worth the effort.
What are Bad Backlinks
There are a few categories of what should be considered “bad” backlinks. Foremost among them is any link that you pay for. Yes, there are places you can go to buy links to your website and it is almost always a bad idea. Google spends an inordinate amount of time and money to find sites that have paid backlinks pointing at them and when they find them, they penalize them heavily.
Don’t buy backlinks.
Other than that, trading links is not looked upon favorably. I have a site, you have a site. I send you an article with a link to my site and you send me an article with a link to your site. We both put those articles on our sites and presto, we each have a backlink. The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy for Google to discover and, again, penalize you for.
Don’t trade backlinks
Bad backlinks can also come from sites that are considered spammy sites or any site that could be considered a “poor neighborhood” in Google’s eyes. You probably don’t want links from gambling or porn sites pointing to your site.
Since relevance and authority were the buzzwords for the Good Backlinks, non-relevance and little authority can be thrown into the Bad Backlinks description. Going back to your Dog Care website, a link from PetCo was good (relevant and authoritative) but a link from Joe’s House Guitar Pics Made From Fingernail Shavings (www.joeshouseofguitarpicsmadefromfingernailshavings.com) isn’t a good backlink because it’s neither relevant nor, more than likely, is it an authoritative site.
How do I get Backlinks?
First, I should point out that you have absolutely zero say in what site points to your site. So you can get a backlink literally from any website. If Forbes decides to discuss an article on your site and links to it, great news for you. But, on the other hand, if OnlineCasinoWinnersEveryDay.com decides to link to the same article, there’s nothing you can do. The links from Forbes would be a good one, the link from the Casino site would probably be a bad one – you’re stuck with them
But, there are ways to earn links from sites that are relevant and authoritative. The simplest way (not really simple, but you know…) is to create good content and then socialize it. If it’s good enough, other people will link to it.
As an example, the article you’re reading right now. I’m writing it with two purposes in mind. First is to be useful to the reader but a very strong second is for the article to be so well written…so well researched…so detailed that other sites will say “Wow, great article. I’m going to link to it”. When you have content like that on your site – content that is so good other sites link to it – then you are earning backlinks and most likely they’ll be very relevant and largely authoritative and credible. Why would OnlineCasinoGambling.com link to this article? No reason for them too. But what about Better Business Bureau? What about Chamber of Commerce sites? What about local business incubators? All good sites, all relevant and all credible. I’d love to get links from them.
Makes sense, right?
How can I get some good backlinks fast?
Slow down tiger.
“Getting backlinks fast” can be a signal to Google that your site is suspect. I mean, how does a site get a lot of relevant, credible and authoritative backlinks fast legitimately?
It can be done. There are a number of places you should consider as very easily obtained and yet highly authoritative and credible (but not necessarily relevant, but that’s OK in this case) websites. What are they? Facebook for one. Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr to name a few. I’ll give a more comprehensive list below but the idea is to create profiles on sites such as these and fill those profiles out entirely. They also have an entry for “website” – guess what goes there. Yep, your website and this magically becomes a backlink. Easy peasy. So easy, everybody is doing it. If everybody is doing it, normally I’d say don’t do it but in this case, it’s best to do it. If your competitor has a backlink from LinkedIn but you don’t, what do you think Google thinks of that?
Here’s a list of places you can sign up, create a profile and add your website for a quick and easy backlink. But, as always, a caveat is in order.
Use these sites. Don’t just create a profile and let it rot. Log into them on a regular basis (monthly is fine) and add some content. Otherwise Google sees a backlink from a credible site (Twitter) but from a page that isn’t ever used (Twitter.com/yourpage). Create the profiles and then use them.
Here’s a solid list:
- Google Plus
- YouTube (Remember, Google owns YouTube so extra credit for having an excellent profile and videos uploaded with links in those video descriptions back to your website.
That’s a solid list.
If you create a profile on each of them and then use them, your site will gain credibility. How do you use them?
SlideShare is a great place to repurpose content you already have created. Turn an article into a PowerPoint presentation and upload it SlideShare so more people can view it.
Got some Videos? Upload them to YouTube and share them.
Got an itch to do some more blogging? Write on Medium.
Got some images to share? Upload them to Flickr.
You get the idea – be creative and be busy!
Where Can I Get Backlinks Slowly?
Now you’re talking.
Gaining links, or more accurately, backlinks pointing to your site should be considered an ongoing and literally never-ending effort. It’s not a one-time thing but rather something you should always be striving for.
The best way to gain links over time is to consistently create content that is interesting and useful for your website’s visitors and suitable for backlinking by industry professionals and influencers.
There are two basic approaches:
- Publish and pray: This is the where you spend a lot of time writing great content, put it on your website, and then do nothing more – you just hope people will notice it and link to it.
- Don’t do this.
- Publish and pursue: This is where you spend a lot of time writing great content and then more time reaching out to industry experts and influencers to share that content. You socialize your content on all of your social media channels. You post on Facebook about it, you Tweet about it, etc. You research and find the owner of a site that is considered the very top of the heap in your chosen field or niche and you reach out to that person with a warm and personal email to thank that person for the work you do and share your article.
- You do this about 500 times.
- If the article took you a week to write, you spend the next 3 weeks socializing it.
- Then you start on your next article.
…if you followed the above procedures for an entire year, you’d end up with 12 very well written articles and numerous strong backlinks. This is far better than 60 so-so written articles and a couple of weak backlinks.
When I say you write great content, I mean you write it with the intention of it being the very best on the web. If it’s not, why would Google show your page over somebody else’s? This typically means content that is rather lengthy, detailed, well researched and includes links out to other authoritative sites.
- Lengthy: Studies have shown that long articles are more supportive than short articles with regards to your ranking. I’m talking on the order of 1,500 words and up. Shoot for 2,000. The article you’re reading right now is a shade over 2,300 words and when I socialize it, I feel confident that other sites will be happy to link to it. Why? Because it is a well thought out, detailed and exhaustive article.
- Detailed: Leave no stone unturned. Don’t make your reader go to another website to augment what you (should be) explaining.
- Well Researched: Don’t wing it – your readers will know if you are the expert you say you are or not. You have about one chance to lose their respect with some crappily researched information and you’ll never see them again.
- Links: Yes, you should link out to other sites as long as those sites are relevant to your article, credible and authoritative. Linking out is a great approach.
- Also, internal links are great – if you have pages or other resources on your site that supplement what you’re writing about, by all means link out to those pages. Great idea!
What is Anchor Text?
No discussion about Backlinks would be complete without discussing Anchor text. As a quick definition, Anchor Text is the text that is displayed as the link. For example, in the following sentence, I have created a link to my own Resources page. The Anchor Text is the string “SnugData Resource Page” and the URL that the link (and the anchor text) point to is http://snugdata.com/seo-resources.
For more information, please visit the SnugData Resource Page.
The Anchor text is what shows up as the linkable text…in this case, the underlined blue text that your read is the Anchor Text. The link it takes you to is the actual Backlink.
Why is this important?
Google places an emphasis on the anchor text for links that come into your site and, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Again, going to relevance as an important point regarding Backlinks, a link whose anchor text is relevant to your website is more powerful than one whose anchor text is not relevant.
If you have two backlinks to your Dog Care website and the anchor text of one is “pet shampoo” and the other is “online gambling”, which is more relevant?
Unfortunately, you often have little say over anchor text. Remember you’re not buying or trading backlinks so how can you control how another person creates the link to your page from their website? Mostly, you can’t. But sometimes, you can and when you can, you definitely should. If you create a guest post, for example, its common to link back to your own site in the article you write. This is a perfect case of when you have control over the anchor text of your backlink. Also, if you post questions or answer questions in public forums, you can often add a backlink and in this case, you can usually control the anchor text.
You can’t always control it but when you can, you should.
Backlinks – A Summary
Short and sweet:
- They’re incredibly important to help rank your site h as possible
- You can get a lot of very solid backlinks by creating profiles on a number of popular social media sites
- You should constantly and consistently add quality, lengthy, detailed content to your site and then spend more time promoting that content than you did writing it. With content, quality trumps quantity.
- Control the anchor text when you can