“What are the backlinks?” We have described backlinks and why they are important for your website advertising and SEO strategies. What we didn’t (intentionally) delve into was how to create backlinks.
As with most marketing / SEO initiatives, the backlink building process starts with analysis. Because the importance of a backlink is directly related to the quality of the website that relies on it, you first need to know which places deserve outreach in your backlink building project.
This post is part 2 of our backlink series: check out “What are backlinks and why should you care?” and “The best backlink monitoring tools in 2017″ for more.
Analyze potential publishers
Since backlinks to your website that appear on spammy, low-quality websites will actually hurt your SEO, you need to decide whether or not it is worth contacting the publisher before you even consider how to get that backlink.
But how do you measure the quality of the page in an objective (or at least non-subjective) way? There are five key ways to do this:
- Check for the “nofollow” tag to external links –
By definition, links pass “link juice” to the pages/websites they bind to — which is a sophisticated way to say that “links tell Google who the authority on the topic really is.”
Yet publishers can also prevent the stream of authority by attaching the rel=”nofollow “tag to the external links. If the author doesn’t pursue their external links, the time spent creating backlinks is equivalent to time wasted.
(At least, time is wasted when it comes to building backlinks. Such a connection could still give you loads of traffic and help elevate your brand, so it might still be worth it.)
To test if the publisher uses nofollow references, you can either use an extension like NoFollow or just use an inspector built into most modern browsers.
2. Check the site’s Domain Authority –
The MOZ SEO gurus have developed a metric to calculate the value of the website they call the “Domain Authority.”It can be a convenient way to think of a complex set of interrelated attributes in terms of a single hard number — as long as you keep in mind that it’s at best a “fuzzy” number.
3. Consider publishing frequency –
Unsurprisingly, Google likes places that often publish useful new information (and bear their content up to date) and doesn’t like sites that … don’t. So aim for the former and avoid the latter as a plague — but keep in mind that this is most important for sites where timeliness matters.
4. Look at direct traffic volume –
It doesn’t take a data analyst to realize that a site with a lot of traffic is going to bring you more money than one without a lot of visitors. So use a method like the Similar Web to check the traffic statistics before you hit them.
5. Is the site in your niche? –
If you’re selling web design material on a landscaping blog, it won’t work.
Top 4 tactics for backlink building
Your backlink plan may include a number of different tactics. Growing requires a different level of effort, but all of them can effectively boost your SEO profile if they’re done correctly.
Create “shareworthy” content –
Time commitment: High
Spam potential: Low (as long as you do it right)
Value potential: Unlimited
Shareworthy content lends itself to sharing (and connecting to, which is simply just sharing). To create shared content, you need to focus on at least one of two things:
- Incitingstrong emotions
- Providing very useful information
The latter can prove challenging and is inherently immune to formulaic approaches, so we’re going to focus on the latter here.
In order to create extremely useful data, you will need to think in detail about:
- A particular audience
- What its needs are
- Where holes exist in their current resources
If you can recognize and fill the appropriate void with the right content, members of your audience would obviously see it as an invaluable resource for their peers and want to share it.
Types of information that can be shared:
- An”easy guide”: a long piece with an “everything you need to know” summary of the subject.
- Proprietary information: case studies, data reporting, study or independent analysis — whatever you share, the key point is that it is proprietary: something you can only
- Visual: illustrate fascinating or difficult information in graphic
- In-depth content: blog posts or articles longer than 1,000 words, often with charts, information, and photos.
Hold the 7 Key Characteristics of Sharable Content in mind as you build this content.
Pro tip: cite any “influencers”
When relevant, include references to industry influencers in your content, then let the people mentioned know that you mentioned them or their work. If you’re lucky (and/or persuasive enough), they might share it too!
Time commitment: High
Spam potential: Low (as long as you do it right)
Value potential: Very high
Guest posting is one of the most common ways to get backlinks to your page and is a great way to build brand recognition.
Guest blogging means writing articles for other websites, with the intention of including a link back to your website in the text. You’ll also have a bio page, where you can usually include other web and social links as well. Here are a few steps to follow if you want to start posting to the guest:
1. Use your statistics (detailed above) to figure out which places are perfect for your blog post.
2. Email the blog’s editor to pitch 2 to 3 blog post ideas, Share the quality of your piece and why it should be your guest writer. Remember: you give value by writing a high-quality blog post to them, and by posting the final post on your social networks, you can help them reach a wider audience.
It’s usually a good idea to submit references to your previous work, too, to add authenticity to your pitch. The higher the reputation of your previous publications, the better.
Once accepted, write the article, including a natural link back to your website
For example, if you have a corporate culture post on your blog and you’re writing an article about how to keep employees involved, you’d find a way to include that reference. For example:
“More than 40% of workers will be out of work if the company’s culture is negative or not what they planned,” according to … [ Insert anchor text and connect. Anchor text = title of the article or URL of your business name/website]
- Send your finished piece to the editor, Who’sgoing to review it and have the final word on
- Follow up on publishing date seven days after sending, if you haven’t heard back. This gives them enough time to review the post.
- Share published articles on your social networks to encourage traffic and Be sure to mark the website or blog as a sign of goodwill (and more importantly, to make sure your post gets traffic).
The guest posting process can take a lot of work, but the results can be invaluable, with enhanced rankings and more traffic to your site.
Provide expert quotes
Time commitment: Medium
Spam potential: Medium (depending on the publication)
Value potential: Medium
Another good way to build backlinks is to provide expert quotes using a tool like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). If you sign up as a source for HARO, you get three emails a day that lists reports and topics that journalists and bloggers want. If you’ve got the chops to comment, you’ll only respond by e-mail.
You’re going to have to be at the top of your game, though, with most requests giving you only one or two days to respond. If you see a chance, respond immediately to improve your chances of making the final piece.
ProfNet has similar functionality.
Comment on blogs and community sites
Time commitment: Minimal
Spam potential: High
Value potential: Low
Commenting on blogs has enjoyed success in the SEO world for a long time, but these days it’s all too easy to get right. And getting it wrong can have serious negative effects on your search visibility.
The idea is simple: find and comment on blog posts relevant to your niche. In most cases, you may include a link to your website, along with your name, which is the source of the backlink.
Often, however, these connections aren’t followed, so do your homework before you commit. If the blog follows these links, make your comment count by adding something specific to the discussion.
This is important because you usually have to go through two levels of filtering: automated spam flagging, and human editors. And they’re even harder to get through.
Another thing to consider is posting on community sites (such as Designer News and Quibb) and question-and-answer sites (such as Quora, not Yahoo! Answers).
Some other backlink-building tactics
Of course, this is not the only way to link your website to third-party websites. You could try:
Partnering with local charities or organizations
Partnering with local charities looks great for your company and can provide you with a possible backlink on the “Partners” page of the organization — or the equivalent.
You could also suggest that you do a Q&A for your website or blog, which would obviously lend itself to a backlink: “Today we’re speaking to Brian Smith, owner of [ Insert link business name here ] …”
Sponsoring an event
Your logo is likely to be displayed on the event’s website as a sponsor. More often than not, it is also linked to your website.
Thank you so much for reading!
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