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Actual Ways to Build Backlinks and Improve Your SEO (legally)

If you're serious about boosting your online visibility, understanding backlinks and building a strong backlink profile is non-negotiable. Backlinks are like popularity votes of the internet and every time another website links to yours, it's like a shout-out, signaling to search engines that your content is worth checking out. The more of these you build, the easier it is to get higher search engine rankings for all your keywords which in turn leads to more traffic and sales for your business!

In this quick guide, I'll cover the basics of backlinks and some of the simple, proven ways you can start building them for your website to improve SEO - let's dive in!


What are Backlinks?

Simply put, a backlink is a link from one website to another. Think of these as endorsements or "votes of confidence" from other sites. When a website links to yours, they signal to search engines that your content is credible and valuable which gives your website more "authority" (more on this later). 


How do backlinks work?

Search engines, like Google, use a complex algorithm called PageRank to determine the ranking of websites in their SERPs (search engine results page). Although, the way PageRank is determined has changed over time, one factor that has stayed consistent as a major ranking factor is having quality backlinks to your website.

Here's why:

  • Authority: Backlinks from high-authority websites (those well-respected in your industry) tell search engines that your site has a vote of perceived authority.
  • Relevance: Backlinks from websites in your niche or related fields indicate that your content is relevant to a category or target audience.

What is a Backlink Profile?

Your backlink profile is just a collection of all the backlinks pointing to your website. When evaluating a backlink profile, search engines assess the quality, quantity, and diversity of backlinks in your profile when determining your ranking.

Key components of a strong backlink profile:

  • Quality over Quantity: A few high-quality backlinks from reputable sites are far more valuable than hundreds of low-quality backlinks.
  • Relevance: Backlinks from websites within your niche carry more weight.
  • Diversity: A mix of backlink sources (blogs, directories, etc.) and a variety of anchor text (the clickable text of a link) is ideal.

How many backlinks do I need?

There really isn't a magic number of backlinks you need. And honestly, sometimes more can be a bad thing if they are from low quality or spammy sites. Your focus shouldn't be on how many backlinks do I need but rather how can I get links from reputable, relevant websites in my niche as this will have the biggest impact on your search ranking. A few links from reputable websites in your specific niche will be far more impactful than getting a specific number of links from less reputable and unrelated websites.


How to disavow backlinks

Occasionally when you are building your backlink profile you might receive backlinks from low quality or spammy websites. This can hurt your backlink profile and harm your overall SEO efforts. As a result of this, Google introduced the ability to disavow or basically remove these links from your backlink profile. To learn more about disavowing backlinks or how to go about it you can check out this article directly from Google.

One thing to note here is, Google's algorithm is incredibly intelligent. In other words, it can and does in most cases know which links to trust without additional guidance so most sites will not need to use this tool. You should be extremely careful when disavowing links because it can oftentimes do more harm than good.


How To Get Backlinks - Proven Strategies for Building Your Backlink Profile

Now that you understand the basics, let's look at a few proven strategies for building backlinks. Please note, none of these tactics will include any sort of cheating or linking schemes that can land you into trouble with Google. Additionally, I have only included tactics that I have used personally with a reasonable chance of success.

Let's take a look!


1. Ask for Links from Partners or Friendlies

One of the easiest ways to get backlinks when you first start a website is to ask partners or anyone you have a friendly relationship with if they would be willing to include a link to your site. Whether this means including a link on their partner page (if they have one), writing a blog about your new business (if it makes sense), or any other potential way they could link to your site naturally.

Keep in mind, the quality and relevance of the link matter so you shouldn't just ask anybody to link to your site but rather only sites where it would make sense.


2. Guest Posting or Offering Valuable Content 

Writing a blog post or offering up valuable content (interview with an expert at your company, ultimate guides, etc.) can be a great way to get links back to your site. However, to have any sort of success with this strategy, you need to do a little research and figure out a) who to reach out to and b) what can you offer that offers real value to them.

Speaking from experience, when people reach out with a cold message about guest posting, linking etc. and there is no  context or it just seems like a canned message - it's a waste of time. Focus on finding the right websites and figure out how you can really offer value rather than taking a spray and pray approach.


3. Testimonials for Non-Competing Software or Services

Offering a testimonial for non-competing software or services can be another easy way to get a link back to your website. I mean, who wouldn't want to show off a great review about their business?

Only offer up testimonials for products or services you really believe in and let them know that the testimonial is independent of your review. But, I've found that as long as you're transparent and authentic here, most people will be more than happy to include a link back to your page.


4. Turn Brand or Company Mentions into Backlinks

Monitoring the web for mentions of your brand name without a link can be another easy way to get additional backlinks back to your site. The main way I do this is through setting up a Google alert and entering the name of the business I want to monitor. Then, Google sends an automated alert right to my email anytime that business name is mentioned.

Once I get an alert, I just reach out politely and ask if they would be willing to add a link to their content to help me turn those mentions into valuable backlinks.


5. Find 404s on Relevant Websites

Although having broken links or 404s does not directly impact your SEO, it does result in a poor user experience. As a result, one of the best ways to start a conversation with somebody at a website you want a backlink from is to bring these sort of issues to their attention.

Specifically, look for broken links to other websites and then figure out if there is a way you can reproduce the content they were linking to on your website. *Hint even if you can't this can be a good way to establish a relationship which can lead to other linking opportunities in the future.


6. Prioritize Backlinkable Content

Ok so I might have made up that word, but the fact still remains that some content is much more likely to earn links from other sites. In my experience, this includes things like:

  • Original research: extensive studies or even observations from your own data that others can use as reference.
  • Unique tools: calculators or unique tools on your website can be a great way to get others to link to you.
  • Ultimate guides: In-depth, expert resources and guides are great ways to earn links to your site.

While these are just a few examples, you can see a theme - original and valuable content whether written or otherwise is always going to be the most likely to earn backlinks.

7. Become a Source for Reporters and Bloggers

Depending on your level of expertise and credibility, offering your viewpoint or commentary to reporters and bloggers can be a great way to earn links back to your site. Some platforms like Connectively (formerly HARO) even offer a way to connect for exactly this.

Personally, I like using X (formerly Twitter) or Linked to follow journalists in my niche as many will post when they are working on a story and want to talk with an expert. This provides a great prompt for you to reach out and offer yourself or an expert at your company up for commentary.


Final Thoughts

Backlinks are the backbone of strong, sustainable SEO. Although it takes time and focused effort to build a high-quality backlink profile it can pay dividends in the long run with boosted search engine rankings, enhanced brand reputation, and increased traffic to your site.

Remember, focus on quality over quantity and be patient implementing the strategies above. In the long run, it will pay off!

Have question or need help with your Search Engine Optimization and Digital Marketing Strategy? Set up a free 1 on 1 consultation and let's talk about whether we might be able to help!

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