Building backlinks is one of the most important, and most challenging aspects of improving your search engine optimization (SEO). The better your SEO, the more visible and higher-ranked your website will be in Google search results.
Backlinks are one of hundreds of factors search engine algorithms use to rank your website, but they are a major one. These inbound links are created whenever someone else links to your website from their own domain. These links increase your visibility on search engines because they typically signify how important your web page is related to certain search terms. For example, if lots of 3D printing blogs link to your 3D printing business, search engines view your website with more credibility, and are likely to rank your site higher when people search for 3D printing. Basically, backlinks are a way to indicate that those other sites are vouching for you.
At first you may think that getting as many links to your website is all it takes; however, not all backlinks are created equal. That was one of the primary strategies in the early days of search engines and SEO, but as algorithms have improved, they're able to distinguish genuine, quality links from spam links.
Avoiding Low-Quality Links
Spamming your website all across the internet will do nothing but hurt your search ranking. Search engines are sophisticated enough to judge whether or not a backlink is posted in good-faith and fits the context of where it's being posted.
Be wary of services that claim they can increase your backlinks and boost your search ranking, as many of them just spam your links or enter them into link farms that pass your website around several, spam-like sites that only exist to post links. You'll have lots of backlinks, but Google and other search engines can identify that these links are spam, making them worthless, if not detrimental. This can reduce your credibility and your search ranking, having the opposite effect of what you want.
Building Good Backlinks
Regardless of the claims some dozens of services may boast, there's no magic bullet to boosting good backlinks; search engines have built their algorithms to ensure there's no cheating the system. So, it's best to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to backlinks. Doing so will take patience and confidence in your content's worth.
If you want to get a quality backlink, approach a site that already has a superb reputation with Google. The ideal backlink will be posted on a website that's in the same field as yours, providing good context and relevance to your link. The more your website is linked to high-ranking pages in the same field as yours, the more search algorithms will put your website in the same category as them.
The natural way to get quality backlinks is to have quality content on your website and promoting it the right way. Many websites for businesses include blogs that are consistently updated, not just with news of the company, but related content such their take on the industry and the latest trends. Having a good quality blog about your field is a pathway to getting noticed and linked to on another website. Your blog post highlighting your unique take on the latest industry trend could get picked up by a bigger publication that covers content about in your industry. [Read related article: 6 Things You Need to Do to Launch a Successful Blog.]
Promote your content through social media and network within your field to let others know that you're lending your expertise through your blog.
Who to Link With
It's important that you're promoting your content to reputable websites that will boost your ranking and not hinder it when they link to you. One way to determine which sites you would want backlinks from, study similar sites and competitors to see who is backlinking to their sites. Applications such as Monitor Backlinks and Moz Link Explorer allow you to study the backlinks of other websites and your own and see which websites provide the most, high quality backlinks.
From there you can promote your content to the right targets. Also, don't be afraid to directly reach out and network with these websites to offer your content or expertise. Offering to do a guest blog can land you on a high-ranking site because they're looking for content themselves.
Publications often need sources for their stories about the industries they're covering, so making yourself available to lend a quote or provide expertise can lead to getting your website linked on a major website within your field. Cision's Help a Reporter Out, is a service that lets you be alerted if a journalist is seeking a source within a particular field.
A Few Don'ts
Experts frequently debate how the following tactics affect your SEO, but most believe they have little, none or negative effects on your ranking. These things include:
- Self-linking, which commonly involves commenting on a target website with a link to your own website. Comments section links are ranked highly by search engines, and repeated attempts may mark them as spam.
- Link trading, which means entering into a deal with other websites to trade links and post each other's content. This tactic can be identified by algorithms and can land you with a negative mark.
Although it may be tempting to try out techniques the will land your site's URL in more, higher-ranked publications, it's risky and may not be worth it if your website is just starting out.