Backlinks: Everything You Need to Know

January 5, 2018
Will Kaye
Managing Director

Creating a great SEO strategy takes many different pieces. While it may seem like there is always another element..

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Creating a great SEO strategy takes many different pieces. While it may seem like there is always another element you need to include, each is essential for ensuring you rank as highly as possible on a search engine results page.

Unfortunately, some of those critical components seem to get swept under the rug. While you may focus on keyword placement and great content, that isn’t always enough. Especially if you’re targeting a high-traffic keyword. One of the most commonly forgotten about SEO components is backlinks.

People often ignore backlinks because they can be difficult to secure. Because they’re out of your control, you may see following up on them as too much of a hassle. However, backlinks can be one of the best ways to push a new reader to your page.

If you don’t include backlinks as part of your SEO strategy, it’s about time you started. Here are a few things you need to know about backlinks, as well as some tips for securing them.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks can be difficult for some people to understand. However, they have a pretty simple definition. A backlink is any link that pushes back to your website. Backlinks can appear on someone’s website, in a social media post, or on an online directory. No matter the location of a link, it is considered a backlink if it directs the user to your page.

A backlink is not the same as a website reference. If a site, article, social media post, or directory listing mentions your company name but does not include a link, this doesn’t contribute to your SEO. However, there does not need to be an explicit reference to your website for the backlink to count. Just including a link to your content through anchor text is enough to improve your search engine results listing.

How Do Backlinks Contribute to SEO?

Backlinks contribute to your SEO strategy in several ways. First, they push more readers back to your website. When you’re getting a high amount of traffic to your site, Google and other search engines will take notice. If they see that users are engaging with your content, they’ll recognize its value and push it further up their list of results.

Backlinks also contribute to something called “link juice,” also called “link (or backlink) authority.” Link juice primarily represents the amount of influence that particular link has.

Think of link juice as a liquid, and that each website has a certain amount of “juice” that it can share with other sites. A site that posts a link to your content is, in essence, sharing its juice with you. The more link juice others have to share, the more you will receive.

Websites with more authority will have higher amounts of link juice. As a site gains more link juice from other authoritative sites, its influence will grow. Which in turn will increase its rank with Google and other search engines.

Each backlink that a website receives is seen as a “stamp of approval” for Google and other search engines. The higher the quality of your content, the more approval you get from other sites. When a search engine understands that you’re providing relevant, valuable, and interesting content to your audience, they’ll want to share it with their users as well.

How Can You Secure Backlinks?

Backlinks are tricky because they’re out of your control. While they’re necessary for improving your SEO and attracting new visitors to your website, they can be difficult to secure. To get more backlinks back to your page, you need to convince other sites to link to your content. There are a few different ways you can secure backlinks.

1. Create Valuable Content

When it comes down to it, the best way to improve your number of backlinks is to create high-quality content that provides value to your target audience. If you’re creating great content that introduces new information, supports your claims, or includes new research, other websites will want to link to it organically.

Always look for new ways to provide valuable content to your target audience. As others begin to share your content and you start to establish authority and trust within your industry, you will become a recognized source for high-quality information. That means other websites will naturally link to your content, improving your number of backlinks.

2. Use Social Media

Backlinks don’t only need to appear within other content. You can also increase your number of backlinks by posting to social media. Each time you or another profile shares your content on a social media platform, this counts as a link back to your page. However, you don’t want just to spit out links to your content on social.

Although social media links aren’t weighed as heavily as other kinds of content, they can still help. If a post goes viral on social media, this can add up and contribute to a lot of link juice for your page. If this happens repeatedly, you can build serious authority for your website.

3. Partake in Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is an excellent way to share your content and expertise with a new audience. It is also ideal for securing great links back to your website. When you create guest posts, you typically can include your links or a bio with a link inside the post. Placing these on the right blogs can not only improve your traffic but will also give you a high-quality backlink.

You need to be strategic about your guest blogging strategy. Each blog that you work with needs to share a target audience, but not be competitive. In addition to providing relevant information, if you want to use guest blogging to grow your backlinks, you’ll need to develop a strong pitch.

4. Create Infographics

When you’re trying to grow your backlinks, you want others to share your content frequently and widely. With the number of blog posts out there, however, it can be difficult to make yours stand out from the crowd. Instead of going the traditional route with yet another blog post, consider switching it up and making an infographic.

Infographics require more time and skill to make, and because some companies don’t want to invest in them as part of their content strategy, there aren’t as many available online. Instead, companies will peruse others’ content for infographics they can use. If your infographic becomes widely used, you can develop a lot of backlinks from one piece of content.

5. Ask for It

One of the biggest struggles with getting backlinks is that you can’t simply add them yourself. When you’re trying to grow the number of backlinks you have, it can be frustrating just to sit around and wait. You can help speed the process along by asking relevant websites to link to your content.

If your content supplies value to a particular website, blog post, or other content, you can send them an email asking to include a link back to your site. However, you need to consider how you can benefit the owners of the other websites. If they do not see the value in sharing your content, they’re likely to ignore you. Make sure to explain why they should link to your content.

How Many Backlinks Do You Need?

When it comes to securing backlinks, it depends more on the value of your links than the number of links you have, which means there isn’t a magic number of backlinks you can secure before you reach the top of a search engine results list. As with other SEO factors, it all depends on how much value the search engine crawlers put on the content you’ve created.

You want to focus on getting the best backlinks possible. Because Google and other search engines will put different weight on each backlink, you’ll probably see more success with fewer high-quality backlinks than you would with thousands of low-quality backlinks. That means you shouldn’t try to jump ahead and use black-hat techniques to increase the number of backlinks you have.

Google and other search engines are always looking for ways to improve their algorithm and ensure they’re only providing high-quality content. If you’re trying to get around their algorithm, you’re going to lose all the work you did the second they make an algorithm change. However, if you’re focusing on providing value to your target audience, those algorithm changes won’t hit you so hard.

You should also remember that backlinks aren’t something you can secure once and then never think of again. Just like keywords, you want to revisit your backlinks every so often to ensure they’re still relevant. You’ll also want to continue to grow the web of links to your website. Each time you upload a new blog post, web page, or article, you should be considering how you can increase the number of links to that particular page.

While the best way to increase your number of backlinks is to do so naturally, you also want to consider what you can do to push the process along. It’s OK to encourage more backlinks to your website and web page, but you’re going to see a steady increase just by creating high-quality content that your audience finds valuable.

Although backlinks may not come easy, they are well worth it if you’re looking to improve your search engine ranking. If you’re not already including backlinks in your search engine optimization strategy, use this guide as a starting place to do so.