What are backlinks?
So as a good starting point, before actually talking about how to get backlinks, it would be a great idea to outline what they are. Backlinks are simply hyperlinks that refer to a website from another website.
Why are they important?
Because Google and other search engines all rely on trust and authority provide the results they show on their search engines. Google in the end want to provide the best search experience for their users and provide the best results. They provide these results by showing you websites that are trusted.
Trust is given through backlinks. When somebody references your website via a backlink, they are saying to Google that they trust your website. The more people that do this, the more your website is trusted by Google. If you become trusted by Google via these backlinks, anytime you reference another website via a hyperlink, you pass a lot of trust to that website. This is because you have become very authoritative and thus Google trusts whichever website you reference because they trust you. The more trust you gain, the more trust you can pass on.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say I own a company the specialises in making films and television. If I get a link from the BBC which is a very authoritative website, because of how popular it is and how many backlinks it has, that will pass a lot of trust on to my website. It will pass a lot more trust or ‘link juice’ onto my website that a backlink from a random person’s blog post that nobody reads. What’s more is that if the company backlinking you is in your business niche, then it holds even more weight!
Dofollow and Nofollow
There’s one more thing before we jump into the guide; dofollow and nofollow. Backlinks can have one of two characteristics, dofollow and nofollow. If a backlink referring to your website is set to ‘dofollow’ then the ‘link juice’ is passed on to your website and it gains trust. However, if a backlink referring to your website was ‘nofollow’ then the ‘link juice’ is not passed on and no trust is gained or lost.
Which is better?
Ideally you want to gain dofollow backlinks to gain trust. However, nofollow backlinks are still really useful for generating traffic coming to your website. You can only get dofollow backlinks from other websites as well. You can’t get dofollow links from social media posts or blog comments because otherwise the whole process could easily be spammed and trust would mean nothing. But like I said, the links on social media posts may still be useful to generate traffic to your website, especially if it’s coming from a popular social media account!
Now we have a good understanding of how backlinks work and what they are, let’s get stuck into the guide for building them!
There are a few ways to build backlinks and there is no ‘get backlinks quick’ scheme apart from blackhat SEO which we will get into later on. We will just focus on whitehat SEO for now because that’s what Google prefers. But whitehat SEO takes work!
Creating great, free content for people to use or reference is a great way of building backlinks. It is also, when it comes down to it, the main way. Now there are also a number of ways that you can gain backlinks from content creation.
One way would be to approach blog post owners or news outlets and saying to them that you have a content idea and are willing to write a guest post or article from them. You then create the content for them if they accept and you include a backlink to your own website somewhere in the content.
For example, let’s say I want to get a backlink from a popular blogger that talks about digital marketing regularly. I would approach the blogger and say to him something along the lines of ‘I think your blog could really use an article about how to use Google Search Console. Can I write one for you?’. If the blogger says yes, I would create an article about how to use Google search console and then leave a link to my website somewhere in the article. Thus generating a good backlink from a popular and trusted website.
Another way to get backlinks from content creation is by creating a great infographic. If you create an infographic and everybody wants to use it then you will get lots of backlinks. This is because infographics are used by embedding a URL into a website. Therefore if the BBC want to use your infographic, they have to embed the URL of the infographic (your URL) into their web page, thus creating an extremely powerful backlink.
Content creation can also be utilised to create backlinks by crowd-sourcing material from experts. If you are able to get a lot of experts to create a short snippet of information for you to then create a large article with, then you will not only make a great piece of content, but the experts who were a part of the article will likely share it. This is because experts like to be seen as experts and want to be amongst the company of them! This might be a little hard to do, but it is a great method you can pull it off.
List Posts are among the most popular pieces of content to be backlinked. This is because list posts are small and easy to digest pieces of content. They can be about anything and people seem to not mind linking them and sharing them with their friends! So get creating that top ten list!
Creating original content
Let’s say if you do some research and start studying digital marketing and you discover some pretty compelling ideas as a result, then publish it! If you publish original research and data, then people who are interested in the subject matter will share it and reference it.
If you think you know what you’re talking about like I do, then you should make some guides! Just like my beginner’s guide to SEO and Google Search Consoles, old and new! Did you see what I did there? That’s called internal linking, it’s a bit different but I will get to it later. Creating guides are a great way of generating traffic and backlinks, especially if they are good. You can make a guide about pretty much anything as well because there’s no such thing as a silly question. Think about how many times you’ve typed a question into Google!
Just make good content
Simply create great content! If you make great content and it gets a little attention, then people will be more inclined to reference and share it. This is why promotion goes hand-in-hand with content creation.
Promoting your website and your content is really important. If you are able to make great content and products then they won’t be of any use if no one knows what they are or where to find them. Promoting will allow people to find your content and then reference it if they think it’s good. That reference is a link and that link is authority! This is why successfully promoting your website and content is an important part of link building.
Friends and Social Connections
Also pretty much the same as promotion, try and share your website with friends, family and work colleagues and ask them to link your website. These people are likely to give you a backlink without having to create any content for them. Well… hopefully anyway!
Finding ‘unlinked’ content or references
This has to be one of the easiest and quickest ways to gain backlinks. With this method you simply search for where your content, brand or product has been mentioned on other websites but hasn’t been hyperlinked. If you find a website where this happens, you should contact the owner of the page and ask if your mention could be hyperlinked. If the owner accepts, you gain a backlink!
Instead of manually searching through page after page for your content to be mentioned, you can use software to find these mentions. Buzzsumo will help you with this. You simply type the keyword, domain or topic you want to find into the search bar and it will give you a list of results that involve that keyword. This will narrow the searches down from the entire internet. There are a few other tools that you can use for this as well such as Free Link Checker.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is the dark side of SEO. Do not stray from the path of the light. The Jedi of Google will hunt you down if you do…
Blackhat SEO is a method of gaining backlinks on Google without having to do any work or at most very little work for them. How? There are many ways to do blackhat SEO but basically it just means gaining backlinks to websites in unnatural and unethical ways. When I say unethical, I don’t mean anyone is getting hurt, it’s not that dark, but unethical by computer standards… I think.
One way of doing blackhat SEO for example is by buying expired ownership of domains. This can be horrible for company whose domain it was and the company linking out to that domain. If a company’s ownership of a domain expires, it goes back up for sale and anyone can buy it. Now someone can find this expiry via blackhat software, purchase the domain and change the website completely. The person who purchases the domain gains all the link power that the domain has because of all the links that the company had earned ethically over its lifetime. It’s also bad for the websites linking to the domain because now they are backlinking to a dodgy website!
Internal links are the links on the pages of your domain that link to other pages on your domain. These links are really useful for Google to navigate your website easily and they appreciate that. A site that is easier to navigate, is preferred by Google and thus shows up higher in the search results.
Internal links also pass on small amounts of link juice. They also allow actual people to view more of your content easily as they navigate through your website. They like one piece of content and then you link to another piece that they’ll click on next. They keep your traffic on your site. Internal links won’t hold as much power as a great back link from an external source. However, they are still really useful and really easy to set up.
To have a great link building strategy, content creation and promotion is your best friend. Internal links are also really easy to set up and are important also. Whatever you do, don’t stray down the path of the dark side. It is a dark and lonesome road that will probably end up with you being torn apart by Google. Stick to the rules and build a legitimate website with legitimate links. It may take work, but you won’t be attacked by Google and you will be recognised as a professional person. With this guide it won’t be hard anyway! Happy link building.