How to Get SEO Backlinks to Your Website
“Backlinks” are the dirty little secret of SEO- lots of people talk about them, but if we’re honest, not many people know how to get them. In this post I’ll explain why they’re crucial for SEO and how your team can actually get some valuable ones with moderate effort.
Why are backlinks important for SEO?
”Backlink” is SEO speak for a link from another website back to yours. And backlinks are a crucial part of SEO because Google has made them a leading factor in their PageRank algorithm. That means that when Google assesses your website to determine how relevant it is for a given search, backlinks will be a strong consideration in this ranking. Or, to put that another way, according to Moz, an authority on SEO, backlinks are a “vote of confidence” about your site.
Backlinks also drive traffic directly to your site from other sites. And they position your site as an authority with users and with Google. But most of all, backlinks help generate more organic traffic to your website.
What type of backlinks are best?
Not all backlinks are created equal- their value depends on relevance to your site and the domain authority of the site where the link comes from. For example, if your business is interior design, then a link from The American Society of Interior Designers is extremely valuable. That’s because the site is directly relevant to your business and because the site has a high authority score (SEMRush’s measurement of website quality).
So look for links from sites with high relevance and high quality.
Is it worth the effort?
Getting high quality backlinks can take lots of effort and you want to be sure that the “view is worth the climb.”
And here’s the thing about the value of backlinks...When you read industry best practices on SEO, much of it is written by practitioners who are doing SEO for large e-commerce sites where traffic to each page can be monetized. So if you’re doing SEO for REI.com, and you know that a page selling North Face jackets generates $20k per week in sales, then getting backlinks to that page is worth a lot of effort. But if you’re an architecture firm whose website just builds awareness and supports in-person sales efforts, then spending lots of staff time building backlinks is not worth it- the incremental gains in traffic will not pay back the effort.
So unless your site is generating lots of cash, building backlinks needs to be done with an eye to return-on-investment of your time.
How to get Backlinks
Step 1: See what backlinks your competitors have.
I use SEMRush to see my competitors' backlinks. Doing this gives me ideas about where I can get them for myself. This doesn’t take long and it identifies where to start looking.
Step 2: Ask industry friends for links.
Remember in elementary school, kids would say to each other, “Hey, want to be friends?” That’s what I’m talking about.
Create a page on your website called “partners” and use that as a place where you will create outbound links to your industry “friends.” Then create a link to this friend and reach out and ask if they’ll add one on their site back to yours.
Who are these industry friends? Start with vendors, sub-contractors, your chamber of commerce, the trade association you just joined, and your ad agency. I recommend setting an outreach goal based on how much time your team can spare. Start with two links a month minimum.
Step 3: Create content worth linking to.
Creating great content for your website has multiple benefits- it creates a great experience for website visitors, it increases the amount of content for which your website might be indexed on Google, it positions you as an authority, and it creates an opportunity to get backlinks. Here are ideas for great content which can be created as blog posts, infographics or videos:
Guide to online tools in your industry.
Glossary of industry terms.
Checklist of… (something people in your industry need to do)
Infographic of an industry trend.
How-to video guide for your customers.
Your ranking of best industry tools.
If the content is good enough, it may get found and linked to naturally (which is the best!) but you still want to manually seek backlinks to it by reaching out to those that might value it and asking for a link.
By the way, is it a lot of work to create great content? Yes, it is! However, because it has multiple benefits- not just backlinks- it’s worth it.
Step 4: Get guest gigs on podcasts, blogs and speaking appearances.
Here’s another marketing tactic that will help you with SEO, but which has value that extends well beyond it. The idea is to position someone on your team as an expert and get them out in the industry talking about it. Here are specific ideas:
Get a speaking engagement at a trade show. Discuss industry case studies, best practices and trends.
Become a guest on a podcast. Truth be told, most podcasts are hungry for good guests. Ask to come on and you’ll be surprised by how often you get a “yes.”
Write a guest post for another industry blog.
All of these tactics have multiple benefits including increased awareness of your expertise, raising your industry profile and, lastly, creating perfect opportunities for backlinks to your website. Once you’re booked on any of these gigs, ask for a backlink from any webpages promoting your appearance.
So go ahead and get started. It's easier than you think.