In this post, we get specific about a basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy we recently covered in our No-Fear Guide to Basic SEO. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. It will help you go from “stranger to SEO” who may feel a bit intimidated, all the way to someone who understands the basics and uses them to rank higher on searches.
This time we cover something in-depth that came up in the original guide: backlinks.
Backlinks are a basic building block of SEO, along with keywords and headers. They are typically internal links on your website. An internal link is one that takes the user to a different location within your website instead of another website.
Businesses use backlinks as part of their Local SEO, a specific SEO strategy that targets the locals in their area. For more information, read our guide titled Local SEO: Making Your Brand Famous In Your Location.
Why Do Businesses Backlink?
Backlinks serve a couple of primary purposes.
First, they tend to increase the traffic of the pages on your website. At a glance, this makes sense. If a particular page on your site—like a contact form or a blog post—isn’t receiving the kind of traffic you want it to, you can use backlinking to improve your numbers.
Simply add a link to the underperforming page on the pages that are performing well. For example, if you want more people to go to your e-commerce shop page, you can link to it on your highest-performing blog post.
In this way, a backlinking strategy leverages the popularity of your best pages to serve the pages you really want users to visit.
But that’s not all! Backlinks are also a fantastic way to help with your website’s SEO performance.
When one uses a search engine like Google, the engine uses a complex algorithm to determine the results that come up… hopefully in the order that is best for the consumer. To accomplish this, the search engine actually “crawls” your website to determine its relevance to various searches. The more relevant it is to a particular search, according to the algorithm, the higher your website will rank.
What does this have to do with backlinks? They improve your SEO ranking when used correctly. It is theorized that a coherent backlinking strategy makes it easier for the search engine to understand your website, and thus ranks you higher for your preferred searches.
For a more in-depth guide to all this, check out our free e-guide on the topic.
How to Get the Most from Your Backlinks
If you want to maximize backlinks to boost your website traffic and search ranks, then make sure to follow these strategies
- Don’t Neglect Quality Content
The success of your backlinking strategy fully relies on the success of your website’s content.
If your content isn’t interesting and doesn’t draw people in, then your linking strategy won’t matter at all. Creating bad content but adding plentiful backlinks is like creating a terrible movie and then getting confused when nobody comes to watch the sequel.
But thankfully, it cuts both ways. When you consistently produce quality content, people will want to click more links on your pages, and the links will serve you well.
That’s why we always suggest that businesses employ a content marketing strategy on top of their SEO strategy. In our time helping local businesses transition their marketing efforts online, we have seen too many people focus on SEO to the detriment of their site’s quality.
- Make Links Natural and Organic
Remember how we talked about the ways search engines crawl your website to determine your search rank? Well, search engines in general—and Google specifically—are getting smarter all the time.
Thanks to advances in language processing, Google can tell when you’re adding so many links that the content reads unnaturally. It can also tell when you sacrifice the grammar or flow of a post just so you can work in a link into your other content.
Additionally, there is an upper limit to backlinks you can add that makes the search engine penalize you for spamming them, but thankfully, the limit is really high.
When you add backlinks into your content, do so in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the flow. Make every link look and sound natural like it’s supposed to be there. After you finish a page, have someone else read it and double-check that everything sounds natural and organic when read out loud.
- Add Links From the Past and Future
When websites have a content marketing strategy and thus begin to post blogs and news stories on a regular basis, they begin to add backlinks to their posts. When a new post is written, they usually try to add 5-8 backlinks to each one, linking to previous posts and other places on the website.
This is a good plan, but it isn’t going far enough.
In addition to linking to past posts, you should also go back to those posts and add links to the ones you’ve created since. If your blog posts only have links to previous posts and not more recent ones, then you can only direct traffic backward in time, until they run out of content.
Instead, make sure each post links to both older and more recent pages, so the reader can continue bouncing around, instead of bouncing backward. If you’ve never done this, then go through your catalog of pages and update the links. In fact, we recommend doing this at least once a year.
If you have any questions or would like help with your site’s SEO strategy, feel free to contact us today!