What are backlinks in SEO?

Backlinks are links from another website to your own site.

They are usually in articles on another site where they reference another piece of content on your website.

For example: Click here to read an article on another website!

When another site links to you it’s considered a vote of confidence and a recommendation to their readers.

From both SEO and PR perspectives, these votes all add up and the more you have the better.

There are exceptions to this, as not all links are good for your website’s health.

Essentially, the more links or votes you have the more “authority” you’ll have. And websites with a higher “authority” will rank higher on Google with less effort than a website with a lower domain authority.

It is crucial to understand though, when building backlinks for SEO that links are NOT considered equal. And some links will have a negative impact on your search position.

Think of Google as a sort-of ‘TripAdvisor’ where restaurants and hotels get reviews from customers. TripAdvisor will give them an overall score which in-turn helps them rank higher on the review websites search.

Back to the TripAdvisor analogy: Reviews can be both good and bad, and the rating effects the overall ranking of the Hotel and ultimately their position on TripAdvisor. Every business owner knows that a few bad reviews will do far more to their reputation than 100’s of good ones.

When you get a link to your website, Google will decide how trustworthy it looks and either give your site a positive push or in some cases your websites’ authority can be seriously damaged.

Thankfully, Google has published a small guide to help identify what they’ll class as a spammy link.

The general rule is: links that exist for any reason other than to recommend a website because, it’s useful to your visitors means the link is spam.

  1. When a link is purchased or sold. Either for money, goods and services or “free” products in exchange for the link.
  2. You link to me and I’ll link to you schemes or partner pages which are exclusively for the sake of link building
  3. Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns
  4. Keyword rich anchor text
  5. Using automation to create links

Essentially, if you buy links that pass authority, you are damaging your rankings.

The list goes on – so you can read more here if you wish! https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en

In all the above examples, the links don’t exist because they add value to the readers of the website linking to you. So, Google will have to assume that it is un-natural.

Why? – Because not all sites are equal. We’re far more likely to trust content we read on the BBC or Guardian. But, news on some random, advert laden, popup offending blog? Less-trustworthy.

Google takes the quality of the linking site into account.

Big sites like the BBC will have 1000’s of links from other quality, high-profile news sources referencing interviews or statistics. So the BBC’s site becomes an authority on all things news.

Moz (an SEO data analysis company) have coined the term “Domain Authority” it’s their interpretation of how powerful a domain is – primarily based on the quality and quantity of links they have.

This score, is a scale from 0-100 and measures the credibility of a website and ultimately a higher scoring site will rank higher on a search engine.

Naturally for SEO you’ll want to get links from the highest domain authority websites you can as this will pass link juice to your own site.

Types of Backlinks you can earn:

The below list of techniques for getting backlinks is time consuming. I’d argue they are all white-hat methods that Google would be happy with.

Each link will take around 4 weeks to be placed. And the process of promoting your website should be an on-going task, the links will only look natural if they are earned gradually – not all in one go.

Knowing how many backlinks you need is a complex theory and requires a lot of analytical research. Something that might be covered in another article.

1. Resource Articles & Content Round Ups

You’ll see these everywhere online, they’re pages like “Best Hotels in London 2019 Reviewed” or “Ultimate Guide to ABC-XYZ”. Or a solicitor might have a page with various legal forms that can be downloaded.

These resource articles contain multiple backlinks to different pieces of external content which are seen as important for the site’s visitors.

Because this type of content can be so useful to people, it’s often something that naturally gets backlinks – 100% organically too. In turn the authority of that page is often higher than some of the sites other content. Which makes it perfect for your link.

The difficulty in earning links from a resource article is asking the author to update the content. They’ll be busy working on their next article.

To find this type of content, search Google for “inurl:resource {your industry}”

This is the process of finding websites that link to dead sites – 404 page not found type failures.

This isn’t easy if you’ve not got a tool to help find broken links. We’d like to introduce the Google Chrome Extension “Broken Link Checked” by AtomSEO.

It scans a website to find links that no-longer work. Once you’ve found a relevant link opportunity, send the site owner an email to let them know of a suitable replacement from your own site.

3. Claiming Unlinked Brand Mentions

The sad fact is that most people won’t link to your website.

Your website name might get a mention somewhere, but it often won’t be linked as a backlink to your site. So, find the contact for the site and thank them for the mention and politely ask them to link to you from the existing article they’re created.

Finding these brand mentions is difficult too if you don’t have a specific tool:

https://www.google.com/alerts (Free)
https://mention.com/en/ (Paid)
https://hootsuite.com/ (Paid)

4. Blogger Outreach

It never fails to surprise me just how many bloggers there are in my area.

A search for “Suffolk Bloggers” brings up 553,000 results.

The vast majority of these sites are geared around lifestyle content; travel, food, fashion etc.

Most bloggers don’t make money from their site, so helping them grow their audience with good relevant content is a way to gain a link.

Finding suitable blogs for B2B clients without imagination is hard though. It’s worth speaking to a local SEO agency if you’re in need of assistance.

For example:

  • Solicitors could look for fashion blogs and pitch content about customer rights
  • Technology companies could reach out to travel blogs pitching content about gadgets and apps to help with getting from A-B.

The savvy SEO’s reading this short list will know this does not cover all the opportunities out there. There are many more types of backlink that can be achieved and factors to consider, such as: follow vs no follow.

Other forms of link building:

  1. Local Chambers, Trade Accreditation Bodies
  2. Directories and Forums
  3. Sponsorship
  4. Competitor Backlinks
  5. Linkable Assets like infographics
  6. Buying other websites
  7. Press Releases
  8. Blog Comments and Guestbooks

If you have any questions about link building or SEO, we would love to hear from you.

Read more about our SEO services.