Backlinks are links posted on other websites that lead to a page on your website. They’ve long been important to SEO, though this aspect has evolved over the years.
Backlinks are an important metric for search engines because they indicate that other people found your content to be a useful, quality resource. So, for years, people submitted links to directory sites, paid for backlinks anywhere they could, and published often low-quality content on article directory sites in order to accumulate backlinks and game the SEO system. The were often referred to as link farms.
This undermined the point of backlinks from the search engines’ perspective, so they had to adapt and account for the fact that not all backlinks are created equal. Now, Google and the others distinguish between high-value, moderate-value, and spammy backlinks; they only help your SEO when they appear on other quality websites. Today, websites with a .edu or .gov URL extension and those of well-established companies and high-traffic longstanding sites are sources of the most valuable backlinks.
Here are five ways to acquire valuable backlinks for your brand’s website to help it rise in the search engine results and get more referred traffic:
Find popular blogs related to your industry and publish guest blog posts on them. Some bloggers are happy to accept a well-written, interesting piece for free and provide a backlink; others consider these sponsored posts and charge for them. You’ll have to determine if it’s worth it to pay and how much you’re willing to spend. Generally, the more traffic a blog has and the more respected it is, the less likely you can guest post for free and the more it costs. It’s a trade-off for a more valuable backlink, a bigger boost to your brand visibility and authority, and more referred targeted traffic. Do not confuse paying for a guest post on a relevant, highly credible blog a violation of the Google 2012 Penguin update. The update was to put a stop to purchasing backlinks from sources like low quality link farms.
To find guest blogging opportunities, research the popular and respected blogs in your industry. Your research can serve double-duty. Offer leading bloggers free samples of your product or service and request an honest review. If your goods deliver and delight, not only will you get great publicity and a valuable recommendation, you also get a high-quality backlink. Of course, not all bloggers accept free gifts in exchange for reviews, but some who specialize in reviews might go ahead and buy from you once you come to their attention.
Many business sites publish testimonials from customers or clients, and to show that they’re real, they include names, photos, and/or links to the sources. When you find sites of reputable companies that include links, consider submitting testimonials. Of course, you should actually be a user, so stick to companies whose products or services you know and like. You could even buy something if you need or want it first. This is particularly useful if you can find sites related to your industry, though obviously you wouldn’t want to provide testimonials for competitors.
Comment on Content
Some blog and other content comment fields allow you to leave a link back to your website. This is widely abused by spammers, though, and you don’t want to associate your brand with that. Only do this on content that’s generating real comments and with comment fields kept free of spam. Leave a thoughtful, genuine comment that’s relevant to the content, though… not just something like “Great article!”
Claim Your Links
If you’ve been in business a while, there are bound to be mentions of your brand, products, or services on the web. And fortunately, through the power of Google, it’s easy to track them down. Many times, there’s no backlink included where you’re mentioned. In these instances, contact the author or site administrator with a brief, professional note to request that a link be added. It’s a quick, easy way to build your backlinks using existing mentions of your brand or its offerings.