9 Tips for Getting Backlinks to Your Website
Backlinks are one of the most important parameters in search engine ranking algorithms. The more the backlinks to your pages from credible authoritative sites, the more favorably search engines will view your website. Search engines also rely on backlinks and anchor text to categorize web pages and determine what a page is about.
But backlinks aren’t something you should do solely to please search engine bots. There’s another crucial reason—organic traffic. Visitors to external pages that link back to yours may follow the link in their quest to learn more about you, your business, your cause or your product.
There’s no question that backlinks are invaluable for successful search engine optimization (SEO). Yet, backlinks (especially from trusted reputable sites) are difficult to come by. Remember, these top sites receive perhaps hundreds or thousands of requests for backlinks each month.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to stand out from the rest, get authoritative sites in your corner and earn those backlinks.
1. Industry Forums
The profile of Internet forums has significantly diminished over the years in large part due to the phenomenal rise of social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, even though the number of active participants on Internet forums are dwarfed by social media’s billions of users, forums are still one of the best places to find or share information with niche audiences.
Participate in discussions, respond to questions and build a profile as an expert. Find opportunities to link to your site when you post but be careful not to overdo it. First, inserting your link too many times is counterproductive as it could annoy forum admins and moderators leading to your account being banned. Second, having a disproportional number of links to your web pages coming from the same forum is spammy and could place you in the crosshairs Google’s Penguin Update.
2. Social Media
If Internet forums are in decline, social media is on the ascendancy and has been for a while. A quick glance at the world’s most popular websites and most popular mobile apps demonstrates just how dominant social networking platforms have become. Facebook is the runaway leader with more than 2.2 billion active users. But it’s not the only member of the billion-user club. It’s joined in that elite category by WhatsApp, Messenger, YouTube, WeChat and Instagram. There’s about a dozen other social media apps with hundreds of millions of users each.
You can leverage social media for backlinks in much the same way as you do Internet forums. Join groups and participate in pages relevant to your industry or target market. Contribute in conversation and provide valuable tips that demonstrate your authority on the subject matter. Include a link to your web pages every once in a while. Again, do not spam these groups and pages. Only post when it’s most appropriate to do so and when you can provide an exhaustive explanation to a question.
3. Link to Other Sites
This may seem inimical to your goal of getting other sites to link to yours. However, you get what you give. Linking to other sites can kick off a process that culminates with getting backlinks.
How? Well, it begins with creating a comprehensive post about a trending topic or a subject your target audience would be interested in. In the post, include links to products or websites you reviewed or that are prime examples of what you are talking about. Before the post goes live, visit each site you linked to and obtain the email address of the marketing person or team. If that isn’t available, you can use any other email address on the site including the webmaster’s.
Send out an email to the contact mentioning how you found their website or product relevant to your article and that you had even mentioned and linked back to them. Encourage them to check out the post and if they like the content, share it with their audience or social circle via email, social media or on their website. There’s no guarantee that they will accept your request. Still, a 10 percent success rate from the emails you send out is significant and can lead to hundreds or thousands more visitors to your site.
4. Expert Round-ups
The Internet has been the most powerful force in the democratization of knowledge. Every day, hundreds of millions of people turn to the worldwide web for answers. You can tap into this huge need by creating a round-up post. This means getting a dozen or more experts to provide a concise, paragraph-long answer to a popular question (see an example here). One of the most popular types of round-up topics are those touching on industry trends for the coming year or decade.
Round-ups can generate numerous backlinks and social shares. To create a round-up post that will complement your link building strategy, think about an intriguing question that your target audience might have. It should be one question only as having more than one will muddy the content and make the post less precise.
The more the experts, the better—up to a point. The sweet spot is anywhere between 15 and 50 experts. Your biggest headache will be to get such a large number of industry experts sharing their opinion. To surmount this challenge, send out the invitation email to a much larger number of respondents than you want. So if your goal is to have 20 experts contribute, email 50 or more individuals.
Your invitation email should state the question, the deadline by which they should respond and, as an incentive, a commitment that you’ll include a link to their website. In turn, urge them to share the round-up post on their social media accounts if they like it. This will draw visitors to your website from the social media sphere some of whom may proceed to link back to your content on their own sites.
5. On-on-One Expert Interview
Round-ups feature a large pool of experts. Another way you can leverage the pulling power of experts is through focused interviews. Here, you contact a prospect while mentioning how much you’ve learned from their work and whether they’d be open to an interview meeting or phone call. State how long the interview will last beforehand so they know how much time they should set aside.
Requests for interviews are usually not turned down. Nevertheless, there are a number of things you can do to bolster your chances of success. First, approach mid-tier experts. If you want to interview a financial services CEO, you are much more likely to get an interview with the CEO of a local credit union than you would with the CEO of a top tier bank like Wells Fargo or Bank of America.
Second, take time to read some past articles, books or interviews by interviewee. Few things will grab a person’s attention than referencing a statement they made in a past interview. It gives your request an authenticity that would make the prospect more open to talking to you.
6. Track Competitor Backlinks
You are in a contest with your competitors for the same set of site visitors and customers. So where better to look and get ideas about sites you should target than the websites that link back to your competitor’s website?
There are backlink and anchor text tools (such as https://www.linkio.com/) that can quickly show you the websites that link to your rivals. Once you have a list of websites and pages that link to your competition, evaluate the context to find out if there’s an opportunity for your website to be included since it won’t always be possible. For example, if you are selling a time management app and the page that links back to your competitor’s was a listing of the best time management apps in the market, you could get your own site added.
How you structure your email will determine whether your request will be accepted. Most authoritative websites frown upon blatant backlink solicitation. So you have to make your email as neutral as you realistically can. You could mention that you stumbled upon the impressive post but couldn’t help but notice that one app (yours in this case though you won’t say that) wasn’t on the list.
Your email will be ignored most times but even if just 5 percent of the sites accept your proposal and add an entry and backlink to your site, your effort will be more than worth it.
7. Guest Posting
Every new business battles with one debilitating predicament—obscurity. You may have put in the work and created an excellent product that outperforms every competitor in its class. But as long as no one knows that except you, it’s going to be a Herculean task closing a single sale.
One of the fastest ways to overcome this headache is creating backlinks to your website through guest posting. Guest posting allows you to ride on the reputation and recognizability of established web properties in order to raise the profile of your own website. Think about the traffic surge your shiny new but unknown website would experience if you had a guest post in the New York Times or Fox News websites. It would be the web version of the Oprah Effect.
As always, getting a guest post on such high profile websites is out of reach for the overwhelming majority of small businesses. Ergo, to get your foot in the door, don’t target the top sites from the get-go. Begin with small and medium level websites as these are not only approached by far fewer people but are also more open to collaboration. Consider this an opportunity to prove to the world your expertise. If your guest content on these sites is superb, you’ll have a strong foundation for pitching to larger websites.
8. Create a White Paper or Industry Report
There’s just something about numbers that captures the imagination. It’s all good to get industry experts sharing their opinions about where the market is headed in the next 3 years. However, people will be more drawn to conversations backed by hard numbers. Perhaps that’s because numbers carry connotations of clarity and non-ambiguity. The statement “Car sales will grow by 3 percent in 2021” will likely draw much more engagement than the indeterminate “Car sales will grow next year”.
A free, well-researched industry report or white paper is an opportunity to harness the power of quantitative data to drive interest in your website and therefore increase the number of backlinks. It’s free so you probably don’t have the time or resources to make the report a hundred pages long or more. Instead, identify a niche in your industry that you can tackle in a dozen pages or less while covering all the key headline numbers.
9. Offline Marketing
Certain websites have been near the top of search engine rankings since the early days of the world wide web. When you Google ‘soft drink’, you can expect to see the Coca Cola Company among the top 10 results. Is Coca Cola’s high results ranking a result of SEO and some aggressive digital marketing? Definitely. However, one of the reasons Coca Cola’s page is so highly ranked for the keyword is the popularity of the brand that can be attributed to the decades of marketing done offline.
This may sound like an outlandish example for smaller, budding websites but there’s a key lesson to be learnt here—what you do offline does have an impact on your online profile. Offline marketing doesn’t have to be as extreme as buying prime TV ad space during the Super Bowl. Small, low cost efforts can have a significant impact.
Think distributing business cards or brochures during an industry event, offering free gifts such as branded coffee mugs, t-shirts and keychains, or volunteering your services for a needy cause. If you want to go further, you could sponsor an industry event.
While these actions may occur offline, they can generate enough buzz to find their way to the Internet. Not only will the people you interact with visit your website directly but they may also mention your site in their social media posts as they commend your business.
If there’s one thing all these tips show, it’s that earning high caliber backlinks is a strenuous journey that requires hard work. You’ll however be glad to learn that if you keep at these tactics consistently, it won’t be long before your website is attracting a steady stream of backlinks from mid to top tier websites.
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