There’s no single thing in search engine marketing that has replaced the relevance of quality backlinks. For the last 10+ years the way to grow your website’s likelihood of good organic rankings has been through link building. But why?
Building high quality links shows the search engines that your website has authority. The better the link, the more authority your website has, it’s just that simple. But what is a good link? More importantly, how do you get a good backlink from another website?
What is a good link?
Anyone familiar with search engine marketing knows who Matt Cutts is. For several years he’s been the SEM guru at Google and the mouth piece on what Google expects for white hat SEO techniques. In his own words he described what a good link is. “The objective is not to “make your links appear natural; the objective is that your links ARE natural.”
That’s all well and good for companies with strong brands that people want to link from, but what about those that don’t have that luxury? How do you and I as small businesses get a good backlink that either is natural or looks natural?
If you’re a law firm, writing content about legal matters that are relevant to your specific practice of law and you want a quality link where should you turn? You want to look for places that would be relevant to your needs. There are tons of bloggers and writers out there that are also creating content about your subject matter.
Make sure that the blogger is consistent in their writing about your subject. If they have one blog about marriage law in your state, but the rest of their blog is about dog breeding it’s probably not going to have the effect you want.
Getting 200 links from one source isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not the most powerful way to gain links. Diversifying the number of websites you get links from is important. It’s also important to get different kinds of links. Whether it’s a footer link, header, text, or image. It shows that you’re gaining these through a variety of mechanisms.
Directory listings are easier ways to get backlinks, and are necessary for local search. But, because of the updates to search engine algorithms those websites don’t have the link value that many others do.
Speaking of directories, the trust factor for many directory sites is very low in the eyes of most search engines. Many require a “pay to play” model for that link, while others set all their outbound links to what are called NOFOLLOW.
There’s some value to NOFOLLOW links, but they’re not the same as a standard backlink. Find websites with good trust scores. You can use tools like Open Site Explorer to see the trust and domain scores of the websites you’re trying to get links from.
How Do You Get a Good Backlink?
If you’re a sales person and you wanted to sell to a company, what would you do? You can either:
- Have a really great product that everyone knows about and your target company wants to buy it – so they contact you and you sell it to them.
- You cold-call, email, send letters, offer discounts and generally work your tail off to get in the door to sell your product.
When it comes to good backlink building, those are basically your two choices. You are either creating great content and have a reputation. People build links to you because they want some of your credibility. Or, you have to learn to hustle.
Remember under relevant I said you’d have to look for people who write similar things that you do? When you need the links, you’re going to have to call on those people. Creating guest blogs, that you’ll give to people for a link back, or offering your blog as something they can link to for credibility to their thoughts. Link building can be a lot like selling.
That has some positives though. If you’ve ever sold anything you know that when you’ve worked your way in a door, gone through the sales process, and closed the deal, there’s a huge satisfaction. Conversely, as you begin doing this and your website gains credibility and authority you’ll start to have the opposite happen to you. People will start linking to you intentionally and asking for links from you.
You can also look at your competitors’ backlink profile as well. Try to find broken backlinks of theirs that you can grab. If a blog or link results in a 404 page, reaching out to the content creator and saying, “hey, we’ve got this content on the same subject and you’re linking to a broken link.”
You can use tools like Broken Back Link Check to find these. We also use a tool called Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool to check for the link structure of our clients’ competitors. These are often easier to obtain backlinks that don’t require much relation building.
Is it Worth Spending the Time?
Like business itself it takes a lot of work and time to build a good backlink. But the reward will be better search rankings, more of your own sales, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re playing a role in shaping how Google sees your website. If you’re a company who needs web traffic to drive sales, then yes, it’s worth it. If your business doesn’t work that way, and I know those companies and organizations exist than probably not. But my guess is that if you got all the way to the last line of this blog, you are not one of the latter companies.