Three Ways to Build Better Backlinks

Hummingbird CreativeBranding & Creative

Backlinks can really help boost your brands SEO and should be built into your branding strategy. You may find yourself questioning how to build backlinks to your website for the best SEO results. Even people with backlink experience ask themselves this question after Google releases a new algorithm update.

So, What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links to your website from external sites, they’re also known as external backlinks. They’re important pieces to your SEO strategy. While they’re important for your site’s SEO, they can be time-consuming and hard to get. First, before even starting to collect backlinks, you have to make sure your site is free from technical issues and has a great user experience. Google limits the organic growth of sites with glaring technical issues such as slow site loading speeds, sites that aren’t mobile friendly, sites with a ton of duplicate content and meta data, lots of 302 redirects, lots of redirect chains, 404 errors, canonical errors, incorrect use of directives and more. You should also make sure your site structure is strong. The site structure is how link equity is distributed throughout the site so, the better the structure, the less backlinks you will need. On a less technical note, you have to be producing high-quality content that other sites will want to link to. High-quality content is also an important piece of SEO and it can make or break your campaign to get backlinks. There are two ways you can build your backlink directory. The first is called black hat SEO techniques and they’re a great way to get Google to tank your SEO. These techniques include:
  • Buying backlinks- it’s fairly clear to the Google algorithm that you’re purchasing backlinks, especially when the site is something link
  • Spam comments- you’ve seen them before, comments on YouTube videos or random blogs with just links and no text.
  • Copying content- Google knows unique content and, if you take content from another site, they’ll penalize you for it.
  • Cloaking- this is where sites will prepare a page for their human visitors and then a separate page for their bot visitors. Bots see fabricated content packed with targeted keywords to falsify rankings, human visitors won’t find good information despite the site’s ranking.
  • Doorway pages- these pages are landing pages with little to no value that trick search engines before transfering a visitor to an unrelated page.
  • Keyword stuffing- sites overuse the same keywords on one page in order to maximize its visibility and gain organic traffic even though it’s not very user-friendly.
  • Invisible text- this goes kind of hand-in-hand with keyword stuffing, it’s when sites use white text with just a list of keywords so they’re invisible to human visitors.
While these SEO techniques may work for a bit, eventually the algorithm will work out what’s going on an penalize your site. If you’re looking for something that will work in the long-term, you have to be prepared to put in some time and effort.

Rules For Backlinking

If you’re going to play fair (which you should), there are a few rules to follow when building your backlink directory. First, keep it relevant. Google decides relevancy on the general content them of the linking domain, the content on the linking page and the relevancy of the backlinks hitting the domain. These standards go back to producing high-quality content, the better the content, the better quality the linking site, the better quality the link is considered. You should also be focusing on real websites because the stronger the site, the better. To find a websites page rank, you can use free or almost-free tools like Moz Link Explorer or Alexa (yes, it’s owned by Amazon). Another rule, one that’s often overlooked, is to distribute your anchor text intelligently. Anchor text is the visible text you see that you can click and directs you to a link; these texts matter because it’s one of the best ways Google has to penalize spam and over-optimization. One of the best signs to the Google algorithm of a spam website is if 100 percent of its backlinks have the anchor text “Payday Loan” or something similarly spammy. The algorithm can easily tell that you’re trying to rank for payday loans and you’re building links artificially.

How To Build Backlinks

There’s many different ways you can build up your backlinks.

Leverage HARO

HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a free service that you can leverage to build your backlinks. The point of HARO is to connect writers, such as bloggers and journalists, to sources, like you. Sources do have rules, but they’re fairly simple to follow. First rule is to not spam reporters with off-topic pitches, keep it relevant to the topic at hand. You also want to avoid pitching your product in your reply unless the request specifically asks for a product. For a full list of the rules, you can check out the HARO website and search their rules for sources.    Using HARO can take work but it’s one of the best ways to build a directory of high quality backlinks. Reuters, Fox News, Time Magazine, The New York Times and other high authority websites use HARO for sources.

Use The Broken-Link Building Method

This technique is a pretty easy way to build backlinks, though they may not be as high quality as HARO links. This technique involves contacting a webmaster to report broken links on their site and recommending other websites to replace that link, like yours. First, you have to find broken links on websites relevant to your content. You can find them through specific search queries in Google:
  • [Keywords] inurl:links
  • [Keyword] + links
  • [Keyword] + resources
For example, if your website is about branding, you would type into Google:

Branding + links

To quickly find broken links without having to test all of them, you can use the Google Chrome plugin, Check My Links, to quickly discover 404 links on a page. When contacting the webmaster, it’s important to be friendly– you are asking them for a favor, after all. Let them know that they’re linking to resources that are no longer available and give them the exact location so they can be found with little to no work on the webmaster’s part. Give a list of alternatives, including yours, as a replacement backlink. Sometimes the webmaster will agree to link to your content, sometimes they won’t.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is an effective way to reach new audiences while growing your backlink directory. By publishing articles on popular websites, such as Forbes, you can get your content in front of new readers and gain exposure. Guest blogging also has the added benefit of increasing your online reputation, not just your backlinks. With a huge world of sites that accept guest posts, it can be difficult to find a site relevant to your content that’s accepting submissions. Like the broken-link building method above, there’s a few Google queries you can use to find sites to submit to:
  • [Keyword] + guest-posts
  • [Keyword] + submit an article
  • [Keyword] + inurl:write-for-us
  • [Keyword] + become a contributor
  • [Keyword] + now accepting guest posts
  • [Keyword] + bloggers wanted
There’s more, but this is a good list to get you started. Whenever you publish a guest article, always link to your social media channels so, if someone enjoys your content, they know where to go for more. Building high quality backlinks can be challenging and time consuming but are definitely worth the effort. Building backlinks doesn’t have a shortcut, there’s no quick and easy fix, you just have  to work hard and produce relevant content.
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