Grace is reading a magazine article about how to house train dogs. She doubts its credibility — but when she moves on to reading an academic book on the subject, she sees that the book lists the magazine article as a source! After that, she trusts the article much more.
The scenario outlined above is similar to what happens when a website earns backlinks for its content. Backlinks are an incredible tool for search engine optimization (SEO), one your business would do well to employ. But what are backlinks — and why are backlinks important for SEO?
Read on to learn the answer to that question and to find out how you can earn backlinks. Then partner with WebFX’s team of over 450 experts for our SEO services. Just call 888-601-5359 or contact us online to get started!
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What are backlinks?
Backlinks are links that lead from another website to your own. In other words, these links aren’t on your website — they lead to your website from somewhere else on the Internet.
For example, imagine that you want to learn how airplanes work. You visit a website called howairplanesfly.com and read an article on the subject, but you’re not convinced that it’s a trustworthy source. You leave the site and visit the Smithsonian’s website instead.
But just as you’re finishing an article on the Smithsonian’s site, you see that one of the sources it cites is howairplanesfly.com! After seeing that, you probably have a much higher opinion of the latter site’s reputability. As the above example illustrates, backlinks are useful for establishing trust and respect online.
When it comes to SEO, sites seek backlinks to earn credibility within their industry. As another example, let’s say you sell speakers and other sound studio materials, and you write a blog post on your website about studio acoustics. Since you’re talking a lot about sound waves and how they work, you’d want to earn backlinks from a website that’s authoritative on that topic.
If that site agrees to link to your blog post from their site, it can work wonders for your SEO. Read on to find out how!
Why are backlinks important for SEO?
At this point, you may be questioning why backlinks matter to SEO. Sure, it might be convenient to have another site link to you, but why are backlinks important for SEO?
As it happens, backlinks have three very significant benefits that all work in tandem to bolster your SEO. Here’s an overview of each one!
Backlinks expand your audience
One of the useful things about having another site link to you is that they likely have their own readership. When they insert a link to your site in their content, they’re effectively putting you in front of a whole new audience. As people read through the content on the other site, many of them will follow the link to learn more about the subject matter — and it will lead them straight to your site, where there’s a chance they’ll become a new lead.
Backlinks increase people’s trust in you
Not everyone who visits your site will be aware that you have any backlinks. But for anyone familiar with your brand, encountering a link to you from another site can do a lot to increase their trust in your company. When you start earning backlinks from reputable, well-known names in your industry, it sends the message that your business is equally reputable.
After all, the site wouldn’t link to you otherwise. However, keep in mind that you’re likely not going to get backlinks from famous companies. For example, if you’re a soda company, earning a link from Coca-Cola would be an incredible win but a bit unlikely.
Backlinks boost your rankings
Users aren’t the only ones who will be impressed by your backlink profile. When Google’s ranking algorithms crawl your site, they’ll pay attention to any inbound links you have. Those links will play a role in determining where you rank in search results.
If Google observes that a reputable site in your industry is linking to your content, it will assume that you’re authoritative as well. In response, it will rank you higher. However, just because an industry authority links to your content doesn’t mean you’ll see increased rankings overnight.
It takes time. As a reminder, you should go for quality backlinks instead of quality.
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Which backlinks should you avoid?
Earning backlinks is a great practice when done well, but you have to do it right for it to be an effective strategy. Just as positive backlinks can boost your rankings, negative ones can decrease them.
Here are three types of backlinks to avoid on your website!
One of the first mistakes to avoid is earning backlinks that have nothing to do with your business. For example, if you work in the home repair industry, focus on acquiring backlinks related to home repair. If you write a blog post about termite damage, focus on termite-related backlinks.
If your site features numerous backlinks with no relevance to the content they link to, Google will notice and rank you lower.
Another kind of backlink to avoid is unauthoritative backlinks — that is, backlinks from sites that aren’t reputable. When you’re looking for backlinks, it can be tempting to go after as many backlinks as you possibly can. But doing that is a bad idea.
When earning backlinks, you should aim for quality over quantity. Rather than seeking 20 different backlinks from mediocre sites, push for two or three from the most reputable sites in your industry. Otherwise, your rankings will suffer.
One of the worst kinds of backlinks are those you don’t necessarily seek out — spammy backlinks. Sometimes, websites obtain spammy backlinks because they attempt to buy those backlinks. Usually, though, the backlinks are unsolicited and come from unrelated sites.
Spam backlinks will tank your rankings quickly. Fortunately, there’s a way to get rid of them — namely, by disavowing them, which you can do through Google Search Console. Disavowing links essentially tells Google to ignore them.
How can you earn backlinks?
Now that you know why backlinks matter and which kinds of backlinks you’re looking for, your next question is probably, “How can I earn backlinks?” Fortunately, you have several options. Often, it merely comes down to asking politely.
Here are a few ways you can obtain backlinks from third-party sites:
- Skim your ideal sites: If there are any reputable sites in your industry whose links you already know you could benefit from, you can skim some of their content to look for broken links. If you find any, you can ask the site to replace them with new links to you.
- Monitor Google Alerts: You can set up Google Alerts to notify you when a third-party website mentions your company or brand. Whenever a site mentions you but doesn’t link to you, you can politely ask them to add a link.
- Write guest posts: Another option is to look for reputable websites that are open to guest writers. If you offer to write a guest post for them and accept, you can include several links to your site in the piece you write.
The above solutions are just a few ways you can earn backlinks, but they’re some of the most effective. However you go about it, though, be sure to keep in mind that it should be a win-win situation — the third-party site should benefit as much from the links as you. Over 90% of WebFX clients continue partnering with us into year 2 of their campaign.
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Start earning backlinks for your website with WebFX
By now, it should be clear to you why backlinks matter so much — so don’t miss out on the benefits they can offer you! Get out and start earning backlinks for your site. And if you’re still not sure how to go about it, no worries — WebFX can help!
With over 25 years of digital marketing experience, we’re experts on earning backlinks and optimizing for them. Your online marketing will receive a massive boost with our SEO services, and you’ll drive much better results. To get started with us, call us at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!