It’s easy to stand out if you’re in a small room, and you’re the only person with a particular job.
You can wear identifiable clothes like a surgeon’s outfit with a stethoscope or have a sign above your head, talking about what you do.
Maybe that sign could talk about book reviews, cake baking, managing teams, software development, or any of a thousand other skills and interests.
If you’re the only person with that specific skill, people will come to you for help and assistance.
However, if you’re one of the close to 1.8 billion websites online, getting your voice heard can be a bit more complicated.
Almost 380 new sites are added every minute. This equates to 547,200 new sites per day, so finding new websites and information would be next to impossible without using tools like search engines.
Of these, Google is the preeminent search engine in the world today, and one of the first places people look for information. But unless your site shows up early in its list of pages, being listed will provide only limited value to your business.
Fortunately, there are ways to get your site to feature higher in search engine listings.
This is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization, a technique no organization can afford to ignore. SEO has quite a few different ways of optimizing websites to feature higher in search engine rankings, but one of the most successful is the use of backlinks.
What are backlinks and how do they work?
Search engines move sites up and down in ranking based on their trust in the information provided by that site.
They determine this trust based on the number of external sites linking to the specific page.
Put another way; if the information you provide is deemed useful and informative by your internet audience, you’re more likely to get links to that information from other sites.
A backlink is that specific hyperlink from an external site linking to your website.
Here’s an example of a valuable backlink to ensure you see what I mean:
Each backlink is like a recommendation or vote for your site and the information you’re providing. The more recommendations you get, the higher you will be in search engine rankings.
Quality Backlinks vs. Quantity Backlinks
A key point to note, though, is that when it comes to backlinks, they aren’t created equal.
Complex algorithms drive search engines’ behaviour, but if an expert or authoritative site backlinks to your information, it’ll be more potent than one that’s not as relevant.
In this case, it’s not about the number of backlinks but rather where the backlink comes from.
Low-quality backlinks won’t only not help your ranking in search, but could in fact, negatively impact it, causing your site to fall even lower.
Conduct a backlink analysis on your site to ensure you are capturing links that move the needle forwards, not backwards.
Backlinks need to be relevant to your industry and should come from other relevant sites to be considered authoritative.
In this way, and over time, Google and other search engines will start to view your site as authoritative for the content and move you up in the rankings.
Strategies to Obtain Backlinks
Understanding the value of backlinks is only the beginning. A more relevant question for many businesses is how to obtain a quality backlink.
Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help with this, but an essential requirement is web content.
A marketing plan and strategy in place to continually publish useful and relevant information needs to be high up in your list. If you’re not posting regularly and often, other sites will have limited information to backlink to.
1. Create a Visually Appealing Site
They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; however, it’s not the best advice with websites.
A website must clearly indicate its purpose right from the start, with a clearly defined landing page that people can easily digest and understand.
The use of custom images and graphics throughout the EarlyBird page is an excellent example of this. As users scroll through the page, all relevant information is provided in bite-sized morsels that are simple to understand.
Complete with great graphics and a compelling message of investing in children and the future, it’s hard not to link back to them.
However, it’s not all about looks. What a website does needs to be made clear right from the start.
A prime example of this is Best Value Schools, a company that provides a ranking of schools in the USA, which they made very clear on their landing page.
A user quickly understands the site’s purpose and objective and can make an almost immediate decision on the value the site holds for them. Clear messaging is useful for prospects and marketers as that helps define a message.
This messaging can be made even more powerful by using statistics (one of my favourite routes.) Clearly defined stats are absolute gold to marketers, and if information can be quoted, it’s even more share-worthy.
2. Build Links Naturally Through Content
Companies that blog tend to get about 97% more links to their websites than others, so content creation is pretty important. But with web content, what you publish matters.
One post on a topic doesn’t make you an expert in that area despite your qualifications.
To demonstrate your expertise, create batches of interlinked posts on a specific topic or area as a way of organizing content on your site.
For example, if you’re a recruiter or hiring manager and write posts about jobs, you will definitely include some topics on LinkedIn.
With LinkedIn, unless you have a paid account, you’re limited to your network in terms of who you can speak to. For your prospective audience, you would need to educate them on the benefits of InMail and how it can best be used.
In this case, you probably want to talk about templates so that your audience puts their best foot forward and has a higher chance of success.
This type of model is known as a topic cluster. Focusing on a specific area and building multiple articles around that area to improve your authority.
So, with the above example – templates are one post. Still, the overall cluster is related to jobs, and Preply has other posts on preparing for interviews, formatting business letters, writing a CV, and more.
Websites should be well organized so people can find the information they want quickly and easily. Organization matters not only for people but also for search engines.
Search engines look for sites that have a solid foundation of content, and one of the ways this is demonstrated is internal links.
Creating internal links between posts further increases their authority and makes it easier for users and search engines to find the content.
(Example: Gili Sports)
Internal links help your users find relevant information within your site. They also help other websites find information that they want to link back to when creating a backlink.
Content by itself won’t generate backlinks, though; for that, there are some other options you need to pursue. A natural link building strategy that’s worth pursuing is outreach.
In this case, once your content has been created, reach out to relevant individuals and sites involved in your subject area.
If that expert deems your information relevant to his audience, they’re much more likely to link to it. The vital point to understand is that value is the key differentiator here. Your content should be of use to your audience and by inference to that expert’s audience.
3. Use Infographics to Attract an Audience
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is as right today as it ever was. Infographics are excellent tools for driving users to engage with your information and, more importantly, share it.
An infographic needs to explain a particular concept in a simple and easy to understand manner.
By breaking down a complex idea into smaller, bite-sized chunks, infographics can provide excellent value to your audience.
Take a look at this example about online sales.
After introducing the importance of online selling and sharing tips to increase sales, they provided infographics to add value and help readers skim through ways to drive online sales.
Once the infographic has been built, the next step is promotion. In this case, reaching out to niche sites is still a good strategy, but you can also consider social media as a means of promotion.
4. The Power of Moving Pictures
While a picture is worth a thousand words, moving images, namely video, can be even more potent in their effects.
When used as a promotional tool, video has helped many businesses in their efforts to attract new clients.
In fact, based on data from Wyzowl, 87% of marketers indicated that video has helped drive traffic to their site.
(Example: Ketoned Bodies)
Videos can be consumed everywhere there’s internet access, and with the advent of 5G networks worldwide, the amount of video consumed is set to skyrocket further.
Video is an excellent way of getting your message out to a large audience quickly and, if done right, is easily shareable, which further helps to drive backlinks.
In addition, if you decide to host all of your videos on YouTube, this alone can lead to additional income streams for your business.
Cisco has already predicted that by 2021, 80% of worldwide internet usage will be video, which is a massive jump from the 67% of traffic that it accounted for in 2016.
Video needs to be part of your marketing plan, but it’s critical to understand that all video is not created equal.
Experiment with short and long versions to understand how your audience will consume your content.
Also, consider that mobile already accounts for close to 50% of B2B inquiries, so video needs to account for this audience too.
5. Comparison content = link building gold
Comparison content is pretty simple in nature: you compare different strategies, companies, services, etc, against each other.
For instance, this post from Drew Cheneler on Credit Repair companies:
Let me break this down for you. Comparison content is link building gold for a multitude of reasons:
- It covers potentially hundreds of more keyword variations than just a single piece. Because you cover multiple brands or services in a single post, you reach a far wider audience.
- Adding reviews to each compared service allows you to source social proof, social shares, and ego-bait for link building.
- Naturally, comparison content is highly linked back to due to the nature of the content; it’s less promotional and directly tells you to buy one product. Instead, it’s more helpful for the end-user to weigh the options to their own needs.
Comparison content is a highly underused way of naturally building links on your site.
Understand What Works on Your Site
Understanding what is and is not working on your site can be half the battle. Luckily there are some tools available online that can help you find out where you currently stand, and perhaps more importantly, how you compare to your competitors.
- Ubersuggest – using Ubersuggest, you can directly search the backlink data of your competition. Input the name of the site you’re interested in and then select that backlinks option from the sidebar to get all of the information you need.
- Find Broken Links – broken links are an effortless way of getting backlinks from other sites. With close to 85% of all the sites registered no longer operational, those sites’ links won’t work. Using a tool like Check My Links, you can browse pages on an authoritative site. The Google Chrome extension quickly checks the page and highlights broken links. In this case, reaching out to the webmaster to suggest a link to your site with relevant and useful information can pay dividends.
- Monitor Backlinks – this tool is potent at building excellent links. With Monitor Backlinks, you can understand where the links you’re getting are coming from, but you can get a lot more. This tool lets you understand the keywords your competitors are using and the backlinks they’re obtaining. You can use this information to proactively reach out to these sites and initiate a conversation to substitute your backlink in its place.
Maximize Your Presence Online
The best type of customer is one that comes to you organically. They come because they’re interested in your product or service, and your mission resonates with them.
Natural backlinks are an excellent way of ensuring that search engines send these targeted consumers to you.
Always look at your site from an outside-in perspective and consider if your site is easy to use and navigate and, more importantly, you are providing value. How your site looks matters as you don’t want your potential customers to get lost in menus that don’t make sense.
Once you have your look and feel in place and a content strategy established, you can start exploring backlinking to continue growing your web presence.