Do you want Google and other search engines to index your site high up in the search engine rankings? Or, more specifically, do you want to know how to get relevant backlinks to your website? The two questions go hand-in-hand.
Of course you do. If your site isn’t on the first page, or at worst the second, you won’t get much traffic. On top of that, the difference between the bottom of the first page and the top can be thousands of visitors per day.
How do you get your blog to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs)?
Before we begin, take note that this is a simple explanation of link building and how to get backlinks. There are many methods that are much more complex, but the concepts and ideas presented in this article will give you a base on which to build.
Start by Defining your Brand, Message and Target Audience
Begin the process by defining your brand – the message or messages that you want to deliver and your target audience. If you are, for example, a non-fiction author then you’d want to build a blog that demonstrates your credibility – the idea that you know your subject. Your message is related to the content of your books. Your target audience are the people you are writing for. It’s best to define your audience well before you began writing your books.
Brand – The image that you want to portray. In the case of a person, this would be their appearance, mannerisms, reputation, abilities, skills and so on. For a product, it can simply be “our soda is cold and wet” or “our cables hold up bridges.” A brand is the idea you want to put into the minds of your target audience.
Message – The concept or concepts that you want to deliver to your target audience.
Target Audience – Your customers or whoever else you are trying to reach. It is impossible to reach everyone, and the more precise your target audience, the more accurately your message will be delivered, and the more likely you will get the results you desire. The wider your audience, the more difficult it is to deliver a message and the less likely you will make sales or get whatever other outcome you desire.
Once you have those defined, the next step is to create good content that targets a number of keywords and phrases related to your topic.
Matt Cutts talks about how small sites can become popular.
Create Good Content for your Audience
What are some content writing tips? It’s the published “stuff” on your website, including:
- Pages that contain text and other media
- And so on
Create quality content that other people want to read or examine and is enticing to other blogs and websites. Your content should be a mixture of text, images, videos, infographics, slideshows, and anything else that helps readers understand your message. Include outbound links to authority sites, when possible, to add credibility. This builds trust among your target audience.
I discuss these aspects of SEO in my article SEO for Blogs for Authors: Optimize for Google and People.
Additionally, it is vital to create a site that is well organized and free from gross errors. A future article in this series will dive into this deeper.
Why is it Important to get Backlinks?
A backlink is simply a link (URL) that points to your website or a page in your website. Someone (or, in the case of automated tools, something) decided your site or page had information pertinent in some way to their audience. For example, if your blog contains southern recipes, other recipe sites could link to yours to add value for their readers. Additionally, restaurants and newspapers in the local area might link to your site to give their readers some cooking ideas.
Backlinks can point to your site (the front page) or a specific page on your site. It’s important to get a mixture of site links and page links.
Anchor text, the name or text of the backlink, is also important as this is used by search engines to help understand the topic of your page or site. For example, for my site, The Writing King, a few backlinks with anchor text of “The Writing King” establishes that as my brand. Additionally, anchor text of “ghostwriter”, “copywriter”, and so forth gives the search engines additional information so they understand what my site is about.
The key point about anchor text is these tell search engines what others believe your site or page is about. By building backlinks with a variety of anchor texts, you widen the net you are casting, and you’ll get more results from searches.
Remember that you should get links to individual pages on your blog, and these should use anchor text in the links that describe the topic.
Backlinks are vital for SEO because they establish the credibility of your site.
The reason why backlinks are important is they establish that your site and pages have credibility. Other people have stated, by adding links to your site, that your information is a good fit for their readers.
The Chicken and the Egg Problem
The best practice is to get links from sites that have more authority than yours.
- Domain Authority (DA) was developed by MOZ to predict how well a website should rank in search engine results. Websites are rated on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being best. New sites always begin at one, and as sites mature in a white hat manner they will get higher scores. Sites such as Google and Wikipedia are at the top of the scale, while small business or personal blogs start near the bottom.
- Page Authority (PA), also developed by MOZ, measures the ranking strength of an individual page.
- Page Rank (PR) is a number indicating the quality and quantity of links to a page on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning no inbound links and 10 meaning a great number of quality links.
However, if a site is relatively new with a low DA and PA values (PR is no longer published by Google), then how will it get inbound links?
This is the classic chicken and egg problem, as in which came first? It’s also a classic catch-22 because you need to get links to raise in the rankings, but you can’t get links until you raise in the rankings.
The answer is you create great content which other webmasters want to reference from their sites, and you use some techniques such as guest posting and a Reporter Out. Additionally, establish relationships by networking with other bloggers, businesspeople and webmasters.
Don’t Build Links Too Quickly
If you are like most bloggers and businesspeople, you want to get Google and other search engines to take notice of your blog as quickly as possible so that you can start making income or build an audience.
Slow down. Get a few good quality backlinks a week, at most. Take your time. If you go too fast, Google may decide you are attempting to spam them. This may result in a downgrade for your page or site.
If you write good quality content, people will naturally want to share it anyway. Get more people to look at your content via social media, press releases and other methods, and if your quality is high, you’ll find it shared all over the web.
In other words, be patient.
Networking is a Great Way to Get Backlinks
One of the best ways to create backlinks, especially if your site is relatively new, is to network with other professionals. These could be:
- Peers in the same or a similar niche or genre.
And so on. The idea is to get others to know, like and trust you, and to create great content on a well-optimized blog or website. These relationships will quite naturally result in a certain amount of cross-linking.
Things to be careful about:
- Do not use link exchanges. Search engines frown on obvious exchanges of links where you put a link on your site in return for a link on their site. Instead, add links that make sense, and ask for links that make sense, and make sure your networking partners understand it’s not necessarily an even exchange.
- Don’t link to or ask for links from low-quality sites. In other words, if the sites or blogs are not of high quality, don’t consider them in your link strategy.
- Avoid “thin” sites. These are sites with little or no real content.
- Stay far away from any black hat SEO. Just don’t do it. Google (and other search engines) will catch you.
Excellent Link Building Methods for Authors
The following sections describe some link building techniques that I’ve found to be useful for me as an author. Many of them require writing content, either short or long, which fits right into what I do every day. You should come design a workflow of tasks to be accomplished every day, week and month.
Keep in mind this is a brief list of ways to get backlinks. There are literally thousands of other methods. Use the ones that fit best with your style and methodology. Over time, you’ll discover what works for you and what doesn’t. This is how to backlink your website; do steady work on a regular basis over time. You can’t build backlinks quickly – the search engines frown on that because it’s not “natural”.
One great way to get links to your site is to comment on blogs. This generally will not improve your search ranking, at least not directly, because most commenting systems will mark links as NOFOLLOW. This means the search engines will ignore them for the most part.
However, by making intelligent, thoughtful comments in blogs you can gain the attention of the blog owner, and they then become a networking partner. You can ask them to link to your site, write guest posts for them, and so forth.
You may also get traffic from people who click on those links to check out your site.
Here’s a note on commenting from Matt Cutts from Google.
Find podcasts, radio shows and bloggers who want interviews, contact them, and offer to do an interview. These places are always looking for content, so you have a good chance of succeeding. You’ll most likely get a backlink from their site for the interview. Sometimes these interviews will be a response to a written questionnaire, sometimes audio podcasts, and occasionally they will be video.
To get an even bigger bang for the buck, ask them for copies of the interview in MP3 (audio) or MP4 (video) format along with rights to use republish them. This will give you content for your own blog.
A fantastic method to use to get backlinks is to write guest posts on other blogs. How do you do this? Find a blogger and start communicating with them. Comment on their blogs, join their email lists, reply to their newsletters and so forth. Once you’ve established a relationship, ask to do a guest post.
Take care to ensure these posts are of the same or even better quality than those you do for your own blog and include a link or two back to your own site.
Make it a point, if possible, to write more than one article for each site. Otherwise, it might appear that you are posting articles simply to get backlinks.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
An excellent technique for getting backlinks is to join the Help A Reporter Out service as a source. You’ll get daily emails with questions from reporters. By properly answering their query (this is called a pitch) you’ll get a few responses, and most of these will result in backlinks to your site. On occasion, you’ll run into a reporter for a print publication or for a site that does not allow backlinks, but that’s just part of the game.
If you forgo from selling your products and services, and instead focus on answering their query and explaining why you are a credible source, you’ll get responses. After a while, you may find the same reporters coming back to you for more material.
I’m sure you’ve bought many products and services from companies that have a presence on the web. Send them a short, glowing testimonial, and give them permission to republish it on their website as they see fit. Be sure to include your link. Quite often, this will result in a link from the home page of that site.
How to Destroy your Rankings
Any of the following actions can cause your site to be banned, temporarily or permanently, from search engines. This is not a full list of so-called black hat SEO techniques. However, it will give you some ideas things you should avoid.
- Article Directories – Google will most likely just ignore these as they are generally only intended for linking purposes.
- Link farms – These are sets of web pages that include hundreds or even thousands of links in an attempt to influence search engine rankings.
- Keyword stuffing – Repeating keywords and phrases over and over in an attempt to fool the search engines.
- Unrelated keywords – Adding extra, unrelated keywords in an attempt to get the search engines to send more traffic.
- Hidden text – Making text very tiny, using colors to make text invisible to readers, and hiding links so they can be picked up by search engines but not seen by viewers.
- ALT stuffing – loading your image descriptions and ALT text with keywords (keyword stuffing your ALT tags)
- Cloaking – Making your pages appear different between search engines and human viewers.
- Doorway pages – Creating pages on different domains with duplicate or similar content. Often these redirect users to a primary site.
- Page swapping – Once a page has been indexed, swap it out with a different page.
- Duplicate content – Copying content from other sites and using it on your own. Instead, use a small quote and link to the primary source of the information.
- Spam or automated blog posting – Creating blog posts that are garbage just to get people to click on links.
- Comment spam – Posting links in comments on other blogs which add no value, especially in an automated way.
- Traceback spam – Similar to comment spam, except the traceback mechanism of WordPress is used instead.
- Pingback spam – Abusing ping services by notifying them of your content over and over. The idea is to make them think your content is new when it is not.
- Cybersquatting – Registering domains similar to popular domains (often called typo-squatting).
- Social network spam – Using social networking in a spammy way to get people to click on ads going to your site. For example, posting a cat video which links to a get rich scheme.
- Article spinning – Creating multiple variations of the same article.
- Content automation – Using automated programs to create content.
The article 44 Black Hat SEO Techniques That Will Tank Your Site provides additional black hat SEO techniques that you are well advised to avoid.
I’ll say this over and over in this article series about SEO. The way to get your site ranking well in the search engines is:
- Create excellent quality content.
- Get links from high quality authority sites in an organic (natural) manner.
Matt Cutts talks about negative SEO.
What If You Have Several Sites
Be careful about linking together different sites that you own, especially if they are on the same IP address. This is common when using shared hosting services, because they often allow multiple blogs or websites with their own domain names to be defined for a single account.
For example, let say you own mywebsite.com, and you want to also create myproduct.com, anotherproduct.com and myservices.com. On first glance, it might seem advantageous to link all these together in a kind of web, and even include all those links in the menu on each page.
While it won’t hurt to include a link here and there to other sites that you own, even if they are on the same IP address, it’s best to avoid including those links on every page of all your sites. Instead, create a hierarchy in your main site which includes each of your other sites as subfolders. For example, mywebsite.com/myproduct, mywebsite.com/anotherproduct and mywebsite.com/myservices works much better for SEO purposes.
If you want to get your site ranked in the search engines, start with excellent quality content that others will want to share. Use our writing skills, include graphics, videos and other media.
Once you have quality content, create a plan to contact other webmasters and bloggers and ask to do guest posting. This is the most effective way to get traffic to your website.
The other methods, such as blog commenting and testimonials, can help – just don’t overdo it.
Finally, stay away from anything that is even remotely related to search engine spam (black hat SEO.) Also avoid any kind of free backlink builder or free backlinks submitter. Most of these don’t work well, are spammy and may get your site penalized.
If you follow these recommendations and build links at a regular pace over a period of time, you’ll find the search engines will take notice and you will get more traffic. This is how to get links to your website.
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