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SEO Tips - What are Backlinks?

Backlinks & Outreach: How to Boost Your Site's Reputation

One of the best ways to improve your SEO is to get backlinks from relevant and reputable websites. This process, known as link-building or outreach, improves your online reputation and credibility and increases the chances that you’ll be pushed to the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). 

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are simply links from other websites to your site. They are crucial because they signal to search engines that your website is important. Think of them as votes in an Internet-wide popularity contest; you want as many quality links as you can get! 

Note that the emphasis here is on quality—you want links from reputable sites that are relevant to what you do. That’s because unlike with votes, not all links are created equal. You’ll get far more SEO mojo with links from trustworthy sites such as The NY Times or even your local newspaper than with a link from your grandmother’s 6-month-old knitting blog. And some votes might actually hurt your popularity. A link from a sketchy site can lower your standing with Google and friends. (More on that later.) Backlinks are also important because they help search engines understand what your site is about. Google’s algorithms are designed to assume that when one site links to another, there’s a relationship between their content. These algorithms also pay attention to the anchor text, the hyperlinked words that lead from an external site to yours. Ideally, this anchor text should include your specific keywords so that search engines and readers know what type of content to expect when they click on the link. 

What Types of Backlinks Are Best?

Back in the old days of SEO, the focus was on quantity: site owners were encouraged to get as many backlinks as they could, from any type of website. Oftentimes, they paid for these links—in bulk! Site owners frequently turned to link farms where they could easily buy numerous cheap links from a vast network of worthless web pages which lacked substantive content. 

As SEO has matured, the rules have changed. Google began to crack down on link farms and  now the name of the game is quality. This means that site owners need to be much more selective about what types of sites they approach for links. 

 

A good link is one from a website that is both reputable and relevant. For example, if you have a pet clinic, you want to get backlinks on popular pet-related blogs. But you may also want to hit up the top mommy blogs. Plenty of those readers might be looking for a pet clinic like yours for those emergency situations when the four-year-old shares his chocolate with the dog. In both cases, the audiences of the target blogs are interested in the content you offer—and that’s what matters. 

Another reason to go for high-quality, relevant links? These days, search engines can penalize sites with disreputable or meaningless links, pushing them lower down in search results or even removing them altogether from the SERPs. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Quality Backlinks

Back in the old days of SEO, the focus was on quantity: site owners were encouraged to get as many backlinks as they could, from any type of website. Oftentimes, they paid for these links—in bulk! Site owners frequently turned to link farms where they could easily buy numerous cheap links from a vast network of worthless web pages which lacked substantive content. 

As SEO has matured, the rules have changed. Google began to crack down on link farms and  now the name of the game is quality. This means that site owners need to be much more selective about what types of sites they approach for links. 

 

A good link is one from a website that is both reputable and relevant. For example, if you have a pet clinic, you want to get backlinks on popular pet-related blogs. But you may also want to hit up the top mommy blogs. Plenty of those readers might be looking for a pet clinic like yours for those emergency situations when the four-year-old shares his chocolate with the dog. In both cases, the audiences of the target blogs are interested in the content you offer—and that’s what matters. 

Another reason to go for high-quality, relevant links? These days, search engines can penalize sites with disreputable or meaningless links, pushing them lower down in search results or even removing them altogether from the SERPs. 

The best type of backlinks occur organically: another site’s webmaster thinks that your content is valuable for their audience and links to your site—all without you lifting a finger. Sounds nice, right? In the real world, however, you’ll most likely need to take the initiative when it comes to creating a network of authoritative links to your website. This may sound daunting, but don’t worry—we’ll lay it all out for you. 

 

1. Make a List of Good Target Websites

First things first: start searching for reputable sites that may be interested in linking to you. Defining a “reputable” site can be a bit complex. When Google crawls and indexes a website, it uses over 200 ranking factors to determine the site’s authority and decide when it is relevant to display in search results. You can get a better understanding of a site’s credibility by taking a look at certain metrics. Here are some indicators to take note of: Valuable Content: Look for sites with fresh, valuable content that is clearly useful and/or interesting to the website’s audience and relevant to your own field. If it’s gibberish or poorly written—move on.


Current Links: Examine the site’s outbound links to understand what type of websites it links to. As a general rule, only collaborate with sites that act within Google’s guidelines and link to legitimate sites.


Traffic Rank: Check a site’s traffic rank to see how popular it is. This is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews over the past 3 months. The lower the score, the more popular the site.


Domain Authority: The higher a domain authority, the more reputable a site. Keep in mind that getting links from sites with very high domain authorities can be extremely difficult. When choosing target websites, strike a balance between sites that rank high but aren’t as widely known.


Site Age: Check a site’s age to find out how long it’s been online and try to target sites that have been around for awhile. Older sites are often considered stronger and more reputable. On the other hand, similar to sites with a higher domain authority, they may be harder to get links from.


Regularly Updated Content: Google values sites that are updated regularly. If the last new post was 6 months ago, look elsewhere.

 

Cache Status: Check the cache status to learn when Google last visited a site’s page. Ideally, it should be within the last few days.

Different Types of Pitches: Promote existing site content: Take a look at the content on your site and consider which type of audiences it would appeal to. Then, mark down the websites on your list that also target this audience. Send the webmasters links to your content and explain why you think it is relevant for their readers. Write guest posts: A guest blog post is a great way to expand your audience and get your name out there. When emailing webmasters and offering to blog for them, be sure to explain your specific area of expertise, suggest a few ideas you’d like to write about and include a writing sample.Regardless of what type of pitch you make, don’t be shy about specifying what your site brings to the table and how it benefits the readers of the target website readers. Remember that you're not the only site owner using this strategy, so think of creative ways to differentiate your message when you reach out to each specific website (e.g. stay away from form emails). 


Tips for Success

Send out a lot of outreach emails, but don’t be discouraged if they are rejected or ignored. Send a follow-up email after 5-10 days and then another one about a week after that. Maintain strong relationships with webmasters of reputable websites by keeping them in the loop about your company’s latest developments. Every few months, shoot them an email and let them know what you’ve been up to and why it may be of interest to their readers.Make sure your links are fresh! Google checks the maturity of your backlinks and wants to see that you have new ones. Seek out additional backlinks every few months to send the message that your site is still alive and kicking. Be patient! It can take time for the process to take effect. If you get some great links, you might not see an immediate boost in your rankings. Just remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. 


Build a Lasting Reputation

Getting backlinks can be a challenge,but it simply requires a lot of dedication and a little bit of luck. Stick to it! Keep on sending out those outreach emails and in time you’ll find success. In six months or a year, the results will be clear when your site moves up the SERP and your traffic increases.

 

Need help with Advanced SEO? Contact me!

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Web Developer, Author, Publisher & Designer

I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides the portfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not designing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, posting salty articles about cyber threats and SEO, leading Girl Scouts, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my  community, church & family.