Who doesn’t want their website to rank higher on Google, Bing and other major search engines?
Well in this article we are going to cover the importance of backlinks and how to implement them properly to ensure that search algorithms favour your website and you benefit from a higher ranking in search results.
Backlinking is a strategy of obtaining links back to your website from other websites. Each link back to your website is considered a “vote of confidence” for your website. When someone vouches for your website, it shows the search engines that you have good content.
Ranking websites based on links has been around since the early days of Google—it was actually in their original algorithm and was referred to as PageRank.
Having good quality backlinks is still considered one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to ranking high in search results, and it makes complete sense. If the online community doesn’t find your content valuable enough to link to, chances are, your content needs improvement. Well-written content is another topic for another time.
Backlinks: Quality Over Quantity
Though Google may consider a link to your website as a “vote” for your website, it doesn’t mean that all “votes” are equal.
There are SEO companies (link farms) who have swindled small business owners into providing backlinks to their website for a cost. Unfortunately, most owners don’t understand the difference and only see the quantity.
I recently looked over a website for a potential client to see their backlink profile. They had a good quantity of backlinks to their website, but the problem is, over 30% of the links were coming from no-name-blogspot-sites with zero authority.
There is no doubt in my mind that the business owner was swindled by a link farm promising backlinks for cheap. In this case, the backlinks are probably harming the reputation of the site more than helping it!
A high quality backlink is worth more than hundreds of low quality links.
What Makes a High Quality Link?
There are a number of factors that come into play when determining the authority of a weblink.
Links that come from authoritative sources will always be a good option for ranking. Websites like news sources, universities, big brands, magazines, etc.
To determine the quality of a link there are tools available that can help. We use aHrefs‘ SEO tool which applies their algorithm to websites to determine the domain rating out of 100 points. The higher the number the better the domain rating or authority the website has.
Their SEO tool also allows you to see who is backlinking to your competition, which is valuable information when you are competing to rank higher on Google.
Link Attributes: NoFollow vs DoFollow Links
There are two types of links that search engines look at—one of which their algorithm favours.
Links have either nofollow or dofollow attributes. A link with the code rel=”nofollow” tells the search engine that they don’t want to pass the authority on to the website they are linking to. Nofollow links tell search indexing bots to “not follow” the link.
A link without the nofollow attribute is automatically a dofollow link. These are the links that you want to get as backlinks as they pass the authority on to your website.
Nofollow link: <a href=”http://websiteurl.com” rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a>
Dofollow link: <a href=”http://websiteurl.com”>anchor text</a>
Nofollow links aren’t completely useless, they just don’t hold the same impact as dofollow links.
Finding High Quality Links
aHrefs offers a seven (7) day trial of their service for about $7USD. This may be just enough time to do research on your biggest competitors and find the information you need. Just make sure you cancel before it expires if you don’t want to continue.
Use the aHrefs’ “Site Explorer” tool to research what websites are backlinked to your competitors. Determine the high authority backlink domains and get links to your site.
FREE Online Business Directories
There are many business directories that offer free listings to list your small business. These directories vary in the amount of content that they will allow you to input. Some simply allow you business name and website url, while others will accept multiple locations, services, business description, photos, logos and more!
To find online business directories to list your website, search Google for “business directories Canada” or replace Canada with a province, state or different country. Other searches may include “best __________ company”, replacing the blank with the industry your business fits.
Depending on your industry, here are a few of the bigger business directory sites you can list on: Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, HotFrog, Trip Advisor, Houzz and Zomato.
Paid Online Business Directories
When looking for listing directories, you will stumble upon directories that will allow you to list for a small free. If the domain authority is high, then it may be worth it to list on these sites. It all depends if the price they are asking is worth the amount they are asking.
There are usually additional benefits if you pay for a listing. Things like photos, multiple links, social media links, a form for customers to contact you, and more.
Search Engines & Maps
This seems obvious, but many small businesses overlook this as an option. If you haven’t listed your business on the major search engines, it may already be there and just require you to claim the listing. If it isn’t listed, set up a new listing and verify it.
Keep in mind, you’ll need a physical location to list on any map, but if you don’t want your listing to show customers your address, like in the case of a home-base business, you can choose to hide it and specify a service area instead.
Your company may already be connected with some really good industry associations. Most associations have websites that list their members in their membership directory. This means that you may be able to update your listing to include your website address. Send a quick message to the association to see if they can make the change or provide a login so you can make the change.
If you aren’t part of an association, I highly recommend it. It’s more than just a link on your website, but it can be a great way to increase business, learn about new industry information and network with other industry professionals. Chamber of Commerce groups are especially great for networking. Every association is different, but you can expect to pay an annual fee to become a member.
Here are a few ideas where you can find associations, of course it’s dependant on your industry and location:
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce Local Chapters List
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce Association Members List
- Wikipedia’s List of Professional Associations based in Canada
- Better Business Bureau
Manufacturers, Suppliers & Dealers
This may not work for every small business, but if you are a distributor or exclusive dealer for a product, contact your manufacturer or supplier to see if you can get a link from their website back to your website.
Suppliers and manufacturers often provide a list where the end user can get their product. Don’t just get your address and phone number listed, ask if they can add your website address too. This works great because it not only benefits your business, it will help you sell their product—win-win for both sides.
Tips for Listing in Online Directories
- Link to the actual url you wish to promote. Do not link to a 301 redirecting to another url or domain.
- Keep posting information consistent. Use the same address, phone number, etc when listing on directory sites. Google notices inconsistencies and it may negatively impact your website.
- Input as much information as the directory will allow. eg) If it allows four photos, upload four photos that are applicable to your business—a logo is a good start.
- Ensure all details are accurate. Some directories make it difficult to change entries after the fact. However, most will allow you to set up an account to return and make changes as needed.
Be a Valuable Content Generator
You may not know everything, but you’re probably pretty skilled and knowledgeable about your industry. In fact, if we started talking about what you do, you could probably talk for hours providing insight, tips and advice about your industry.
In fact, the information you share is not usually known by the broader audience. With that said, putting your knowledge and experience in writing would be very valuable for those who seek to learn more about your industry. Basically, give the internet a reason to link to your website.
And guess what? Google LOVES well-written, authoritative content!
Take your content and get it out there. Get it in front of your audience with your message.
Start a blog section on your website where you can post helpful information for your followers. Be you and write in your words with your personality. Ghost writing is and will never be the same as the words from your mouth, nor will it have the same impact.
Studies show that longer content ranks better. In fact, a minimum of 1900 words receives more attention by Google than posts with less words. It makes sense because usually the more the content, the more exhaustive the topic.
4 Ways to Get Backlinks
Once you have valuable, well-written content, it’s time to get backlinks from higher authority websites. There are a few ways to do this, all of which either include money or time.
Write for Backlinks
Approach similar industry websites that post articles and pitch your blog post. If you are a plumber who is looking to get backlinks, send an email to the websites where your article is a fit. This may be an online industry magazine, plumbing association, news site, blog or even a supplier’s website.
They will mostly likely expect original content that hasn’t been posted before. Almost always, these sites will allow you to post a bio as the author of the article, linking back to your website.
Another way to find industry websites that are looking for writers is by simply googling it. If you are a plumber, search for plumbing “write for us” with “write for us” in quotes. This will list numerous websites that are looking for writers. Just like this write for us link on our entrepreneur website, InspireCast.
Ask for Backlinks
Sometimes it’s as easy as asking, but there is usually a method to it. A cold ask is tough because they won’t-know-you-from-a-hole-in-the-ground. Before reaching out to a website asking for a backlink, find a reason that they would want to backlink to you.
Sometimes they have an article with a broken link that links to another website’s blog post. Using aHrefs broken link tool, you can find broken links on any website. This tool allows you to see the the link and anchor text it links to.
If the broken link links to an article called “Top 5 Reasons to Change Your Furnace Filter Every 3 Months” and the article no longer exists, write a new article and ask that they replace the broken link with a link to your article.
Hiring for Backlinks
I don’t recommend this one lightly, as it can have serious negative repercussions if the company you hire doesn’t know what their doing. This is simply done by hiring a third-party to find high authority backlinks for you, posting on your behalf. As mentioned earlier, not all backlinks are created equal. Keep this in mind and spend time researching before signing on with a backlinks provider. Online reputation is important and is hard to fix.
Paying for Backlinks
There are websites that accept backlinks for a price. The price varies by website and is set by the website provider. You can expect to pay as much as $350 for a single link on a high authority website.
This is a steep price for a single link and will not get you the ranking increase you are looking for. Websites that charge less for links usually have a lower domain authority and their link would have even less impact.
Buying links is actually in violation of Google’s policies and can get you sandboxed (penalized). It’s not worth the risk.
Bottom line, paying for single backlinks is a poor investment. The best way to increase backlinks is to put in the work, writing valuable content and building relationships.
Tips When Posting a Backlink
- Use anchor text that includes the keywords to the page you are trying to rank for. Anchor text is the text that replaces the actual url. Generic anchor text, like “click here”, isn’t very effective in passing on authority. Instead, make the anchor text brief, but descriptive, as to avoid keyword overload.
GOOD example of Anchor text:
“If you are a realtor who is struggling to grow to the next level, you may need to consider implementing a marketing strategy that’s different from what is normally done. The Real Estate industry is highly competitive, so realtor marketing ideas must be unique to get the attention of buyers and sellers.”
BAD example of Anchor text:
“If you are a realtor who is struggling to grow to the next level, you may need to consider implementing a marketing strategy that’s different from what is normally done. Need realtor marketing ideas? visit our blog post
The actual link we are linking to has the words in the url and heading of the page we’re linking to. https://inspirecast.ca/innovative-marketing-ideas-realtors/
- One or two backlinks to your website in a single article is sufficient. Putting multiple links in an article, with keyword anchors may trigger Google’s Penguin algorithm, which penalizes keyword stuffing.
- Get dofollow links whenever possible as they hold more weight than nofollow links.
- Linking to the main landing page (http://domain.com) is not as effective as linking to internal pages (http://domain.com/page-with-a-post/).
In closing, guard your online reputation when finding and posting backlinks. It’s important to build and create value and relationships. If you want to do what’s easy and cut corners, you risk getting caught and penalized by Google for violating their algorithm. Coming back from a bad reputation online is difficult and will haunt you for years.