Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second.
It’s imperative to take advantage of search engine traffic by implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This digital marketing strategy can be your business’s secret to visibility on multiple digital platforms.
The higher your Google ranking for specific keywords, the greater your odds are of earning a click to your content.
A successful SEO campaign depends on a variety of factors, not least the keywords you choose and the content you produce. Yet sometimes marketers spend too much time looking at keywords when they should be considering Google’s other ranking signals.
One of these includes the number and quality of backlinks you have, links on other sites that direct visitors to your content. Backlinks function much like letters of reference: they prove to Google that your site is worth visiting for specific searches.
The more high-quality backlinks you have, the greater your domain authority.
If you haven’t thought about backlinks at all in your SEO efforts, it’s time to give them fair consideration. Here’s what you can do to incorporate a backlink strategy into your comprehensive optimization campaign.
Identify Existing Links
You always have access to your current list of existing backlinks. If you haven’t done so already, be sure that your site is registered on Google Search Console. Here, you’ll be able to review all existing links to your site.
Once you’ve navigated to your Console dashboard, select “Search Traffic” from the left-hand menu. Click on “Links to Your Site” to view existing backlinks.
Pay attention to how many links you have—this number may surprise you! Identify the quality of these backlinks. What sites are finding your content relevant? What is their relative authority in the search engine world?
Some site owners may be surprised at the low number of backlinks they have. This is actually good, however, as few backlinks mean you have lots of room for an effective backlinking strategy.
Remove Toxic Links
Toxic links are every SEO marketer’s worst nightmare. Even if you have done everything to ensure compliance with Google’s SEO guidelines, invested in professional web design services to boost user experience, and chosen high-value keywords, bad backlinks can send your search engine rankings plummeting.
A toxic link is anything that Google deems low-quality or unauthoritative. Toxic links are the equivalent of letters of reference from fake employers or professors!
If you have toxic links, Google may issue a manual penalty. You will receive a notification for a manual penalty in Console.
Otherwise, you’ll receive an algorithmic penalty, one assigned by one of Google’s many web crawlers. These do not provide notifications, but they can be evident if you notice any sudden and shocking decreases in search engine performance.
Remove toxic backlinks by disavowing existing links in Console. These will usually be links related to spam, virus-infected content, or poor link-building services. You may also have to reach out to site owners to request manual removal of specific links.
Use the Right Tools and Platforms
When it comes to link-building itself, there are a lot of tools available to marketers. Platforms like Ahrefs, for example, enable users to view all existing backlinks, identify potential backlink sites, and pounce on high quality link-building opportunities.
Identify which platform suits your needs best. Many of these also incorporate other SEO tools, such as Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer, designed to help you select the search terms that can help you outrank competitors.
Use your platform of choice to identify viable sites for backlinks. Some platforms enable you to organize lists of viable sites and plan for backlink outreach.
Reach Out to Prospective Sites
One of the easiest and most direct ways to acquire high-quality backlinks involves contacting site owners and requesting external links. Normally, business owners offer to write a guest post with relevant links to their site, or request an editorial, write-up, or other mention.
Many sites will be highly amenable to such outreach. Others, particularly spammy sites or those that contain wishy-washy directories, may not be.
Be sure to have a plan of action before reaching out to prospective sites. Identify your own capacity for guest posting and the type of content you’d wish to present.
Most importantly, be certain that you have the time and means of acquiring links in this manual fashion. Such outreach can be tedious, but it is also well worth it in the end as it tends to lead to the highest quality links available.
Be Wary of Link Building Services
You may be tempted to invest in alleged link building services, companies that offer to acquire backlinks for you. Some of these are credible and worth the investment. Others may not be, posing risks to your well-earned Google rankings.
Be cautious of link building services. Do your research ahead of time and read client reviews to ensure that such services won’t harm your Google standing. Only invest in these services if doing so is convenient in the scope of your digital marketing strategy.
Generate Valuable Content
A perfectly organic means of acquiring relevant backlinks lies in your content itself. The more valuable and relevant your content, the greater your odds are of acquiring backlinks.
It may be worth hiring an experienced content developer or professional for this reason. A marketer that is savvy in advertising content, web copy, and social media posts is more likely to boost your backlinking potential.
If you don’t have the means to hire such an expert, take your content into your own hands. Learn more about crafting valuable content here.
The world of SEO is not an implement-it-and-leave-it marketing field. Successful SEO requires constant diligence, particularly when it comes to monitoring your backlinks.
Don’t give up on your backlink efforts. Regularly disavow links that could be harming your Google rankings and make use of tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush to identify outreach opportunities.
Generate consistently valuable content so that your users can always find something worth linking to. Remember: keywords may change, but backlinks don’t!
Bio: Kate McGunagle is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. Her blog A Lighter Earth focuses on mindfulness, sustainability, and living visionary lives. Her work, which also focuses on personal advertising, freelance careers, and millennial living, has been featured on prominent blogging platforms and in various print publications.