Link building is a major factor for how search engines rank pages and is a crucial aspect to SEO. Backlinks are considered an indicator as to how trusted and established a website. Organic link building to high authority or industry and location-relevant sites make your website more appealing to search engines which results in high ranking positions in the search results. Creating strong backlinks is part of a wider SEO strategy which will result in an increase of visitors and therefore conversions.
In this guide, we’re going to run through the type of backlinks you should be getting to your website and how we go about getting them here at our SEO Manchester agency.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are created when one webpage links to another. Backlinks are valuable in search engine optimisation as they display a “vote of confidence” in the eyes of search engines – essentially, a signal that others on the web vouch for your website. If many authoritative sites link to example.com for instance, search engines can deduce that example.com itself is an authority, and therefore also worth showing in the search engine results pages. It is thus the job of an SEO to attract and/or build backlinks to a website in order to increase its exposure in the SERP’s (search engine results pages).
Good vs Bad Backlinks
Unfortunately, not all backlinks are good for your website (and some are downright harmful!). As such, the most important thing to consider when evaluating a link opportunity is the quality of the website it is coming from. We deliver a data-driven service at Gorilla Marketing and back up our decisions using results from SEO tools such as Ahrefs & Majestic.
An ideal backlink would come from a highly trafficked website related to your niche – with your link placed in the content of an authoritative article. While these types of links seem to have the greatest effect on search rankings, other good links can come from universities, charities, government websites and/or local business guilds. On the other side of the spectrum, backlinks from gambling, adult or spammy websites could cause your website to lose trust with the search engines and should be avoided.
Understanding Backlink Metrics
Firstly, it’s important to understand is that these tools are completely independent of Google and none of these metrics are taken into consideration by the algorithm. These tools rather look to provide their best guess as to what Google is seeing and is based off how we know Google works. There are 4 primary websites that we will use at Gorilla Marketing to analyse a website & determine if we want a link from it. These are:
Majestic.com – Majestic is the worlds largest link database outside of the major search engines. They use this data to estimate how valuable a link is from a website with their ‘Trust Flow’ metric. The higher the trust flow of a website, the more likely a backlink from it is going to pass value on to your site (especially if it has similar topical relevancy to your website).
Ahrefs.com – Similar to Majestic, Ahrefs run a comprehensive link database that they utilise it to estimate the authority of a website (Domain Rating). They also have loads of other impressive SEO tools such as a keyword difficulty estimator, organic traffic history and paid traffic research.
Moz.com – The Opensite Explorer tool from Moz works similar to Majestic and Ahrefs (although nowhere near as comprehensive). What it does offer though is a widely known metric called ‘domain authority’ – which is an industry-standard when checking if a website is worth getting links from (although internally at Gorilla we use ‘Trust Flow’ and ‘Domain Rating’ first).
SEMRush.com – SEMRush is our favourite tool for checking the historic rankings of a website and looking for new keyword opportunities. Saying that though, its backlinking index isn’t as good as the top two – instead, we look to see if a site has increased its rankings over the years like the last step before deciding if we want a link from it.
Anchor Text Ratios
Once we have established which backlinks are desirable and will be used, – we now need to put anchor text and anchor text ratios into best practice. Anchor text is the clickable part of a link, often set within the content, that tells the user or search engines what the destination page is about. Search engines weigh anchor text quite heavily – with keywords in anchor text often showing ranking improvements for those keywords. However, you need to be careful not to over optimise – a good mix of branded, naked URL’s and generic phrases are needed to balance out your ratio as to not look spammy in the eyes of search engines. Use Majestic to see the anchor text ratios of the top-ranking sites in your niche to get an idea of what percentages you should be aiming for.
How to Get Backlinks
Now that you understand what and how essential backlinks are you may now be wondering– how do I get them? Before any backlinking begins though, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Have I done thorough keyword research and know that these rankings will generate ROI?
- Does my website have a friendly user experience and is engaging enough that people won’t bounce from it straight away?
- Is my content as good (if not better) than the websites ranking number 1-5?
- Have I followed all on-page SEO best practices and is my content well linked to internally?
A carefully planned backlinking strategy is vital and at Gorilla Marketing we have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to combining backlinking with a successful SEO campaign. We’ve detailed some of the most effective backlinking techniques being used today:
Reverse Engineer Your Competitors
The first place to start is looking at the backlinks of the websites already ranking high in your niche (by using the tools we’ve listed above). Google is obviously rewarding those sites for having those backlinks – so you should try and get the same ones. It can be a pretty laborious task compiling the lists and going through the websites to see if you’re able to get a link – but it is definitely worth it 100% of the time.
Outreach to Other Websites
This is probably the most common and effective method on the list. Outreach involves finding websites in your niche and contacting the webmaster to ask if you could have a link on their site. Now there are obviously more nuanced ways to do this, which we’ll explain further:
- Find broken links on their website. Using tools such as Screaming Frog or Website Auditor Pro, you may be able to find broken links on their website. Politely get in touch letting them know – and ask if the link could point to your content instead!
- Offer them content. From infographics through to widgets – if you’re able to offer them content which will be useful to their readers then you should receive a backlink in return.
- Steal your competitors’ links. If you have followed the rules above and created content that is objectively better than the pages ranking at the top of the search results – let the sites linking to your ‘outdated’ competitors know!
- Ask to become a guest author. Keeping on top of a blog can be a lot of effort for a lot of people. Let sites you want a link from know that you are interested in being a featured author and will help them supply content free of charge (with links back to your website as the reward!)
Scholarships, Sponsorships & Giveaways
Creating a scholarship can be a great way to get backlinks from universities and other websites in your industry – plus it is really rewarding for your business if you have the resources to offer the opportunity to someone starting in the industry.
The first step is to create the scholarship page on your website. You need to put in details such as what the scholarship is for, how much it is and how to apply. An example is the marketing scholarship that we offer. Next, you will need to find .edu websites that list available scholarships. Fortunately, this is quite easy to do with a quick Google search! Image Credit – Backlinko
Earn Backlinks Organically
Probably the hardest method on this list – earning backlinks based solely on the quality of your content is very rare and very few sites achieve massive organic growth without at least initially building links themselves. Our SEO strategies earn high-quality, organic backlinks, from the exceptionally high standard of content we produce in order to build sites that are known as authorities in their industry. This can take years to achieve, but when implemented correctly it has near unlimited rewards.
Black Hat SEO Tactics
These Black Hat SEO tactics are Probably the easiest way to get backlinks – however, guaranteeing that they will work or if your site is safe from a Google penalty is a whole different question. Below are some of the most common blackhat techniques being used today:
Paying for Links
One way to get a link from a website is to pay the webmaster money in exchange for a backlink. This goes against Google’s terms and conditions and they may remove your website from their index if they suspect you of buying links.
Some services offer links on websites that have been hacked. These are websites where the webmaster is unaware of the hack, with the hackers selling links in old blog posts and pages.
Personal Blog Networks
One of the most common black hat methods, a PBN is a network of sites that you build out to link to your own website. Be careful though, if Google finds out it is a network they will likely deindex every single site on it.