I saved the best for last, as this one is the most difficult by far. Backlinks are links TO your site from other sites, and the more quality backlinks you have, the more relevant you appear to Google. Here’s a specific example:
Site A sells red widgets, and so does site B. They both have similar content, keyword-rich copy, similar keywords and a good site structure. But site A has 500 quality backlinks, while site B only has 5. To Google, site A is much more important, because there are so many more relevant sites that link to them. So site A will always rank better than site B for that keyword.
While that is a very simplistic explanation, you get the point. Now before you go off and try to get your site listed everywhere, there is one more factor at play here. The links to your site must be from sites that are good quality, and relevant to your industry. Let me explain.
A good quality site is determined by a number of factors including the number of backlinks THEY have, the quality of their content, the age of the domain, etc. There are a number of ranking systems that different companies use to determine how ‘valuable’ a site is. ahrefs.com uses a domain rank and a url quality score, while moz.com uses a domain authority number. The higher the number, the better the site. Sites like Facebook, Youtube and google score 100, while your Grandmother’s quilting blog is probably more like a 5 or 10. You obviously want your incoming links to come from the ones with the higher numbers.
You also want to make sure that you avoid getting links from ‘spammy’ sites, or sites that are just pages full of links. Google HATES those and will penalize you if your site is listed on one of them. In general you want to avoid links from low-tier sites, no matter what kinds of sites they are. It’s like hanging out with the bad kids at school, eventually you get a reputation as being one of them no matter how good you are.
Now let’s say your Grandmother’s quilting blog was more like a 50, you’d think a link from that would be HUGE right? Unless you are selling quilts, not so much. You want links that are relevant to your keyword. The exception to this is links from REALLY high value sites. If you have a chance to get a link from somewhere like wikipedia.com or apple.com, take it!
So how do you go about getting links? Good question, it isn’t easy! One of the best ways to get a ton of links is via forums related to your industry. Do you make soap? Then get involved with some soap making forums and post advice, feedback, questions, etc. Make sure you add your web site to your forum signature, so that every time you post, you get another backlink. A few words of caution about doing this:
- Don’t spam the forum just to get links. You’ll end up getting kicked out and you’ll lose ALL of your links.
- Try to post valuable content, as this helps build you as an authority, which is also important
- Make sure the forum content is not password protected. Google can’t see past that, and your posting will be for naught.
Guest posting on blogs in your industry is also a great way to get your name out there.
Are you a member of an industry trade group like indiebusinessnetwork.com or soapguild.org? Great, those are very valuable links to have. Make sure you pay your dues so your listing doesn’t get axed!
Consider trading links with someone, it will help you both. Don’t create a page of links, but somehow work their link into your blog for example.
Backlinks are definitely difficult to get, and you have to constantly monitor them for broken links, defunct pages they are linking to, etc. They are essential to get your site ranking well though, so keep at it no matter how frustrating it is!
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