In the final exciting installment of this three-part series, we'll look at the all-important art of backlink building to increase the authority of your website and gain a better search engine position.
If you missed the first two on this you can view them here:
Before we dive in let's have a quick recap of what we've already learned...
Backlink building is an essential part of any good website strategy. Despite what you may have heard backlink building is not some secret art known only to a select few internet mystics, it is based on the solid principles upon which the internet was founded. A backlink is simply a link from an external website to your website. Just as a reference in an essay tells the examiner you have some authority behind your subject, backlinks tell Google that you have some authority behind your website. A website with authority in the eyes of Google will do better in the search engine rankings.
Before we begin looking at techniques for building backlinks, it's important not to just rush off and acquire links from any site you come across, backlinks are more about quality than quantity. Let's have a quick look at some factors that affect the quality of a backlink:
The reputation of the website linking to you - Be sure that the website that is linking to you isn't breaking any of Google's rules and is reputable. Any penalty imposed upon that website could be passed down to you. If you are unsure of the reputation of a potential linking site, check with an SEO (search engine optimisation) professional. If possible, link to sites that are related to your industry in some way, this gives users and search engines a greater indication of your website's relevance.
The number of links on that page - Every external link from a page will dilute the value that is passed on to the site it is linking to. Throughout the internet, there are many free directories that will happily provide a link or sometimes thousands of links to your website. While these may sound tempting, the value of a link from a directory can be negligible if they are irrelevant to your industry and link to thousands of other websites.
The text used in the link - this is known as anchor text, rather than having a link that says 'click here' (which tells the search engine nothing) it would be more beneficial to have a link that contains some of your chosen keywords ie: 'Custom Guitar Designs' This gives the search engine some context and helps establish the relevance of your website.
In essence, the most valuable links come from websites that have a good standing with Google. You gain credibility with Google by building relationships between your website and other credible websites. Let's look at some techniques now to encourage backlinks to your website:
Exchange links with industry stakeholders - Get in touch with forums, groups, suppliers, clients and other stakeholders in your field that already have some connection to your business. If a link already exists in the real world, it will be far easier to create one in the digital world. You could also offer to put a link on your website back to their website, win-win!
Create a stir in the industry - Write an article on your website (or on a blog) that provokes a reaction from visitors, makes them want to get involved in the conversation and share it with others. Don't sit on the fence, form an opinion and open it up for debate.
Produce original, unique content - Produce something that no one else has, some useful tool or piece of content. Something unique and original might take some effort to come up with but if it's useful and people know about it, they will link to it. This could be anything from a shiny new app to an exciting e-book showcasing your specific industry knowledge, be creative!
Make YouTube videos - Making and uploading a video to Youtube is easy and the potential benefits are great. Create your video and link it back to your website. Produce a video diary showing some interesting facet of your company, or you could showcase your products in an interesting way, the 'will it blend?' series did a phenomenal job of this, at the writing of this article 'will it blend? - ipad' has almost 16,000,000 views (at time of writing), note that the description directs people back to the will it blend website.
There are many other things we could look at but the crux of them is to produce valuable content and get involved in the community by contributing the unique expertise you have in your field. So, leverage social media, launch a newsletter, attend seminars and networking events to build up offline relationships that could also become online relationships.
Search Engine Optimisation is not an overnight process, like nurturing a fine wine it takes time and effort. There are always going to be companies offering 'get to the top of Google quick' schemes. While you may see some short-term benefits using these methods, Google are constantly improving their ability to catch and punish websites that try to cheat their way to the top of the rankings. Google's most recent updates specifically target websites that use unscrupulous methods of gaining backlinks. So avoid paying for links or involving your site in schemes that promise to get you to the top of Google for minimum effort, if it were truly possible to get to the top of Google with no effort at all, every site would be at the top and Google would just be a jumbled mess.
Backlink building is an ongoing process that should form part of your online strategy, careful research should be carried out into potential candidates for backlinks and perseverance is needed. While it can take some time to build up high-quality links, once you have them, the long-term effect they will have on your ranking will place you high above other sites that haven't taken a long-term view.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this three-part series and hopefully, it has inspired you to think about your search engine optimisation strategy. If you have any questions regarding anything you've read please feel free to contact me.