In previous posts I’ve touched on the subject of backlinks and their importance to SEO, and mentioned how something like a popular blog post that gets circulated around social media can give your SEO a boost by generating links. The importance of backlinks is a big part of why producing quality content on your site is so good for your SEO – if the content is quality then your audience will not only want to keep coming back to your website but they will be more likely to want to share it and link to it.
Why Backlinks Are So Important to SEO
What makes links to your site so important? First off, as discussed in the previous post in this series, links are Google’s primary tool for discovering and indexing websites. Google’s “crawlers” – actually programs written to travel the web and index the information they find – do their work by moving from page to page via links.
Links aren’t only Google’s method of discovering sites, though, but also one of their primary methods of ranking them. The number of links that Google finds to your site across the internet is a major factor in how relevant Google believes your site to be.
It isn’t as simple as just counting the links, either – Google weighs some links with more value than others. If Google considers a site to be relevant and authoritative (a decision it makes based largely on how many links exist to that site!) it will give more weight to a link from that site to yours than it would a link from an obscure site.
For an excellent breakdown of Google’s inner workings click on the image to the right to see the full infographic by the Pay Per Click Blog.
How Can You Gain More Quality Backlinks?
Many of the techniques discussed in our inbound marketing series may, as a side effect, help you gain backlinks. Any time you increase the value of your site by putting out content that your audience will want to read, watch or hear you will be making it more likely that your site will be linked to in various venues across the web.
If, however, you want to spend some time focusing directly on gaining backlinks, here are a few ways to go about this.
Talk to your friends. Do you have friends and associates that own businesses with their own websites? Talk to them about trading links. If you link to each other’s sites you will both benefit.
Network online. Find other businesses online that are complementary to yours – obviously you may not want to make this request of your competitors! – and see if they would be interested in trading links. You could also suggest trading content; for example you could trade blog posts, writing guest posts on each other’s blogs that would, of course, include links to each other’s sites. This would benefit both of you through the links as well as the fresh content. You could simply use Google to look for prospects, but you may have an easier time using a networking tool such as LinkedIn.
Submit your site to business directories. Not all online directories are relevant or reputable but there are quite a few that you could benefit from. Check out HubSpot’s Ultimate List of 50 Local Business Directories to help you get started. Some of these directories only offer paid listings but many of them accept submissions at no charge. Having your business listed in popular directories can benefit you in several ways, not only by giving you a backlink to boost your SEO but by making your information available to potential customers who are searching that directory.
Quality over Quantity!
Like most methods of building solid, organic SEO results, gaining a significant number of backlinks can take time. Rather than simply trying to get as many links as possible, take your time and pursue opportunities that will lead to links on quality sites, and preferably sites that are relevant to your area of business. One link from a site that is authoritative in your field is worth any number of links from sites that are simply collections of links without context.
Of course, if you are a Slamdot customer and you’d like some help in this area, take a look at our search package, which includes submissions to multiple trusted directories as well as many other SEO benefitting tweaks!