What’s a backlink?
If you have a website or a blog, you probably know what a backlink is. If not, in the most basic terms, a backlink is a hyperlink on another website that leads back to your website. Simple enough. Why do you need backlinks? Because without them, your website is doomed. As a responsible website owner, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of backlinks because they are the bread and butter of how anyone will find you.
Why are backlinks so important?
Having a website is as much of a soapbox as it is a home. Whether you use yours to speak your mind, advertise your business, share your hobbies, or promote your expertise, you’re online because you want to communicate with others. That’s the point: to bring people in to see your original content. The more backlinks you have, the more likely it is that people will find you. Because people are looking for you, and without backlinks, unless they have your exact URL, you will not be found. Instead of the yellow pages we used before the advent of the internet, people use search engines. The higher up you are, the more traffic you get. And what gets you that brilliant google ranking? Backlinks. The more roads lead to Rome, the more the search engines notice you, and that means more people will come.
How do I generate quality backlinks?
- Quality original content: if what you write is good and your ideas are your own, people will naturally want to link to you. It’s common sense that integrity appealing. Honest to goodness content will not fail to be respected.
- Learn to use good anchor text. You can link to things by writing the entire URL, such as this link to one of my articles, http://heatherporter.com/become-an-expert-2/brand-building-social-networking/, or you could tell people (and search engines) what the link is about, such as, “These are the best social networking accounts to have.”
- Link to other websites that you like. By giving props to people you would like to have a dialogue with, they will take notice of you and may give back in kind.
- List your website with digg, del.icio.us, StumpleUpon, and other bookmarking sites. It’s free, fast, and easy.
- Publish press releases and articles: many sites on the internet (such as Free Press Release Service) will allow you to post a press release, essentially an announcement. If you’re launching a new blog, a new service, a new product, these are all good reasons to make an announcement. Write a few good paragraphs about it, and post to these sites.
- Be active online. The more people you know, the more people will link to you. Use twitter, facebook, and linkedin to your advantage, and participate in the conversations.
Not all backlinks are created equal
If you’re a florist, it does no good to have your link on a pharmaceutical website. Common sense. It’s not necessarily the number of links you have, but how relevant they are to your website. Think of it this way. Some roads are superhighways, and some are dirt paths. If you’re linked to one or two or three highways, they’re worth so much more than dozens of irrelevant links. It’s true that more backlinks means that search engines will have an easier time finding you. But once you get the traffic, will you keep it? Is it the traffic you want? It is more valuable to be linked to websites whose content is related to yours. Join a florists’ message board or a botanists’ bloggers group.
Recognize quality backlinks for what they are
When a good relevant site links to you, they’re giving you their support. They’re saying you’re worth my attention. It’s a vote, and that means something. The more relevant votes you get, the more you are seen by the internet-surfing public as an authority in your field. It means popularity of the sort that you genuinely deserve, and you can take that to the bank.
When surfing the web just keep in mind how to get backlinks.