Backlinking, or link building, for SEO is a powerful off-site SEO strategy that can increase your website’s visibility in organic search results pages (SERPs).

Don’t know what backlinking is? Need a refresher on the topic? We’ve got you covered with this one-stop guide to backlinking. We’ll answer the who, what, why, where and how of backlinking, giving you all the tools you need to create a successful link building campaign that produces great results.

What is backlinking?

Backlinking is the SEO tactic of acquiring hyperlinks from external websites. When another website links to your own, a backlink is created. Though it might sound simple, there are a whole range of factors that contribute to the value of these links, and value is key if you want great results from your backlinking efforts (but more on that later).

Search engines use hyperlinks to discover new pages and determine how well a page should rank in their results. Search engines use links to crawl and index all the content on the web. The more backlinks you have, the more you will be noticed by search engines like Google. These backlinks tell search engines that your content is legit.

Why is backlinking important?

Backlinking is important because it gives your website and content credibility which can boost your site ranking and visibility in organic search. When a search engine is determining the quality of a web page in relation to relevant keywords it is looking at more than just content; the number and quality of links pointing to the page from external websites is a major factor. Think of these links as votes of confidence. The more votes you have the better you perform. It’s also important to remember who is voting for you because not all votes are created equal.

How to start backlinking and do it effectively:

Prioritise quality over quantity when setting goals for your link building campaign. All links are not created equal. This is important to remember, especially when considering how much time and effort you want to put into backlinking. Earning backlinks is time consuming so you want to be focusing your time and energy on links that will be the most advantageous.

As previously mentioned, some links are more valuable than others. The higher the popularity and authority of the site giving you the link, the more valuable it is. Think big name brands. These ‘high value’ links are the ones you want to obtain. Less valuable links include those from web directories and spammy sites.

To obtain these high value links you first need to create linkable assets; quality content that users can be directed to. This can include blog posts or web pages that are information-driven. Create quality, educational content and it won’t be as difficult to sell websites on creating backlinks for you.

With quality linkable assets at the ready you can now begin earning links. Remember, quality over quantity. Here are some qualities to look for in a good link:

  • Relevance

You should aim to build backlinks with sites that are relevant to yours i.e. in terms of content, or industry.

  • Authority

The stronger the site’s authority, the more valuable their vote.

  • Link Quality

Just because a site may appear authoritative on the surface, doesn’t mean it is legit. Dig a little deeper and check link quality using a third party metrics tool like Link Explorer.

  • Traffic

If your intention is to obtain links in order to drive traffic then target websites that have high levels of traffic. It may not guarantee heaps of referral traffic but you become more visible when more eyes are on you.

  • Editorial Standards

Often, if it is easy to obtain a backlink it won’t be as valuable. Sites that have editorial standards make it harder to obtain a link, meaning the links that they create will be fewer and higher in quality. As a result these are more valuable.

  • Outbound Link Quality

Quality is everything. You want your link to be considered high quality and aside from writing quality content you can add to this by associating it with other quality links. When researching prospective websites ask yourself what are they linking to? Are linked sites relevant and trusted?

  • Indexation

Target websites that are indexed with Google. If they’re not, you won’t be seen.

Building Foundational Backlinks:

At the very least your brand or business should go about building foundational backlinks. These are branded backlinks from authoritative sites that give your business credibility. Here is a list of useful foundation backlinks that are easy to obtain:

  • Social media: Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.
  • Business Listings: Think Google My Business, YellowPages, Apple Maps. There are heaps of free online business directories out there. To extend on this technique look into Niche-Targeted Directories and Geo-Targeted Directories.
  • Niche Relevant Blog Comments: Do some research and get commenting! This method may only produce a small amount of referral traffic but it can also create a layer of relevancy for your business, improve your Follow to NoFollow backlink ratio, and diversify your anchors.

Tools for backlinking: Competitive Backlink Research

It can be extremely time consuming to obtain backlinks, especially for new sites or those trying to expand their keyword footprint on the web. This is where competitive backlink research can help. Metric tools like Link Explorer can give you access to the backlink profiles of your keyword competitors giving you insight into what backlinks helped them, which could benefit you when building your own link building campaign.

It’s also extremely useful to monitor your own site’s backlinks for broken links and link popularity to track rankings and more. Some helpful tools include Check My Links, Linkbird and Pitchbox.

So, there you have it. Backlinks in a nutshell! The takeaway: backlinks are an important SEO tool that can improve your visibility and ranking in organic search. Follow our advice and you will be earning those backlinks like a pro in no time. Still have questions? Have your own tips for backlinking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!