What Are Backlinks? image

When people of similar interests meet, they often trade suggestions. For example, when two book lovers engage in conversation, one would almost immediately ask the other if he/she has read a certain title from a genre they both enjoy. If not, then a suggestion might be given to check it out.

That’s very similar to how backlinks work – they are simply recommendations given by other websites. To put that into better perspective, let’s just say you published an article on your book blog about your experience reading the first Harry Potter book. Let’s say that another book blog or book-centric site picked up on it and wrote a post that mentioned your piece and included a link. That’s what we call a backlink. And if that backlink comes from a reputable source, it could be very valuable to your site.

While one single link may not a total game-changer for your website, the beauty of merely being mentioned is that now other sources may begin to pick up on your content. They too may end up writing their own post(s) mentioning your work or even sharing it through social media. Either way, you have a great chance of seeing some increased site traffic headed your way.

And after all, isn’t getting new visitors a big part of what SEO is all about? That’s what makes backlinks such an important part of any SEO strategy.

So Why Do Backlinks Matter?

In an age where search engines are focusing more on high-quality content, is it still worth it to devote attention to getting backlinks? Absolutely.

After all, Google’s own Matt Cutts did say in that although backlinks “still have many, many years left in them,” ultimately the search engine is looking for more conversational results for their search pages. At the time he made the statement, Cutts was serving as the Head of Google’s Web Spam team. And even though Cutts is on leave from the search giant, he is still a digital marketing expert worth following!

What this means for you is that Google is still relying on backlinks as a ranking factor and will be for some time to come. Ranking factors are what indicate the reputation and popularity of a site or page, ultimately determining how search engines rank it.

But aside from pure SEO value, backlinks matter because they can expose new readers to your content – and if you’re lucky that exposure will come from very trusted sources! Remember, backlinks serve as a virtual “recommendation” from someone else’s page (to their readers!) that you’ve posted something worth checking out. These backlinks can have a huge impact on how your site performs.

How Are Backlinks Obtained?

In a perfect world, great contnet would be enough to get a site or post noticed. Right? Unfortunately, that’s just not the world that we live in. In reality, the process is much more difficult. In fact, some site owners turn to under-handed SEO practices (known as Black Hat), which are intended to manipulate the search results in their favor. Of course, these practices have caused many sites to incur severe penalties – especially now that Google is cracking down on its search algorithm.

So what can you do to safely obtain these coveted backlinks without putting your site in harm’s way? After all, obtaining backlinks the right way can be a fairly lengthy, tiresome process, but those who do are generously rewarded. Here are several ideas for getting backlinks to your site:

Networking Online: Start by finding groups of like-minded individuals online and get to know them. Whether anyone from your group has any significant online influence or not doesn’t really even matter. Find a community and become an active part of it. As you ask questions, share information and get to know other members of these groups, it’s a great way to find backlinking opportunities. We recommend starting in social media or in forums.

Guest-Blogging: Actively seek out opportunities to serve as a special guest-poster on other blogs in your niche. Now guest-blogging may not be quite the trend it once was, but it can still be an effective way to create backlinks (or site exposure) for yourself in the long run. Obviously, the ideal scenario would be to create guest posts for sites where your work will be seen by a high number of visitors, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Keep Publishing: One of the main things to remember about the web is that it does not stop. It doesn’t sleep and it doesn’t take breaks. If you aren’t publishing, someone else will be. Now the tricky part here is to be sure that you’re never publishing content just for the sake of publishing it – but rather that you’re always generating valuable information that is worth your readers’ time. Following along with web and social media trends will help ensure that you never run out of relevant things to write about.

The Not-So-Secret Secret to Winning Backlinks

At the end of the day, people relate to people. As long as you’re publishing original, relevant, quality content, you will build an audience. Your topics may be funny, enlightening, controversial or something else entirely. No matter what, there will always be someone out there who will appreciate what you’ve published. And from as you begin gaining more attention, your likelihood for attracting some of these highly sought-after backlinks will also increase. Just make sure that you’re offering something worth reading and sharing it appropriately.