What are Backlinks and How Do They Improve Your SEO?

Backlinks are one of the most important external ranking factors for your website.

If you aren’t already aware, backlinks are a link from an external site that links back to yours. The more backlinks your website has from trusted, high-ranking, and relevant websites, the more chance you have of ranking highly on search engines.

When looking to build these backlinks to help improve your search engine optimisation (SEO), always focus on the quality of your links. If there isn’t a focus on this quality, then your efforts aren’t likely to get you very far.

Prioritising the quantity of your links over the quality, isn’t going to impact your SEO as significantly and it will likely show little return. In some cases, having lots of backlinks from low-quality and spammy websites can even damage your SEO!

These types of low-quality backlinks are considered ‘bad links’ and will often have a low domain authority with a high spam score, low trust, unnatural anchor text and other factors that may affect the reputation of the website. Having too many backlinks from these types of websites will be flagged by search engines and they may decide to lower your ranking and penalise your website for trying to artificially boost your search ranking with these bad links.

If you want to make a real impact on your SEO you need to be gathering the highest quality backlinks, that are relevant to your business. Relevance is very important, as search engines will find it suspicious if they notice an influx of backlinks from websites related to other industries that don’t match your business sector. For example, if you were running a car dealership you wouldn’t want many backlinks from sites that are related to cleaning products. This could hurt your SEO. Search engines are looking for natural backlinks so try to avoid gaining any from unrelated websites.

Once you start gaining a good number of high-quality backlinks at a steady rate, you should be able to notice the impact of your activities over time. Yet it can sometimes be a challenge to try and locate these worthwhile websites that will give you a backlink, and it’s not always an easy task.

Now that we understand what it means to gain and quality backlinks, and why bad links should be avoided it's time to take a closer look at how these backlinks can actually be gained!

Different Types of Backlinks

Directory Backlinks

Directories are one of the quickest and easiest ways for a website to build its backlinks, especially for new websites that need to build a good foundation of quality links to kickstart their SEO. Directory backlinks are basically like low-hanging SEO fruit, as they are easy to acquire but might not have the biggest impact on your SEO compared to a more contextualised backlink from a high-ranking website.

There are a variety of online directories on the web today that allow business listings to be created where website URL’s can be submitted to create a backlink to your page. These backlinks are almost guaranteed once a listing has been submitted and approved by a moderator of the website.

There are so many website directories out there and you may already even know the name of a few with popular website directories like Yellow Pages allowing links to be submitted and business listings to be created. Having links on these types of websites doesn’t just help your SEO, but also allows for another way for new audiences to discover your websites through browsing these directories.

It's good to get a start on gaining these directory backlinks by targeting some of the most well-known sites first that are easy to find and get hold of. Once these directories have been covered, you can start searching for more niche directories that specialise in your business sector.

Once you’ve attempted to gain backlinks from many of the directories that allow free links, you might be starting to consider getting backlinks from paid directories. These types of paid directories require payment in return for a link to your site.

While these directories can be useful for achieving additional backlinks when many of the free options have been exhausted, you do need to proceed with caution when paying for directory backlinks. Search engines don’t approve of paying for backlinks and can penalise businesses for doing so.

If you are paying for a directory listing, ensure that the website is an official directory and is worthwhile to be gaining a backlink from. Never pay for a directory listing, unless you are certain that the website is secure and not considered a link farm by search engines. If the website looks low quality with long lists of website links, and no business information it's best to avoid the website as paying these types of sites could do more damage than good for your SEO.

There are many tools that can help you to identify these types of sketchy link websites, for example, MOZ is a platform where you can find a websites spam score to help you identify a spammy link.

Once you have applied for all these directories ensure you keep yourself updated on how the links are doing and monitor if the quality of the website has gone down on directories since you applied. You don’t want to have your link on a site that is becoming outdated and low-quality and if you see this it's best to deactivate this link and ask for it to be taken off.

directory backlinks from multiple different websites all linking to one website.

Guest Blogging Backlinks

Another approach to gaining backlinks is through guest blogging.

Guest blogging is all about collaborating with other websites and creating content for their blog and in return you gain a backlink. It’s a great way of gaining backlinks from relevant and quality websites, yet it can also be one of the most time-consuming strategies.

Guest blogging requires you to spend lots of time searching for websites that allow guest blogging and then reaching out to the webmasters and finding out whether they are happy to feature an article you submit. Often these websites will receive lots of contact from other websites trying to achieve a guest blog, so your content will need to be unique, engaging, and exactly what their audience will want to see if you want them to feature it on their website with a backlink over the competition.

When using this strategy, it can sometimes feel like you aren’t getting anywhere with a lot of websites not responding or simply rejecting your article submission, although once you find a website willing to collaborate, the backlink you get can be very powerful. Once you achieve a guest blog on a website that has a high domain and is relevant and trustworthy, this method can prove to be very effective.

Below we’ve created a short guide on the process of achieving a guest post with a backlink:

Find a Suitable Website for Your Guest Blog

Finding the best website to guest post on can be a challenging task, but it's best to research high-ranking websites that are relevant to your niche that are accepting guest posting submissions, instead of resorting to low domain sites. Try searching for relevant websites using search engines and other platforms to find the best place to showcase your content and gain a backlink.

Send Them an Introduction Email with Ideas for a Guest Blog

Once you’ve found a viable website for your guest blog, get in contact by sending them an email showing interest in guest posting for their website. In the email introduce yourself and who you work for, then giving them a few ideas on the types of topics you could write about and give them an idea of what you can do for them.

Send A Pitch For The Blog Post

Hopefully from your last email, they have given a response and shown interest in collaborating, so now is the time for you to write your blog post. Create a high-quality relevant blog post for their website the same way you would create one for your own.

If all goes well, you will receive a response approving the article and they will begin uploading it to their website. Once it's been uploaded, you’ll have yourself a blog on their website and you will have now gotten yourself a quality backlink.

The Follow Up

Now the blog post is up it's important to follow up and ensure you thank the webmaster for the backlink and keep in contact to build a relationship so you can hopefully continue to write blog posts for them in the future.

By following these steps, you should hopefully achieve some quality backlinks from guest blogging but be prepared for businesses who never respond or reject your proposal. You might not always gain a guest post with a backlink every time, but when you do it will be incredibly valuable and worthwhile!

Someone writing a guest blog for another website that helps them to gain a link back to theirs.

To Wrap Up…

In this article, we’ve identified just a few of the ways that a backlink can be gained but there are still many other strategies out there that can help you to build your backlinks even further.

If you’re looking to start building backlinks and improve your SEO but are still unsure of where to begin, Inspired Digital can help. We offer a range of digital marketing services, including search engine optimisation that can help your website to reach the top of your industry search results!

Learn more about what we can to help, by visiting our website development services page!

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