Most of us would like to have our website rank high on Google searches in order to bring in a steady stream of new customers.

So how do you get links to your website? And why does it matter so much? Here’s what you need to know about getting backlinks!

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are links that connect an external website to your site. These links are essential because they tell search engines that your website matters. Google and other search engines consider links as votes.  Getting new links is like generating votes in a never-ending popularity contest on the Internet. Keep in mind, that if you want those links to boost your SEO (and not harm you!) they MUST be from sites related to what you do not just random sites. More votes for your site give credibility and, mostly likely, a higher ranking in searches.

Google, Bing and others give far greater weight to links coming from popular, reliable websites. For example, a link from Forbes or Wikipedia will do far more for your site’s validity than a link from your best friend’s blog.

When a website links to you, they are saying that your content is interesting and relevant to their readers. Search engines use links to help understand what your website is about. Google assumes that when one site links to another, there is some relationship between the content on the two pages. As a website owner, that means you should try to get links from known websites in your industry.

Anchor text

The linked text on a website is known as anchor text. An example of this, is the top of this blog.  You will see “website” in a different color.  This is an anchor text that links to another page (or in other cases can be to another website.)

When possible, you want any anchor text that links to your site to include your target keywords.

This way, Google understands that there is a relationship between those words and your website. It’s better to have anchor text placed on a phrase like “best electric water heater” or “10 Best Marketing tools” than on words like “read here” or “check out this blog.”

Where can you get quality links?

First step in procuring backlinks is to make a list of potential websites that may link to you. Explore the internet for websites in your field that show up high on Google. (Sites that rank well in Google are likely to be high quality.) Be sure to stick to related industries.  For example, if you’re an interior designer, it won’t help your ranking to get a link from a website about rock climbing. Instead, as an interior designer look to get featured with a backlink on an Interior Design magazine site or say as a blog on home staging on a realtor’s website.  Stay within your industry.

Focus on identifying quality sites that will have a significant impact on your rank.

Ideally, if you can get a link from a university or government website. Search engines tend to trust and respect sites that end in .gov, .edu or .org (used for nonprofits). You also want to keep your links fresh. Google stays on top of things so it’s important to add new links every few months to help your site ranking.

How to get links

 Once you have a list of potential websites you want links from, it’s time to start reaching out to the webmasters. (Those are the people who maintain these sites.) Below are three different kinds of links explained in order of their importance and power to help your site ranking and exposure.

Type 1: Natural Links

Natural links have the best impact on elevating your site ranking and publicity. As the name suggests, these links happen naturally with little effort on your part. A natural link is when a website chooses to link to your website, unsolicited. It usually happens because you have fantastic, relevant content that others consider worthy of sharing with others.

Improve your chances of getting natural links by consistently creating high quality content and make it easy for others to share. Try to think about what professional, interesting and reliable information you can write for your target market. Then, publish it on your site and social media channels and make sure your website has easy-to-spot share buttons that your readers can’t miss. The trick is to make it simple for others to re-post the content they enjoy. If your content really is useful, chances are that other sites will want to add a link so their users can read it too.

Type 2: Outreach Links

Outreach links come from sites that you approach directly and ask for links. These links may be from popular blogs or other highly ranked websites in your field. There are a couple ways to get outreach links and all of them require that you contact directly with the manager or webmaster of the target website.

Promote your existing content

Read through the content on your website and think about who specifically would want to read it. Then, look for other websites and blogs who are targeting this same audience. Reach out to these websites and send their webmasters links to some of your most professional, high quality and relevant content. Tell them why you think their readers would find your content valuable and ask if they would be willing to link to your content.

Guest posts

Contact the webmaster of the target website and offer to write a guest blog on their site. Make it clear that you are familiar with their site! Keep the email brief, but be sure to explain your area of expertise, share a sample of your writing and pitch a few topics that will be relevant to their readers. If the idea is interesting enough, the webmaster will probably be happy to have you write a guest blog. Then, be sure they agree to include a link in the post back to your own website.

Type 3: Self-Created Links

You can also quickly and easily create links to your website without any help from other Webmasters. These self-created links have the least amount of influence on your ranking, but they can still help boost your site. Here are three ways to create self-created links:

Be helpful! Get involved with online forums and blogs

You can create your own links in multiple forums, blog comments and online directories. (Just make sure to look for ones that are relevant to your industry.) To avoid being “spammy”, provide comments that are truly insightful and link to content on your site that really is relevant and valuable. This can help promote your website and bring you new visitors.

You might try commenting on posts in LinkedIn or Facebook groups and share a link to a related page on your website. Make comments in an article on Reddit and include a link if it will actually help the readers of the post. Stick within your area of expertise and these links can bring you traffic and boost your credibility.

Get your name into directories

You can also self-create links by adding your website to online directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google Places and more. This is particularly helpful if you’re a local business.

Create internal links within your site

Internal links connect the different pages on your site. They help customers and Google navigate your site, keep users on your site longer and therefore can potentially help boost your rankings. You can link from your blog to a relevant service page or from your About page to your FAQ page. Try to use internal links in ways that encourage visitors to stay on your website, read additional information and ultimately complete a purchase or contact you.

Bonus tip! Track results!

You can check “Links to Your Site” in Google Search Console. This way, you’ll be able to track the results of your strategy and improve accordingly.

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