Search engine rankings are more competitive than ever before. This is a particular problem for small or local businesses, as they are often unsure of how to climb to the first page of Google. Today we’ll be looking at one sure fire way to do this – earning backlinks.
A backlink is any time a website posts a link to your site. The quality and quantity of these is the most important factor used by Google to rank search results. By the same token, if you have no backlinks, it’s pretty much impossible that anyone will ever find your site.
As such, it’s crucial that you are proactive in seeking out backlinks for your site. Let’s look at how.
The first part of your new backlinking strategy is outreach. That is, finding relevant sites and asking them for backlinks. If the site isn’t relevant, Google will see this and these backlinks won’t improve your SEO. Luckily though, judging relevance is really a matter of common sense. Once you have a shortlist of potential sites to reach out to, simply check out their homepages and what kind of content they produce to decide if it’s a good fit.
After that, you need to find the right person within the company to reach out to. Your best bet is using LinkedIn to look for someone with a title like ‘content editor’, or for smaller companies simply whoever’s in charge of marketing in general. In terms of actually reaching out to them, you have a couple of options. For one, you could simply use LinkedIn to send a message.
However, I don’t recommend this, as many people tend to ignore LinkedIn messages.
Your chances of success are better if you reach out via email. Of course, this creates the additional challenge of getting someone’s email address. To do this, you need a special tool like Voila Norbert. This figures out email addresses based on the format the company typically uses.
When sending an email to request a backlink, it’s important to remember your value proposition. That is, what you’re offering in return for what your asking for. If you present your proposition as a win-win scenario, then most people will accept.
The best way to do this is having two or three ideas for articles which would fit in with what they usually publish.
Throughout your backlinking strategy, it’s always a good idea to keep one eye on your competition. This has a number of benefits. For example, your competitors guest posts are a great source of inspiration for your own.
This will also help you to figure out the best sites to ask to guest post on. If your most successful competitors have backlinks from a certain site, that’s a pretty good indicator that you can expect quality backlinks.
The first step is to identify your competitors, even if you already have some idea of who these are. One easy way to do this is to survey the Google search results for your targeted keywords.
Then you need an easy way to identify who links to your competitors and how. For this, I recommend Longtail Pro, which has an excellent suite of tools for competitor analysis.
Alternatively, Longtail Pro also allows you to start with your desired keywords and identify the best way to pursue these in your backlinking strategy.
If you don’t have the time or resources to write large volumes of guest posts, a quicker and easier way to get backlinks is providing testimonials to other websites. This is a classic win-win. They build customer trust with your testimonial, and in return they link to your site.
Just like guest posting, this involves reaching out to relevant sites. However, after that things are much easier. You simply write a short snippet about why you love their product.
However, giving testimonials is by no means a replacement of guest posting. That is, you’ll never be able to get enough backlinks through testimonials alone, so they should be used to supplant your guest posting strategy, or to quickly build a better backlinking profile.
Another easy way to improve your backlink profile is turning mentions into backlinks. Often, your company could be mentioned on some article or other, but the author fails to provide a link to your site.
To take advantage of this, you need to find such mentions, and then reach out to provide a relevant link for the author to include.
This can also be achieved using the keyword research tools in Longtail Pro, to seek out mentions of your website. Of course, when you reach out to provide a link, it’s important to maintain courtesy.
The worst thing you can do is inadvertently come across as rude or passive aggressive. Instead, emphasise how much you enjoyed their article, and add value to them by presenting them with a way to improve it.
It’s also important to constantly seek out dead backlinks and fix them. That is, backlinks which don’t actually lead anywhere, either because of an incorrect URL or because a page on your site no longer exists.
While you can use a number of tools to find dead links, an easier solution is to automatically redirect broken URLs to your home page. That way, you don’t even need to seek them out.
You can also take advantage of your competitors dead links. This is really easy. When you find a dead link, simply create a piece of content to replace it and send it to the target site. This is the easiest kind of content marketing, since you don’t even need to dream up your own topics.