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What are backlinks, and how can you use them in SEO?

A backlink is when one site links to another. As a digital marketing agency, if a reputable site links to one of our services or blog posts within their content – that’s one valuable backlink for us. 

Backlinks play an essential part in any SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy and most companies will want to get as many of them as possible (without being ‘spammy’). The more valuable links you receive, the more you are being recognised for providing a helpful service or writing relevant, high-quality content.

Backlinks can help to build authority as well as increase brand visibility. This is because Google recognises when you’re doing backlinking right – so, they will give you’re a higher position on SERP (search engine results page). Ranking higher on SERP will lead to more site traffic, and hopefully more conversions.  

It’s not just about receiving the most backlinks. Linking to other high-quality pages within your content will show Google that you are interacting with and using sites with established authority to improve your overall user experience. 

How to gain more backlinks 

They are undeniably beneficial and a huge part of SEO – but, how do you receive more valuable backlinks? There are different ways of ensuring you’re doing backlinking in the most efficient way – so, we have listed our top tips below to send you in the right direction. 

1. Create or improve your blog forum

The most natural way to get backlinks is by producing great content. Having a blog forum is the best way to gather a variety of relevant, well-written and potentially linkable content. Once more people start to read your posts, your blog will ideally gain more authority over time. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating new content:

  • Share more ‘how-to’ posts – This could be how-to videos, infographics or step-by-step guides. These pages are generally shareable and very likely to receive backlinks.  
  • Create an ‘ultimate guide’– This is a post containing a topic in a lot of detail, from multiple angles. These posts tend to have several thousand words – so you’ll ideally be writing about your expert area. 

Although blogging is certainly effective once you gain some authority – it’s not exactly the quickest method, and you’ll need to put the work into your forum. Don’t worry; we’ve got some more suggestions below: 

2. Use guest posting

You don’t have to restrict your content to your site – why not post an article on another site and create a link yourself? Guess posting is precisely that. It’s a win-win for both sites – one is receiving free content, and one is earning a high-quality (hopefully) backlink.

Now, this all sounds a bit too easy so far. However, Google has laid out some rules for guest posters to avoid ‘spammy’ links. Users could potentially take advantage of this method and leave sites with poorly written or low-quality content. To make sure it’s a fair deal, you can follow these steps:

  • Use a website or blog that is relevant to the page you are linking.
  • Create well-written, high-quality posts that you would be confident posting on your site.
  • Avoid boasting too much about your brand or service – try to add natural links.

3. Broken link-building 

No matter how reputable a site is, it’s still possible that their content will contain a broken link. Broken links can easily occur if a website moves its content around, or a page no longer exists. If you follow a broken link – then instead of being sent to a new site, you will see a ‘404’ error page. 

Broken link-building is the process of contacting a site with the faulty link, identifying the type of content they were linking to previously, and offering your own web page as a replacement. This usually has a good chance of working if your content is relevant and helpful. 

This strategy is a win-win for both sites. You will gain a new backlink, and they’ll replace their error with a functioning and more up-to-date link. Unlike a guest post, you’ll be offering content that is already on your site. Of course, you might have created a blog for this purpose – but adding new content to your site is still a good use of your time.

If your target site doesn’t add a link to your content – you will still be left with a great new blog post. You have total ownership over your content, too, so there is always a chance that other sites might link to it instead. 

So, we know broken link-building can benefit both you and the site you approach – but, you’ll need to find the sites with broken links first. The good news is, you won’t need to spend time scanning multiple sites and clicking on links (hoping they don’t work!) There are lots of helpful SEO tools such as Moz, Sitechecker and Ahrefs. These tools can help you to find the sites with broken links that are worth targeting. 

Our top tips

That might seem like a lot to remember, so, we’ll finish by going over all of our top tips, in a nutshell:

  • Check your site for 404 error links to improve your authority  
  • Build relationships with bloggers in your industry
  • If possible, interview influencers in your niche or industry and they will likely share this with a link to your site
  • Avoid sites that appear ‘spammy’ (Google might pick up on this)
  • Make use of link-building tools such as Sitechecker
  • Approach websites with higher status – You can check the authority of a page or a site, with tools such as Moz rank checker.
  • Write more ‘how-to’ guides or even an ultimate guide

What next?

There’s no doubt that backlinks are a well-established part of any SEO marketing campaign. When done in the right way, it’s a great way to improve your position on SERP and increase the overall quality of your site.

Content marketing and SEO come hand-in-hand for a number of reasons – including backlinking. When you improve your content, you’re more likely to receive links and also have more opportunity to create your own. If you want us to help you optimise your brand content to receive and create more valuable links – please get in touch.

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