We recently ran a Twitter poll to discover which aspect of SEO people struggled with most – and found that link acquisition is the biggest challenge for most
Building legitimate inbound links, or backlinks, is an important strategy for marketing your website for two reasons:
- They can drive referral traffic to your site
- They can help you rank higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages)
However, as the result from our poll shows, generating and maintaining a strong backlink profile for your website is hard work – and there are no shortcuts.
What makes a good backlink?
Links are still a vital signal to Google about the relevance and importance of a website. A good backlink comes from an authoritative website (one with a high domain authority, or DA), using anchor text that appears natural in the context of the content on a page, such as in the example below from Moz.
How to earn good backlinks
The way to earn genuine, high-quality backlinks is by sticking to the following rules – which are basic good practice for online marketing in general:
- Creating your own unique, engaging, high quality content
- Build a genuine community which interacts with your website, your social channels and one another
- Develop and maintain authentic relationships with relevant influencers
A strategic exercise that ticks all of these boxes is campaign outreach, which involves forging relationships with influential bloggers, capturing data, creating and distributing high quality, shareable content and amplifying its reach through social and ‘earned media’.
There are benefits for both parties: the blogger receives high quality content which is bespoke to their own and to their audience’s needs. For the client, the exchange of content helps to boost their brand awareness and strengthens their website’s organic search (SEO) profile by creating strong, natural backlinks.
Maintaining your backlink profile
A strong backlink profile requires ongoing maintenance. Since Google released its Penguin algorithm update back in April 2012, websites with backlinks deemed ‘unethical’ or ‘spammy’ (for example, low quality sites that try to gain an unfair advantage through excessive or paid link building) risk penalisation in Google’s SERPs in an attempt to stop the quality of results returned from being compromised.
To drive the message of natural links home, Google provides a tool within its Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) – navigate to Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. This can help you to clean up your links and there are various third party tools which can provide even more insight.
As an example, the above screenshot shows the associated risk for all domains linking back to the MyProtein website using Link Detox’s analysis tool. The screenshot shows that MyProtein’s backlinks are very much healthy and naturally generated, with the majority falling into the below average, low and very low classifications.
Sites with a high number of above average and high risk links should conduct an audit of their backlink profile and remove links which could be perceived as ‘spammy’ from the perspective of search engines in order to avoid penalisation. There are detailed instructions about how to do this in our eBook, Build Clean, Build Organic