Improve your SEO: The complete guide to quality backlinks

How, when and what backlinks you use are key to improving your SEO


By now, most people know this infamous digital marketing statistic: 71% (and up to 92%) of all search engine traffic and clicks occur only on the first page of Google.

Backlinks and referring domains remain a critical factor for improving a website's link authority and Google search results. In fact, since 2015, research from Moz reveals that domain-level link features remain the most influential factor in improving website credibility and authority.

With that said, backlinking can become a tedious and ineffective process when companies don't know what they're doing. Furthermore, when done wrong, backlinking efforts can backfire and hurt your site.

Let's get into what's working in 2018.

The anatomy of the superior backlink

Just like most things in life, not all links are created equal. When it comes to backlinking, quality always trumps quantity. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned businesses fail to understand this concept. As a result, they haphazardly post on any and every website to increase their count and exposure.

At one point, in the earlier days of search engine optimization, this strategy benefited many businesses. However, as Google has improved its detective skills in managing sketchier tactics, this plan no longer works.

Today, a superior backlink composes of utilizing websites that evoke diversity, trust and reputation, and overall relevance. Furthermore, they must also be visible and crawlable.

Diversity: To create a strong backlink profile, your business needs a robust variety of different links on different websites.

In other words, if all links come from the same source, that's going to hurt your business. It doesn't come across as organic. Similar to economics, you must always be working to diversify your portfolio. That way if one source falters, you have plenty of others for leverage.

Trust & reputation: In its simplest terms, higher domain authorities and page authorities evoke a higher sense of trust and reputation. Those figures alert Google that enough people in enough places utilize and respect that site for information. As a result, your link on that website is synonymous with similar trust and reputation.

On the other hand, if you're posting on sites with lower page and domain authorities, you have a greater chance of Google perceiving your link as spammy and ineffective. Spam isn't just a nuisance to your website's credibility- Google will actually penalize it.

Relevance & legitimacy: If you post on a finance website with an anchor text related to cat food, Google will perceive this transaction as irrelevant (unless, of course, the article is about saving money on owning a pet).

Backlinks must be posted on appropriate and relevant websites to establish legitimacy and credibility. That means using appropriate and natural keywords and anchor texts. Linking for the sake of linking? It's going to backfire.

Visible & crawlable: If Google cannot find the page with your backlinks, the link won't be accounted for in your site ranking. Search engines block pages for several reasons, and it's important that you utilize appropriate testing and analysis to ensure the page is being cached.

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Dofollow Vs. Nofollow: Many sites employ 'nofollow' attributes to deter spam. In essence, the nofollow attribute showcases that the site owner has not explicitly approved the backlink (even if it shows as hyperlinked). In other words, it indicates a lack of a vetting process.

If you're contributing to a site that has nofollow attributes, Google will not count the link its page ranking process, not follow through with linking to that page, and not actually count the anchor text is assessing the link's relevance.

While nofollow isn't synonymous with being a "bad" or "spammy" link, it's typically more lucrative to vet sites that implement dofollow policies.

How to obtain quality backlinks

While there isn't a perfect formula for building your backlink portfolio, several strategies prove to be timeless measures in this competitive, digital world.

Create unmatchable, valuable, & dynamic content

It doesn't matter how well you can advertise, and it doesn't matter how much money you invest in your digital marketing strategy.

If you don't have killer content, the site optimization, backlinking, and all the SEO research in the world won't matter.

At the core of it, your content represents the heart and soul of your business. Focus on it; cultivate it; create irresistible stories, how-to's and informational guides that real people want to read. The more people want to read your content, the more likely they are to share it.

Create and collaborate in guest posting

It's an older strategy, but it's one that still proves highly effective. Guest posting can pay itself in both automatic rewards and passive dividends.

Here's how: a guest post automatically allows you to use dofollow links to build link juice to your page. However, it also drives relevant traffic to your site, establishes a sense of authority within your niche, and allows you to build connections and referrals with other businesses and consumers.

There are several ways to approach guest posting. The best method (though the most intensive) includes building legitimate relationships with other businesses. Get to know their products and services. Interact with their website. Create a meaningful connection. With time, you can pitch a relevant post idea that benefits them and you.

Another DIY method includes simply integrating Google to search:

  • Your niche + guest post opportunities
  • Your niche + guest writer
  • Your niche + guest post guidelines
  • Your niche + now accepting guest posts
  • Your niche + contribute for us
  • Your niche + seeking contributors

Some sites will pay you for guest posts, and that's just another incentive to consider this approach.

Final thoughts

Quality backlinks come with time, persistence, and diligence. Any company that advertises they can dramatically improve your SEO or backlink portfolio ASAP is a company to avoid.

Stay the course. Honor the process. Your website (and your consumer base) will thank you for it.

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