Backlinks are the backbone to good SEO, and they have been since the earliest days of Google. There’s no better way to establish a website’s credibility than to see which other sites link to it. Think of it like buying a new book — are you more likely to pull a random title off the bookstore shelf, or do you want to read the latest New York Times bestseller? In a sense, a backlink is a tacit endorsement of another website’s content. Build up enough of them, and your search rankings will flourish.
That said, building a substantial number of backlinks is easier said than done. It doesn’t happen without a process. You need to know which websites to approach and how to deliver your pitch. Plus, you must have quality content. Read on to learn more about how to start developing a network of high-quality backlinks to boost your site’s SEO.
First, a Warning: Don’t Game the System
Back in the olden days of SEO, unethical marketers got big-time results by spamming blogs, forums and defunct websites. This created the appearance of an expansive network of backlinks – but without any real quality or credibility.
Don’t think for a second that this approach still works. Not only will Google ignore your website’s fraudulently large link network, but your website will likely be penalized for attempting to game the system. There are no more shortcuts to building high-quality backlinks. It’s extremely important that you build links the right way.
Start by Making a List
Before worrying about sales pitches and content generation, make a list of all the different websites where backlinks could help your SEO. A good way to start is by searching Google or Google News for the keywords most relevant to your business. Then, ask yourself the following questions when determining a website’s potential value:
1. Is the website authoritative?
Backlinks from credible, authoritative websites are far more valuable than backlinks from low-traffic websites. Look for websites that have higher domain authorities. You can find free tools available online to measure domain authority.
2. Is the website relevant?
Domain authority is important, but so is content relevance. If you sell used cars, then don’t seek backlinks from websites about home improvement or cosmetics. An exception to this rule is getting a backlink from a journalistic organization such as the Wall St. Journal or the Washington Post. If you can get linked by a credible, regional or national news organization, then by all means, do it.
3. Is the website local?
If you operate a brick-and-mortar business, then you’ll benefit from getting backlinks in local business organizations such as a chamber of commerce. Your city or county media is also a great resource for localized backlinks.
Research Names and Contact Information
Going one-by-one down your list of websites, start finding email addresses for people to contact. Your goal is reaching people with influence or decision-making power. Editors and managers are best. However, bloggers and journalists usually hold fair amounts of sway as well.