A Simple Guide to Building Backlinks Via Outreach

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. 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.

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.

How to Audit Your Local SEO in 8 Simple Steps

Local search engine optimization (SEO) has become an absolutely critical component of any small company’s overall SEO strategy. Local SEO optimizes search results based on where the searcher is physically located. Someone in Austin searching for a steakhouse does not need results for San Diego, while a plumber in Kansas City will not help a homeowner in New Orleans.

Local search engine optimization (SEO) has become an absolutely critical component of any small company’s overall SEO strategy. Local SEO optimizes search results based on where the searcher is physically located. Someone in Austin searching for a steakhouse does not need results for San Diego, while a plumber in Kansas City will not help a homeowner in New Orleans. Optimizing your local SEO ensures that your business will pop up when people in your area search for your product or service. Auditing your local SEO lets you see at a glance which strategies are working for you and which need to be addressed.

Although the term “audit” sounds daunting, it does not need to be. Auditing your local SEO is as easy as working your way through eight simple steps. Here is a guide to conducting your audit.

1. Address Your Google My Business Page

Log into your Google My Business dashboard. Make sure that the URL associated with your account is your current, up to date My Business page. Then remove any duplicate accounts. Run a Google Maps search to be sure that your page comes up properly. Finally, check all of your associated business information. In particular, focus on NAP: your business Name, Address and Phone number. Inconsistent or incorrect NAP information can kill your search engine rankings. Other areas to check include your business email address, categories, images and introduction text. Make any needed changes as you go along. Last but certainly not least, make sure that your page is properly claimed and verified.

2. Optimize Your Website

If you have multiple locations, then create a separate local SEO landing page for each. Then cross-reference your NAP listed on your website against your My Business page. Even small discrepancies can drag you down in search results, so make sure everything matches exactly.

Make sure each page has unique content and reads naturally to a human, using keywords where appropriate but avoiding keyword stuffing. Aim for at least 500 words of high-quality content on each page. Finally, use Schema markup to help search engines find and display your important business information.

3. Analyze Your Citations
A citation is simply an online listing of your company’s NAP information. The exact number of citations you have is less important than the quality of those citations. Some citations can be created yourself by setting up accounts in business directories, while others are published by large data aggregators. Regardless of the origin of your citations, it is critical to ensure that they are entirely accurate. In addition, take the time to identify places where you are not yet listed and submit your NAP information to them. For example, Yelp and TripAdvisor are important for companies in the travel and tourism industries.

4. Audit Your Links
Links from other websites are vitally important to improving Google rankings, but spammy links bring heavy penalties. Anyone can easily determine how many links you have and how many your competitors have using free tools such as Moz’s OpenSiteExplorer. Check the anchor text in your links to make sure it fits naturally with your business, and find out where the links are coming from.

5. Study Your Reviews
Determine which review sites are the strongest in your industry, and focus on getting at least 10 reviews of no less than four stars for each one. Reviews are something you cannot force, as they must be genuine. However, if you consistently hear good comments from customers, there is nothing wrong with gently asking if they would mind writing a review. If you find bad reviews of your business, then post a reply as soon as possible to show other prospective customers you care.

6. Take Ownership of Your Social Media
Claim pages on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Again, be sure that your NAP is correct and consistent across all websites and social media. Then focus on engaging your prospects and customers with compelling content. Social media engagement like this is becoming increasingly important for your SEO.

7. Consider Your Competition
Identify your top competitors, and then take a look at what they are doing right and wrong. Use tools such as Moz Local to check their citations and OpenSiteExplorer to check their links. A quick snapshot can help you identify citation and link opportunities to improve your own SEO.

8. Create a Workable Strategy
Even the best audit is worthless unless you use the information to develop a solid plan. Identify your critical areas of weakness and make it a priority to fix them as soon as possible. For everything else, set long-range goals and check in periodically to see how well you are managing those goals.

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