A commonly made SEO mistake is ignoring the value of other websites linking to yours. So common, in fact, that this is something we’ve seen numerous agencies disregard entirely.
To really increase organic rankings and traffic, you’ll need a strategy in place that focuses on building and maintaining high-quality backlinks. Whilst the copy and technical aspects are essential to your success, in most cases this isn’t enough. Backlinks are a primary signal in organic search rankings and simply cannot be ignored.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks have long been key to rank highly in search engines, and that’s because they are a good indicator of how relevant and influential a website is – providing the links come from great sources.
In 2017, we’ve seen at least two substantial and unannounced Google algorithm updates that put more emphasis on the quality of backlinks (update 1 and update 2). On top of that, in recent years Google has increasingly used social signals such as likes and shares to act as an important ranking factor.
The truth is that the “secret” to SEO is working to regularly receive backlinks from well respected, and industry relevant websites. As Moz puts it; “if you’re looking for a site that ranks well with no external links, be prepared to look for a very long time.”
Building high-quality backlinks
So how do you build high-quality backlinks? Here, we go through four main strategies taken straight from our own playbook: competitor analysis, guest blogging, industry directories and link reclamation.
1. Competitor analysis
Find out what sites are linking to your competitors by using tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. This often provides a strong list of potential sites that could link to yours. Careful analysis of their backlink landscape will also help you establish what strategies they are using.
2. Guest blogging
Whilst sometimes overdone, if you can find websites that are a good source of traffic and relevant to yours, these are prime for guest blogging as doing so will add value to both the publisher and author. After building up previous guest blogs, you’ll be more likely to guest blog on sites with higher domain authority (DA) scores.
This technique has the added benefits of helping you to build credibility in your industry and increased potential referral traffic to in turn generate leads and sales.
3. Industry directories
While many directory links can be useless, if the directory is relevant to your industry, the links are likely to be valuable, and moreover easy to get.
4. Link reclamation
If you haven’t been keeping an eye on websites mentioning your brand, then there may well be several who have and not linked back. Lastly, it’s well worth noting that you keep your link building and anchor texts varied and diverse.