If you have a website of your own, it won’t take long before you learn about backlinks. They are an incredibly important marketing tool for websites – and one that is often either underused or misused! Knowing how to get backlinks, how they work, and how building backlinks the wrong way can trash your website’s rankings are all vital topics any website owner should know.
What are backlinks? They are simply links to your website from another website. A visitor on a website is looking for information, they click on a link on that website, and it is actually a ‘backlink’ to your website, bringing the visitor to view the linked page. The more quality, relevant, natural backlinks that lead to your site, the higher your site will be ranked by search engines, and the more likely you are to get the traffic you are targeting to arrive at your site.
This all sounds straightforward enough, but you have to be sure that you understand how to get backlinks that will help you – not hurt you. We said in the last paragraph that backlinks have to be quality, relevant and natural. Let’s look at these three requirements a bit more closely.
Quality backlinks are those that connect from a site of quality content. You only want backlinks from reliable, reputable sites – hopefully that also have high search rankings in the related topic area. You do not want backlinks from ‘backlink farm’ sites – automatically generated web pages that simply list link after link to other websites. This once popular ‘trick’ was used to try to fool search engines. But, as usual, the search engines eventually learned this trick too, and now they disregard these sites.
A backlink won’t be quality if it isn’t relevant. For example, if your website is about yoga for pregnant women, you would want backlinks from yoga sites, pregnancy sites, women’s health sites, or sites with other relevant topics. Search engines look to see that backlinks make sense – having a backlink from an office supply store to your yoga site wouldn’t be relevant and the search engine would either ignore the link or knock your ranking down.
Finally, backlinks should be natural. This means that they were built over time and by a process that makes sense. You do not want to suddenly create dozens of backlinks all in the same time frame – these will be flagged as suspicious. But you do want to slowly build a network of quality backlinks that will help the right visitors to get to your site.
You can start building backlinks by looking for sites that are relevant to your own website. Reciprocal links – where you agree to link to a page if they agree to link to yours – are a popular tool that used to work very well. However, search engines are getting more astute all the time, and if you reciprocally link to a site that is irrelevant or of poor quality, that will hurt you more than help you. So you can certainly establish reciprocal links, but do it selectively – only if it makes sense for the targeted audience of both sites.
Another trick website owners once used was to link to their own website from another one of their websites. The problem is that search engines now check to see if your backlinks come from the same IP address as your site. If you attempt to network all your sites together just to get backlinks, you’re going to hurt your rankings. But again, if you have one or two that are logical, that are natural, and that would make sense to your visitors, you can establish a few backlinks between your own sites.