Looking for ways to start building backlinks for your new website?
Smart move – Google looks at a number of measures when judging how to rank websites in search engine queries, and backlinks are consistently judged to be one of the most important.
This article covers three ways to start building quality backlinks that also create valuable opportunities for traffic and business exposure.
Why are backlinks so important?
According to Google Webmasters, ‘a link from a(nother) site is regarded as a vote for the quality of your site’.
Google’s aim is to serve up the most relevant websites for each search query. Google assumes that if other well-regarded sites are linking to your site for specific keywords, images, products or pages, your site must have useful and relevant information to share.
Out of 17 ranking factors outlined by search experts SEM Rush in their most recent study (Ranking Factors 2017), six of those were related to backlinks.
So you can see, building backlinks is a great way to improve search rankings for your new website. They can also help to drive traffic by acting as additional pathways to your website.
Not all backlinks are created equal
It’s definitely worth spending time building backlinks to optimise your new website SEO, however, you need to be careful about which sites those links are coming from.
Links must be from quality websites that Google trusts in order to count as a vote for your website. The more quality backlinks your site has and the more diverse their sources, the more likely your site is to be ranked higher in Google.
Important note: No matter how tempting it may seem, don’t ever buy links. They will most likely be from shady websites that are set up purely for the purpose of creating links. While you might get an initial boost in rankings, Google will soon penalise and possibly black list your website. Find out more about ‘link schemes’.
Not all links are counted by search engines
Remember when every blog post and forum thread you read had a stream of babble-filled comments underneath with links to Viagra and designer handbag sale websites? Thankfully, just over 10 years ago Google introduced a measure to try and reduce the amount of spam that was infesting the internet. This measure is called a ‘nofollow’ tag.
Links that are tagged as ‘nofollow’ are not counted towards a page’s search engine ranking. Once the spammers realised that their constant linking under blog comments and in forums was getting them no ranking love, there was less incentive to keep spamming.
Unfortunately for those of us not into spamming, it also means that genuine opportunities for valued links are now greatly reduced. Most social media links (for example the website link you post on your Facebook profile) are ‘nofollow’.
Anchor text as a factor
Anchor text is also important – this is the actual text into which the hyperlink is set. The best backlinks will use anchor text that is relevant to the page or image that it is pointing to. Even better if the backlink uses the keywords you are hoping to rank for.
Example: You own an ecommerce website called It’s a Unicorn Life, selling magic unicorn dust. If another site mentions your product but uses vague anchor text in its link such as ‘check out this great product’, the link is of less value than more specific anchor text like ‘check out the magic unicorn dust from It’s a Unicorn Life’.
3 ways to build valuable backlinks
Pretty much anyone who provides you with an SEO checklist will recommend building backlinks. At first it can seem like a daunting task, but it really isn’t that difficult to get the ball rolling when you know how.
It will take time and should be considered part of your overall digital marketing program.
1. Add your site to as many trustworthy listing directories as possible
There are dozens of listing directories that you can add your business name and website to for free – meaning dozens of link opportunities.
Here’s a list of ten free listing sites that will get the ball rolling for you, all of which are trusted sites. There are many more you can add your business to if you have the time and patience.
These listings are particularly important for ‘local’ businesses looking to be found by suburb or postcode.
Even if you’re not keen on spending a lot of time on your SEO, it’s worth adding your business for the potential exposure. You never know who could be looking for your product or service on one of these listing websites.
- Google My Business
- True Local
- Gum Tree
- Sensis (this also ads your business to Yellow Pages, White Pages, True Local and Where Is )
- Start Local
Category/niche listing sites
In addition, you should look for all of the listing websites relating directly to your business category/niche – while the website may not be as highly valued by Google, it may have much more relevance to your customers and additional ability to drive traffic to your site.
Example: I recently added my business listing to a website called Mumbrella as they cover digital marketing and copywriting. They are relevant to my category and could also be a valuable source of new business enquiries.
2: Get blogging
Blogging has become popular on many business websites in recent years because it’s great for SEO and web traffic.
Writing regular blog articles keeps your website’s content fresh (which Google loves). It also gives your site opportunities for backlinks if other sites link to your article, and page rankings via keywords in your articles.
Once you’ve written a blog article, be sure to post the link to that article on all of your social media pages. While they might be ‘nofollow’ links, if it’s a good article and you have some followers, you might even get some shares and additional traffic to your site. Yippee.
Perhaps you’re not keen on having a blog on your own website (I don’t blame you, it takes a lot of time). No worries, you can get links by writing articles about your area of speciality for other blogs or websites.
Many bloggers and editors are looking for fresh content and will welcome your contribution. If you’re writing an article, include a link to your website in your sign off.
Another way to build valuable links without having to maintain your own blog is to comment on industry-related blogs or websites with a link to your website in the comment. This can also be a great way to network and to drive traffic to your site.
Make sure you choose reputable websites that aren’t ‘nofollow’*, and only leave comments that actually add value. Spammy comments will most likely be deleted by the editor or be penalised by Google.
Find out more about blog commenting etiquette via this article on the Monitor Backlinks blog.
*Google Chrome extensions like Astral nofollow checker will allow you to see whether comments are dofollow or nofollow
3. Get your product or service reviewed
Bloggers and website staff writers are always looking for interesting stuff to write about – why shouldn’t it be your product or service? Not only will you get a link back to your website if they post a review, but you could be exposing your offering to a whole new audience.
How to go about it:
First you need to find the blogs or websites to target.
You can type in a Google query like ‘Top 10 [your category/your product] of 2017’ and you will see pages of results featuring websites and blogs that write reviews of products in your category.
See example below for the sunscreen category:
Getting your product reviewed by a high-ranking website can be a pretty big challenge when you’re just starting out, so you will probably need to scroll through a couple of pages in order to find a smaller blog or website that would be more likely to be open to your information. If you have budget for a PR company, they will do this work for you.
You can also start your research by using paid tools such as SpyFu to see which sites your competitors are getting backlinks from. You may be able to find some good review opportunities within this list.
Next you need to send an introduction email
Nobody wants to feel like they’re being used – simply sending a product to a writer or blogger and asking them to review it may get your product thrown in the bin. You need to build a relationship first.
Start by reaching out with an introduction. Let the writer know that you appreciate their site as it covers something that you are passionate about and ask whether they would consider reviewing your product or service.
Follow up with detailed information and images
If a writer agrees to review your product or service, make sure you send them a press release or any detailed information you have. While you can’t tell them what to say, you need to give your product or service the best chance possible by educating the reviewer. It will also make the reviewer feel like you value their time and opinion.
Ask the reviewer if they would like some quality images to use – this will save them time trying to harvest an image from your website or social media.
Note: Some writers may want to take their own photos of your product in order to keep it within the look of their web design.
Hopefully these three tips will help you on your journey towards building quality backlinks to your new website. It’s going to take time, but it’s well worth it as many backlink strategies also provide valuable opportunities for exposure, industry networking and website traffic.