High-quality backlinks are inbound links coming to your site from another authoritative website.
Here’s a dream-come-true scenario: you’re an ice cream shop owner and you write a blog post about an amazing new flavor. A food reviewer at the local newspaper loves your ice cream flavor so much that they write a glowing review about it, and the online version of their story links back to your blog.
How do these types of high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources help your website?
- They generate inbound referral traffic.
- They cause Google’s search algorithms to give your site more authority for specific keywords in your article (e.g., best ice cream in My City, USA).
- They drive word-of-mouth recommendations, social media shares, and get new customers to walk through your door.
Typically, backlinks come from other blogs and websites similar to yours. Regardless of where they come from, they are critically important to your website’s search engine rankings.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo!’s search algorithms place value on backlinks. For instance, if your website has 22 high-quality backlinks, and the competing ice cream shop across town only has 11, Google will probably rank your website higher. That higher search ranking can eventually translate into significant income for your business.
Getting high-quality backlinks the wrong way
The wrong way to get backlinks is by spamming. Don’t post spam comments with links to your website on every single blog and forum you can find.
Some people use this method to artificially manipulate search results. Thankfully, industry players like Google and WordPress.com take steps to reduce these abusive practices with tools like “dofollow” and “nofollow” links.
- Dofollow links are inbound links from legitimate sources, giving your site weight in search algorithms. An example is a newspaper’s web edition linking to your ice cream article.
- Nofollow links are inbound links that search engines do not prioritize when ranking your site. Examples include links to your site posted on Facebook or in the comments section of a WordPress.com site. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s webspam team, explains the problem with crawling social profiles in this excerpt from Search Engine Watch.
The right way to get high-quality backlinks
1. Create great content
You’re an expert at what you do. Share your knowledge and insights by writing interesting and unique blog posts. Your goal is to answer the questions that people have when they search for the topics you’re writing about. If you’re successful, search engines will assign your content a higher position within search results.
As you continue to create content, you’re more likely to earn dofollow links from other authoritative websites, further boosting your site’s rankings.
2. Create base hits and homeruns
Every piece of quality content that you create moves your site forward, maybe by a little (base hit), or maybe by a lot (home run). It can be hard to predict which piece of content is going to take off and which will “strike out,” so write a few pieces and pay attention to what does well. Then, create more content like it.
Putting effort into creating key pieces of content, such as videos, infographics, or unique images, improves your chances of turning an average piece into a grand slam. If someone pins your infographic, that’s technically a nofollow link; however, it can generate traffic to your blog which can, in turn, increase the likelihood of dofollow links and sales.
3. Collaborate with peers
Let’s say that you (the ice cream shop owner) reach out to the local dairy farm where you buy your delicious cream from, and to the artisanal candy shop that makes your toffee.
The plan might be to write some interesting articles about each other on your blogs (including backlinks), then promote them on your social media channels. Everyone involved in this collaboration can improve search engine optimization through quality backlinks (dofollow links), achieving more site traffic.
If you’re a blogger struggling to find real-world business collaborators, connect with other bloggers in your space through social media, conferences, and local meetups. Share their content on your site and social channels when it makes sense, and be sure to engage with them. If you’re creating great material that their audience members will find valuable, chances are, they’ll reciprocate with social shares and backlinks to your content as well.
In summary, get high-quality backlinks the right way rather than trying to take shortcuts. You’ll not only build a website that ranks higher in search engines, you’ll also attract a loyal following.
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