Backlinks are a form of off-page SEO where you earn links from other websites that direct people to your site. They are very different from outbound links, which link from your website to another. The terms backlinks and inbound links can be used interchangeably and serve two purposes:
- They help your site rank higher in organic searches. Essentially, backlinks send a signal to search engines that your website is an authority on a specific topic.
- They drive more people to your site. When someone recognizes you as a credible source and posts a link to your website, you gain more exposure as an expert in your field.
So, the more backlinks you earn from high-quality sources, the better your website will perform overall. Authoritative inbound links are highly sought after for their ability to improve search engine results pages (SERPS).
Incorporating anchor text is another indicator of a good backlink. Simply put, anchor text is the copy that’s hyperlinked. You typically come across this in most blog posts. Even generic terms like “click here” and “learn more” can be just as valuable as keyword-optimized phrases; Google understands the context of a link.
Here are 20 methods that will inspire you to begin developing an inbound link strategy for your business.
1. Focus on benefits of backlinks and referral traffic
Businesses with authoritative backlinks have an increased chance of garnering referral traffic. This is when customers find your website from another domain, not from a Google search. This also affects SEO, as the Google algorithm sees these links as positive ranking factors, signaling confidence and relevance of the content it is linked to.
Some companies have a way to track where their traffic is coming from. Semrush and Moz are well-recognized for supplying businesses with detailed metrics, including organic and paid traffic, backlinks, performance and more.
2. Maintain a blog with valuable content
There’s no point in creating blog posts if you don’t produce something of value. Be sure you publish content that relates to your industry and offers something the reader can learn and benefit from. Creating great content is the foundation for motivating other websites to refer to you as a resource and one of the most effective ways to generate inbound links. Write something so engaging readers will be compelled to share.
3. Partner with companies in a complementary industry
It’s not uncommon for complementary organizations to link to each other’s great content. These reciprocal types of business relationships are what drive many industries. For example, broad industries like tech or science can rely on one another to be the go-to in a niche field. They each have an authentic interest in the other’s success.
If you decide to participate in an online community, be aware of what others are posting. Offer to chat with someone who says they’re planning to write about a specific topic that’s relevant to your business. The goal here is to start conversations and share links. You want to be of value and share helpful information. If you’re fortunate, they may decide to backlink to you.
You can do your own evaluation of potential partners and their overall web presence by checking out SimilarWeb and WebSite Auditor. These sites provide you with a rough idea of bounce rates, keywords and traffic, as well as sources people are using to locate the site.
4. Invest in co-marketing partnerships
Partnering with a company to promote a piece of content or product can take your inbound link-building strategy a step further. Leveraging the reach of a partner can lead to more links as well as improved traction with your content.
This type of marketing is neither complicated nor costly. Start by reaching out to a similarly sized organization and pitching them a project. You can begin with something as simple as a few tweets, then build your way up to curating more in-depth content. Sharing another organization’s content can also be very effective, and they might return the favor one day.
5. Pitch op-ed articles
Sharing a valuable opinion and having the ability to express it competently in an op-ed article has the potential to make a lasting impact. Writing and pitching op-ed articles can earn a lot of recognition for you and your organization, as well as highly prized backlinks to your website.
The most effective op-ed articles drive home a single point or message. They should embody the author’s personal voice and offer specific recommendations. Once the article is complete, be sure to target online industry newspaper and magazine publications. If the article is accepted, this will guarantee a valuable inbound link for your business.
6. Analyze websites you want backlinks from
Searching desired websites from where you want backlinks is an efficient way to make inroads and earn backlinks. Scour the site for any broken links that have similar content and would be a good match with your website and offer to replace them with yours. There could be an opportunity to offer them new content as well.
More importantly, when you reach out to the webmaster, be straightforward about what you’re hoping to achieve. Let them know you’re suggesting they link to a relevant article on your site that you think is a good replacement.
7. Engage in guest blogging
Writing guest blog posts for specific industries and shopping it around is a great way to promote your expertise and earn quality links. You should begin with publications that relate directly to your niche. If your blog post is accepted, they’ll likely provide you with a backlink. Here are some other quick tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t link to sites that will publish anything; be picky about which sites you associate with.
- Avoid using exact match anchor text in your external links.
- Choose relevant sites only.
8. Link to other high-value blogs
Linking to other well-written, authoritative blogs gives your organization more credibility and provides more value to the reader. Let’s face it, you can’t cover everything about a topic, so it’s practical to leverage the deep well of resources available online to expand your readers’ experiences. Doing this purposefully and consistently will increase the likelihood of those bloggers responding in kind. A blog is meant to be a social tool after all.
9. Write testimonials
This may not be the first thing you consider when obtaining authoritative backlinks, however, writing testimonials about a product or service can garner the attention and recognition you seek. For example, if you write a glowing review about an SEO platform you enjoy and have had a lot of success with, there’s a good chance the company will feature your testimonial and also link to your site.
10. Build links with images
People generally click on images with links because they take up more space and easily grab attention. So, it’s worth spending time promoting compelling graphics, images and product photos to attract more backlinks. Be sure your link points to a specific page and doesn’t take them to the image directory. If it does, it’s best to contact the site owner right away and ask them to update it so it links to the proper place. If it’s a site that looks questionable, it’s worth asking them to remove it altogether.
11. Create impactful infographics
Compelling infographics have the potential to deliver a lot of information using colorful elements and eye-catching visuals. If it’s useful information and done well, people will share it. Take the extra step and share your design with the sources you cited. Also, verify that the embed code for your graphic is easy to access. If you’re not a graphic designer, there are plenty of infographic solutions and tools available; Canva is widely used and has a free version. Here are some suggestions to assist you in the process:
- Look online for design ideas or use a template.
- Choose a topic that can be easily visualized.
- Do your research and make it relevant to your industry.
12. Publish a list of helpful resources
People love lists. Resource lists provide helpful information for your customers. They make it easier for bloggers to repurpose the information by linking to the list directly instead of curating the content themselves. Interested in what a list of resources looks like? Here’s an example.
13. Build relationships with influencers
It may not lead to inbound links right away, but conducting expert roundups is one way to gain credibility and can lead to solid backlinks from authoritative sources down the road. Taking the time to cultivate relationships with leaders and influencers first will be a benefit over the long term. They’ll be more inclined to accept an invitation to guest post, and it’s a great way to stay connected with people in your industry.
14. Create something humorous
Can you capitalize on humor or inside jokes that occur specifically within your industry? Consider developing funny content that’s also linkable. A short video or meme that captures a joke has the potential to go viral. You must have a thorough understanding of your audience, however, so it isn’t taken out of context and doesn’t run the risk of being offensive; avoid anything controversial.
15. Request reviews
Asking industry experts to review your product or service is a great way to strengthen your relationship and get great feedback. You could ask that they write a testimonial about a new product or feature you’re rolling out. If they accept the request, there’s a very good chance you’ll receive an inbound link.
16. Identify broken links
Some webmasters might be using old or broken links to your website. These inbound links are still valuable and can be updated. There are site-crawling tools available to help: Dead Link Checker and Screaming Frog are just a couple. A good indication of a broken link is landing on a 404 page. Reach out to the webmaster directly and request that they replace the broken link with one leading to an active page on your site. It’s a win-win, as you’re also offering value to the site with the broken link.
17. Include “Tweet This” links in your content
Getting your content out to the masses is a big part of procuring inbound links. You increase your chances of getting your content shared by including smaller nuggets of information and saying, “Click to Tweet.” This invites people to share your content with one simple click.
This strategy results in ranking higher in search results, Twitter streams and news feeds. A free service called ClickToTweet can help you manage and promote your content without having to brush up on custom code.
18. Distribute press releases about company news
Turn your PR strategy into an inbound one by writing captivating press releases and posting them to your website. Gaining attention from the press can help you build your brand, improve your credibility and ultimately, receive backlinks from authoritative sources.
Setting up a dedicated page on your website about the story for readers to link to is highly recommended. Spend time researching and reaching out to publications you perceive as valuing your story. Remember to include a compelling subject line in your pitch email, be brief and be clear about what the news is.
When your news involves another company, send out a joint press release. This will vastly increase the chances of reaching thousands of other related sites. After all, the goal is to reach a larger audience, and you could earn more backlinks as a result.
19. Participate in speaking engagements
Most events typically provide plenty of great exposure and publicity for keynote speakers, listing them on their sponsor’s page or introducing speakers as contributors for a blog post. Speakers also have the option to request inbound links into their terms, assuring that the time and resources spent on the speech lead to a beneficial result.
20. Tap into the holidays
Does your industry lend itself to certain celebrations or holidays? Leveraging the holidays is an excellent PR tactic that also applies to link building. You don’t necessarily have to stick with the major ones like Thanksgiving; there’s a website that provides numerous celebrations throughout the year that might tie in with your business.
There are a vast number of link-building strategies. If this is your first time working with inbound links, begin by choosing two or three that resonate with your brand. There is a lot of room for flexibility and creativity in this process; have fun with it.
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