Search engine optimization for content marketing is always evolving thanks to Google’s ever-changing standards. Years ago, website creators could litter their pages with specific keywords in order to rank higher on the search engine. Now, it’s quality, and not quantity, that Google looks for when determining webpage popularity.
Despite increasingly strict standards from Google, there are SEO methods that you can still apply to your website to rank high. One of these proven techniques is called backlinking.
What is backlinking?
A backlink is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a link back to a website. A backlink can occur either native to a website or on a different website that points to yours.
For example, if you have a company blog, you can write text that you link back to your homepage. If your company was featured in Forbes, their anchor text may be your company name and then that link would take readers to your website.
The best backlinks come from sites with high authority, as decided upon by Google. “Backlinks on other sites is huge,” says Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko. “Otherwise Google doesn’t have a good way of determining how authoritative another page is.”
If your backlink appears on a site with a lower ranking, it can hurt yours, and if you backlink to a page on your own site, it’s not going to be as effective as one from a high-ranking site.
Let’s take a look at how to work with backlinks on your company website, as well as how to gain them on high-ranking sites.
Backlinking on your own website
To get the most juice possible out of this backlinking technique, you need to use the proper anchor text within your link. Dean says that when it comes to anchor text, “you want to have your keyword in the anchor text but you don’t want it to be only your keyword. A few years ago you could have only your keyword. Today it will help you rank high only in the short term. [Google] Penguin targets people who do only that.”
Dean says that if your keyword is “blue shoes,” you shouldn’t link only to those two words. Instead, link a page to the anchor text, “this site is about blue shoes.”
Receiving backlinks from other sites
Garnering those important backlinks from high-authority websites can be tricky. You need to make sure that your link can provide value to another website’s visitors, as well as add to the quality of the website’s content.
While you can’t always control what anchor text another website will use for your company’s site, you can still pitch and hope for the best. The traditional way to do this is by placing bylines or getting press in prominent, well-read sites. This is not achievable for all brands though, especially those without large PR budgets. Some more scrappy but effective approaches to obtaining backlinks are:
• Getting your company’s leaders to write guest blogs for other websites and publications. Then, they can ask for permission to include a link back to your company’s site either within their bios or in the blog posts themselves.
• When announcing company news, you can send a press release to relevant websites and popular bloggers. Offer interviews with the appropriate company representatives, and show why your news will benefit readers of the website.
• If you have an email list or social media pages, you should always post your content on your accounts (obviously). When your content features another company or an influencer, include links to their websites and accounts within your post. Then, they’ll promote your content link to their audiences.
• Target other influencers in your niche by signing up for industry-specific forums and posting your content on there. You can also join LinkedIn Groups relating to your business and share your latest content with other members.
• Do some research and find articles that have been written about similar businesses within your industry. Then, pitch the writers of these articles on your company’s news or products.
• Create valuable and sharable content assets like infographics and videos and pitch them to other blogs with overlapping audiences or interests to use in exchange for a link back.
More on anchor text
Whether you’re backlinking on your own page or aiming to have backlinks on an authoritative site, a few rules apply.
While some companies worry about where the backlink appears on a site, Deans says that it can go anywhere aside from the footer area.
Also, Dean says that your anchor text shouldn’t always be the same. While the “this site is about blue shoes” link may work on a few websites, you should use a variety of anchor text that links back to the same page.
According to Web Marketing Today, if you have 100 backlinks floating around out there, and your main anchor text is “dentist Chicago,” your goal should be to get one “dentist Chicago” backlink on a high-ranking site about dentistry. Google is so trained that as long as your website is functioning properly, you can have only one backlink with that anchor text and still rank high. On the other hand, if Google detects keyword patterns, your website may be penalized and rank lower.
When you’re backlinking, your efforts must appear to be natural. The best websites don’t rank high because they purchase backlinks, spam Google with hundreds of links containing the same anchor text, or produce content for the sake of getting their links out there.
Instead, they focus on quality content first, and linking and promotion second. If you do this as well, you’ll be on your way to ranking number one when users turn to Google.
Kylie Ora Lobell is a NewsCred Contributor