Once upon a time, in the ever-expanding universe of Google, all you had to do for a good ranking on the search engine was stuff as many keywords as possible on a web page. The approach worked very well for quite some time, even though there was hardly any attention paid to the quality of the content on offer. Then Google’s focus shifted to quality factors such as content, load speed, mobile experience and the quantity and quality of natural backlinks pointing to a web page.
Why acquire natural backlinks?
The first question that may pop in your head is what are natural backlinks?
Simply put, a backlink is a direct hyperlink to your website from another website. Backlinks can be acquired naturally, using what is known as white hat techniques, or unnaturally using black hat techniques, such as buying links. Black hat SEO is essentially forbidden by Google and most often leads to a penalty or a permanent ban.
Natural links tell Google’s search algorithm that the information you offer to a particular audience may be what they are looking for. They act as a ‘vote’ of confidence to Google that your content is reliable, important and trustworthy. The more ‘votes’ from quality sources, the better it will rank.
Easier said than done though. Every website out there is looking to rank at the top of Google, which is another way of saying that the competition for getting quality backlinks is cut-throat intense. It has also spawned a nefarious industry of link brokers, that sell low quality, high risk links to SEO companies in bulk, which is forbidden by Google.
The good news is that we have put together a quick guide to help you acquire natural backlinks that, coupled with best practice onpage SEO, will help boost your website from ‘Clark Kent’ to ‘Superman’ in Google’s search engine results.
Tips to get natural backlinks
Website content is a small term, but it encompasses a wide range of communication methods such as web page copy, articles, videos, blogs and inforgraphics. Ultimately, a combination of the various methods will help boost the value of your content to webmaster, Google and your visitors.
Blogs and Articles
The written word still holds sway no matter who you are targeting. Once you curate interesting written content on your own blog, a necessary first step, you can spread your wings and look to contribute content as a guest blogger on related, high authority websites.
You may wonder why waste your energy and effort creating content for someone else’s blog? It is an opportunity to reach out to gain referral visits from a wider audience, position your business as a thought leader in your industry, and gain referral backlinks to your website. These links back your site can most often be placed in the author bio section or within the body of the blog post.
A quick word on posting your links on the guest blog: ensure that the keyword phrase you use in the anchor text (the hyperlink back to your website) will appeal to the readers of the blog. Don’t use irrelevant spammy words in your hyperlink.
YouTube is owned by Google and is the second-most popular site in the world with over 400 hours of content uploaded every minute. It is testament to the power and popularity of videos. After all, it made Justin Bieber into a bonafide superstar. Now we are not suggesting that you sing and dance to achieve natural links for your content. Far from it. What we are referring to is the immense potential of the medium, which you could, and should, utilise to your benefit.
The one advantage that video may have over the written text is that people could find it easier to grasp the material at hand. You can keep the content short and sweet, like a teaser to what the audience will find on your website. Post a link to your websites directly from your YouTube videos, curiosity will then drive them to your content.
There may be those of you who are camera shy and would not want to risk it. To those we say that the videos we create for our clients take several forms, including a PowerPoint presentation, or even a video tutorial using a screencast.
Social Media Profiles
Maximise the reach of your blog articles by posting them to your social media profiles for two key reasons. Firstly, it boosts the profile of your company as an authority on a subject, secondly people may share your post generating secondary backlinks to your post.
Facebook and Twitter are probably the first names to register when we say social, but LinkedIn too offers a great platform where you can establish, through articles and videos, your expertise over your chosen subject.
A press release may sound old school, but it delivers tangible results in our millennial, internet-driven world. The reason being that, when you break it down to the basics, a press release is new information that a business or a website is looking to share with readers. This perfectly ties in to our constant need for updates, and there are serious bloggers and journalists who are itching to get their hands on it. The result is that the press release links back to your website. Note: we recommend quality over quantity with press releases in particular. Rather get 4 or 5 links from high authority press release sources, than 300 links from lower quality press release sites.
In summary, building natural backlinks using white hat techniques that compliment your onpage SEO strategy is one of the most effective ways to rank better and drive targeted traffic to your site.
Most search engines, like Google, now dish out penalties to sites that use unnatural techniques, such as buying links, to acquire backlinks.
This means that top ranking positions in the organic search results will be rewarded websites that know how to implement best in class onpage SEO and use white hat techniques to acquire a regular flow of natural backlinks.