What Are Backlinks & Why Are They Important?
Before diving into the different strategies you can use to acquire high-quality backlinks, it’s first important to learn more about backlinks and why Google values them so much.
- Backlinks are hyperlinks from an external site pointing back to your site.
- Backlinks are important because they establish authority for your website, something Google values.
- Quality backlinks are extremely important. Google wants to see legitimate websites linking back to your site.
- Google wants to see topical links pointing back to your site.
- If you are a doctor, there should be links from sites like ZocDoc, HealthGrades, Medical Journals, and other related sites.
- The more on-topic your backlink profile is, the better.
Related Blog: How To Identify Low-Quality Backlinks for SEO
My Background & Expertise In Backlink Building
Many of the examples within this blog will come from our agency’s success along with our in-house eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse.
The Media Captain
- I started my marketing agency, The Media Captain, back in 2010.
- I didn’t have the funds to invest in paid advertising.
- I knew the only way to acquire customers was to rank well organically.
- Fast forward more than a decade. We have hundreds of clients and a staff of 20, largely due to link building and SEO.
- In 2016, I launched an eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse.
- My dad is a dermatologist who sold five skincare brands locally at his office.
- I took his product storefront products and turned them into an eCommerce operation.
- We now have over 400,000 customers throughout the U.S.
- SEO and link building played an integral part in our organic growth.
- In 2012 SafeAuto was hit with a Google penalty (Penguin) for low-quality backlinks.
- This impacted their bottom line severely.
- I was tasked with cleaning up their backlink profile and disavowing over 1 million low-quality links
- This taught me the value of good links versus bad links
Now that you have some background on me and my backlink history, it’s time to dive into the strategies and tactics to help your business acquire more backlinks.
6 Strategies & Tactics to Get Strong Backlinks
1. Utilize Your Blog & Create Amazing Content
Blogging is the most underrated backlink-building strategy. When people think of link-building, the perception is that they have to do outreach to get people to link back to their site. If you create great content, the links should follow. You must be strategic in terms of the topics you select. Ask yourself: If someone were writing an article, would they link to my article as a resource?
Example: 30 Google My Business Stats
- I wrote an article on 30 Google My Business Stats.
- There were a lot of articles written about Google My Business but not many great resources with statistics that justified the importance of GMB
- With each statistic, I provided corresponding insight to make my article stand out versus just copying and pasting statistics.
- This specific blog has generated 287 backlinks from 109 domains
- If I hired someone for 40 hours per week to do manual outreach for link building, I doubt that person could replicate the amount of backlinks this one blog received.
- The links pointing to my website are primarily other marketing and technology sites, making the backlinks very topical.
- High authority sites, such as GoDaddy.com (DA: 83) have linked back to this blog.
Tips To Acquire Links From Blogs:
Blog on statistics
- When people are writing articles, they love to source statistics. This increases your probability of getting a quality backlink pointing to your site.
Publish Unique, Helpful Content
- If you write an article on a topic hundreds of others have written and nothing stands out, you likely won’t get backlinks.
- Creating a case study within your article or providing extreme value will increase your chances of acquiring backlinks.
Create Compelling Graphics
- Around 1 billion people use Google images daily (source).
- Creating compelling visuals, including infographics, increases your chances of someone using the graphic on their site and linking to you for credit.
2. Leverage Your Authority & Expertise
- For DermWarehouse, I leveraged that my dad is a Dermatologist, which journalists constantly seek quotes from.
- For months, I would scour Google News for any reference of “Dermatologist”
- I would contact the reporters to let them know if they ever needed a quote from a dermatologist, my dad could respond to their inquiry within 2 to 3 hours.
- This led to relationships with reporters at some of the biggest news outlets, including Today.com, New York Mag, People, Vogue, and more.
- Below is our backlink profile to show you some high-authority sites linking to us.
Pro Tip: If you are an expert, find people writing about your industry and profession and tell them you can provide quick turnaround quotes!
Example Of Quality Backlink Acquired
3. HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
- HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a website where reporters send inquiries for quotes they want to use in upcoming articles.
- You sign up, receive daily email pitches, and respond to the ones that make sense for you and your business.
- The pitches are sent off each morning, afternoon, and evening.
- Below is what this would look like in your inbox
- If you were an accountant, query #14 would be great to respond to!
Scouring The Topics on HARO
What The Actual Pitch Looks Like
There are a few good rules of thumb when it comes to HARO
- First, timeliness is key. Reporters tend to be on tight deadlines, so if you can respond to queries quickly, that’s always really helpful and will improve your conversion rate.
- Analyze the media outlet to determine its legitimacy. If the media outlet has a low authority, it may not be worthwhile for you to respond.
- When responding to queries, sending a direct quote and answering the reporter’s question immediately is important. This makes it much easier for them to find what they’re looking for and much more likely that they’ll select a quote from you.
- Lastly, include your name, a link to your website, a short bio, and a headshot that they can use to quote you.
- Don’t solely rely on HARO. In my opinion, the quality has been diluted over the years. Links in these articles will drive little referral traffic, which isn’t good in the eyes of Google.
4. Put On Your PR (Public Relations) Hat
Music School Example
- COVID hurt a lot of music schools as students couldn’t come in person for classes.
- A music school client of ours wanted to get PR for the virtual music classes they were offering amid COVID-19.
- They knew this story was timely because of COVID and feel-good since a local business succeeded while making students and parents happy.
- Based on this PR pitch, we got over a dozen backlinks from media outlets.
When you have a good story to tell, craft a compelling pitch and reach out to media outlets. One story can lead to a lot of PR with plenty of backlinks!
5. Find Brand References
- SEMRush offers brand monitoring for $49 per month.
- You will get an email notification anytime your brand name is referenced.
- Many times, brand names are referenced with no backlinks.
- This provides a great opportunity to reach out to the site that referenced your brand to see if they will link back.
- If you don’t want to spend money on this each month, you can search for your brand on Google, go through sites, and see whether or not a backlink is included.
- You can also add your brand name to a Google Alerts update. Many times, especially on smaller sites, brand references won’t register with Google News/Google Alerts.
In the example below, our agency was featured in Columbus CEO when we moved into our new office. I was notified of this via Google Alerts. I realized the reporter didn’t link back to our site. I kindly asked her to link back, which led to a quality backlink from a reputable news outlet! I’ve acquired many backlinks this way over time.
5. Leverage Business Relationships
- Leveraging existing business relationships is another great way to acquire high-quality links to your site.
- If you partner with other businesses, ask them to include a link on their site back to your site. Both DermWarehouse and The Media Captain utilize this strategy.
- For DermWarehouse, we sell over 100 brands on our site. When we partner with one of these new brands, we always ask them to include a link to DermWarehouse on their site as an authorized seller. These are all established and very reputable brands, so having them include that link lets their customer know that DermWarehouse is a trusted seller and greatly helps improve our SEO.
- For The Media Captain, whenever we build a site for a client, we’d ask the client to add us to their site if they have a partner’s page. When our clients are happy with our work, they’re happy to do this for us more often than not.\
- If you formulate a list of your vendors and business relationships, you can get over 10 backlinks pointing to your website. This will provide a boost for any website, especially one in the infancy stages that needs more backlinks to establish authority.
- Below, you see that on iS Clinical’s website, DermWarehouse is listed with a link back to our site.
- Think of Yelp and Angie’s List as a directory listing
- Directory listings provide a helpful list of businesses within your industry
- I recommend doing a Google search for some of your primary category keywords
- In the example below, I searched for “Columbus Web Design Company”
- Find all of the directories that populate on the first page
- Inquire whether or not there is a cost to advertise or get listed on these pages
Despite Being No Follow, There Is Still Value Being Listed On Directories
- When you get listed on one of these directories, it drives a lot of quality referral traffic to your site, which Google likes to see
- Being listed in this sort of directory can generate more leads and new business for your company, which is good!
- Despite most directories providing no-follow links, I like getting our and clients’ sites listed and linked on these directory sites.
- When you have reviews on external sources and more people are coming across your brand, this is a positive sign for Google
There are many ways to acquire backlinks. It’s important to acquire high-quality backlinks. I’m hopeful all of the strategies and tactics I shared will provide you with the needed push to succeed with your backlink strategy.
If you need any assistance formulating a backlink strategy, Contact The Media Captain!