Updated: Nov 13
Unless you're experienced in marketing and website design, understanding the importance of acquiring website backlinks can be a confusing experience. A basic explanation of what they are follows and how they can increase your website's domain authority and help with your brand awareness strategy and growth.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Check out the video below for a quick overview in just over 2 minutes.
New Business Websites
You've started a new business, and suddenly, you find yourself inundated with lots of emails from companies promising to get your business listed on page one of Google. As great as this sounds, no reputable marketing consultant will quote a blanket rate and send unsolicited emails, and getting on the first page of Google takes time and cannot be guaranteed.
Backlinking is a crucial part of any marketing strategy and increasing a website's domain authority, and as with most things in life, quality over quantity works best. In the long run, quality, relevant ones will save you time and help to increase your future business revenue.
*Please note that all descriptions and details are taken directly from the company's website, and you are advised to use your due diligence before joining any. No endorsement is intended or should be inferred from being listed below.*
What exactly is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation; it's the process of increasing your website's visibility on search engines, such as Google and Bing. One way to increase your visibility is through acquiring inbound links; the more you acquire, the higher you will rank on search engines.
Backlinks, sometimes referred to as inbound links, are off-page SEO as they take place off your website instead of on-page SEO, which takes place in the content you include on your website.
On-page SEO helps search engines understand what your website is about, whereas off-page demonstrates to search engines that the content offers value.
Having high-quality inbound links to your website signals a vote of confidence to search engines, akin to how positive customer testimonials are a powerful signal of brand trust; backlinks do the same for search engines about your website, and this helps your website rank higher for target keywords in search results.
Sometimes we all need a cute dog picture :)
How do we know which will help?
It's important to understand that not all inbound links are good for your website. While searching the web, you'll stumble over something which looks like a pot of gold: sites offering 100 backlinks for a small but nominal fee. As great as this sounds, my advice is don't do this, as the consequences can be detrimental to the future health of your business website.
The problem is that search engines see buying them as a breach of their guidelines, and if caught, you can lose ranking for all of your keywords for six months or more, and many websites never fully recover their rankings.
You need to focus on high-quality links from another website with good domain authority (DA) that are relevant and bring referral traffic to your website. The better the quality, the higher your DA will be.
You can check any website's domain authority using the Moz free domain authority checker.
The last thing to be aware of is that there are two types: Nofollow and Dofollow. Nofollow links aren't as influential on rankings as dofollow, but they still give a positive hint to Google, transfer some authority, and increase new traffic; for example, any social media posts you place about your business will tend to be nofollow.
Overall, you're looking to prioritise dofollow when building backlinks to your website, but nofollow with brand mentions will still help to increase your brand's recognition.
Where to Start?
Listing your business in online directories is the best place to start. Brightlocal conducted a consumer survey and found that 94% of consumers use a business information site to look up a local business. So, starting with business directories sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn't it?!
Brightlocal also found an increase in customers using Google to search for local businesses. So the best places to start listing your business are Google, Bing and Apple business directories.
It's one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your online business visibility and become findable on Google Maps. You can customize your business page with hours, photos, and services and request that customers leave you a review of your services to entice future customers.
Here are some of my top free business directories with high domain authorities (DA) to get you started.
Are there any other ways to find Backlinks?
Yes, there is; you can by becoming a spy! :) Sadly, not James Bond, but by using a website like Ahrefs backlink checker. You can use a range of tools for free on this platform without paying the premium.
Company Description: "What is Ahrefs? Ahrefs is an SEO software suite that contains tools for keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking and site audits. In short, Ahrefs is an SEO tool designed to help people get higher Google rankings."
So, first, you find a competitor's website. For example, if you sell organic eggs, find a competitor's website selling similar eggs, copy and paste their homepage website address into the search box on Ahrefs; you'll then see a selection of your competitor's links for free.
If you wish to see all the backlinks for a specific website, you will need to upgrade to a paid membership. But the free version should be adequate when just starting out.
Brightlocal - Building Citations
Another option to consider is using a company like Brightlocal that you can pay to list you in a selection of website directories; it currently costs an average of $2 per site, and they have a 4.9 positive trust rating on Trustpilot.
Company Description: "Whether you're looking to boost local rankings, increase online visibility, build citations, develop an amazing online reputation, or even grow your marketing agency, BrightLocal's powerful tools make local marketing success simple. Citation Tracker automatically scans the web to find the most valuable and important sites to get listed on. We also pride ourselves on publishing insightful research and providing exceptional service for the thousands of agency, brand, and local business customers who trust BrightLocal to give them a competitive advantage.”
For those of you who are writers, another thing that you can do is guest posting. Guest posting is a brand awareness activity. It's the practice of writing an article for a website in your industry which mentions your brand name and will acquire you a backlink that helps build and increase your brand's audience.
An easy way to find these when searching Google is to use the search terms:
Keywords + “Write for us”
Keywords + “Guest post”
If you have a particular business or website in mind that you would like to write for, use this as your keyword to find out if they accept guest articles.
Then, put together your pitch and email them. I recommend including a brief summary highlighting your experience that shows you are an expert in your field, and if you have an extensive distribution list to share the post on, make sure to mention this too!
Think about a few article titles to pitch that their audience may like, and make sure to follow up if you don't hear back.
HARO - Help Out a Reporter
Company Description: "HARO connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources who have that expertise."
If the thought of writing guest articles seems too much, another option is to sign up for a free account with HARO.
Three times a day, you'll receive updates from journalists looking for experts to help them with their upcoming articles; I've found in the UK that they come through around 11 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Cons: One thing to be aware of about HARO is you may get some SEO marketers trying to sell backlinks. One of the best ways to avoid these is not to submit a contribution to any that don't reveal the publication and always check out the journalist/author requesting the contribution.
Pros: In helping out a reporter, you can earn a quality inbound link and gather press promotion to showcase on your website, helping to assert your authority as a leader in your industry.
I've only just started with this platform but already have two potential prospects, one with Fairyboss and another with Forbes, both with high-profile domain authorities.
My tip is to have a pitch readily put together that concisely informs them about who you are and highlights any notable achievements. Make sure to follow their brief to the letter and don't pitch or add anything which isn't needed or applicable.
It's also worth ending with something like this:
"If you include this in your story, please let me know when it's published so I can promote it across my network." I have a combined social following and mailing list audience of over 10,000. It would also be great if you could include a link back to www.reflectionscareercoaching.co.uk"
It's also worth setting up a Google alert for the contribution in case the journalist doesn't get back to you to confirm they're using your contribution, which can sometimes happen. Setting up a Google alert for articles using your name or business will help you keep track.
While social media backlinks are nofollow, as mentioned earlier, they still positively hint to Google your website authenticity and contribute to building brand awareness and referral traffic.
In the infographic above, from Datareportal we can see that a considerable percentage of consumers use social media to follow and research brands and products.
I admittedly don't use my Facebook page as much as I should; however, I post my blog posts in Facebook groups, from where many of you will be visiting this article.
Start with the popular networks Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram and ensure to include as much of your company's details as possible. It's also worth noting that social posts with pictures see higher engagement.
I also recommend using Canva for some creative inspiration to help design your social media posts.
I'm a Career Consultant and Business Coach with experience in marketing and SEO who provides SEO coaching for Creatives. The knowledge I have acquired has enabled me to move some of my target keywords to page one on Google and increase my brand's online visibility.
I have also learned that all of this requires patience and persistence. I acquired links the same week as writing this article, and I expect it to take around three months for them to affect my domain authority; those with newer websites can expect it to take much longer.
The beauty of starting with business directories is that, in the meantime, you are still increasing brand visibility for customers searching for your type of services.
If you need further help establishing your new business, feel free to book a discovery call and find out what else I can help you with. Or, read more about my business coaching services.
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