SEO: 6 Steps to Acquire Website Backlinks
He or She Who Acquires the Most Links Wins!
We do a lot of reverse engineering to determine why websites rank well with search engines. We use various tools that crawl the web and show virtually every link that points to a specific site. There are various reasons why certain sites rank well for specific keywords and phrases but when we analyze the data, one of the most powerful factors is backlinks. They simply rock and roll the search engine visibility world!
So is it true? He or she who acquires the most links wins? Well, it's not the only thing but it sure has a huge impact on SEO, search engine rankings, and overall online visibility. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the basics of "link building." I noted that the founders of Google built their search engine with a major premise: a link from another website (or blog, social media channel, etc.) is a critical part of how they determine where a specific site will rank for any given keyword search. And I noted that the quality and relevance of a website linking to your site determines a lot as to where your website will show up in search results. And last week I noted how diversity is so important for link building. Search engines typically reward sites that have the "right mix" of inbound link structure.
Six Steps to Take You Up the Link Building Ladder
So this week let's review six steps in the link building process. First thing you should realize it's not just about acquiring links. The best link building is about developing relationships with others and dare we say it… connecting!
1. Plan, Research, Then Acquire
We typically start with our clients' site, then look at their competitors. Both of the tools noted above allow you to export these links into spreadsheets. We then compare the links for our clients' site(s) to those of their competitors. Once we do some sorting and messing about in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, we have a good idea of many good links these competitor sites have that we need to acquire on behalf of our clients.
Sometimes these links are hard to acquire, sometimes not. But we get at it. It's mostly a long-term approach. Gather a few links each week and over a period of time you start seeing results. Sometimes you can achieve some significant results fairly quickly if you can find backlinks from "powerful" websites that are relevant and have good authority with search engines.
2. Submit to Some Paid Directories
We really try to limit the number of paid directories we submit sites too. Get listed on these types of sites used to have more impact on SEO. Now, not so much. We still like to submit to some of the top directories such as Yahoo, Best of the Web, and a few other respected directories. Why? The top directories are edited by humans. Your site has to "pass" some quality checks before you get listed. The search engines know this so they will give you a little credit for having a link from these sites.
Just don't go overboard making purchases and spread out these submissions over time for best effects. Expect to pay from $500 to $1,200 over several or many months for these types of "purchases".
3. Choose the Right Keywords
Know what keywords you want to rank well for. Choose your keywords by drawing up a work plan to create great content themed around keyword groupings e.g. Vancouver hotel, hotels in Vancouver, Vancouver boutique hotels, etc. Routinely creating good quality content around these keywords can really help. And analytics tools like Google Analytics or keyword research tools such as Google's AdWords Keyword Tool, or SEMrush can provide excellent insight into the frequency and relevance of specific keyword searches. Analytics tools can show you what keywords people are using to get to your site. Keyword research tools can show what keywords in general people are using that are relevant to your website.
Once you have established some keywords and key phrases you have some direction as to what content you can focus on for your blog, etc. Once you have created great content promote the heck out of it: blog about it, tweet it, promote it with email, comment on other people's blog, etc. Get more eyeballs reading your content!
4. Work the Media, Network, Publicize Offline
Contact your local media outlets, issues press releases, network, make connections, find partnerships. It's all about outreach. Get your website or blog website address on everything you print including your business card, newsletter, and social media channels.
5. Create a Tool or Content That Can Go Viral
Whether you develop a tool or widget that people can place on their website or create compelling videos, photo galleries or other content that people will share you're helping your content go viral. And that can lead to some excellent backlink opportunities!
6. Measure, Monitor + Track Your Progress
Track, monitor and document your process and results. Using some of the tools noted above can really help here. By collecting data, you acquire knowledge. Acquiring knowledge is powerful. Use that knowledge and power to make increasingly better decisions that will guide you to even more effective link building.
So get going. Get working on acquiring backlinks by doing the right research, creating great content, then measuring and documenting your efforts. It works. After all, he or she that has the most backlinks more often than not wins!