When you’re looking into doing SEO, you are basically making changes to your website design and content that make your website more attractive to a search engine. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process that organizations go through to help make sure their site rankings are high in search engines for relevant keywords and phrases. For a well-rounded organic search strategy, there are three types of SEO: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. By breaking down your strategy and thinking about search engine optimization as these three categories, you will have a much easier time organizing and executing your optimization plans. We are going to focus on off-page SEO, specifically Backlinks SEO in this article. In SEO terminology, a backlink is a hyperlink that links from a webpage back to your own webpage or website. Search engines, like Google, consider websites with more backlinks more relevant in search results pages. Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. Basically, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content. If you have enough sites linking to your website, search engines will infer that the content on your webpage is worth linking to, therefore also worth ranking you higher in search results. Earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or search visibility. The process of obtaining these links is known as link earning or link building. Backlinks can be time-consuming to earn and it’s very easy to get caught up in the idea of getting as many backlinks as possible. The more, the better, right? Not necessarily. You want to link build organically, meaning people discover your content and choose to link to your page. Whether that be via social media, word of mouth, or search engines. By creating truly useful content that people want to link to, you improve your chances of earning more backlinks. If you want to link build with quality sites, you can try a few different, beloved methods: Unlinked mentions: reaching out to authors who have your brand on their site and asking them to make the mention clickable. Guest blogging: creating quality content for another website in exchange for a backlink Broken link building: find dead links relevant to your content and reach out to the authors to suggest they replace it with a working link to your site. The quantity-over-quality strategy is outdated and frowned upon in the SEO world. Search engines value the quality of your link profile over the quantity of backlinks you have. Having a balanced and diverse backlink profile built naturally will boost your site’s strength. If you have thousands of low-authority, spammy links attached to your site, search engines see this as a sneaky way of getting around their quality guidelines and can hit you with a big drop of your rankings, and it can be more difficult to come back from something like that. There are different forms of backlinks, all of which help to raise your rankings with search engines. These include images, banners, and badges, hyperlinked text, URL’s, and embedding in videos and infographics. Our article on seo for car dealerships outline how to hyperlink and the various backlinks in that niche. Keep in mind, these need to come across naturally in the content. URL’s are hard to place naturally, but can easily be replaced with a hyperlink if used in a place that makes sense. Plus, hyperlinking the website name as opposed to using the URL looks much tidier and gives a clearer idea of where the link is leading them. If you’re starting from the bottom, here is a good strategy to start earning organic, quality backlinks: Local Listings and Directories A simple, yet tedious, way to score backlinks is to go through all the local directories. Whether you are creating a new business listing or making sure your existing listing is current with correct information, this is the easiest way to score backlinks. Many consider it low hanging fruit, but with your name, address, contact details, and a link back to your website, you’re earning good street cred with these listings. Be sure to not only update on Google, but also Yelp and your social media pages. These directory backlinks are a standard first step for every website. It’s a “two birds, one stone” kind of process because you earn link credit for your site as well as invite new customers to find you. Just be sure that when you write your business description, you mix it up for each directory. If you just copy and paste, it could count as duplicate content and trigger the search engine to negatively impact your score. Existing Relationships This ties into the “Guest Blogging” we mentioned earlier. Now that you’ve dotted your T’s and crossed your I’s, it’s time to start utilizing relationships and offering an exchange of value. Consider your existing relationships and determine if any of them could provide a good link opportunity for you. They don’t need to have the same status of the New York Times, but a decent website and a good relationship with you could be just enough to be beneficial. For example, offer to write a glowing review of a product or service your business uses that they can put on their site. In exchange, they can include your name, along with a backlink, in the author bio. Or you can keep it subtle by using a small, clickable business logo, which would allow the review to shine. Exchanges like this are valued and often underestimated. Consider your partners, clients, suppliers, and so on and start considering what you can offer them. Guest Posting This tactic takes a lot of work, but when done right, it works very well. Start by researching into relevant industry blogs, business, and influencers. The key is to find opportunities where you can offer something well-written, insightful, and perfectly tailored to their audience. If you want these people to consider and accept what you’ve written, you’ll be more successful if you present a tailored post that you’ve already written. Especially if they don’t know much about you, the goal is to pique their interest enough to give you a chance; first impressions are everything. This can work both ways; allowing others to guest blog on your site could expand your network while also giving you content. Most likely, they’re going to backlink to the post they wrote on your site. Bad Backlink SEO Tactic If you want to avoid negatively impacting your search engine ranking, avoid Hidden Links. These are links on a website that the site owner has literally hidden from users and from Google. Search engines consider these spam and should be avoided at all costs. For example, white text on a white background, hiding links in a punctuation mark in a random sentence, and even resizing text so small it’s almost invisible. Site owners will do this to hide a lot of links on their website, and if one of those links comes back to you, it will most definitely affect your rankings. Their site ranking gets penalized by violating one of Google’s quality guidelines, and in turn, will pull down the overall quality of your backlink profile. There are several steps, start to finish, to successfully link build your website. Although it may seem daunting, keep in mind it isn’t complicated. With a solid approach plan and a firm understanding of what you want for your site, you can be rewarded tenfold. Once you see your website rise in the rankings and see your traffic and revenue increase, the tedious process of link building will be worth it. Analyze each potential link carefully, make sure it’s a good one that will pass value to your site and then follow a tailored outreach strategy to secure it. Happy linking!