Links and SEO: The Importance of Backlinks and How to Build Them Naturally
And now it's time for the third part of our short blog series about the three main building blocks to good SEO in the new search era content, social media and inbound links.
What Are Inbound Links?
Inbound links, or also known as backlinks, are very important signals to Google and other search engines about the relevance and value of your content. Their number indicates the popularity or importance of your blog online.
There are inbound and outbound links - the outbound are links on your blog that lead to other blogs and websites, and inbound are links from other sites that lead to your pages. If, for example, Forbes links to one of your blog posts in an article, that link would be inbound for you, and outbound for Forbes. The more backlinks you have, the greater the significance of your content for the engines.
Few years ago link building was a numbers game, a matter of who could afford to spend more work hours on listing their blogs in different article directories, linking to their pages from comments on other sites and forums, asking for link exchanges, instead of creating actual value for readers. These techniques don't apply anymore. You need to build natural, organic links, from reputable blogs and sites that are relevant to your industry and blog niche, so Google would trust you, boost your authority and your pages to rank higher, driving you greater traffic.
Here's what Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, says about link building in a recent interview for Stone Temple Consulting:
"No, not all link building is bad. The philosophy that we've always had is if you make something that's compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it. And so a lot of people approach it from a direction that's backwards. They try to get the links first and then they want to be grandfathered in or think they will be a successful website as a result.
Their goal should really be to make a fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings."
What's 'Good' Link Building?
Guest blogging - There are bunch of reasons why guest blogging is great, and backlinks are one of them. You not only get exposure to a new audience for your blog, but you also get valuable links on other blogs and websites that lead readers back to your content. So keep that in mind when selecting the sites you'll be pitching, as their reputation and authority are important for your blog's SEO. Start with the smaller blogs in your niche, and as your posts build a solid amount of social engagement and comments, you can approach the larger websites. Click for few tips for writing a successful guest post.
Article directories and communities- We talked about submitting your blog to various directories as a way to drive greater traffic to your content. But you don't want it listed in just any directory, because those with low quality and value can potentially be harmful for your site ranking. Look for local listings that could be beneficial for your blog and business, get into quality niche directories, as well as into established directories like Technorati or Blogorama which feature content from your field.
You can also join article communities like HubPages and Squidoo, where you can hang out with lots of people, their members, who fit the type of readers that you target. Once you get in touch with fellow bloggers whose audience may be interested in your content too, you can potentially offer a future guest blogging opportunity for example, and earn valuable backlinks from reputable sources.
To see if your blog is listed in some of the key directories use Yext.
Video marketing- Videos are great for building quality content backlinks, particularly viral from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, or even short clips on Instagram. These sites allow you to place links in the description of your video (or in the comments) which lead viewers back to your blog in search for more information. The more your videos are valuable, and tailored to the needs of the right type of audience for your blog, the greater your chances for quality backlinks to your unique content. As Matt says above, bloggers focus should be on offering value, creating a blog that people love, talk about, and link to, so more can experience it.
Social media- Your blog's social presence is crucial when it comes to ranking with search engines, and if you are engaged with any of these sites, you can use the space they provide for links to boost your social backlinks. Put your blog's URL in your Twitter Bio and Web link, use the space in the Basic information on your Facebook page, verify it on Google+, add the link(s) on LinkedIn, and you've produced great quality backlinks that will get your site in front of a greater audience of potential blog readers.
Commenting and discussions- You can also earn quality inbound links for your blog, as well as build your personal and professional brand, if you engage with communities relevant to your industry, comment on popular blogs to share something interesting, contribute to discussions on quality forums, and offer your knowledge and experience answering questions on sites like QuoraorYahoo Answers. Share occasional link to your blog content in your comments and answers and make sure to include your URL in the profile. Search for best forums for your blog niche using BoardReader.
You'll find more detailed information on links and growing popularity on Moz. (This is an outbound link for Blogger Babes, but if they link to one of our posts, that will be a quality backlink for us.)