Consider why people would want to link / reference your content
Get some local citations in directories
Make sure any existing mentions link back to your site
Write guest posts on relevant blogs
Speak to freelance journalists
Respond to press request alerts
You’ve written loads of content.
It’s optimised, containing the keywords and paraphrases you want to be found for.
You’ve considered the reader, their challenges and why they’d want to read.
You’ve even used meta tags and all that other geeky stuff to make sure your post is right from a technical point of view.
But you’re STILL not visible on the first page of Google.
Guess what? You’re not alone.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses are in the same boat as you, constantly trying to optimise their content, write new posts and adjust their current website, all in the hope that Google will not only notice you, but warm to your content and allow you a place right at the top of their first pages.
But, like an evil, cold-hearted sea wench, Google ignores all your advances and efforts, leaving you so far down the rankings that you’re effectively invisible to your would-be customers.
That’s an incredibly frustrating situation to be in considering how little traffic comes from search results after the first page.
There’s a saying in the SEO world:
“The safest place to hide a dead body? Page 2 of Google Search.”
Think about it, wise guy, have you ever gone past page 1? Exactly, my friend.
The problem is that there are so many variables involved with getting yourself seen on Google that even the biggest nerds in the world can’t guarantee you visibility.
The structure of your website, the type of content you write and the way you write it helps Google to ‘crawl and index’ it (or in other words, their bots read all of your site’s pages, decide what they’re about based on the words you’ve used and save them in certain categories).
So, what’s the secret ingredient for SEO success?
How can you make sure you stand the best chance of your content being seen?
Well, inbound links and backlinks are the element that significantly impacts the position or rank you achieve on Google.
The more quality inbound links to your website you can get, the more Google will see it as a website with authority and importance.
Bear in mind that the key word in that last sentence is quality. Irrelevant, spammy backlinks can actually negatively affect your rankings, so be sure to aim for quality over anything else.
How is authority measured by Google?
Authority is measured by the volume and quality of the inbound links and backlinks your site has.
These are effectively links to your content from other websites.
A high quality link is judged as one that is:
a) Relevant and from a site in a similar topic area to yours
b) From a website with high authority
For example: let’s say you’re an industrial manufacturing business. The World Manufacturing Organisation could be writing a research piece on the state of the manufacturing industry in the UK. If they were to reference one of your blog posts, that would be an incredibly high-quality backlink.
A low quality link on the other hand is judged as one that is:
b) From a website with low authority
For example: you’re an industrial manufacturing business and someone is writing a piece titled ‘the best stocking fillers for your wife this year’ and links to your website. That’s a completely pointless backlink (unless industrial-sized hydraulic pumps are in fashion this year, in which case, go for it).
How Can I Check Backlinks For My Website?
To assess your current backlink situation, you can use websites like MOZ* to see who is linking back to your website and to which specific pages.
If the number and/or quality of your backlinks are low, you need to put more effort into increasing your authority and getting more backlinks, rather than creating loads more content for the sake of it.
*That’s a backlink. You’re welcome, MOZ!
How Many Backlinks Do I Need for Google?
Just like the Illuminati and KFC, Google are a very secretive organisation and nobody – even their geekiest of geeks – know exactly how their ranking system works.
As a result, it’s hard to determine the exact number of backlinks you need.
To add to the confusion, all links are not created equal; one link from a website that has a high authority counts for more than multiple links from websites with lower authority.
As the old saying goes: quality is better than quantity.
Imagine that the first page of Google is an exclusive nightclub….
It sounds like an incredibly boring place to spend your Saturday nights, we know, but say you did want to get in.
Your chances of getting past the barrel-chested bouncer on the front door would be much higher if you had a George Clooney backlink on one arm and a Beyonce of a backlink on the other than if you strolled up with a posse of 10 or so desperate, wannabe or has been Z-lister backlinks.
That said, it is of course ideal to have both quality and quantity.
To get a ballpark number of how many you could do with having, look at the websites that appear within the top ten search results for your target keywords and use a site like MOZ to assess their backlink profiles.
We’d recommend doing this in an incognito window to avoid your previous searches and location changing the search results.
You should then see roughly how many you might need to be considered relevant by Google against the competition.
Great, So How Do I Increase Backlinks and Authority?
Having read to this point, that’s bound to be the big question on your lips.
Again, as for everything worthwhile in life, no silver bullet exists, but here are six simple tactics we’d recommend using as part of a backlink strategy.
1. Make your content ‘linkable’
Ok, so we definitely just completely made up the word ‘Linkable’, but there’s no other word for it.
What we mean by linkable is that you need to make sure your content is interesting enough that people link back to it when they write their own.
You need to consider why people would want to link back to your content before you put pen to paper. Originality plays a big part in this, of course, so be sure to read up on what’s already been said around the topics and keywords you want to rank on Google for.
Using original charts and infographics, unique industry insight and pro’s and con’s tables are all very shareable pieces of content that people will often want to reference.
The more unique and insightful your content is, the more chance you have of being linked back to. If you’re simply recycling the same old ideas, nobody will need, let alone want, to link to your work.
2. Local Citations
Next, make sure you get profiles setup on local listings websites and directories like Foursquare and Yell.
This is a very quick and easy way to get backlinks from websites with very high authorities, and although they’re not always going to be directly relevant to your industry, they are huge links that you shouldn’t ignore.
It’s also a good way to get some traffic from relevant people who might be looking for your services in your local area.
3. Existing mentions
Another great way to boost the number and quality of links back to your website is to make sure every website that mentions you already has included a hyperlink to your web address.
Doing this is easy. Simply go to Google and search for you business’ name in quotes and next to it, type the minus sign with your web address.
This will pull up every page on which your business’ name has been used on the web which doesn’t also feature a link to your website.
Here’s an example:
If and when you find any, it goes without saying you should get in touch with the business to get that backlink added.
It’s also worth searching for the names of unique products and services you sell in order to
Using Google Alerts, you can also setup an alert for branded mentions, which means as soon as someone mentions your company (or whichever words you want to be notified for) you’ll know about it and can make sure you get that oh so important backlink. Here’s how to do it:
Log into your Google account and go to google.com/alerts
Enter a search term to track. Google Alerts will display a results preview as you type.
Select “Show options” (below the search box). Choose how often you’d like to receive alerts: once a day; as it happens; once a week.
Choose a source for your alerts: web; blogs; news; etc. If you’re unsure, leave this as the default “automatic.”
Choose a language and region.
Choose how many results you want to see: “all results,” or “only the best results.”
Choose a delivery email address (this is where Google will send your alerts).
Select “Create alert.”
4. Guest Posts
Another great way to build your links is to offer guest posts for other websites, writing free content for them in exchange for the link back to the site.
Industry magazines are great to go at. If there are any in your space (or in the industries of the businesses you’re targeting), you can also target people who write blogs in your space, or even specific journalists and copywriters that specialise in a certain area or write reviews of the kinds of products and services you sell.
The best way to find these opportunities is either by searching on Google for magazines and new outlets and using LinkedIn to contact people who work there.
5. Freelance Journalists
Similar to the point above, it can also be a great idea to find freelance journalists. These journalists often write for numerous different outlets every year, so sparking a strong relationship with one can be a great way to get numerous, high-quality backlinks to your site every month.
Again, LinkedIn is a brilliant place to look for the right kinds of journalists. Rather than going in straight away with a request, though, you might want to take the softer approach; journalists are likely to be inundated with people asking them to write about their business all the time.
Instead, try asking them for some help or advice; people tend to be nice enough to respond when you make a small request and tend to enjoy passing on their knowledge.
Last but not least is a little secret weapon some businesses use to get high-quality backlinks to their site every month.
Searching on Twitter for #PRRequest or #JournoRequest will bring up a series of tweets in which journalists put out requests for opinions and input for their articles.
Many of these requests won’t be a fit for your business at all, but on the odd occasion, you’ll find yourself a beauty that’s perfect. Simply reply to their tweet with your email address or find their contact details on the web and get in touch directly.
If you can get your website mentioned in a national newspaper or huge magazine with a juicy link back to your site, not only will that bring you up the search rankings, you should also see a fair amount of relevant traffic coming towards your site while the article is hot, too, which can result in enquiries and business leads on its own.
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