Back in the olden-days of the year 2000, when Google first took over as the No. 1 search engine, website owners desperate for their site to appear at the top of search engine rankings would shell out money to buy “backlinks.” Shortly thereafter, Google updated its algorithm to find and penalize any site that cheated this way. But seventeen years later, good quality backlinks still affect SEO. It’s nice to know that some things never change! Unfortunately, this is a tough goodie to get.
What’s a backlink?
In the list of SEO best practices — things to do to make your website come up high and often on search engines — great backlinks are in the “super awesome and hard to get” category. Simply put, a backlink is a link to your website that exists on someone else’s website. They can be bad, if that website is a spammy paid link farm as mentioned above. But for those of us who don’t cheat, backlinks are very good things to have.
Some backlinks are better than others.
There are different levels of backlinks. The easiest ones to get have the smallest effect on your SEO, but by all means, get them. These are links to your website that exist on your social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc.), directory pages (manta, yellowpages, superpages, bbb, etc.), and any other site where you can create a free profile. In our marketing proposals, we often refer to this setup process as “profile linking,” and it all helps to cement your main information — exact business title, address, phone number, and website address — in search engines.
NOTE: The most important profile linking setup you can do is to get verified in Google My Business. We do this for all of our clients. If you haven’t already done this, get going on it ASAP or give us a call!
Medium level backlinks are the links to your website that are on semi-popular websites, such as the sites of your suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors. The more national and higher traffic the better. One of our exterior remodeling clients frequently receives high quality (not bounced) website visits that originate from the Pella and GAF websites. Google sees this, and it gives the site more credibility. That’s why backlinks still affect SEO, and it won’t be changing any time soon.
The highest level backlinks are the links to your website on very popular website and news media sites. One of our clients was upset that a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story covering the illegal actions of an employee was showing up high in search engine results for searches of the company name. It wasn’t even a recent story, but Google continues to give importance to accredited news sources.
How can I get backlinks?
Remember this the next time you scoff at the idea of a well-rounded marketing plan that includes the dissemination of press releases and the writing of blog posts. What if one of those press releases gets picked up by a major news source? What if one of your helpful blog posts gets shared by someone with a large audience, or even goes viral? Every small pickup of your company name and every backlink leading back to your website contributes to your overall SEO.
- Set up your social media profiles, free directory listings, and especially Google My Business with consistent company information.
- Ask your associates, vendors, and suppliers to include a link to your site on their websites, the more popular the better. You can offer to link to them too.
- Set up a comprehensive PR and marketing plan that includes media relations and the writing and disseminating of high quality content that people will want to share.
- Call or email RSPR to discuss how backlinks still affect SEO!