What Are Backlinks And Why Are They Important?

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If you’re a business owner, you’re probably aware that search engines like Google consider a number of factors when ranking your website. Your website should already contain high-quality content (more info on that here) and appropriately placed words or phrases to optimise your SEO. To continue boosting your page rank, your next step is to integrate some high-quality backlinks. A backlink is an incoming hyperlink, from one web page to another website.

What's the deal with backlinks?

Backlinks are an integral part of any long-term SEO strategy, and when implemented effectively, these can be a strong driver of website traffic. Some e-commerce merchants get bogged down with backlinks, which have a reputation of being time-consuming and tricky to set up. However, feel reassured that once you know how to build or ‘earn’ backlinks (in a way that aligns with search engine requirements), you’ll be climbing the search results ladder in no time. Backlink masters put their time and effort into earning backlinks from influential, relevant websites. There are 2 types of links: internal and external.

1. Internal

These are the backlinks that you generate. For example, your site might provide a link to a Wikipedia page about a specific product you offer. You’re providing some useful information for visitors, but also risk driving them away. So, try and use these sparingly.

2. External

These backlinks are conceived by other sources, not on your website. If you can persuade other retailers to link back to your site in a sincere and mutually beneficial way, you’ll be seen in a very appealing light by search engines. It’s referred to as ‘earning’ backlinks because it’s a link-building opportunity that enriches your website and demonstrates that you are respected by your peers.

Why are they so important?

Backlinks validate the relevance of your website to search engines. When websites support and approve one another, rankings improve and domains gain authority. When other websites link to your site, this also indicates the quality of your website to search engines. Many successful ecommerce stores focus on backlinks, so that they rank with more keywords and experience continual traffic on their sites.

How are backlinks measured?

Search engines are looking for a variety of factors when measuring backlinks:

1. Domain and Page Strength

Search engines assess domain, also referred to as website authority, in two ways:

  • The strength of the domain
  • The strength of the URL

For example the domain elkfox.com is ranked differently to https://elkfox.com/blogs/articles. Both pages share a domain although they are distinct and separate pages.

2. Link Placement

Where users come across your links is important too. Search engines highlight links that are included within other’s written content (as opposed to a footer/sidebar), as more relevant to an overall website. Search engines reward authentic backlinks that act to assist browsers, helping them uncover information that’s genuinely useful to them.

3. Link Relevance

Search engines measure a variety of factors when determining link relevance, including anchor text, keywords and header tags. Better page content and relevant backlinks will be rewarded with a higher domain and URL authority, combined with significant traffic. They definitely don’t want to see any spam, so make sure none of the links on your website contain spam or you will be penalised!

4. Anchor Text

Anchor text refers to the specific words that embed a link on a page. Search engines use these as indicators for how relevant a link is. For example, Google will register the words that provide the link (anchor text). These words give Google a better understanding of what you’re referencing: what the page is about. Use illustrative words to describe what you’re linking to, as this provides a higher quality backlink that search engines can easily comprehend. Consequently, your ranking for certain keywords will improve, and this can really help other browsers find you.

How to earn backlinks to your store

1. Content promotion

Once you’ve created content that’s insightful, new and reflects your brand, it’s time to promote it. You could have the best content in the world, but this is no use if it’s not receiving any exposure. Contact influencers (either individual blog writers, content creators, entrepreneurs, other authoritative websites) and make a strong impression by highlighting information that they will find useful. If your content makes a lasting impression, they’re more likely to feature it on their site or mention you at some point. For more information on influencer marketing, click here.

2. Infographics

This is graphic, visual information, which can be an amazing way to expand your audience. We’ve witnessed an overwhelming rise in visual content - it's become an increasingly popular method when tackling information or more complex ideas. Infographics are in high demand, as it seems we crave information that is visually informative and easier to digest.

Successful infographics have seen websites gain high-quality backlinks. If you’ve never come up with an infographic before, start by communicating with your target audience to ensure you’re on the right track. Gather feedback from individuals who have shown an interest in similar content: you might gain some useful contacts if you ignite some interest, and even better, you could earn a backlink as a result of this exchange. A good understanding of topics that are currently trending in your industry ensures your content is compelling. Successful infographics are those that are shared frequently, so, to increase your chances of being shared, upload your completed visuals onto platforms like Reddit Infographics and Visual.ly (they’re also great for inspo if you’re stuck).

3. Guest blogging

Research websites that accept guest articles and submit your content. The more exposure your content (blog post, article, infographic) receives, the more backlinks you earn, meaning you’ll start to receive traffic from outside your existing following.

Guest blogging is a great tool to enhance your online reputation and social media following. If you’re on the hunt for a website to host your article, start small and develop a portfolio before earning content space on larger sites. If you’ve made a proposal, it’s highly likely that web hosts will look at your website to make sure it is positively bursting with examples of all the latest, high-quality content you have to offer.

4. Reviews

Did you know that you can actually earn backlinks for your website by writing reviews on relevant products and services in the industry? It’s a straightforward method to earning backlinks, so if you’d like to demonstrate your loyalty to another brand, make sure you communicate this. Contacting their SEO manager and drawing their attention to your testimonial might spark a conversation in which you can suggest featuring a backlink on their site!

How to earn backlinks from industry leaders

Your first step is to source websites for potential backlink earning opportunities. Websites in your field that have resource pages are a great place to begin. Generally, resource pages contain a plethora of links and other information that websites deem useful for their readers. If you can convince the team behind the website that you’ve also got something relevant to share, you’re more likely to earn a backlink. Search engines will display results that include both your keyword + “resources” in the URL, so this search term is really useful when trying to find a resource page in your sector:

“[keyword phrase/ term]” + inurl:resources

It goes without saying that you need to be offering something that the prospective host website will genuinely find useful. It’s not enough that you content ‘fits’ in a website: it needs to appeal to your potential associate. Once you’ve sourced some appropriate websites that you hope you’ll earn backlinks from, it’s time to reach out by email. You’re setting up a partnership, so you want your outreach to be sincere and engaging.

You’re looking to acquire a backlink, but you’re equally providing some really useful information or offering an improved version of something they currently link to. Indicate what their site is missing and how you can fill that gap with a great addition to their website. Once you’ve sent your email, ensure you follow up a few weeks later. Whilst sending out individual emails is time consuming, and you’re networking in a pretty manual way, you never know if they’ll consider hosting your content in the future.

We'll back you up

Earning backlinks isn’t instant, but understanding how to build them through e-networking is an important step in optimising your search engine ranking and getting you even more exposure. Elkfox assists ecommerce and Shopify merchants to develop first class Google search results. If you’re looking to climb up the ladder and see more traffic on your site, get in touch!

* Image via Real Business