What are Backlinks in SEO?

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Louis O'Neill

Co Founder & Head of Content

What are backlinks and how can they help your SEO strategy?

Backlinking is a vital component of any good SEO strategy. A backlink is simply when one website adds a link that points to another website, such as in a blog or on a webpage. When one site links to another, it effectively “vouches” for that site to search engines, and lends its credibility to the second site. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you should seek out any and every backlink that you can get. They say that “a man is judged by the company he keeps,” and this is also true of websites. 

For example, if a site with a lot of domain authority, like The Washington Post, includes a link to your site in one of its articles, your website will gain a healthy boost to its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) score. However, if every backlink you have is from a site that is considered spammy or low-quality, the reputation (and ranking) of your site will begin to decline. So, aim for quality backlinks rather than a high quantity of them. 

With all of this in mind, there are two ways you can acquire backlinks; Content and Outreach. Let’s start with content.

If you have a website with a good user experience (UX) and you produce high-quality, SEO-rich informative content over a long period of time, you will begin to naturally accrue backlinks. This method can be time-consuming, but if you can acquire backlinks this way, you’ll know you’re doing things right.

Alternatively, you can use outreach. The outreach strategy involves finding websites that have a solid backlink profile and domain authority and contacting them to ask if they could link to your site.

Typically, someone will link to your site for one of three reasons:

  1. You actually have content that is high-quality and relevant to them, so by bringing their attention to your site, they now have another resource they can use when producing their content.
  2. You offer to write a guest post for them. Writing content can be time-consuming, and many website owners will gladly take some free additional content, with a link to your site included in it. 
  3. Money. At the end of the day, 99% of people have websites because it will help them in some way to make money. With this in mind, if you find the right price, most small-to-medium-sized websites will link to your site for some money. 

In order to have success with the outreach strategy, you’ll want to construct a generic email offering a collaboration opportunity, which you’ll then tailor to the website of each person you email. For example, if you’re trying to get a backlink from a dog-training website you might say:

Hey (Name),

Firstly, I love your site! I have a dachshund myself and he’s been behaving so much better since I took your advice on board!

I wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in working together…

From there, the website will typically respond with their policy surrounding backlinks, whether they include them, whether they charge for them, or whether they’ll accept a guest post. 

By building a solid portfolio of backlinks from credible websites, you’ll begin to gain domain authority and signal to search engines that your website is authoritative. By integrating a backlink strategy into your existing SEO strategy, which should include keyword-rich content, on-page and off-page optimisation and local SEO, you’ll have the best chance of growing your online presence and organic traffic. 

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