Basics of SEO – What Is Backlinking & Why Do You Need It
What exactly is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the name that we give to the process of increasing your website’s ranking in a search engine.
The most important search engine to rank in across the internet is the almighty Google. When you search for a keyword, Google displays results that it considers to be authoritative and relevant.
So how exactly do you get Google to see your site as an authority? And how do you get Google to understand that your content is relevant? I will try to help you understand the answers to these questions throughout this blog post, but if you have any questions please let me know in the comments.
Got any requests for something specific you’re struggling with at the minute? Let me know in the comments and I’ll either help you directly or write a post on it.
I’ll be taking you through some of the basics of SEO in a few different articles to explain how, through the use of on-site optimisation and a backlinking strategy, you can get your website to rank higher in Google’s algorithm.
Why is SEO important?
The higher that you rank in Google, the more likely people are to click on your link. The more likely people are to click on your link, the more traffic your site will get. The more traffic you get, the more chance you have to convert those visitors to permanent readers or customers.
So if you rank #1 on Google, how many clicks to your link do you get as a percentage of all searches?
Well, according to a study by searchenginewatch.com, the #1 position in Google gets on average 33% of all click throughs!
The #2 position in Google, for comparison, gets around 18% of click throughs. On top of this, 91.5% of all traffic for that search term was clicked on Page 1 of Google. So if you aren’t ranking on the 1st page you’re missing out on the bulk of the traffic for that keyword.
Let’s convert those average percentages into some real world figures.
If you were to rank #1 or #2 for a keyword phrase such as travel Thailand:
This search term gets around 1,000-10,000 search results a month, so you could expect to see approximately 330-3,300 visits to your site per month for this keyword. Now if on your website you have a free Opt-In (say a travel guide for Thailand) you could expect to see around 10% or higher conversion for an email opt-in. If you are also selling an E-book for $20 on the site you may even find a 1-2% uptake on sales, just from organic traffic alone.
So by Ranking #1 in google you could potentially see:
- 3000 organic visits per month for people searching for ‘travel Thailand’
- 300-500 new email subscribers engaged in travelling Thailand.
- $600-$1200 in E-book sales if you convert at 1%-2%.
That’s a lot of potential money from just perfecting your SEO for that search term. Now imagine if you were ranking first, second or third for hundreds of different keywords! That’s how you really drive some serious traffic to your site. But first, baby steps.
How the hell do I get to #1 in Google?
Well, that is the question of the moment, isn’t it! There are a number of different techniques that you can use to improve your rankings on Google. One technique to improve your ranking is to get links pointing to your website from other sites; this technique is referred to as backlinking.
What is a backlink?
A ‘backlink’ is a heavily used term amongst online bloggers and is integral to search engine optimisation, but many new bloggers struggle to understand what a backlink means.
Backlinks are, simply put, links from one site to another.
Why is Backlinking important?
There are a number of different advantages to having backlinks pointing to your page, but it is important to remember that back linking is different to how it was years ago. Ever since Google introduced its Penguin algorithm, the whole dynamic of backlinking has changed. As mentioned above you need to make sure you have quality links coming from quality sites.
So let’s go through a few reasons why backlinks are important:
1. Increased organic search engine rankings
At its most basic form, the more links that point from different sites to yours, the higher you will rank in Google. However, not all links are created equal. Google ranks sites based on authority. You can check the authority of a website in a number of ways, such as using https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/. If a website with a lot of domain authority, such as BBC or CNN, put a link to your site from theirs; it would help your website rankings drastically.
2. Referral traffic
By a website pointing a link in your direction, there is a good chance that anybody reading that content will click on the link and follow it to your site. It’s also usually targeting traffic, which results in a much lower bounce rate, and means that the people going to your site are more likely to be interested in your content.
3. Faster indexing
Backlinks also help Google search engine bots to crawl your site, by going through the backlinks it helps index your site quicker and more effectively.
What strategies are there for effective backlinking?
When trying to gain more backlinks to your site it’s important to remember that it’s all about the quality of the backlinks, not the number of backlinks. You would have much more success getting one link from a high authority site that is relevant to your websites niche. A site with a lower domain authority, such as a brand new site, will not give you anywhere near as much progress in your SEO campaign.
So what ways are there to get quality backlinks for your website or blog?
- Create fantastic articles
- Guest posting for other bloggers
- Create cornerstone content
- Comments are King
- Use broken link building methods
So let’s run through some quick strategies you can use to get your backlinks kicked into action!
1. Create fantastic articles
This is 100% the simplest and best way to get quality backlinks for your blog.
By writing quality articles that people enjoy and want to share, people will naturally link to them from their site.
Building quality relationships with other bloggers in your niche can be a great way to get your fantastically written articles linked. Writing content that benefits their readers and can tie into their content can be a great way to get a link.
Some great examples of shareable articles are tutorials or top-ten list articles, just make sure the content you’re producing is factual and uses proper examples or research.
2. Guest posting for other bloggers
If you were a blogger and somebody offered to write a blog post for you, saving you hours of time, why wouldn’t you accept?
As long as you can write quality content, that is relevant and ties into your target’s niche, guest posting can be a great way to build relationships, get your style of writing out to a larger audience and crucially get that backlink for your site.
Top tips: Focus on blogs that are in your niche, do some research on the best ways to guest post and if you can, guest post for a site with a large audience (you will have huge benefits this way)
3. Create cornerstone content
Writing cornerstone content is hugely important in adding value to your blog for your reader. These are the big pillar posts that hold your blog together. These put simply are the posts you write that you put your blood, sweat and tears into. These posts provide massive value to your readers and have the potential ability when giving such good value to pull in massive traffic, comments, social shares and backlinks.
I’d recommend when creating these pillar articles for your blog to make them as attractive as possible, with anything that adds to the value of the post.
Great things to include in these articles can be:
- photos, screenshots, infographics, charts and graphics
- Videos or presentations
- Links to resources
- Relevant data including statistics
4. Comments are king
Don’t be a commenting spam robot, sent back from the future to destroy comment sections for all bloggers. That’s the wrong message you want to be sending Google as their clever bots can spot a spammer a mile away.
Aim to provide good comments so you’re adding value to the community. You can find do-follow blogs and do-follow forums, which add much better value than traditional no-follow links you get on a comment of a regular blog. The difference between a do-follow link and a no-follow link is quite simple.
These types of link are what your links will be as standard on most websites. These links are valuable to sites as when a site gets an inbound link you get a small boost to your SEO. Think of a link like a scoreboard, the more points you have on your scoreboard the more you win.
Google has created a metric called PageRank to calculate how many points each site has.
A lot of SEO experts refer to link points as ‘link juice’.
The more reputable the site is, the bigger the link juice. This is why when you get a link from a huge website like the BBC or CNN it’s the best thing since sliced bread!
This type of link is one that doesn’t boost your page rank with Google and doesn’t help with SEO rankings. No-follow links get no link juice. Theirs is a life of little joy and no follows.
a No-follow link is created by using a No-follow HTML tag in your post, like this:
<a href=“htttp://www.website.com/“ rel=nofollow”>Link text</a>
Essentially these links are a big notice-board for search engines saying – ‘Don’t follow this’.
But why on earth would anybody want to do that? There is a really good reason for this and man… is it a big one!
Why are No-follow links important?
As I mentioned above the Do-follow links is used by Google to measure PageRank. And the more links you have to your site, the more link juice you have which results in a higher ranking on Google.
PageRank in its most basic form is there to measure how popular a page, and therefore likely the best quality pages and delivers those pages to the top of the search results.
As we know, in this world of ours not everybody is always 100% honest and in the past self-proclaimed ‘SEO Experts’ would use unethical black hat methods to trick search engines in an effort to boost page rankings.
Because of this Google stepped in and introduced no-follow links to stop thousands of spam comments across the internet.
Are No-follow links worthless?
Considering the above many people might be quick to think then that comments are indeed worthless if they are all classified as no-follow links. However, this isn’t always the case. As mentioned above there are forums and blogs that use follow-links but even if you are commenting on a site with no follow links comments can still be a great way for self-promotion of your blog.
No-follow links are still great as referral sources, if you comment on a blog and it’s about your topic, someone can still click that link and end up on your site.
Commenting can be a really great way to get better visibility in search engines as well as more traffic.
5. Use the broken-link building methods
Ever been on a website where they link you to an article, and when you click the link its broken? You can use the ‘broken-link building method’ to search for articles where the links are missing and find out what content it was linking to. You then recreate something similar to what the original article was linking to and then email the site owner to say:
“Hey, I noticed this link was broken on your site. To save your article you could just link to my article instead which is actually on the same content.”
You are doing the article owner a favour and them linking to your post gives you a lovely backlink.
This method is a little more advanced than the others detailed above so I would recommend checking out Moz’s online guide on how to build broken links, you can check that out here.
Thanks for reading!
I hope that this article will help you to understand some of the basic elements of SEO and how to get started in gaining backlinks for your blog.
I’d love to hear about some of the success stories that you guys may have had in gaining backlinks for your blog, please let me know in the comments some of your triumphs.
I’d also like to know, is there anything you’re struggling with right now when it comes to SEO? Again let me know in the comments!
God speed in your quest to the #1 spot of Google, I know you are all going to smash it out of the park.