Feb 18, 2012

SEO Tactic #693 = BackLinks (AKA Inbound Links)

1st things 1st: What are backlinks and Why should you care?

The "Wiki" for the term backlinks is excellent - accurate and concise:  it says:

"Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links, are incoming links to a website or web page. Inbound links were originally important (prior to the emergence of search engines) as a primary means of web navigation; today, their significance lies in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (for example, this is used by Google to determine the PageRank of a webpage). Outside of SEO, the backlinks of a webpage may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page.

So you now know WHAT backlinks are and WHY they are important regarding SEO but HOW do you "build (up) backlinks"? 

It's important to understand the any good SEO strategy should be focused on TWO GOALS.  The 1st is "increasing your RANK at the major search engines and the 2nd is increasing the NUMBER of LISTINGS (backlinks) on the Internet.  Usually a site with a high number of listings also has high ranking (defined by many SEO consultants to be 1st page or at least the TOP 30 on Google, Yahoo! and Bing (MSN).

HOW: One of the best ways is anytime you're writing online about your company, ALWAYS include your website and make sure it's an active hyperlink.  For example, if I was writing about the recent launch of a new website, such as BonnieCole.info - I would want to make sure it's a clickable link anytime I post it online. 

WHERE: There are millions of sites to post backlinks to your website.  Go after the "low hanging fruit" first, sites that are most popular and crawled often by the search engine spider robots.  Facebook is a perfect example!  Anytime you mention your company, make sure you include a backlink to your website.  YouTube is another example.

Search engine robots are focused on relevancy, so any websites, such as trade associations or blogs tied to your industry or products & services, are a great place to start add your backlinks. Regarding "industry related blogs", anytime you find one related to your business, products or services, before leaving, make sure to leave a comment/compliment (that also includes a link back to your site).

To find directories and blogs that are related to your industry (and also businesses similar to yours that you never heard of), conduct a "sniper rifle search", rather than a "shotgun search".  Do this by searching using quotation marks and the + sign: example - "metal polishing" + blog + industrial + commercial.  The quotation marks tell the search engine you need all the words together within the quotations marks and the + sign tells it you also must also have whatever is after the + sign(s).  An online industrial directory found, where any industrial related company can list their company (for free) is ThomasNet.com.

The more inbound links you have coming INTO to your site, the better, since "link popularity" is an important factor in most search engine algorithms.  Many website owners mistakening think adding a Resources (LINK) Page on their own website helps improve their link popularity "score". However, these outbound links, although often useful to human visitors to a website, are beneficial in regard to SEO to the sites linked to, not linked from.

WARNING: Be wary of emails or other solicitations you get from "strangers" that offer to build up your backlinks.  Many of these scammers are compensated on the total number of backlinks they set up, so "Link Farms" are tempting.  We've all seen link farms.  Sometimes when "googling stuff", we click on a listing only to arrive at a site that is pretty void of relevant content or has very generic content, but the page scrolls like, well, like a scroll - screen after screen of a huge long list of listings/links to all kinds of unrelated websites.

Many online "directories" pretend to be useful websites but in reality are simply link farms.  Google and most other major search engines will either ignore link farms or worse, will "blacklist" the link farm site, and sometimes those listed within it.  Once a site is blacklisted (removed and banned) by a search engine, it's a major hassle, and sometimes impossible to get restored in it's index.

WHAT SITES ALREADY LINK BACK TO MY SITE? is a question that should be asked when beginning a backlink building campaign.   An easy way to get an idea of what other sites are linking back into your site is by doing a search engine query like this -    link:mydomainname.com (or whatever your domain is).  You'll be presented with a list of sites that link to your site.

HOW DO I FIND SITES TO BACKLINK FROM? I suggest conducting a bit of legal "corporate espionage" by doing similar searches using the domains of your major competitors.  Find out where their backlinks are coming from. Then, work on getting your site listed where they are listed. This is how I first learned about MerchantCircle.com  I discovered a local competitor of Cole WebMarketing was listed (and linked) at Merchant Circle and immediately clicked on the "List My Company" icon!

LEARN MORE: To learn more about SEO and Building Backlinks, visit Cole WebMarketing today and then call Cole WebMarketing in Charlotte, NC at 704-456-9321.