What are Backlinks, and How Should They Influence Your Content Creation Strategy?
Ugh, Google rankings. Amirite? Landing on page one of search results isn't easy. The internet is saturated and competition is tight. Furthermore, there are a number of moving parts at play. One such factor that influences how you rank is backlinks. But what are backlinks, exactly, and how do they help to shape your content creation process?
What are Backlinks?
A web page receives a backlink whenever another page links to that page. For example, if we link to Neil Patel's website, we're giving him a backlink. If he links to LSM, he's giving us a backlink. (Hey, Neil! Check out our blog!)
Why Do Backlinks Matter?
When another site links to yours and gives you that backlink, they're essentially recommending you to their readers. They're saying, "Hey, we found this web page helpful, and we think you will too."
This means a lot in Google's eyes — as long as the backlink comes from a high-quality site (more on this in a minute) — because it suggests to the search engine that your website is trustworthy and authoritative. You get some of that sweet, sweet SEO juice. That's why backlinks have played a fairly hefty role in how well (or not) you rank in the SERPs.
... this also means that some websites will go to great lengths to obtain backlinks, even if they're unscrupulous.
For example, you can purchase hundreds and even thousands of backlinks for relatively little money. Seriously, don't do this. Let us explain why.
We mentioned a moment ago that you only want backlinks from high-quality sites. It doesn't mean much to have a cruddy website link to you. This can hurt you. Not only do you not get much SEO juice, but it can actually reflect poorly on you.
What kinds of backlinks do you think you get when you purchase them in bulk? Bad ones.
Plus, when you randomly have 200 backlinks, all from not-so-great sites, all go live at the same time, do you think that Google might notice? Of course it does. Google is far too savvy to have the wool pulled over its eyes. Even if you see a temporary spike in your rankings from all those backlinks, it's only a matter of time before Google disavows (discards) all of them, and then shit has really hit the fan.
But we'll save that for another blog.
Now, we're going to assume that you're going to do things the right way, and earn your backlinks in an honest matter. So, let's talk about that next.
How Do Backlinks Work into Your Content Creation Strategy?
Want to know the secret for getting lots of high-quality backlinks?
Write good content that people want to link to. That's it.
We know that answer is probably unsatisfying, but truthfully, there's no magic spell. But, if you want to make more of a concerted effort of building your backlink profile, one way to do this is through collaborations.
Yes, you can simply ask another site to link to yours, but in our experience, this isn't very fruitful. They're going to want something in return — like a backlink of their own.
First, you want to track down another website or brand that you have something in common with. For example, a Las Vegas restaurant might collab with a Las Vegas food bank. The restaurant can donate food to the food bank and give them exposure online. The food bank can return that exposure. Everyone wins.
So, that's the first box you want to check: Make sure that you have something in common with your partner — ideally, an overlap in your audiences.
Next, you want to ensure that you actually want a backlink from this website. What's the domain authority of their website? What kind of traffic are they getting? (Psst! You might like our blog on website analytics.) Would you be proud to have them mention and link to your site? If everything is looking good here, you're on the right track.
True, you could stop here after securing that backlink. But if you're going to put in the effort of forming this relationship with another brand (which can take some time), why not take it a step further and turn it into a full-blown promotion? Consider things like:
Interviewing each other on your respective blogs.
Posting about each other on social media and tagging each other's pages.
Doing some sort of giveaway.
These are actions you can take over the span of one week up to a full month. The cool part is that this'll go so far beyond exchanging links. You're going to gain exposure as a result of being put in front of an entirely new audience.
We call that a win!
A Few Backlink No-Nos
We already mentioned the dark side of backlinks, but we want to leave you with a few things to avoid, just in case the temptation ever arises.
Don't Link to Anything You Don't Trust Yourself
It doesn't matter if that site if offering to pay you. It doesn't matter if they're offering a backlink in return. When you link to someone else, you're sticking your neck out for them. Your readers trust you to keep it real with them.
If You Ask for a Backlink, Be Prepared to Offer Something in Return
If you do happen to go the route of simply asking, keep in mind that the other site needs a reason to link to you. What do they get out of it? Even if you don't want to do a full partnership, still be prepared to give them something in return. Don't expect favors.
Get More Bang for Your Buck
If you secure an impressive backlink, mention it to your audience! For example, if Neil Patel links to you, post on social with something like, "We're so flattered for the shout-out in Neil's blog about XYZ!"
LSM's methodology is simple: Create powerful content that people can't resist. Ready to talk about working together? Book a free strategy session today.