One of the ways companies build their authority and leadership online is through robust content strategy. This strategy is built on plenty of information about products, services and industry, usually contained on many different pages throughout their website.
While all of this content counts as a baseline for good website strategy, most brands won’t be able to compete against their competitors for visibility without the presence of backlinks or a basic link strategy. The evolution of search engines has made it necessary for small business owners to understand the power of links to both raise their visibility and reach their target audience.
Let’s tackle what a backlink is, why they are crucial to a good digital strategy and some basic ways to earn them.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is any link on the web that links directly back to a page on your website. Simple, right? For most business owners, that’s all the information needed to start utilizing a linking strategy to raise awareness and authority of your brand. You can read Google’s official definition here.
So where does this fit into your marketing scheme? As I first mentioned, most companies with a web presence have plenty of information across their domain to take advantage of a link strategy. The key to this approach is understanding how search engines work and use your content, with Google being the main subject of study.
Think of it this way:
In Google’s eyes, every single backlink to your website acts much like a “vote” for your brand. These votes are continuously counted, validated and scrutinized to determine their relevance and legitimacy in the search engine “election.”
Each vote is given a weight, and (in theory) a top “candidate” is selected as a winner. This website is awarded by showing up at the very top of the search engine results for its industry or product offerings.
While this is a brutally simple watering down of the results, it captures the ideas of basic SEO and the importance of backlinks. Once you understand how these links positively impact your website, you can start taking advantage of your content.
A backlink can take on a few different shapes. Don’t worry most of these are purely cosmetic, but it’s important to know how to recognize them in many forms so you can make accurate measurements. Here are the ones you’ll run into most often:
Traditional Domain Level Link
This is a link directly to your homepage, without any sort of anchor text. It look something like: http://www.mydomainhere.com. This is the most basic type of link someone can send to your website. It’s a positive vote, but it’s very boring and doesn’t have any meaningful context unless surrounded by some sort of explanation.
Anchored Domain Level Link
This is where links start to get exciting and search engines really begin understanding who you are. They look more like this: Roundpeg marketing firm. Not only should you be happy someone linked back to your homepage, but you should thank them for giving your backlink some contextual meaning.
In my example, Google is much more likely to realize our website is about marketing because the words “marketing firm” are associated with the link to our website.
This is the type of backlink you will most often find on social media. Shortlinking tools are used to shrink down longer links so they don’t take up as much room in social updates.
Don’t be scared by shortlinks. They still count towards your link total and still help your website rank, so long as they lead to relevant and authoritative content and exist on well-to-do websites.
A Deeper Dive
Looking for a slightly deeper look into why backlinks matter to your small business? I highly recommend checking out this blog post by the Internet Marketing Ninjas discussing the top 8 most important backlink metrics once you feel comfortable with the concept. Utilizing these insights will help you tweak your current strategy to take even more advantage of your content.
If you need to have a quick overview of all inbound links pointing at your website, simply copy and paste your URL into the toolbar at Open Site Explorer. You’ll get an overview of the total links to your site and you can even see which new links have been built pointing to your site over the last 60 days.
Using linking strategies is one of my favorite marketing topics of all time. I’m happy to help answer any question you may have as a result of this article. Let’s work together to figure out what’s working for you and how to take the next steps.
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