For any entrepreneur or marketer who has ever spent time building up SEO, it quickly becomes clear how fast and unexpectedly things change with Google's search algorithm and best practices. Despite all of the changes though, one tactic to improve SEO that still remains a cornerstone today is creating a host of high-quality backlinks to your website.
Defined, backlinks are simply incoming links to a website or blog. The primary reason for backlinks being so telling of quality is they tell Google that your content is so valuable to readers that they felt compelled to share it to their own audiences.
Because of its importance, much of the content and resources circulating throughout the web on backlink building either provide readers with unethical, "blackhat" link building tactics -- such as posting links in the comment section of blogs or purchasing backlinks from unscrupulous vendors -- or just plain spammy strategies, where readers are advised that backlink building is a "numbers game".
Here's what to do instead:
1. Create a high-quality, highly shareable piece of content that goes in-depth on a specific topic.
Ideally, this article should be "pillar content", which has become the cornerstone of great SEO strategies in recent years. Defined, pillar content is a long-form, in-depth piece of content on one topic that could technically be disassembled into a handful of standalone pieces.
For best results, the piece of pillar content should also include an eye-popping infographic outlining the points laid out in your article. The reason for this is simple: infographics are super shareable, so by including one in your post, you'll increase the likelihood of others sharing it across their social media channels and website.
2. Compile a list of five to 10 publications that are relevant to the content you created.
This list should include a mixed bag of both industry-leading blogs or publications, as well as mid-sized and up-and-coming ones to increase your chances of successfully getting a quality backlink.
3. Conduct thoughtful outreach.
In your outreach email, the most important thing to include is why the content you're sharing with the prospect will add value to their audience.
The best practice here is scanning for a post the publication has recently released on a topic similar to the one you're sharing with them, and leading the email with something like, "I noticed you recently published an article on xyz topic. I actually just published a post on the same subject that takes a different angle on abc. If you feel it would be a good fit for your audience, I'd love if you shared it."
To make it even more seamless for the prospect, you can include pre-made copy for a potential social media update so they can just copy and paste it directly from the email.
Pro Tip: if you want to take it a step further, you can use a tool like Dead Link Checker or Broken Link Check to find the "broken links" on a blog post or website. From there, scan the blogs you've written to see if you have one that covers the same topic of the post originally linked in the article.
When it comes to blog posts, the last thing anyone wants is a dead link leading readers nowhere, so this is a handy tactic for those looking to build links fast.
4. Create authentic relationships.
The fourth and final step here is the most important on the list. You must create mutually beneficial, authentic relationships with the entrepreneurs, writers and influencers you plan on reaching out to for backlinks on a regular basis.
In exchange, you should link to and share their work when it's relevant, give them helpful feedback on their own content and more. Using Twitter to thoughtfully comment and engage with the people you're trying to build relationships with is a great place to start.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to this step is being insecure by thinking of other blogs and publications as competitors rather than potential partners. While consumer attention is indeed precious and hard to obtain, perceiving the blogosphere as so cutthroat that you can't both "win" won't get you far at all. Instead, choose to add value where you can, even to your competition.
When it comes to increasing your company's online visibility, there are few strategies better for your SEO than having high-quality backlinks linking back to your site.
By following the tactics laid out in this article -- as opposed to spamming peoples' inboxes asking for backlinks or resorting to underhanded techniques to get them -- you'll set your business up for long-term, sustainable success online and offline. Best of luck.