Oversimplified, SEO has always revolved around:
- Strategically focused, high-quality content
- Technically sound rendering of content
- Links to your content
While content is clearly a primary focus of SEO, in this article, we’ll do a deeper dive into the links aspect of SEO, why they matter, different types of links, and how to audit and grow backlinks for your website to boost your authority and organic rankings.
Why Are Links Important for SEO?
Links continue to be one of the most vital SEO signals in search engine algorithms. They allow Google, Bing, and other engines to understand:
- How often do other websites refer to your content
- The quality of sites pointing to your content
- The context of your page via anchor text
This has been the case for many years, and search engines have only improved their ability to analyze links as a core element in determining what to surface in ranking order for any of the estimated 5.6 Billion plus searches they service each day.
When a growing number of sites point to your content with relevant anchor text, search engines read this as a solid signal that your page has something worth ranking when someone searches a given phrase. With more links from trusted sources, you in turn, become a more trusted source on a given topic, increasing rank and traffic to your website. Similarly, the links on your website translate the meaning, priority, and quality of content to search engines.
There are three types of website links:
- Backlinks – Also referred to as inbound or external, these are links coming from other external sources, including websites, directories, social media, emails, etc.
- Outbound – Links within your page content that link to other websites.
- Internal – Links within the top navigation, the content of a page, and the footer that point to another page on your website.
How to check for Links
First, use tools like Google Search Console to check current top inbound linking domains and internal links within your website. After reviewing your website links, you can begin to formulate a plan to adjust internal links to focus on your top pages and keyword groups of interest.
Use rel=” nofollow” HTML tags and “noindex” metatags to help search engines understand which links are not a priority or which links they should not include within their search index.
You can also use a rel= “canonical” link tags if you have a single page accessible by multiple URLs to help deduplicate and prioritize which pages you’d like search engines to index.
Finally, use tools like SEMrush to understand which inbound links pointing to your website are toxic, which you will want to disavow – plus what domains are pointing to competitor websites and likely good candidates to approach for building backlinks or inbound linking.
How to Grow SEO Backlinks via Content Distribution Channels
First, to maximize your visibility, you’ll want to share the content you create through owned and paid media channels.
- Your website, blog, RSS Feed
- Social channels (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Email newsletters
- Press releases
Second, by sharing your content via the above channels, you will increase the likelihood of gaining inbound links or backlinks via earned media:
- References, mentions
- Guest posts
How to Build SEO Links with Valuable Content
You’ll need to strategically select the topical focus of your content to stand out among your competition and give other websites a reason to link to you. To be reference worthy to another website, you’ll also want to include comprehensive content, in multiple formats (including imagery, videos), as well as some hook or reason for people to reference your post, such as:
- Unique statistics
- How-to posts
- Case studies or POVs
- Useful tool or browser extension
How to Grow Backlinks
Finally, you can use tools like SEMrush to identify inbound or external links to your site which are currently broken. After fixing those, you can also research broken links to competitive websites, in which case you can offer a working link as well. If you’re browsing relevant sites on the Web for backlink opportunities, you can identify broken links by using the Google Chrome extension Check My Links.
If your team is interested in getting assistance with your SEO initiatives, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’re more than happy to help you with your SEO and digital marketing needs.