If you've just started your own business - you're probably going to want to rank it in Google (and other search engines as quickly as possible). Getting a good search engine rank can make a huge difference in the success of your business. If you aren't already aware - one of the main ways to rank your website is by building a lot of good quality backlinks. This is considered the bread and butter of effective search engine optimization.
While many services will offer services that aim to get these backlinks for you, The reality as a small business owner without much marketing budget is that you can often do this kind of backlinking work yourself (for free). We're going to look at a step by step guide that'll help you build backlinks effectively for your business.
What is a backlink?
A backlink is a link to your site from another website. It can either have anchor text or be a raw html link. All of this links add a bit of "link juice" to your ranking. Google (and other search engines) have a number of bots that trawl the internet and work out how relevant a site is for a particular search term, that's how it comes up with the ranking for each site. One of the main things it looks at is the number of backlinks, and how "good" each backlink is.
Why more isn't always better
With backlinking - quality is king. Yes, the quantity of backlinks is important - but not if they're all worthless spam. There's a reason those backlinking services on Fiverr that give you 10,000 links overnight only cost $5. They're not that great. In fact, if you rely too heavily on services like this, you might even see your ranking penalized or even blacklisted.
You see, Google's algorithms have become more sophisticated in the last few years. While you might have been able to spam your way to the top in the past, you can't any more. Not only does the number of backlinks make a difference in your ranking, so does the quality of the sites linking to you (and quality of the link itself). So if you want to succeed with your backlinking strategy, you need quality backlinks. But, first things first...
Do some keyword research
Before you start building backlinks, you're going to need to know what keywords (or search terms) you want to target. You'll probably want some relevant terms to your business that will help deliver you the right sort of visitor (someone who's likely to spend money).
Why is keyword research important before starting backlinking? Can't you just start getting links to your site? Yes, but you'll want to use a few different anchor texts with for your links. These anchor texts (the text that's linked and points to your site) have extra relevance for search engines and help rank you even more for those particular search terms.
There are a number of different tools to help you evaluate different keywords before you start trying to rank for them. You could use the Moz tool, or Google's own keyword tool. You'll obviously want something with plenty of monthly searches - but not too many. The ultra competitive terms might seem great, but these are really hard to rank for. Even with tons of quality backlinks and a great optimization strategy, some of these terms are too competitive to get on the first page of results for (which is where you really want to be).
You can try fine-tuning your specific keywords by adding long-tail additions. This helps carve out a niche for you, and also helps deliver more "active" visitors. Look for people who know they're going to be spending money and avoid adding long-tails like "free".
Create quality content
The cornerstone of a successful ranking strategy these days is your content. You're going to want to create something that people actually want to click on and view. The main reason quality content is important is that it does a lot of the backlinking work for you. If you can create something informative and sharable, you'll start getting more and more backlinks you didn't even prospect yourself. If you can make yourself relevant in your niche or industry, other people will start liking you and sharing your content with even more people.
You simply can't do that with poor content. You might be able to convince a few sites to give you backlinks - but your backlinks won't grow organically. You want good content (whether it's editorials, informative posts, video content etc) so that it starts marketing itself and earning your even more backlinks in the process.
When you've written a new post or created a bit of quality content - don't simply leave it on your site and expect people to know about it - market it. Start posting it on social bookmarking sites and other content syndication services. Not only will this tell more people about your content, but you'll get a backlink from each of them. This is an important way to start getting backlinks in the beginning.
Syndicate and network with authorities in your niche
Try reaching out to relevant authorities in your niche. Tell them what you're trying to achieve and offer them some of your best posts on a syndication basis. Google looks favorably on backlinks from sites that are relevant to your industry or niche, so if you can start getting your posts syndicated on other blogs in your network, you should start to grow. Also, authoritative sites that have already built a good reputation for themselves pass on more "link juice" with their backlinks. These sorts of links are worth much more than those from new sites or ones without much authority.
Look for other ways to get high quality backlinks
Try and think outside the box a little when thinking of new ways to get backlinks to your site. You can try forum posting (with a link in your signature). Try not to be too spammy and offer useful information. Another good way to find backlinks is by offering testimonials to relevant products or for other services in your niche. Sites will normally be happy to include a link back to your site alongside a positive testimonial.
There are many more ways to start building links to your site - try thinking a little. But it's important that you don't start spamming and simply throwing up pointless links on worthless sites. These could harm your ranking. One other thing to remember - your ranking will be based not only on the number of links but also the number of different sites these links are on. So don't rely too much on putting thousands of links on the same site (like you'd get with with forum posting). Try and spread your backlinks on as many different sites as possible.
One great new way to get good quality backlinks is on Social Media. Try Tweeting about it and posting new content links on Facebook (and other platforms). While not all of these links will pass on link juice (they might be "no-follow"), they will alert more people about your content who could potentially post about it elsewhere (on their sites).
Hopefully, this guide has given you a good background in basic backlinking, so you can start doing it for yourself.