If you visit any website which discusses SEO and how to improve rankings on Google there will undoubtedly be some discussion, articles or information relating to backlinks. To prove the point, you are reading one of them right now, so it is fair to say SEO and backlinks are very much related.
Where the confusion, and sometimes reticence to use backlinks arise is not knowing which backlinks have a positive impact, and which backlinks are more likely to see you plunging down the rankings, or worse, wiped off them altogether, which has happened to countless websites.
Part of the problem is that there are so many ways in which you can create a backlink to your website, and just as many places online where you can link from. Add to this Google’s determination to clamp down on spam links, link farms and links which appear to be high quality but aren’t, it has become a cat and mouse game between the search engines, and those who use those blackhat tactics.
It is not to say that blackhat methods don’t work. Many of them do, and an element of those methods is backlinking strategies which go under Google’s radar. You’ll need to decide whether you want to go down this route but be aware that you may be only one Google crawl or update away from having your website deindexed from the SERPs.
If you prefer not to be looking over your shoulder and want to have backlinks to your website that Google actively encourages, then here are some of the places you can go to create them.
#1 Your Existing Network: If you are in business it is more than likely that you have clients, customers, associates, suppliers, and neighbouring businesses that you are in contact with on a regular basis. It is also fair to say that many of them will be operating in the same or similar niches as you are. Whether they are or not, if they have a website, there is a lot to be gained by asking if they could link from their site to yours.
Your local chamber of commerce, business development organisations, and even your local government are all very reputable organisations which if Google see linking to you, will add to the authority of your website, and in turn, help your ranking.
#2 Local Business Directories: These may not carry a lot of weight, but they should not be overlooked as places to obtain backlinks from. It may involve a lot of boring online form filling as you create your directory listings, but most of them will be free, and the time spent doing this will be rewarded as your backlink count increase is seen by Google.
#3 Industry Directories: Once you have created all your generic directory listings, you should move on to directories which are specific to your niche. As these are industry specific they may cost, but a listing on their website with a link back to your website, confirms the relevance of your website.
#4 Guest Articles: This will take some time, and some research to establish where you can do this, and then more time creating the content, but if you are taking a long-term approach to your business then you will see its merits. Guest posting on other websites which have some connection to your niche can be very productive in terms of ranking, and the more that you post the greater their impact.
It is perfectly possible for your article or blog post to be picked up or spotted by very high authority websites, who may link out to it. The power of that link will be passed on to your website if they do. Better still, they may approach you to create content for them, and then you have your content, and your link on a highly ranked website. No prizes for guessing how positively Google will assess that in terms of ranking your website.