Success in the world of online marketing is driven by hundreds of factors. But, if we boil them down, getting more people to your website is really about two things:
- Original, Consistent, High-Quality Content
I’ve talked a lot about generating new content (here, here, here, here, and here). So today I’ll talk about the less glamorous topic of getting more links.
Links (also referred to as hyperlinks or backlinks) connect pages on various sites to one another; they are how humans navigate around the web and how we find ourselves sucked into the black hole of YouTube watching videos of cats playing the piano.
But links do more that just lead us to time-wasting videos, they serve as an important element of the online ecosystem. And as marketers, we need to pay attention to the role of links – specifically backlinks.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are hyperlinks from a third-party website to your website. They are often used by one site to give readers quick access to more information or to cite something on another web page. Search engines like Google use links as an indicator of credibility for both websites. For example, if 1000 websites are linking to www.FishAquariums.com, Google assumes that they are a reliable source of information about fish aquariums.
Whereas if your website www.BigTrucks.com has 0 links to it, Google assumes you don’t know what you’re taking about.
So, as website owners, we want to gather backlinks to 1) attract more human visitors, 2) demonstrate to search engines that we are a credible source of information about our topic.
It is important for online marketers and business owners to understand that we build backlinks to eventually gain human visitors. Our business runs on humans, not search engine best practices. Search engines do not buy our products, humans do.
So, some of these backlink-building tactics may not have a direct search engine impact, they all improve the likelihood of humans finding your content and coming to your website.
Without further ado, here are five ways to attract more backlinks to your website.
1. Guest Posts
Guest blogging on other sites is a great way to use their influence to build your audience. Contact the webmaster of a non-competing, yet complimentary site and offer to write a blog post or two for them. Ask that you are able to include a link back to your website in your author by-line.
If you’ve completed the Crowds to Customers course, you know that creating content on your website is a huge part of online success. You also know that sometimes our creative tank can get a bit low when it comes to writing new content on a regular basis. Having guest content can provide readers a fresh voice and both the site and guest author receive increased exposure through promotion to the new respective audiences.
2. Social Media
Social media is a wonderful platform to reach more website visitors or business prospects. It provides every single brand the ability to amplify their message to exactly the right people and spread within niche networks.
Here are some ways to garner more backlinks on specific social media platforms:
Twitter is like a crowded room where every imaginable conversation is happening at once. Many of those conversations are centered around hashtags to group topics together. For example, online marketing professionals often use #inbound or #marketing hashtags. HGTV frequently uses #DIY to attract do-it-yourselfers looking for home and garden resources.
When posting on Twitter, include a link to your blog post and use hashtags that your prospects are using. This will put your content in front of them, generate “Likes” and Retweets, we are all social signals used by search engines and social media platforms to gauge the popularity and credibly of a source. All of these results in more human traffic to your website.
Facebook is the least marketer-friendly social platform on the menu. They operate in a “walled-garden”, meaning they want all human visitors to stay within the confines of Facebook. They do not want traffic leaving Facebook and going back to the original source.
With this in mind, there are still some ways to attract human visitors and build backlinks to your website through Facebook. Use Facebook Instant Articles (here is a link to their WordPress plugin) and publish content directly to their platform. This is a lot like LinkedIn Pulse, which I’ll talk about next.
LinkedIn is a wonderful place to network with both associates and prospective clients. It is also a wonderful place to publish your content and establish your industry authority. Consider writing a series of posts on LinkedIn Pulse and including a backlink to your website in the by-line. That exact link may be “nofollow”, but the exposure to human visitors increases your chances of being quoted on other sites with a link back to you.
Additionally, find LinkedIn Groups where you can add value and help other group members. When appropriate, link to a resource or blog post on your website if it provides more information or clarity on the subject being discussed.
Do not ever be overly-self promotional or violate the terms of the individual group. This should only be done to add value to the conversation.
Pinterest is the king of visual content online, but more and more marketers and entrepreneurs are using Pinterest to link back to their content. Consider writing How To posts, creating a nice image, and sharing it on Pinterest. The repins are not counted as backlinks per se, but they are social signals in the eyes of Google. Pins do generate a huge amount of human traffic to your website — which is ultimately the goal of a backlink building campaign.
Medium is a place for writers. The platform emphasizes the writing and the conversation. Right now, it is not frowned upon to cross-link between a Medium post and a blog post on your website. I would encourage you to be a good steward of the Medium community, however, and limit your linking to the by-line.
3. Take a Stand
If you’re an expert in your industry, take a stand! Make known your official opinion about a hot topic, new tool, rarely answered question, or taboo topic.
If there is something that your industry generally keeps away from the customer, publish your thoughts on it. Share what customers need to know before making a decision.
Not only does this generate an insane number of backlinks (because customers want to spread the word and information is scarce), but it catapults your brand into the trusted advisor role rather than the vendor role.
4. Offer an Alternate View
Nothing attracts a crowd like a good fight – not a physical fight, but a debate. Someone taking a stand that doesn’t necessarily go with the flow.
I challenge you: find a topic within your industry that you can take a stand. Or at least offer a well-balanced argument for the “non-popular” way of doing things.
This may create controversy. Controversy equates to mentions and backlinks.
5. Address and Solve a Frustration
When I bought my house, I found that the glass around the shower doors had extreme calcium and mineral deposit build up from hard water.
What did I do?
I went to Pinterest to find an easy solution to removing hard water stains from glass.
I found hundreds of pins from other shower-owners looking to bring some shine back to their bathroom.
Not only that, but I found that those “Pins” linked back to well-written blog posts from DIYers who had found a solution to their own problem and written about it.
These How-To blog posts had thousands of backlinks and were mentioned on countless other websites (not to mention all the times they had been pinned on Pinterest).
Why? Because they clearly (pun) knew the problem facing the reader and offered a solution.
Backlinks You Want to Avoid
After all this, you may be thinking that it is beneficial to collect all the backlinks you can gather.
Some backlinks are actually bad for you and can hurt your search engine rankings.
You will want to avoid getting backlinks from “spammy” sites or link directories. They may be tempting, but Google factors the “neighborhood” from which you’re getting links. If they see that a large percentage of your backlinks originate in “bad neighborhoods”, you are guilty by association and will be penalized. Stick to acquiring links from “good neighborhoods” — which are well-respected sites.
When working to build backlinks to your website, remember to deliver value and address the desires of your readers. If your message is ‘me, me, me‘, your reader will bounce off and never share your content. Instead, give them something to talk about. Encourage them to engage.
Also, don’t get discouraged if the backlinks do not come pouring in. Getting more backlinks to your website takes time. It should take time. It should be an organic process that – over time – work to boost your search engine rankings. Getting too many, too quickly actually hurt your rankings because Google suspects that you are gaming their system.
How You Can Apply This
Create a plan using your content marketing calendar to publish a controversial post, submit a guest post, and share your content organically on social platforms like LinkedIn Pulse and Pinterest.