We have all heard the expression, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, and although your website’s internal content is hugely responsible for achieving a winning search engine optimization strategy, the SEO on the outside plays a vital role in placing your business high up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Backlinks are links pointed to a landing page on your website from a referring domain. Google’s algorithms analyze these backlinks to determine their value and how to apply that worth to your own site’s domain authority. If backlinks appear to be earned, they are more valuable. If they appear paid for, they will not only likely offer little value but could result in a penalty. However, NOT ALL paid backlinks are bad; Google frowns on the ones that are non editorial or designed to pass PageRank (an attempt to influence rankings). If you want to create healthy backlinks on quality par with off-site work performed by SEO expert agencies, there are some considerations to take when planning your strategy. Here are four to start with.
1. Have a Diverse Backlink Portfolio
Remember when you were a kid trading baseball cards with your friends? Having a few doubles was great, but too many created an opportunity to get rid of some for others lacking. The same holds true for backlinks. You don’t want a high percentage of your backlinks to come from the same referring domain, but a few repeats is perfectly fine. You also want to mix up the types of referring domains your links come from that include:
- .org sites
- .edu sites
- .gov sites
- Industry-related directories
- B2B sites
- News sources
- Lifestyle sites
- Educational sites
They key is to create a backlink portfolio that looks natural, and with a diverse portfolio ranging from your Huffington Posts to Mom Blogs with high domain authorities, to .gov sites and industry-related directories; a formula that will demonstrate diversity and resonate authentic with Google.
2. Backlinks Must Come from Relevant Domains for Strong Off-Site SEO Results
If you own a chain of electronics stores, you don’t want to link from a restaurant directory, even if it has a domain authority of 80. The content on your landing page (and website as a whole) must be relevant to the content your link is placed in. Otherwise, Google bots will regard it as a pathetic attempt to manipulate rankings.
One of the best backlink strategies you can perform aimed to empower your off-site SEO is to link from relevant blogs that ask a popular industry. Then direct that link to a landing page on your site that offers solutions, answers questions, or delves into closely-related interest. For example, let’s say you earn permission from Bose’s blog administrator to submit content your in-house staff produced, with a link back to one of your company’s blog posts, and from there lead buyers to an order page through a CTA. Since Bose manufactures sound systems, and your site sells home audio solutions, consider a strategy like this one:
Content on Referring Domain–
Title: How to Find the Perfect Sound System for Classical Music Lovers
Anchor Text to Your Blog- find the best sound systems for classical music without sacrificing on bass quality
Your Landing Page –
Title – 5 Reasons Why Bose Wave Sound Systems is Perfect for Bass-Thumping Tunes & Soothing Classical Sonatas
CTA – Save 20% Off When You Buy the Bose Wave Here (button or link to order page)
Be sure to use a variety of keywords in both short and longtail form on both your internal and off-site content. A strategy like this will help boost your own domain authority, while amping up the juice in your organic SEO stock well.
3. Follow and NoFollow
In the past, getting a follow link was the holy grail of backlinks, and for the most part this is still the case. However, in today’s Google landscape having a healthy balance of follow and nofollow links is ideal because it enhances your portfolio’s diversity. Several studies have indicated that when a backlink portfolio has an overwhelming number of follow links (especially from the same referring domain) that Google often makes the assumption the links were paid for in an attempt to modify rankings.
4. Anchor Text Best Practices
There are various types of anchor texts, and depending on your goals, you will want to choose the right sort. These include:
- Exact match
- Phrase match
If you are trying to rank for branded keywords, you would use an anchor text like “Save 50% on the best sound systems at Joe’s Stereo Superstore”. An exact match anchor text would be identical to the keyword you are trying to rank for, such as “surround sound systems”. Phrase match anchor texts are longtail keyword phrases that contain the word or keyword phrase you want to rank for, like “affordable prices on surround sound systems”. Generic anchor texts are general and don’t contain the keyword. Common examples include “click here” or “learn how to save here”. LSI anchor texts contain synonyms related to the primary keyword, like “high-fidelity audio equipment”.
Again, the best type of anchor text to use will be determined by your content’s purpose. Generally, generic anchor texts are not ideal unless you are creating a landing page meant in part of an inbound marketing funnel that leads people towards performing a desired action, like filling out a form, downloading a free guide, or even making a purchase.