A simple analogy is that backlinks are similar to votes. The sites that have the highest number of quality backlinks (votes) will rank the highest. All other things being equal.
Latest SEO research says that links make up around 20% of your site’s overall ranking factor. Quite simply, to rank well in 2017, you need quality backlinks.
The primary reason sites will link to you, is your ability to create high quality, useful content.
In this blog, I’ll break down how and why you need to create backlinks and provide an overview of how SEO PowerSuite tools can assist your link building efforts.
What are backlinks?
In the simplest form, backlinks are links from other websites to yours.
Backlinks can come from many different forms, including blog posts, directory listings, forum comments that allow a website URL to be entered and many more categories.
The text that is used to create the link is known as “anchor text”. An example is Sydney SEO. The anchor text in this example is “Sydney SEO”. Anchor text information sends important link signals to Google, and it’s important to consider the wording of your anchor text when undertaking link building.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are Google’s way of determining the relative authority of your website.
If you have a plethora of quality websites linking to your content, Google determines that your website must be of a high quality. It makes sense. Why else would any reputable sites want to link to you?
I realise I used a vote analogy before, but I have another one that’s fitting also! Job candidates when referred by a colleague or friend tend to be higher quality and more reliable employees.
Your friend or colleague wouldn’t put their reputation on the line for a candidate that’s of a low calibre.
The same applies for links. Reputable websites won’t tarnish their reputation by linking to low quality or questionable websites.
Hence the reason why credible links are important for Google’s algorithm that determines your site ranking.
Why would a website want to link to me?
That’s an interesting question! The answer is mostly “content”. If you create great content, on a regular basis, the link building process will become relatively painless.
If you blog regularly, create videos, infographics etc. you’ll start to see websites linking to your content organically, without you needing to ask for a link.
Of course, it takes months for websites to find your content after google indexes it and it begins to rank organically.
The steps below which are referred to as “link building” fast track this activity and proactively inform websites of your content, without webmasters needing to find it themselves.
As mentioned previously, there are many link building activities. By far, the highest quality link building activities will come from creating great content. This is the main method you should focus on when link building and trying to increase the domain authority of your website.
How should I start link building?
For link prospecting, I recommend SEO PowerSuite. This comprehensive SEO suite of tools contains two modules that are extremely helpful for link building. Namely, SEO Spyglass and Link Assistant tools.
SEO Spyglass is a very powerful tool for analysing the current link situation on your website. It provides a comprehensive overview of the progress of your backlinking efforts over time and has much more information than that! Much of the detailed information you probably will never use, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case you need it!
The great feature of SEO PowerSuite is that it uses it’s own LinkExplorer database to determine links to your website. In addition, it collates data from Google Analytics and Google’s search console links.
The end result is, you get a more comprehensive and up-to-date link information than using just the Google search console alone.
Below is an easy to read graph of my Backlink progress over time.
The first graph displays total links, whereas the second graph only displays the linking domains. The difference being one domain can provide several links.
If you click on “linking domains”, you get an easy to read (configurable) dashboard. This dashboard displays the linking domain, estimated risk of penalty, inlink rank of the linking domain etc.
This view gives you an efficient interface to see the number and quality of links to your website. You can drill down further and include anchor text details also.
In some respects, there’s an overlap between SEO Spyglass and Link Assistant tools. They both provide core information about existing links, but this isn’t Link Assistant’s main purpose.
Link Assistant is designed primarily for link building activities.
To start a search for link building prospects, you can click “Look for prospects” and pick one of the link building categories below.
I’d almost always begin by searching competitor backlinks. It’s usually the fastest way to find relevant and effective backlinks for your website.
After you’ve exhausted this category, you can move on to others categories such as directories, forums, commenting etc.
There’s always pros and cons to acquiring links and it’s important to look closely at Link Assistant’s results of InLink rank. InLink rank, I’d say is crucial to ensure the proposed links are of an acceptable quality, so they won’t cause your site a Google penalty.
Once you’ve analysed the suggested links in detail, Link Assistant has a nice feature that let’s you email directly from the tool.
There are several pre-formatted email templates to reach out for link building.
Personally, I don’t recommend using templates for emailing. You’ll have a much higher response rate if you customise each email individually.
Having said that, the templates (and categories of link outreach) are a great starting point to begin your link building activities.
As mentioned previously, there are several ways to acquire backlinks. I recommend content generation to aim for quality backlinks over quantity.
Therefore, guest posting, product review templates are the most relevant outreach strategies for link building with this approach.
That’s not to say that reciprocal links, forums and directories don’t have a place in link building. They do, they’re just slightly controversial and need thorough analysis to ensure the sources are credible and relevant. Else your site may be penalised by Google.
Link building, like SEO is a long term, time consuming process that’s critical to SEO in 2017.
As always, you don’t need to buy tools such as SEO PowerSuite. You can use a plethora of free tools out there on the Internet. However, I’d recommend you’d buy SEO PowerSuite (that’s what I did!).
Quite simply, time is money, and the time saved having SEO PowerSuite do much of the hard work for you is well worth the cost in my opinion.
The speed and accuracy of SEO PowerSuite to analyse data is priceless. I find it simply makes better decisions, based on it’s InLink quality algorithm. Better than I can do, unless I spent many hours trawling through the raw data myself.
If you’re still not sold, or don’t have the budget, you can use the free version of SEO PowerSuite. It’s also very good. Missing are the ability to save projects and export data, but even the free version is still an immensely powerful suite of SEO tools.
For other blog articles on keyword research or common mistakes for WordPress SEO, check out my SEO blog.
If you need help with your SEO in Sydney or Australia, including link building services, contact us today for your free consultation.
I was provided a free trial of SEO PowerSuite Enterprise for this review. I was so impressed with the product, I purchased an Enterprise licence (at my own expense) within 48 hours. Contact me, if you’d like anymore information as to why.