There are two type of links for websites – internal links and backlinks. Internal links are any links to content within the same domain or website. While internal links are incredibly important for user experience and help search engines crawl your website, it’s backlinks that are most important for ranking higher in Google and other search engines.
Backlinks are created when one website links to another website with a different domain. There are two types of backlinks – follow and nofollow – and both can boost your brand. Follow links from popular sites with high authority will provide the most significant help with your search rankings. Follow links tell search engine crawlers that the URL is not only relevant to the content on that page but can also act to pass along link equity, which helps boost that link’s PageRank. Nofollow links do the opposite, they specifically tell the search engine crawler not to pass along PageRank to the link, although Google and other search engines will still give slight boosts to pages with a large number of high-quality nofollow backlinks. These links can also help content spread and allow more people to find your content, so don’t discount nofollow links completely.
Essentially, the more quality backlinks a website or webpage receives, the higher the PageRank from Google and the higher that page will rank in search engines for relevant key terms. In fact, many SEO professionals consider backlinks the #1 factor in how high a page ranks for specific keywords.
How to determine if a link is follow or nofollow
To determine if a website provides a follow or no-follow link, you can simply right click a website and then click view source. Once you are in the page source, use ctrl+f to search the content for the link you’d like to check. Links will generally look like the snippet below, although some will include more content. If the link contains a section that says “rel=’nofollow’” then it is a nofollow link. If the link does not contain rel or has “rel=’follow’” then that is a followed link.
<a href = "http://www.group3online.com" rel="nofollow">Group3 Online</a> <a href = "http://www.group3online.com">Group3 Online - Follow Link</a>
How to start building free backlinks to your website
Building backlinks can be incredibly time consuming and tedious work. It can involve dozens or hundreds of emails and outreach attempts to get high-quality links to your content. While it takes a lot of work, there are a few more straightforward steps you can take to start your link-building campaign.
For any new business or new website, many of the first backlinks to your site will come through listing websites such as Yelp or Google. Some niche businesses, such as medical clinics, will also have industry-specific listing sites like Healthgrades. Most of these directories will allow you to create free profiles with a link back to your site. A select few will even offer that elusive nofollow backlink.
It’s important to list your business on these directories, especially if they rank for keywords that are relevant to your business. Do a few Google searches that customers would do to find you, and make sure your business is listed on any directory pages that come up on the first or second pages of the search.
Forums and website comments
If there are forums or popular blogs related to your industry, it can sometimes pay dividends to get involved in that community’s conversations. You can provide helpful insight through blog comments or even start a new discussion. Often you can insert your link along with your comment or in the signature of your forum posts, and these are usually marked as nofollow. However, there are a few exceptions. Overall, this is a great way to start link building.
If you author a blog or have developed content relevant for your industry, working with other content creators is a great way to network and grow your backlinks. Trading guest blog posts or providing content to another blog will often result in a link back and is a great way to reach new customers who aren’t aware of your blog or your business.
While not all social media links are public and indexed by Google, there are a few that can be beneficial in building your business’s backlink profile. Take Pinterest, for example. Adding your articles or images to Pinterest or making it easy for your visitors to pin content is an effective way to build backlinks through social media. Google+ and Reddit are other public social media sites where backlinks can be cultivated. Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin are generally not able to be indexed by search engines.
Sometimes getting a backlink can be as easy as paying a small membership fee. Local chambers of commerce, merchant organizations and professional organizations typically offer membership packages that include a directory listing on their website. Take advantage of these membership offers when you can.
If you have an important product launch or business announcement, it can be beneficial to use a press release service to get the word out. Many online press release wires will allow you to pay a small fee to submit press releases that will often end up on hundreds of other high-quality sites in your industry, providing a quick boost to your content at a reasonable price.
One of the top ways to get people to link to your website is to ensure you’re producing high-quality content that is not only relevant to your industry but helpful to your potential customers. The better your content and the more useful it is to people, the more likely it is to spread and gain more links. It’s often better to spend time on producing one piece of high-quality content than a series of small, less helpful items. In a world oversaturated with content, we stress quality over quantity.
Not all backlinks are created equal – how to get quality backlinks
While many of these strategies provide an excellent foundation for building backlinks, it’s crucial to focus on earning QUALITY backlinks. Google’s PageRank algorithm heavily favors sites that already rank well in searches and have earned strong subject-matter authority.
For example, if you have done research in your field and can provide unique information on a topic that is covered by Wikipedia, adding your knowledge to the wiki page is an excellent way to gain quality backlinks. Since Wikipedia is free to edit, just update the topic page with the relevant information and include your link as a source. Beware, however, that Wikipedia is publicly moderated, so if the information you provide isn’t truly additive or if it is promotional in nature, it can be disputed and removed by other editors.
Other high-quality backlinks include top news sites like Forbes, Fortune and CNN, as well as sites that are popular with various interest groups and within vertical industries. Getting backlinks from authoritative topical websites like these can be much harder and often involve efforts similar to PR campaigns, requiring you to reach out and connect with people interested in your content. Working with bloggers and journalists to create relevant content in your field in exchange for a backlink to your website in a bio is another excellent way to earn a quality backlink from a high-authority source.
To achieve better rankings on Google and other search engines, optimizing your site with SEO can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing. To get the most out of your efforts, ask a professional SEO agency to give you an assessment so you can put a proper game plan in place. Give us a call or send us a message to find out what we can do to strengthen your backlinks and your online presence overall.