SEO backlinks can be the most high-risk, high-reward part of inbound marketing. If you can get links from the right websites, your rankings will drastically improve. But, links from the wrong websites are worthless or even harmful to your SEO.
Additionally, many businesses neglect their backlinks because they seem unapproachable. Unlike internal content optimization, where the only person to blame is yourself, backlinks depend on other companies. After all, how are you supposed to earn backlinks when other companies have never heard of you?
Therefore, backlinking is a high-stakes game where the only winners are those with marketing know-how. In this blog, learn about the difference between backlinks and internal linking, the benefits of backlinks, how to earn backlinks, and the four grades of backlinks.
Internal Linking vs. Backlinking
In the world of SEO backlinks, there are two main types of links: internal links and backlinks. While they have their differences, both improve your rankings if implemented correctly.
Internal linking is how you structure and link your content within your website. It is an “all roads lead to Rome” kind of idea, where you want every content piece to link back to the most important pages. Effectively, you should lead website visitors to your conversion pages through your content so that both people and Google’s algorithms know which pages are essential.
On the other hand, backlinks are links from outside websites that point back to your website as a source of authority. By having other reputable websites link to you, your domain authority will increase. However, not all backlinks are created equal. As you will learn, it is much better to have fewer links from more reputable websites than many low-quality backlinks.
Why Do Quality Backlinks Improve Your Rankings?
In the early days of search engines, the algorithms they used were very elementary compared to Google’s modern-day masterpieces. To rank, businesses used to pump their content full of as many keywords as possible because that was what the algorithm wanted; the more keywords, the more the content must fit the given query. That is until Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google.
Inspired by citations they had to make for research papers, the cofounders of Google created what is known today as backlinking. The idea was, that if content linked back to other content, then the content involved in those links was likely to be high quality. After all, why would people link to sources that do not strengthen their argument or content?
Although the original algorithm has been overhauled many times since its conception and is still continuously changing, the same backlinking idea is still there. If reputable websites link you, your reputation will improve by association.
How to Get Backlinks
While the concept behind SEO backlinks is easy enough to understand, getting backlinks in the real world is much more challenging. Many businesses never capitalize on backlinks because they don’t know the next step in the process. In fact, 94% of pages have zero backlinks pointing to them.
Some businesses opt to take a passive approach to backlinks by creating content and hoping for the best. If you plan to earn backlinks organically, stick to long-form content because it gets 77.2% more backlinks than short-form content. However, waiting on the right businesses to stumble across your site wastes valuable time and energy.
Instead of hoping that your dream website will find and link to you, reach out to those websites and tell them that you exist. Explain that you know they are committed to offering quality content to their audience. Expand on that by mentioning that you also provide quality content that threshes out part of their content more thoroughly. Propose that if they were to link to your content, their audience would learn more, and both parties would benefit. By going straight to the source, you position yourself in front of the millions of other potential websites they could link to.
Not All SEO Backlinks Are Created Equal: How to Identify High-Quality Backlinks
Just as you would want reputable sources for a research paper, Google wants to rank websites with quality backlinks. But, there is more to backlink quality than the parent website’s reputation. To determine a backlink’s quality, Google considers two main variables:
- Industry relevancy
- Source Authority
As you can see in the image below, we illustrate the different backlink quality levels by dividing them into four quadrants.
- Quadrant one
This includes the type of backlinks that people used to game the system within the early days of search engines. They are links that come from low-authority websites outside of one’s industry. Because quadrant one fulfills neither of the variables Google uses to evaluate links, they mean nothing to your rankings.
- Quadrant two
These links are from reputable websites in industries that are different than your own. While Google respects the website, they do not value the links for your business because they have nothing to do with your industry.
- Quadrant three
Quadrant three links come from companies in the right industry but without any authority. Like quadrant two links, quadrant three links do not make much of an impact on your rankings.
- Quadrant four
These links are from authoritative websites within your industry. These “holy grails” of the backlinking world can drastically impact your SERP rankings. Because quadrant four backlinks have both elements covered, Google considers them as high-quality backlinks worth substantially more than any other link class. Clearly, your business should pursue quadrant four links if you want to maximize their effectiveness.
Taking Advantage of Quality SEO Backlinks in Your Business
Backlinks are one of the essential elements of a successful inbound marketing plan. Without them, your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings will never reach their full potential. To implement backlinks in your website, you should:
- Create content that companies want to use as source material
- Reach out to websites with links that would benefit you
- Focus your time and energy on pursuing quadrant-four links
Now, you know how to begin earning quality backlinks. However, the process is not easy, and few businesses take full advantage of backlinks independently. After all, 65% of marketers confess that link building is the hardest part of SEO. With that said, we recommend that your business use a team-based approach with marketing.
With a team-based approach, you have access to an experienced team of marketing professionals without the cost of employing one full time. The burdens typically associated with running a marketing department, are handled for you while you merely reap the rewards. Meanwhile, you will save at least 40% compared to any other marketing alternative.
If you want to take advantage of backlinks and propel your marketing to new levels through a team-based approach, click here to download a free eBook that teaches you how to choose the right SEO agency for your business.