What are backlinks?
You create a backlink when you add website links to external sites.
On most web pages or more often, in a blog post, external links are added using anchor text.
The most common practice is to use a few words to describe what the link is about and why it may be of interest to your readers.
As an example of a simple link to an external website, you can find out more about me on my personal website.
While you probably use links to other sites in your blog posts, what you really want are links pointing to your blog and your piece of content.
When you do a Google search, the entries that rank the highest are always the most authoritative sites.
It means that the page has earned its authority by the number of high quality backlinks it has gained, which in turn creates more organic and referral traffic.
Think here about Wikipedia. It almost always ranks number one for a search term, because so many bloggers link to Wikipedia to support their blog post topics.
If you are new to blogging and search engine optimization (SEO), you know that keywords are an important ranking factor.
While it is true, backlinks to your website are of much higher value. You might rank at number 30 or 40 for a keyword quite easily, but to get to number one or two, you will need a lot of incoming links.
The hard truth is that if you want to earn backlinks, it is difficult and slow.
By far the best way to build backlinks is to write fantastic content that other bloggers will want to reference or share with their readers.
It is the method I rely on most, but it does take some time to accumulate enough links to improve a post’s ranking factor.
However, there are other ways you can try to get more inbound links.
Link building strategies
Write great content and be very patient.
Writing guest posts for high ranking websites is the most reliable. However, it is also hard work, because you will only earn one backlink for each article.
But if the site has very high ranking authority, your link will be of much higher value.
Images and infographics are a practical way because they are so easy to share. It is a bit hit and miss if bloggers will add a backlink correctly, but in general, they do.
Blog comments are an easy way. When you add a comment on an external site, you often get a backlink. It will be of low value, as these links are generally nofollow links opposed to a dofollow link, which is of high value.
But if you comment a lot, nofollowed links can still help your link building.
Exchange links with other bloggers writing on a similar topic to you. It is sometimes called a competitor backlink. In moderation, this works fine. But Google will notice if you get too carried away with it.
Social media links are not high value, but they can still add worth. Because of the potential for sharing, you might find that other bloggers find your content and could then link back to you.
Ask directly. A few years ago, the smart backlink strategy was to email bloggers and ask them to add a link in their articles to your site. If you use an SEO tool, it may still give you a suggested email list for this practice.
However, it became so popular that it has now become close to spamming. I get lots of these emails every day now asking for links, and they all now end up in my trash folder.
Private blog networks are a great way to get penalised by Google, so don’t be tempted. You can read more here on Search Engine Land about this practice.
You need to acquire links from a range of sources.
It is easy for Google to recognise a lot of links coming from one domain. Some bloggers who have more than one site will obviously have their other sites link to each other.
There is nothing wrong with this, but the links will have little value. One hundred links from one domain will not count nearly as well as ten different websites linking to your post.
If you can attract quality links to your content, it will definitely rank better on every search engine because of the value they place on backlink profiles.
You can certainly use a free backlinks checker. If you do a Google search, you will find hundreds of them.
Most of them will give you an idea of your incoming links, referring domains and perhaps domain authority. Generally, though, they will only give you a truncated list of the top backlinks for your site.
By far the best free backlink checker is Google Console, which used to be called Webmaster Tools.
It will give you a report including the total number of both inbound links and your internal links.
You can open each report, and then click on the number of links to see the list of domains. Now you can see the number of links coming from each domain.
You can also download a full report from Google Console in CSV format.
If you have the budget, you can do a lot more with pro SEO tools. Like many bloggers, I use Semrush.
Not only do you get better reporting, but you can also control toxic backlinks from disreputable sites. It is possible to remove or disavow these.
You can also track when you gain and lose links. Sometimes a link is lost due to a site change, so you can often recover a link by contacting the site owner.
If you are serious about blogging and improving your level of daily traffic, you need to understand how backlinking will help you.
It is not a sexy subject for sure, and it involves a lot of hard work. But if you want to rank higher for search results, it is the overriding factor in achieving it.
Writing quality content, shareworthy infographics, commenting and occasionally exchanging links with other bloggers are the best avenues. Adding a sprinkle of social media can help too.
Search keywords for your content are important too, but they can only get you so far. Quality backlinks will help take you to the next level.
The two together are the best recipe for your blog’s success.
Related reading: How To Use Keyword Research To Grab Your Competitor’s Keywords