Why do we backlink?
As digital marketers, we prioritize a comprehensive backlink strategy to improve SEO for our websites. A healthy backlink strategy will raise your domain authority, brand awareness, search engine presence, and help you create a network of peers who are willing to exchange content with you.
It takes a heavy focus on guest blogging, disavowing negative links, sustaining partner relationships, and creating new relationships with bloggers and prospective partners. It’s a lot of work! And it takes time.
There is a ton of work involved in outreach, creating new content with which to gain new external links, and keeping track of existing backlinks.
Targeting Existing Backlinks
The first step in any backlink strategy is to identify all existing backlinks and sort them into three categories:
- Positive backlinks that require no change
- Positive backlinks for which you would like to submit anchor text change requests
- Negative backlinks for which you would like to submit removal requests
Anchor text change requests
Remind me—why do we care about anchor text?
Anchor text is one of the more important considerations when building a backlink strategy. It’s not just about linking back to your website. You want to tell Google (and other search engines), that this keyword (hyperlinked as “anchor text”) is very relevant to your brand. Search engines recognize that the keyword you’re using is relevant to the page being linked, and it can increase your page rank.
However, don’t overuse the same anchor text repeatedly. Switch it up depending on the context of the content and the page that you are linking to. Maybe you have a cluster of keywords you want a specific page to rank for. If you’re creating multiple backlinks for that page, use those multiple keywords to your advantage.
Using anchor text in your backlink strategy
After you’ve created your list of existing backlinks, determine any anchor text change requests you would like to make. In most instances where backlinks are pointing to the homepage, you’d likely request an anchor text change so that it hyperlinks your company name of product.
For backlinks pointing to specific pages, identify the best keyword that represents that page and make a suggestion that incorporates a keyword that is a fit for you but also fits into the backlink owner’s existing content. The goal here is to not be intrusive with requests so that the owner of the backlink is more likely to comply.
Disavow Links and Removal Requests
Sites with low domain authority, low trust scores, or generally “spammy” looking sites are not worth your time. And you don’t want them to link to you as they can actually hurt your site’s domain authority. Use Google Disavow Links tool to have Google handle the removal of those pesky spam links that are bringing down your rankings!
But determining what a spammy link is might be harder than you think.
There might be a conference site that updates their URL every year or has low domain authority because they don’t update it often. But if you’re a sponsor of that conference, you don’t want to send a disavow link! Leave it alone.
While outdated sites that seem like they’re from 1995 aren’t attractive, that doesn’t necessary mean they’re spam.
Google warns that using their tool incorrectly can actually hurt your rankings. Some of those low domain or trust score sites might actually be supporting your domain presence, and not hurting you as counter-intuitive as it seems.
Reserve the use of the Disavow Links tool only for confirmed spam that goes against Google’s quality guidelines, and not just low domain score or low trust score. If you’re aware of any paid links in your company’s past, you’ll want to use the Disavow Links tool to remove these.
Here are a few more things to avoid when building backlinks.
Targeting Relevant Mentions For New Backlinks
Now that you’ve dealt with the backlinks that exist, you need to seek new backlinks from sources that explicitly mention your brand or terms relevant to your organization.
Subscribe to industry publications and set up the right Google Alerts so you never miss a mention.
What do you do when you see your name without a hyperlink? Request a hyperlink to your homepage or product page by sending a nice email to the site administrator or relevant contact. You might also send them a relevant blog if they’re talking about a particular use case.
Mentions of your organization are the easiest backlinks to request, and the easiest identifier in what is a good backlink for your business. But you still need to target those keywords that are part of your organization’s keyword universe!
Monitor articles that your partners write and industry publications where your target audience hangs out. When you request these types of backlinks make sure the content you’re offering up is quality content and in-line with the original message. There’s nothing worse than linking to something out of left field. And (spoiler alert!), the publication won’t link it. They might even start ignoring your emails.
It’s important not to spam anyone or get off on the wrong foot. So create email templates for these requests that are reviewed by your co-workers. And don’t email just anyone! Make sure you have the right contact (like the author, for instance), and make sure the website will benefit you.
Creating New Content For Backlinks
In addition to targeting existing content and asking for backlinks, it is important you create new content that will include strategic backlinks.
Guest blogging is when a blogger from one organization publishes an article to another organization’s blog. This is especially common among partners, but it is also important to reach out to other brands in your space that you do not compete with. You might also blog on your client’s website if you have the right type of relationship and it makes sense to both of you. But don’t just ask to guest blog on someone’s site—make sure you are willing to reciprocate!
Just like your internal blogging efforts, guest blogging should be written with SEO in mind. However, this gives you room to use more competitive keywords with higher volumes. And don’t forget that relevant anchor text and UTM links.
You should incorporate backlinking into your internal blogging strategy as well. Look at what external content is out there, and blog about it. Choose content wisely, and you want to go after site that are more willing to give you a link back once your blog is published. Companies the same size as your own or slightly smaller with good domain authority are good targets. Don’t target Microsoft right out of the gate!
Your internal blog post could be an expansion of or commentary on the original external content, or it may be wholly original content that uses the external content as a specific example to make a point.
Once the internal blog is published, reach out to the writer of that external content with a link to your blog. Don’t forget to say please! You clearly found the subject matter interesting enough to blog about, so tell the writer that.
Want a few more pointers on backlinking? We’d love to help you out.