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3 Rules for Earning High Quality Backlinks That Boost SEO

3 Rules for Earning High Quality Backlinks That Boost SEO

With Google’s search algorithms increasingly weighting page rankings toward factors like user signals, such as time on site or pages visited, and authority from backlinks, rather than simply keyword placement, it is important to consider how to earn backlinks to your website and its content.

But reading the most popular how-to posts can be more than a little overwhelming for marketers who aren’t full-time SEO experts, and can’t dedicate large blocks of time to doing intensive research (though there are some great tips here from Neil Patel if you have the time and are using the tools suggested).

What you can and should do, at the very basic level, to make it more likely you’ll earn the backlinks you need, boils down to three things:

1. Create high quality content.

2. Promote your content in the right places.

3. Reach out in the right ways.

Let’s look at each of these backlink-building basics:


1. Create high-quality content.

This is rule No. 1 for a reason. In order to earn backlinks, and for those links to lead to visits that send the right user signals, you have to create content that gives readers a reason to come to your website and stay.

What makes content great? We rate our content on 6 criteria:

1. Is it useful?

2. Does it have character or tell a story?

3. Is it interesting or unique?

4. Is it shareable?

5. Is it findable?

6. Is it technically correct in grammar, spelling and format?

(Download a Content Quality Report Card here or take this quiz to rate the quality of the content you receive from your marketing agency partner.)

What should you avoid when creating content with backlinks and SEO in mind?

Self-promotion, sloppy writing, and keyword stuffing are all ways to turn off readers and search engines alike.

Before you put time into trying to build backlinks, first build great content.

Here are a couple of my previous posts that go into more detail on content quality:


2. Promote your content in the right places.

The first step to earning backlinks and shares is to let people know your content exists. This starts with promoting it through your established channels:

Sending your latest blog post out to subscribers and others in your email contact lists is an obvious start for promoting content, as is sharing your blog on social media. Beyond simply sharing your blog post link in a tweet or status update, you can also, with caution, share it in other ways on social media, such as using a link in a reply to a thread in an industry group on Facebook or LinkedIn. But do so judiciously, and only when your content directly benefits the conversation.

Similarly, spend some time in industry online forums or sites such as Quora where your content could answer questions raised by others.

The key, however, is to not be “spammy” — only answer if you have something beneficial to add, and only link to your content if it adds something more to the conversation.


3. Reach out in the right ways.

Your website’s own reputation can be enhanced also by linking to other reputable, related sites, which can provide opportunities for quality backlinks in return.

For example, when we highlight our clients’ successes in blog posts like this or this, we let them know about it and ask them to share the blog post on their own blog or on social media.

In this article on Quick Sprout, Neil Patel recommends also linking to reputable sites from which you gather data and other insights for your blog posts, and then contacting them to let them know. While he says the majority probably won’t link to you, if 20-25 percent at least tweet out your post, you will gain new readers who may link to your content.

Putting some effort into building backlinks can be worthwhile, increasing your site’s visibility both through the links themselves and through the potential increase in page ranking with search engines. But Patel and others warn against trying to game the system. A few “don’ts” to keep in mind:

  • Don’t expect to build backlinks with poor quality content. Follow a 90/10 rule: 90 percent of your effort goes into developing high quality content, with the other 10 percent dedicated to promoting it.

  • Don’t spam social media conversations or industry forums; only participate and add a link when you have something useful to add to the conversation.

  • Don’t buy backlinks or try to build backlinks by simply adding your site to list sites that are not trustworthy or relevant.

While backlinks and user signals are a significant part of search success (see this infographic for more details), there is still a need to ensure your website tells search engines what they need to know about the content on your pages. Two tools to help you ensure you are using essential keywords in the right places on each page and creating the meta data that enhances the appearance of search results are our On-Page SEO Planning Template and Guide and our Microdata, Schema & Rich Snippets cheat sheet.

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