Backlink Basics: A Beginner Link Building Strategy for 2020

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of manipulating the web to encourage certain webpages to rank higher on a search engine’s result’s page (SERP). One of the most critical elements of SEO is backlinking, or placing links back to a webpage on a different website.

A Beginner Link Building Strategy

Backlinks have been vital components of SEO since the very beginning of Google — but that doesn’t mean you understand them fully.

Those who are new to business management or who are just beginning to dip their toes in digital marketing need a crash course in link building to ensure their web assets rank highly on the SERPs. Here is a guide to linking basics, so you can start learning more about SEO, stat.

What Exactly Are Backlinks?

Backlinks go by many names: inbound links, incoming links, one-way links, in-links and more. All of these terms describe links from one website’s webpage to another website’s webpage. For example, this is a backlink to a Forbes article about SEO trends in 2020, and this is a backlink to a list of SEO bootcamps you might consider enrolling in to gain more insight into linking practices.

Neither of those webpages are hosted on our website; they are instead linking back to another website. The internet is filled with backlinks, and it is through backlinks that search engines like Google discover new pages, new sites and new content.

It’s worth noting that not all links are backlinks. Links on your website that lead to other pages on your website do not count — those are internal links. For example, this is an internal link to one of our articles about common SEO mistakes, which include a few link-related errors; it is hosted on the same website as this article you are reading right now.

Internal links have their own value, like in assisting users in navigating your website or establishing an information hierarchy that Google uses to better understand your website’s structure. However, you can’t build up your backlinks purely by filling your own website with your own links.

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Why Do Backlinks Matter?

Why do you even want backlinks? Why are backlinks important? You should think of backlinks as points, which you are trying to accumulate to improve your search engine ranking.

For every backlink a webpage earns, it takes one step closer to earning a higher position on the SERPs — this is how the original Google algorithm functioned, and it isn’t far from how Google and other search engines work today.

In truth, Google’s 2020 algorithm factors in a number of variables, such as content quality, website speed, website visitor rates, website age and more, yetGoogle itself confirms that backlinks remain in the top three most important ranking factors.

Even so, you need to pay attention to what kind of backlinks your website is accumulating. One backlink from an authoritative website, i.e. websites with high visitor counts and trustworthy content, can be more powerful than 1,000 backlinks from backwater websites that no one visits.

You might think of backlinks like votes of confidence, with some websites offering a more influential vote than others. You should be able to recognize highly authoritative websites without research — e.g. websites like Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post and even Buzzfeed — but you should know how to research domain authority and determine which sites might bless you with a better backlink.

How Can You Cultivate Backlinks?

You don’t have control over another website’s linking strategy, so you can’t force your links into another website’s content. Then, how are you supposed to gain backlinks and improve your ranking on the SERPs?Every business has a different backlinking strategy, but here are some best practices you should try today:

Develop link-worthy content

If your content is good enough, it will naturally attract the attention of other websites, especially authoritative ones. You might consider making a wide array of content in multiple channels, like blog posts, white pages, short- and long-form video, podcasts, infographics and more.

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Participate in guest posting

Many websites will happily accept payment to post your content, which should include a link back to your website. This process is called guest posting, and though it is frowned upon by Google, if your content is high-quality, everyone involved should benefit.

Take advantage of link roundups

Link roundups are daily, weekly or otherwise regular posts on certain sites that link out to notable news or quality content. You can find link roundups in your niche; then, you should contact the publisher and suggest that they add some of your content to an upcoming list.

Building backlinks takes time and effort — and often, it is best to have an SEO expert in your corner to help you develop and launch a strategy that will work. In the meantime, you should continue developing quality content to publish on your own website, and you should invest time and energy into learning other SEO basics.

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