How To Get Backlinks for More Traffic & More Customers!

Travis Van SlootenSmall Business SEO

Before we even address how to get backlinks, we first need to define what backlinks are and why they are so important for your website’s rankings.

Backlinks are the number one most important factor when you want your website to get to the top of Google searches. In the simplest terms, backlinks are links on the Internet that point back to your site. The most effective backlinks come from high authority sites and have your chosen keyword(s) as the anchor text.

As you recall in an earlier post I wrote about website search engine optimization, anchor text is the actual text that people click to visit your site. When Google finds a link to your site that includes the keyword you want to rank for then it will boost that sites relevancy. Just to recap what anchor text is, see these two examples:

Using the keyword, “Local SEO services,” as the anchor text the link would look like this:
My local SEO services help businesses get found online.

This is the same sentence where we don’t use a keyword as the anchor text. Instead we use the term, “click here” as the anchor text:
My local SEO services help businesses get found online. Click here to learn more.

Prior to Google’s Penguin update in 2012, keyword-rich anchor text was a SEO “best practice.” After the update, you don’t want every backlink to be keyword-rich. You want a wide variety of anchor text. In my example above, you might use all of these as anchor text as you get backlinks:

local SEO services, local SEO, SEO services, click here, here, www.tvsinternetmarketing.com

They key now is variety! You want things to look natural. It wouldn’t be natural for every backlink to have the same keyword as the anchor text because that’s not how people normally link to websites. Some will use “click here,” others will hyperlink your website name, and others will hyperlink an entire sentence.

Do-follow vs No-follow Backlinks

A while back Google rolled out the support of a new HTML markup called, “nofollow.” What this basically means is, website owners can mark their links to other sites (via HTML) as “nofollow.” This markup tells Google that it shouldn’t give the site being linked to any “credit” for backlinking purposes to get ranked.

Now you’re probably wondering why this would be necessary. Before this markup came along, many website owners would spam sites – particularly blogs – with backlinks. So on a popular blog about chiropractor services, for example, a website owner that is selling computers might leave a meaningless, totally irrelevant comment just to get a backlink to his site. This is referred to as comment spam, by the way. You don’t want to do this!

Until the nofollow markup came along, that computer website owner would have gotten a backlink. Now with the support of nofollow, a blog owner can mark all outgoing links as “nofollow” so they don’t get credit for the backlink. It effectively shuts down spam (in theory).

Why is all of this important to know? Well when you learn how to get backlinks, you’ll read about nofollow vs dofollow backlinks – particularly if you are planning on getting backlinks from blog comments. You may conclude that the best strategy is to only target sites and blogs that don’t use the nofollow markup. After all, you only want to get backlinks from sites where you’re actually going to get credit, right?

Well you’d be wrong. The key to effective link building is to have a diverse link profile. What that means is, you want backlinks from a variety of different sources, AND you want to have backlinks that are both dofollow and nofollow. You don’t want all your backlinks coming from the same sources – and all being only dofollow. This doesn’t look natural to the search engines.

When building our links, you want it to look as natural as possible. To that end, strive to get backlinks from any legitimate website that you can, and don’t worry about dofollow vs nofollow.

Avoiding Bad Backlinks

You’ll notice in the previous paragraph I said you should strive to get backlinks from any legitimate website. The key word is “legitimate.” The last thing you want is to get backlinks from “bad neighborhoods.” Examples of these would be porn sites and and link farms. Link farms are websites, or pages, that are created with the sole intent of just having hundreds of backlinks. They don’t have any content at all other than a list of backlinks.

If the bulk of your backlinks come from sources like this, it will be the kiss of death for your website. These types of links can not only hurt your ranking, but can get your site deindexed from the search engines all together!

How To Get Backlinks

1. Your Own Sites
This is an easy first step. Let’s say in addition to your primary business website you also have a personal blog. You should provide a link to your business website from your personal blog.

You don’t have any “other” sites? Create a blog (for FREE) at blog sites like WordPress.com or Blogger.com. Publish articles on those blogs that relate to your business and include an anchor text rich link to your website.

2. Reciprocal Linking
Reciprocal linking is when you “trade” backlinks with another website owner. He gives you a backlink to your site and you give him a backlink to his site. In the early days of SEO this was one of the most popular ways to get backlinks. The practice was abused by website owners and so the search engines started putting less value on these types of backlinks. Today, these types of links carry very little weight.

Having said that, don’t ignore this strategy as it will help diversify your link profile and can provide additional traffic to your site. The way to get the most bang for these types of backlinks is to trade links with sites that are very similar or relevant to your business’ niche. If you are a chiropractor, then you want to trade links with other chiropractor-related sites and blogs. At the very least, you want to trade links with websites in the health, or wellness, niche.

Even if you don’t get a lot of “backlink love” from the search engines for these types of links, you may still get significant traffic to your site if you are trading with someone that owns a popular site. Imagine the additional traffic you might get if you swapped links with a popular blogger who has thousands of visitors every month.

An Important Note on One-Way Links
Reciprocal links are referred to as “two-way links.” As I already mentioned, these types of links don’t carry a lot of weight anymore. The types of backlinks that carry the most weight are one-way links – where you get a website owner to link to you without you having to link back. And the best one-way links are those from high authority, relative websites. These types of links carry a significant amount of weight and can send your website to the top of the rankings!Always try to get one-way links from other website owners first. If you can’t, then try to get a reciprocal link.

3. Web Directories
The Internet is full of hundreds (probably thousands) of online web directories where you can post your link for free or for a fee. DMOZ.org is by far the most powerful of the free web directories. The first step to any backlinking campaign should include a submission to DMOZ. Just follow their posted instructions (to the letter, they are picky). DMOZ is moderated by volunteers so it may take a long time for your link to get approved, and don’t be surprised if it never gets approved. If you do get your link accepted, the link can carry a lot of weight. Simply submit your site and then check back in 3-4 months and if your link isn’t there you can resubmit.

Aside from DMOZ.org, there are hundreds of other free web directories that you can submit your website to. Just make sure they are “SEO-friendly” and that they don’t require a reciprocal link. SEO-friendly means they don’t use the nofollow markup mentioned earlier in this guide so you get credit for the backlink. These types of backlinks carry so little weight so you want to make sure that the ones you do get are dofollow.

Many of these free directories will require a reciprocal link before they will accept your website in their directory. Don’t waste your time with these directories. You don’t want to be linking to web directories. These web directories are a dime a dozen so skipping these types of directories will still leave you with thousands of directories to submit to!

One of the most popular paid directories is the Yahoo! directory and it isn’t cheap. At the time of this writing, it costs $299 to be included in the directory and that fee is reoccurring every year. The Yahoo! directory is separate from the Yahoo! search results. While a backlink from this directory does carry more weight than any backlink from a free directory (except maybe DMOZ), only consider this option if your budget allows. For $299, there are so many other ways you can get backlinks that carry more weight than a Yahoo! directory backlink so only consider it if you have a large backlinking budget.

4. Local Business Directories (i.e. citations)
The difference between general web directories mentioned above and local business directories is that local business directories are geared specifically for “local businesses.” You won’t find listings for websites providing information on how to cure acne in these directories. These are strictly for businesses to list their business information. When you get a listing on these directories, they are referred to as “citations.”

Like general web directories, the links to your sites from these directories may or may not be dofollow. Don’t worry about that. The important thing is to make your footprint as big as possible online so get your business listed in as many business directories as you can find but definitely start with the big ones. Those directories include Google Places, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local, and Yelp. There are literally hundreds of these directories so don’t limit yourself to just those four!

5. Blog Commenting
There are a plethora of blogs today and most of them offer you the chance to post comments. You can gain backlinks by leaving relevant comments that actually mean something and add to the conversation. This isn’t something to do recklessly. You need to actually read the blog posts you are commenting on and then leave a thoughtful response.

Creating the links on these blogs is pretty simple, when you are filling out the comment field for “Your Name,” it will end up being the backlink to your site. Ideally, you want to use your anchor text (i.e. your keyword) as your name, but most blogs won’t allow that and will simply delete your comment. Before you use a keyword as your name, look at the other comments that have been left on the blog. Do you see other people using keywords? If so, then go for it. If not, then use your real name so your comment doesn’t get deleted.

Some blogs will also let you put an HTML link in the body of your comment, but usually only if that site is relevant to the discussion at hand.

6. Forum Posting
Forum posting is when you participate in forums relevant to your niche. Much like blog commenting, you don’t want to spam forums. If you’re going to pursue links from forums, you need to be actively engaged in the forum community. You should participate regularly and add something to the forum.

The way you get backlinks in a forum is through your forum signature. Note, however, that these backlinks will only count if you are participating in a public forum – one where Google and other search engines can crawl the forum posts. If you have to log into a forum to see the posts (i.e. a private forum), then your backlinks won’t be seen and counted so be aware of that.

If it is a private forum, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate – quite the contrary. You can get a lot of direct traffic from forums if they are active forums and you yourself are an active participate. If the forum members see you as an authority on your topic, they will click through to your site!

7. Social Media
Social Media is a broad term but it is a good all inclusive term for the purposes of this guide. Basically there is a whole world out there based on social interaction over the web that is primed for backlinks. It has probably become the most popular backlinking method today.

First there are hundreds of social bookmarking sites like Digg and Stumble Upon that allow you to “bookmark” web pages. Just like bookmarking your favorite pages on your own computer, bookmarking pages with these sites allow you to make these bookmarks online. The idea of social bookmarking is that you bookmark your own pages and encourage others to bookmark your pages. Every time someone bookmarks your pages, that’s more backlinks. Now some bookmarking sites are “nofollow” but that’s o.k. Remember, you want a diverse link profile and some of these nofollow bookmarking sites have a large enough following that you can get a lot of direct traffic from them.

The Grandaddies of social media today, however, are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Google+. It’s imperative that you get involved in at least one of these social sites sooner than later. These sites are not used so much for backlinking purposes as they are to get people to your site by being involved in the social community. The more active you are the more direct traffic you will drive to your site from these social sites.

8. Article Syndication
Article syndication is also referred to as article marketing. You write an informative article related to your niche and then you submit it to the major article directories. There are hundreds of article directories so you can submit your articles to more than just the major article directories. One of the most popular article directories is EzineArticles so if you only submit your article to one directory, make sure it’s this one. Other large directories include GoArticles and ArticleBase.

Most sites allow a link (or two) in the body of the article, but even if they don’t, they ALL offer a profile that you can get a link on AND an author resource box that will be posted along with your article. This resource box can be a perfect opportunity to sell yourself and your business – plus of course get the ever valuable backlink!

You can also save all of your articles as PDFs (with anchor text rich backlinks in it) and upload to document sharing sites like Scribd and Docstoc.

9. Guest Blog Posting
This method can be one of the most effective ways to get powerful backlinks that carry a lot of weight with the search engines. With this method you approach a blog owner and ask if you can write a post for their blog. Like article syndication, when your post gets published, there is typically an author’s bio at the beginning or end of it where there is a backlink to your site.

What makes these backlinks so powerful is that they are one-way backlinks and if you are writing posts for high authority popular blogs, you’ll get a lot of “backlink love” from the search engines and a lot of direct traffic to your site from the blogs. The added bonus of this method is that you can quickly establish yourself as an authority in your niche by getting your writing in front of a variety of different audiences.

The key to making this work is to make sure you write high quality posts that are relevant to the blog’s niche and to make your content unique. Don’t regurgitate stuff the blog audience already knows about. In short, don’t be boring. Write engaging content that is useful to the audience and you’ll find it easy to get these blog owners to accept your posts. You’ll also build your own following of fans in the process.

10. Press Releases
As a business owner, you are probably familiar with press releases and what they can do in terms of exposure to the media, but do you know these can be great for getting backlinks as well? Most press release services will allow you at least one backlink to your website and some will allow as many as three or more!

Writing and submitting press releases on a regular basis will not only give your business additional exposure, but will help boost your rankings in the search engines as well. You may be wondering what you could possibly write about aside from major happenings with your business but you need to think outside of the box. Did you upgrade your equipment that will drastically improve your business’ efficiency? Or maybe you expanded your office space. These are all worthy of a press release. These types of “mundane” press releases probably won’t grab the attention of the media, but you’ll get backlinks from them so write and get them submitted.

This article outlines ten ways on how to get backlinks to get your website ranked high in the search engines for more traffic and more customers! There are other ways but these are the most common and the ones you should start with first. If you mastered even half of these you would be on your way to dominating your market online!