Everyone and their dog are looking into SEO Backlinks, but you don’t know where to start? The most comprehensive backlinks guide for 2020 is here!
Whether running a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of Search Engine Optimization.
Having your website appear on top of the search results of Google means just one thing -- free traffic! After all, there are 3.5 billion searches processed by the platform every day. That’s at least a few hundred thousand FREE leads in your niche.
These leads can be yours, but you’d be right to think competition is fierce. To be able to rise to the top you must implement and be familiar with the latest SEO strategies and have a stable foundation in the process.
And what’s a founding pillar of SEO? That’s right -- backlinks!
But what are SEO backlinks and how you can use them to snatch some of that free traffic up for your business? That’s what I am here to cover!
Table of Contents
What are SEO Backlinks?
Let’s start simple. A backlink is a link coming from a third-party Website that leads to another website.
For example, if a Lifehack article links to your website, it is said that you have a backlink coming from Lifehack.
An SEO backlink simply refers to the comprehensive strength that backlinking has to your search rankings.
Often called inbound links or incoming links, these links are a part of the process used by Google and other search engine algorithms to determine the authority of your website.
Let’s say you have a website about selling car parts. If all of your local mechanics refer (i.e. they link to) your website, it would mean that your authority in the car repair niche will increase.
The bigger the authority of your website is in a particular niche, the greater the chance that it will rank for a specific keyword in that particular niche.
Once the backlink was added as a factor to the search algorithms, link spamming and other backdoors were immediately found. They allowed some websites, and particularly scammy ones, to improve their ranking quickly and without much effort.
In response, search engines continuously improved to be able to present genuine information to inquiries by users.
The authority, nature, and ranking of the website linking to your page became an important factor in link building.
In addition, in recent years, things such as link recency, niche specificity, backlinking keywording, machine learning sentiment and more were hypothesized to play a significant role in the strength of a backlink.
Let’s say the most infamous auto mechanic referred to your website, while 10 small auto repair shops link to your competitor. Due to the authority of the infamous mechanic, your website will have higher chances to rank.
With all the different factors in play, backlinking in 2020 is not as simple as getting as many links to your website as possible.
How to build your SEO Backlink Strategy in 2020?
Want to rank high? Let’s go through the process of how to properly manage your SEO backlink strategy.
After all, what are backlinks without a proper SEO strategy? 🤷♀️
The active implementation of a backlink strategy often requires a combination of technical SEO skills, PR, and link building experience.
However, I've tried our best to simplify the process. Do you know that YouTube is also an SEO beast of its own? Check it out!
STEP 1: CHECK YOUR EXISTING SEO BACKLINKS
The first thing on your list should be to check your existing backlinks. You might be thinking that any link to your website is good for your rank, but it’s not.
If your website has links from directories, domains with low domain power or generally weak domains, your website can hurt in the process.
That’s why performing a backlink audit is a must.
In fact, even Ad campaign URLs to your site might have an impact, so check out how to create a proper campaign URL right here.
Powerful SEO tools, such as MOZ.com, Aherfs and SEMRush.com all have their own version of a backlink audit.
How to do a backlink audit?
One of the best tools in the industry that allows you to perform an easy backlink audit is SEMRush.
All you need to do is visit the Backlink Audit Tool of SEM rush, enter your domain and follow the steps to register an account with the tool.
Once you register for your account at SEMRush, you will need to integrate with Google Search console.
Simply click the integration button within the tool and add your Google account.
This allows SEMRush to perform a more comprehensive audit of your subdomains, URLs, and subpaths to help you avoid rank penalties.
After the audit is done, simply check the Toxic Score of the SEO backlinks and decide how to proceed.
If a link has a Toxic Score that is too high, you can do one of two things.
- Contact the Website Owner - You can contact the website owner to remove the link to your website. This takes some time, but SEMRush provides you with the email of the website owner.
- Send to Google Disavow - Google Webmaster Tools has a tool built specifically for this purpose. If you believe a backlink might be hurting your website, you can use Disavow to remove its power in the ranking process of your website.
STEP 2: FIND LINK LEADS FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SEO CASE
Once you are certain that your website has a clean slate, you can transition to the link building strategy.
You need to consider the place, audience, and competitiveness of your niche to find the right leads.
Where is your business located? Do you operate locally or globally? Are you targeting ONE specific local area or a few?
These are all questions you need to have the answer to if you want to build out your link base.
The reason is that in 2020 and beyond, it is becoming more apparent that the machine learning algorithm integrated into Google Search is building out connections that are interconnected with location, search activity, goal activity (i.e. whether a person has purchased from a website, after searching for a specific item and clicking on that website) and more.
To take advantage of this deep learning network, you need to establish your business as an authority in specific locations, based on your overall marketing strategy.
It’s suggested that you try to rank locally at specific locations, instead of globally, due to the high competitiveness.
The second item on your research sheet should be the audience and in particular -- their digital habits and interests.
Similar to how you would build out a Social Media strategy, for SEO in 2020 and beyond, you need to consider all aspects of the marketing equation.
- Does your audience visit cooking websites? (think about their interests) - A backlink from a cooking authority website to your car parts shop might be more powerful than one from a small-time mechanic.
- What type of keywords/queries would your audience use? - You should have already done this part of the research when thinking about your overall SEO strategy, but if you haven’t, you should.
- Do they use tools, such as Google Maps, Reviews or Shopping? - If they do, you might want to position your “car parts” website as a local business or a digital marketplace. This will also play a role in your backlinking strategy.
Once you have a clear picture of your audience, you can use it to build out a strategy around the biggest high-reward/low-effort link building tactics.
Last, but not least, you have the industry/niche competitiveness.
This portion is extremely similar to how you would pick and choose your keyword base depending on the algorithmic competitiveness of the words.
You will need to take a note of the biggest high-rank competitors that you have in your niche.
Analyze their business and backlink performance. Do they have press coverage? Do they often share blog posts?
There is a lot you can learn from your competitors to understand what works for your specific niche.
Are we good to go? 😜
Once you have the founding research and analysis in place, you can start building your lead base.
How to build your cold link building lead base?
Based on the decisions about the market positioning of your website, the nature of the leads that might help you out the most will differ.
CATEGORIZE THE LEADS YOU WILL BE LOOKING FOR
You can think of them in three main categories.
- Niche Authority Websites - These are the highest-ranking websites in your particular industry. They are usually considered the highest-value targets for link-building.
- Audience Interest Websites - These are either co-related or unrelated to your niche websites. It’s a growing trend in 2020 to pursue related leads, but it usually isn’t the main priority.
- Press Authority Websites - These are the authority websites in the press and publicists space. Think HuffPost, Forbes, Inc. and similar.
FIND THE RIGHT LEADS FOR YOUR SEO BACKLINKS
Based on your specific SEO case (as explained above) and the categories of leads you will be searching for, start your search.
Google is the best way to do your research, when it comes to this step.
Search for terms related to your business, audience or industry. Check out the “news” tab for your local press authority websites.
CHECK THE AUTHORITY OF YOUR LEADS
Once you’ve found your targets, you should check their domain authority.
You can do so via different tools, but one amazing free tool is Moz Domain Authority tool. It showcases the domain authority of a target website.
Building up a base with leads for link building can be as simple as putting up names and emails in a spreadsheet.
STEP 3: OUTREACH/LINK EXCHANGE/GUEST POSTING
Once you have your leads, it’s time to start thinking about your outreach strategy.
That’s where the hard part comes in.
Link building is a recognized SEO tactic and I’ve had over a decade to get used to it. This comes with its own benefits.
Primarily, when you reach out, you will find that it’s relatively easy to get a link to your website, as long as you provide value back.
The question becomes -- what’s the value you are able to provide? 🤔
Here are a few general tips about the best backlink outreach strategies for 2020.
Backlinking Outreach Strategies for 2020
Usually, there are a few different practices that can improve your chances.
Do you have a direct connection you can ping to help get you a link? Direct connections can go a long way.
Don't have high-ticket connections? Here's a quick guide to help you get some!
If the product or service you provide is widely recognized, reaching out to a media website in your industry with a simple inquiry might do the trick.
This will allow you to get relevant SEO Backlinks while improving brand awareness.
I’ve successfully built out backlinks in the past, just by sharing an exciting case study about how our business helped others.
A lot of websites provide the option or will allow you to post on their blog, as long as you are able to offer relevant content.
Contact the website owner and offer to write an amazing blog post. When you do, simply provide an Author's bio that includes a link to your website.
You don’t even have to include the link in the content itself. You can simply use the Author’s Bio as a leeway to your website.
Reclaiming Old Links
Sometimes, in the process of updating content, your link might have been removed from a previously linking page.
Depending on the tool you use, you should get regular updates about the status of your links.
If you notice you’ve lost a link, it’s best to check in with the previous website owner and fix the issue.
Broken Link Scouting
Another tactic that is becoming more popular is scouting for broken links on a particular website. Sometimes, high authority websites will have huge blog libraries with dozens of links.
And sometimes, these links get broken.
Finding such a link on a website can allow you to instantly provide a replacement value for that particular link.
Providing Amazing Value
You can often get SEO backlinks SIMPLY by providing amazing value on your blog. The story of Houston reaching over 100 million views on LinkedIn helped us get backlinks, just because of the sheer value it provides.
Using an Outreach Tool
Of course, there are also PR and outreach tools that can also help you land some great backlinks to your website.
If you decide to use either of these tools, simply use the training tutorials, explainers and steps provided by each tool to improve your outreach.
PR Hacking will also work. Check out my tips on how to get some awesome press for your startup!
STEP 4: ENSURE THE TECHNICAL STABILITY OF YOUR PAGES
Once you have set up your backlink acquisition and outreach process, it’s time to ensure that everything is running smoothly on your end.
In particular, there are a few rules to follow to ensure you don’t negatively impact your SE backlink rank benefits during a website update.
You can use Google Search Console and check the crawl errors section for issues with your website.
- Look for 404 Errors and Reclaim Them - If you have broken pages on your website, make sure to reclaim the links to them with 301 redirects.
- Replace 302 Redirects with 301 redirects - Having a 302 redirect tells Google that the page is moved only temporarily. This can steal traffic and authority from your website. Replace the 302 redirects with 301 redirects instead.
- Ensure your Redirect Chains - Make sure that all of the pages on your website have fixed redirect chains. Direct redirect chains refer the old page to the new one. Indirect chains have a “buffer” page in between the two pages.
Here are a few common questions and cases, alongside tips on how to deal with them.
Common Link Building Redirect Questions
Q: I have a post that a lot of people link to, but want to update my blog subdomain?
A: Use a 301 redirect from your previous blog to your new subdomain.
Q: I want to migrate to HTTPS, will that hurt my SEO backlinks?
A: No. HTTPS migration won’t hurt your backlinks, as Google doesn’t penalize 301 redirects.
Q: I want to update the URL of a blog post to increase my SEO, but it already has SEO backlinks. Will it hurt my page rank?
A: Depending on the blog CMS you are using, this shouldn’t be a problem, as the URL is automatically redirected to the new one.
Q: I want to remove an old blog post, because the information in it is obsolete. What should I do?
A: The best practice would be to create a new blog post with updated relevant information, redirect to it and contact previous website owners who have linked to this blog post.
STEP 5: Stay Up to Date with the Industry
Last, but not least, make sure to stay up to date with the industry.
Search engine algorithms and trends are always changing and what might have worked in the past, won’t necessarily work in the future.
Granted, with the growing movement towards machine learning, the natural SEO movement (where tactics meet actual benefits) is seeing great results.
Providing value, being press-worthy and building connections and relationships with people are still the best ways to do business.
Granted, you should always think about how to get a few backlinks in the process. 🦸♂️🦸♀️
And hey, if you can't get the right emails, here's a quick guide to help you extract the emails of your Facebook friends!
Stay up to date and regularly check your website, as backlinks require an active determination to help you get natural traffic to your website.
What are backlinks? More than an SEO tactic for sure!
Link building is a rollercoaster ride. It starts with a simple idea, but transitions to a network of intertwined marketing tactics.
I get it. At first, Link Building may sound daunting. 🤯
However, once you get used to it, it becomes a major part in your marketing decision making process.
Will this blog post achieve authority in the industry?
Will this marketing tactic increase my chances to get PR coverage?
Will this connection help me get authority links to my website?
All of these questions and more become a daily driver for your decision.
The reason? 🤔
It helps out! Link building keeps you up on your toes to provide the best value you can possibly create with the business or service that you provide.
Having SEO backlinks is more than an optimization tactic for ranking your website. It’s a way of thinking!