You don’t have to spend much time on the Internet to learn that not everyone who claims to be an expert on a given topic actually is. Taking one short trip to Paris doesn’t necessarily give someone the authority to write “The Ultimate Definitive Guide to Visiting Paris and Understanding Parisian Culture.”
The problem is, there’s virtually nothing stopping anyone from posting whatever they want online and trying to convince others (and maybe even themselves) that they’re genuine experts.
That’s why Google’s algorithm is designed to identify signs that a site’s content truly is authoritative. One way it does so is by essentially evaluating a site or page’s backlink profile.
Backlinks are links from other sites back to yours. When other authoritative publishers link to your content on a regular basis, it signals to Google that your content is valuable. This boosts your site’s rankings in search results pages. Naturally, backlinks also simply direct more guests to your site.
Luckily, improving your backlink profile doesn’t need to be costly. There are plenty of ways to get free backlinks. The following are just a few options to keep in mind.
Search the Internet for mentions of your brand, services, or products. You may need to perform several searches to find a decent number of mentions.
Check to see if the publishers of the content in which your brand and products are mentioned have linked back to your site accordingly. When they haven’t, reach out to them, asking if they’d be willing to add links. Some might ignore this request, but others may be happy to do so.
Additionally, even when a publisher has included a link to your site in a mention of your brand, click the link to confirm it works. Sometimes backlinks become “broken.” When you find a broken backlink, ask the publisher if they could fix it.
Guest blogging is a tried and true way to not only market your business, but also to improve your backlink profile.
Many digital publications and blogs in your niche may accept guest submissions. Often, instead of money, “payment” for these submissions involves permission to include a link back to your site in the content.
Again, this serves two purposes: boosting your backlink profile while also giving your brand some free advertising.
However, you need to keep certain tips in mind when submitting guest posts. Don’t include excessive backlinks, don’t waste time publishing on low authority sites, don’t keep using the same websites, and certainly don’t publish valueless content or content that’s already been published elsewhere.
Friends or others in your industry may be willing to link back to your site if you link back to theirs from time to time.
“Time to time” is an important detail you can’t ignore. Google doesn’t want publishers engaging in link schemes, one of which involves using backlinks to manipulate rankings in search results. If it appears that you’re engaging in such a scheme, Google may actually penalize your site accordingly.
Make sure those you partner with understand that you only want them to link to your site in their content when they have genuinely valid reasons for doing so. They shouldn’t add links just for the sake of honoring the partnership.
You don’t necessarily need to enter into a formal agreement with partners to develop a sort of link-sharing partnership. If you regularly link to another’s content (again, when it makes sense to do so) and share their content with your followers on social media, they might take notice. This could give them reason to return the favor by linking to your site more often.
Don’t be shy if you’re considering reaching out to podcasters to ask if they’d have you as a guest on their shows! Remember, podcasters, like business owners and marketers, also need to create regular fresh content. They can do so more easily when potential guests contact them offering to appear on their shows.
When deciding which podcasts to ask if you can appear on, naturally, you should choose those relevant to your niche. You should also confirm the show notes their hosts post on their websites after releasing episodes include links.
If they don’t, you can still potentially mention a link to your site on a podcast. This won’t necessarily have much of an impact on your backlink profile, but it will direct more attention to your site, which is never a bad thing.
This is an easy way to get a few more backlinks. It might not make a huge difference in your overall backlink profile, but it won’t hurt.
Review your social media profiles to confirm you’ve included links to your site. The main page of your profile should have a link. When it’s natural to do so, you should also link to your site in posts.
Make a point of sharing social media posts from others on your own social media profile as well. They may be more inclined to link to your site in the future if you do.
As many of these suggestions imply, one of the best ways to improve your backlink profile is to do others a favor. Some will recognize that you’re promoting their brands, and will thus be more likely to promote yours when opportunities to do so arise.
Via your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, and any other platform through which you release content, make a point of singing the praises of your suppliers, vendors, and others who you admire, whether they be bloggers, other business owners, or anyone else.
Just make sure you’re primarily mentioning those who have web presences through which they can link to your site. If they find out you’ve been promoting them, they might do the same for you.
It’s important not to forget about the basics when determining how to improve your backlink profile. When posting blogs and other forms of content, you need to emphasize providing value.
However, in this context, it’s not necessarily enough simply to provide value for your customers. You also need to stop and consider how you can potentially offer value to bloggers and journalists.
Bloggers and journalists are often expected to cite their sources when stating facts, referencing recent studies, or mentioning statistics. Thus, when publishing content, think about how you can include the type of information a journalist might cite in their own work. If the info you provide is accurate and useful, this can be an easy way to earn more backlinks.
Convincing others to link to your content doesn’t need to be a complex process in which you strive to make the right impression by linking to their content regularly. Yes, this should still be part of your overall backlink profile improvement strategy, but it’s not the only method to consider.
It’s also a good idea to simply reach out to publishers and site owners who you think might have a good reason to link to your content in the future. Find a piece of your own content someone else might find valuable, send the content to them, and ask if they’d be willing to link to it if they ever reference the content at any point.
Will everyone respond to this “cold calling” approach? Of course not. However, directly asking for backlinks is extremely easy and doesn’t require investing much time at all.
Just make sure you’re being professional and appreciative when you reach out. An email that reads “Hey, here’s a blog I wrote that you’d like. Could you link to it in the future maybe?” probably won’t make the right impression. When reaching out to someone, (honestly) praise their work, offer your content because you believe it might genuinely be valuable to them, and ask if they’d be willing to link to it in as appreciative a manner as possible, while also mentioning that you completely understand if they don’t.
This is a variation on the above that may yield a higher success rate. If you want to give someone even more reason to link back to your site, offer a service in exchange for a link. This is a low-cost alternative to simply paying for a backlinks service.
Be careful with this strategy, though. Again, you don’t want to get penalized for trying to manipulate rankings. You should only offer any form of payment in exchange for links if you know the publisher will have a real, valid reason to include the link in question. Of course, the service you offer should also be of real value to the publisher. A reputable SEO service is a better alternative.
If your business is new, you’re launching a new product, you’re organizing an event, or your business is otherwise engaging in something that’s at all newsworthy, writers may want to cover it on their blogs and digital publications. When they do so, they might also link to your site.
Press releases are very easy to write. You can find numerous templates online explaining how to draft yours. You can also find many free services that allow you to submit press releases.
Wikipedia allows users to edit and create entries themselves. When creating or editing a Wikipedia entry, users typically need to cite their sources.
There’s nothing stopping you from citing your own content as a source if you know for certain the content is accurate. For example, perhaps your business involves selling different types of lamps and lighting for commercial use. Your blog might thus feature content explaining the characteristics of different types of lighting sources. You could find Wikipedia entries on similar topics and edit them in a way that justifies adding links to your content in the references section.
Once more, blogging and creating content for other platforms is an effective way to improve a backlink profile. However, the amount of time it takes to continuously generate new content can be more time than you have.
Luckily, there’s a solution: repurposing old content.
For example, maybe you already have a video on a topic that could easily be covered in a blog post. Transcribe the video, make a few edits so it sounds more like a blog or article, and submit it to publications accepting guest posts. This allows you to create “fresh” content in a fraction of the time it takes to generate completely new content.
Platforms like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) allow reporters and journalists to submit pitches seeking sources for story ideas they’re working on. By using these platforms and replying to relevant pitches, you have the chance to submit quotes to reporters. Often, they’ll link back to your site in exchange for a valuable quote. They may even ask for a full interview, giving you even more of an opportunity to thoroughly discuss your business.
An affiliate program involves hiring bloggers and other content creators to recommend your products or services to their customers. When their recommendation yields a sale, they receive a percentage of the proceeds.
Typically, affiliates will link to your product or service pages when recommending them. Due to the nature of your relationship with an affiliate, it’s typically permissible for you to dictate which specific pages they link back to.
This will definitely improve your backlink profile. It will also potentially increase your sales.
As always, though, do your research before jumping into an affiliate marketing program. You don’t want to waste your time partnering with affiliates whose audiences don’t overlap with your customer base. True, the fact that they’re going to link back to your site regardless does mean they can help you boost your backlink profile, but to take full advantage of this type of relationship, it’s best to work with affiliates who’ll help your brand reach real potential customers.
Along with being free, many of these strategies are fairly easy to implement. Make a point of experimenting with them, but be aware that it can take some time to see the SEO benefits of a strong backlink profile. However, those benefits are very real. If you apply these tips with some patience, you’ll find that out.