Let’s get one thing straight from the very beginning. If you care about your site SEO, you should care about Backlinks. Now, let’s debunk this mystical word that every SEO article and checklist talks about.
What are Backlinks?
Backlinks are the so called “incoming links” that are created when another website links to your website, and sends new users and relevant traffic your way. Similarly, every time you mention and add a hyperlink for vendor, venue or second photographer’s site in your articles, you are creating backlinks for them. Make sense?
Why are Backlinks are Important?
Backlinks have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. Since Google uses them for its algorithms, they are the most effective way to improve your ranking. The more higher quality, relevant websites pointing at your site, the better chances of moving up Google’s ranking ladder. Of course, with time you acquire many backlinks naturally. But if you’re like us and like to hustle and get things done – start networking to build connections and backlinks.
How Many Backlinks are good?
This depends on the amount of keywords you are targeting, on how competitive these keywords are, on your bounce rate and site optimization. Just remember, it’s not a numbers competition. Quality always beats quantity. Better have 1 trusted website referring to you, than 10 spammy ones. As these could harm your site or even lead to Google penalizing you. So aim for those that are in your interest, and those that have high domain authority. Sites like buzzfeed, reddit, whilst may not be that relevant, offer good domain authority. Also popular wedding and photography blogs within your industry will serve well to get more relevant and quality traffic to your site.
How to determine if a backlink is of high quality
As mentioned, not all backlinks will have a big, positive effect on your site. Some may have zero to negative impact. This is why it’s important to know how to differentiate. Here are a few criteria to take into consideration when estimating a backlink’s quality:
Trustworthiness – Google puts a lot more weight on trusted, popular websites as BBC, The Huffington Post or The New York Times, Wikipedia, etc. While getting a backlink from this type of sites is difficult, it will add great value to your ranking and traffic data. Here’s a fun tool to use, when you want to check a doubtful site – TrustRank Checker.
Relevance – if Flothemes is referred by a hosting provider, or a photographer who just launched his new website – that will have a lot more weight, rather than an ice cream company backlinking to Flothemes.
Traffic or Crickets? – if it’s not fulfilling its original purpose of sending traffic your way – why on earth would you need it?
Page Authority, Domain Authority or PageRank – this is an algorithm used by Google to rank your website on the search engine result pages. You can easily check any website to determine how valuable your backlink will be. Note, all sites start with zero, so take into consideration multiple indicators. Moz offers a great and useful tool to analyze sites, called Open Site Explorer.
Other backlinks correlation – interestingly enough, if you’re mentioned on the same page with other backlinks to known, high quality websites – it adds up some bonus points to your site. Since search engines “think” that your site should be valued at the same level.
How to check how many backlinks your site has
As mentioned above, the Open Site Explorer by Moz is a great tool to do a backlink analysis for your site or your friends, competitors’ sites for Free. If you’re more serious about this, you can also try out some paid tools, such as Ahrefs.
Things to keep in mind when building backlinks
- It all starts with the quality of your own product or content. Create content that people will want to share and link to. Otherwise, get your wallet out.
- Ask your happy clients to do a blog or social media post and link back to your site.
- Always link back to vendors and brands you’ve worked with. Chances are that they will share your content if they are mentioned in it.
- Try to get backlinks to various pages on your site, not just your Homepage, but also Galleries, Blog Articles, etc. Your Homepage already has more hits than any other page.
- Research. See who links to your competitors, try to connect to the relevant ones and ask for a share. Make sure to craft an engaging email and why you think they’d like to share your content.
- We don’t advise using automated plugins or tools for backlink creation.
- Also, don’t go crazy and build 100 links per week. Google will most likely label that as unnatural/unusual activity and penalize you. Recovering from such penalties takes from 3 months to a year or more.
- Never underestimate the power and growing importance of Social Media channels. The shares you get on Facebook, Twitter or G+ add great value to your backlink strategy. Don’t forget about relevant Facebook groups.
- When approaching people and companies for backlinks, keep in mind that you’ll need to offer them/their readers some kind of benefit/value along with your link – an exclusive offer or discount. And of course, “I’d love to offer this exclusive deal to your readers” always sounds better than “Can you link me in this article, it would help my SEO”. The approach counts.
- Try to get backlinks on pages with high traffic, otherwise it may get lost in the wide world webs.
Using Influencers for backlink building
Ideally, for this you know who are your top influencers. It can be clients that you’ve worked with who keep raving about your product/service/content and have a significant following. Or, it can be influencers from your industry, whom you will need to approach and probably pay or offer some freebies.
There are a few alternatives to consider:
1. Create a great piece of content, ask them to share it, with linkage to your site.
2. Feature them on your site (interview, survey, photo shoot, testimonial, etc) and have them share it with links to your site.
3. Offer them a free product and ask them to write a review about it (obviously it has to be somebody who already likes and wanted your product).
These simple 9 steps should help you analyze your current inter-linking and back-linking situation. If you have questions, leave a comment below and join the SEO for Photographers Facebook group for more tutorials, wisdom and help with your SEO and site performance.