The Work of Backlinking, Persistent and Thick-Skinned Work

I am sure you’ve read one too many articles about the importance of having a good number of high-quality backlinks pointing to your website in order to improve your website’s ranking on search engines.

Like me, I am sure you’ve either:

  1. Tried it and are frustrated with why it is not working
  2. Don’t know where to start
  3. Too embarrassed or feel awkward about it

All of the above are valid reasons and feelings. Don’t ever feel like you’re lacking anything for not having stepped up your backlinking game. It IS extremely daunting especially if you’re a small nobody or are just starting out.

So, first off, get that off your chest and remove the feeling of being inadequate or not good enough.

Image Credit: SEO and internet marketing by isuru prabath from Pixabay

Start With the People you Know

The best place to start is to ask your friends and family. Don’t be shy about asking. What’s the worst that could happen? For them to say ‘no’? Or you could provide a reciprocal link back to them. Based on my experience, there’s nothing wrong with asking your friends, family, colleagues, business partners, associates, or even clients to link to your website if they like it.

let them know you have a blog or website and you would like them to have a look at it. If they liked it or have a smidgen of scant respect for the products and services you’re offering, the link would be of immense help.

At a rough estimate though, most small businesses need 30-250 websites to link to their site in order to rank highly for 5-10 averagely competitive keywords. Whether you need 30 or 250 links, one principle is important – you need to give others a reason to link to you –

SEO Mark

Alternatively, if you have something you’re really proud of (it could be a product, service, article, or news) published on your website, show it to them and ask for their opinion.

The bottom line is this: there is a nice way to do it and there’s a pushy way. As long as you stay away from being pushy, you’re not going to lose a friend, colleague, client, or associate. Besides, I don’t think you can really lose a family member because of a link request.

HOWEVER, here’s the thing…you may want to focus on people who have websites or blogs that are relevant to your products/services/company.

An endorsement from someone who knows your business or industry is bigger than a simple link to your website from ANY website. In fact, this hackneyed practice create too many irrelevant links could devalue the authority of your website.

So, stay away from link farms. It used to work eons ago…they don’t now. In fact, you might even get whiplash from it. 

Getting the Blogger’s Attention on their Blog/Website

I know this is a peevish topic because back in the days, we used to link-spam other blogs in the comments section. This was also done to my blogs and websites, hence, at this point in time, I’ve disabled the comments sections on all my blogs.

Some (most, actually) websites and blogs choose to keep their comments open.

The first rule of thumb is not to post short, unrelated, and totally cut-and-paste comments on blogs and websites just to add a link to your website.

QUOTE: “There’s no real debate around the legitimacy of these comments – they are spam and any blogger in their right mind mark them as such.”

ProBlogger

Not only do search engines frown upon this practice now, but the puffed up comment will not do anything helpful to your reputation as an authoritative brand or company.

This requires a ton of effort, trust me. It requires reading, absorbing, dissecting, thinking, processing, evaluating, and writing the kind of feedback that hits the gong.

Example of a bad comment:  ‘Good article. I really admire your talent. Please visit my blog if you have the time and provide a link to my website‘.

These kinds of superficial comments disguised as a compliment is as transparent as glass.

Instead of being outrightly shameless of self-plugging, go for quality and connection instead. Although comments on blogs are disregarded by search engines (they’re mostly nofollow links), if you’ve written something on your own blog that you want to highlight to the blogger/writer’s radar, hit them up.

For instance, if you share the same love for food and have written about something similar in the past, letting the owner/writer/editor/blogger know and sharing the link is a good way to put you on the winning side of the equation.

Image Credit: Friends sitting around in discussion by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

From a marketing perspective, this is a tedious process. There are tools and apps out there that you can use to track down these blogs and websites. Top ranking websites probably won’t give you the time of the day but try using unique keywords and topics. Search the second or third page of the search results. Spend some time reading their thoughts, watch their videos, follow their links and really get into it, one by one.

Here’s a good article from Problogger that touches on leaving good comments on blogs you should read. 

Getting Links from Authorities

After finalizing your Google Business Page, complete with address, phone number, email and office hours, you might want to consider getting a link from your local business bureau.

However, please note that links from BBB are nofollow links which mean there’s no link juice there. On top of that, correct me if I am wrong, it is a paid link and Google might cripple your whole effort. 

If you run a blog, get your link listed in blog directories. I know this tactic goes all the way back to the baby days of the internet but it is, in my personal opinion, still worth pursuing, especially if the directory is manned by humans. You might need to pay for a link to your site but if the DA and PA of the directory are above 7, it might be worth pursuing.

How do you know which website has high Domain and Page Authority? Use these tools – SEOWeather or WebsiteSEOChecker. I don’t vouch for them or endorse them but it’s better than kicking the can down the road.

Focusing on geography is another thing I would advise people to go for these days. I know we’re living in a boundaryless cyber world today but as a business, search engines still want to know where you are most of the time, even if you’re a globetrotter. It’s no longer just SEO content and nothing else!

“You want to make sure Google does not get utterly confused with the several versions of your site and bury you in the deepest, darkest depths of the search index”

Marcus Miller, SearchEngineLand

If your HQ is in New York, then get your link up on a New York business directory. Even if they’re not a business directory, get connected to someone working in the company to see if there are things you can work out with them. A reciprocal link from a complementing business within the vicinity will help you find North when it comes to geo-based SEO. There are many blogs, websites, and directories that feature visionary companies these days and if you’re in their precinct, they’d like to know.

Donate, Do Good

I’d do this with caution. Many people can see through anything that’s pretentiously do-goody because there’s a silent inner voice asking, ‘So….what’s the deal-breaker here?’

Find an organization that you’re passionate about or a group/community of people who could do with some help. The organization can be anything from SOS Children Villages to a local old folks’ home. Really put yourself into it if you choose this route because people see through the B.S. pretty quickly.

I used to work with people who force their employees to contribute to predetermined charitable organizations and then outrageously brag all about it over social media. They made very little effort to hide the fact that it was for publicity, complete with the Managing Director handing out goodies to little kids with a plastic smile on his face.

QUOTE: “The charities of life are scattered everywhere, enamelin the vales of human beings as the flowers paint the meadows. They are not the fruit of study, nor the privilege of refinement, but a natural instinct”

George Bancroft; more quotes on charity (Forbes)

There’s nothing wrong with it if you’re a massive company that it’s Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, because it’s what people do.

But read again…corporate social responsibility.

Image Credit: For the poor, colorful signboard by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Care about it. Keep phantom self-serving mentality at bay. You MUST care about it. For example, if you’re a company selling health supplements, offer help to orphanages or old folks’ homes make sense. But if you’re a company selling automotive spare parts…well, not so much, huh?

Just take note that search engines, especially Google, don’t really like paid links. Charity, regardless of the angle we look at it, is considered paid publicity. With a deep pocket, ANYONE can pay for ANYTHING in this materialistic world. But if you do things right and really gelling with each other, link each other up with a nice blog post, a press release, or a social media shoutout.

Guest Blogging

It’s not what it used to be and for someone who has spent close to 10 years simply writing and getting the word out there through guest blogging, it’s heartbreaking…but also reality.

As with anything on the internet, as soon as people find out how things work, they’d hop on it with the zest of a rodeo rider. And then people get sick of blog pitches and Google picks up on it and everything falls into a messy pile of mushy cyber waste.

I have my reservations. Guest blogging or guest posting has been rammed into a very grey area in SEO but according to a survey done by SEMrush, more than half of the respondents say that guest posting continues to bring in the eyeballs. 

According to a SEMrush survey, 53% of the respondents said that guest posting was the most effective way to build backlinks.

Guest blogging, appearing in interviews or podcasts, or collaborative writing

So, despite my second-guessing, guest blogging still works….only if you focus on very relevant and picky websites.

If the blog or website publishes just about anything, you probably don’t want to get yourself in there and the link won’t amount to much, anyway. From here on, what we’re trying to do is to focus on quality over quantity. For instance, one backlink from CNN, Forbes or USAToday is probably equivalent to 100 (or more) backlinks from other unknown websites and blogs!

I know how everyone’s always thinking and talking about domain authority and how well the site is doing on Google SERP but if you really like the website/blog and find yourself a middle ground with a win-win result, I think it’s worth trying out, anyway.

On your list of ‘Backlink acquiring things to do‘, this should be just one of them. It’s something you do as a ‘BTW’ when you chance upon a website/blog you really like. 

Spend some time surfing the internet and check out some blogs; if you like it, hit them up with a request like ‘Hi there, I really liked your website/URL. I run a similar/complementing blog/website and was wondering if you’d consider doing something together‘.

Linking Out to Other Websites

Image Credit: SEO sign by Tumisu from GoodFreePhotos.com

I know we’re talking about backlinks here but linking out is also one of the most important (to me, anyway) on-page SEO practices. It says a lot about how helpful you want to be. 

Search engines like Google have it figured that if you’re doing some research for your writing or video, you’d be hopping around from website to website, Facebook page to Facebook page, blog to blog for research.

If you find something really relevant and interesting, a website owner would NOT be anxious or selfish about it. They’d want to be as effective as possible to their readers by providing them with a link, not just to scale the ranks.

The link not just helps your readers and website visitors but Google also picks it up and tries to figure out what the article/website is about.

Some people get pedantical about it but they might have a point. Outbound links (dofollow ones) act like votes for the website you’re linking out to. You’re accrediting the website/writer for the quality content.

Just so we’re in the clear, nofollow links are also valid but without the vote. You’re not vouching for them for reasons of your own. 

Once you’ve linked to the website in an article or blog post, it allows you to start building a relationship with the website owner or blog writer too. Send an outreach email to them to let them know that you’ve placed a link to their website and to have a look at it.

And let’s not forget about adding 1 or 2 internal links together in the mix too.

Make Full Use of your Offline Connections

This applies to articles, blogs or social media posts. If you’re working with other partners, affiliates or run an eCommerce website, chances are you’re selling your products through other channels as well.

For example, if you’re selling hand-made soap and have a business partnership with a retailer selling eco-friendly food containers, link each other up! If you have a retail outlet in the mall, link to the mall’s main website and ask them if they would like to do the same. Most of the time, they’re willing to.

For those who appear in podcasts and video interviews, I just want to make sure you’re getting maximum juice out of that appearance as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for a link back to your website or blog when the owner, writer, blogger, podcaster puts their content out there.

Even if you’re mentioned in a short interview on a college paper, local daily, or a magazine, ask for a quick plug. It’s always worth asking quickly if it was OK with them. 

As a part of the deal, you can write a testimonial on YOUR website/blog and link to them in return.

There’s Nobody Better than a Happy Customer

I’ve always appreciated businesses that ask me about my experience(s) after shopping with or working for them. Much more than the touch-and-go ones.

“There is only one boss. The customer―and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

And that’s why I think businesses should spend more time on private polls or emails asking their customers what the experience was like, regardless of the answer.

If they’re happy with your products or services, ask them if it is OK with them for you to share that feedback on your website or blog. AND for them to give your company a shoutout either with a link on their website/blog/social media accounts, or for you to publish that feedback.

Bear in mind, these are not paid posts so, you don’t get to dictate exactly what they say.

Image Credit: Good customer service, getting feedback in retail by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

The customer may not have a million followers on Instagram or Twitter but the power of ‘word of mouth’ has become even more significant as Google tries to up its algorithm these days. The way they always do almost every other month. 

If happy customer emails you out of the blue, ask them to share their experience with your product and service online. Even if they don’t have a massive following, you get a link… and a blog post that puts your company in a super positive light.

Obviously, let them know that you’ll put your muscle behind the post and promote it around.

You can always show your largesse by offering them something for free….yes, I know it’s cliche and people might give you the side-eye but if they really like what you give them (when you put a lot of effort into producing it!), they’ll link to it.

Image Credit: Summer discount up to 70 percent by Aetem Beliaikin on Pexels

Examples of things you can offer:

  • Free ebooks and guides with no strings attached like this totally-unrelated to internet marketing HIIT exercise program which won over hundreds of free backlinks. 
  • Coupons and discounts. This doesn’t always work but with happy customers, it has a higher percentage of success. Why? They’re already happy with you! You’ve crushed the first part of the battle
  • A reciprocal link after publishing their feedback and review on your own website. 
  • A post and mention on your own social media network
  • Automatically enter them into a contest

As a side note, online coupons and promo codes…you know, the ones you send in-app, via email or see on flyers handed out to you in the malls? They work only about 1/3 of the time (Walt Roloson, Wikibuy) but it’s not what you think. To the shock of the surveyors, the coupons didn’t work. They did not help the customer save a single buck because it wasn’t working. 

Think about it for a second: this means the customers felt cheated in a way. 

Contribute your Thoughts and Content in Public Spheres

This is another task you want to add to your ‘things to do while curating backlinks’; the reason is simple…people like helping people who have no hidden agenda

I once spoke to a manager running a home for mentally challenged people and I will never forget the resignation, stress, and anxiety on her face. It was a challenge as it is because many of these mentally challenged people were kids. It breaks your heart, as it is, every day. Combine that with the lack of funds, the very science-backed reasoning why only certain prescription drugs were allowed AND…the obliviousness and cluelessness of well-meaning donors and charitable people. 

For backlink acquiring, one of the things we tried doing was citing our own content (with backlinks) on Wikipedia as an independent contributor. Avoid using your company’s email address or official title because they become almost automatically disregarded and labeled as spam.  

Wikipedia may not be a reliable source of information because the volunteer project that relies heavily on donations from supporters (including me), they may contain errors and biased points of view. The errors, however, may eventually be fixed after a couple of days, weeks, or months after another editor who is familiar with the topic notices it. 

Although Wikipedia’s ranking, reliability, and authority has taken a whipping lately (they no longer automatically rank as the number one source for information by Google). BUT they’re still there because they’re like an online encyclopedia of established information and unfounded rumors. 

I personally think that investing some time to contribute to Reddit, Quora, Wikipedia, and the likes is still worth an hour (or two) of your time during the day.  

“The 1.4 billion people behind it can’t be all wrong”

Independent.co.uk

And yes, I know the references and cited sources at the bottom of the Wikipedia page are nofollow links but many are from reliable sources. To get yourself into the mix might bring you highly relevant traffic and leads.

Just don’t spend your entire day there writing up a storm. 

Conclusion

  • Don’t be discouraged and persist even if you’ve tried all those mentioned methods in the ocean of tips and tricks out there on the internet. Identify one or two of them and keep at it. Perform a weekly analysis and evaluation. 
  • Start with the people you know, including family and friends. Be nice about it and avoid being pushy
  • Try to get an endorsement from a major organization or website with good ranking and authority
  • Write insightful and useful feedback to website owners or bloggers on their comments section
  • Avoid shamelessly superficial comments or blatantly-promotional comments and linkbacks
  • Get links from your local business bureau
  • Use tools to determine the reliability and authority of a website you want to link out to
  • Focus on geography even if you’re selling internationally
  • Donate, do good, be nice; it’s modern-day CSR
  • Guest blog on very picky websites and blogs
  • Try to get a link from high-ranking websites by getting to know the owner, editor, or webmaster
  • Don’t be frugal about linking out to quality websites/pages
  • Let it spread through your offline network of friends and acquaintances as well
  • There’s really no one better than a happy customer. Get their review or link as soon as you know they’re happy with your products/services
  • Get in with those private polls to make it easy for your customers to provide you with their feedback
  • Put yourself out there; have a clear SOP or script (if you want to call it that), on how to contribute in a public sphere to people who need your help

There are so many other small-detailed ways you can actually get backlinks on the internet. Almost all of them involves some level of shameless begging (OK…fine. Asking) but it’s something people do all the time, trust me on this. 

Put up an excel file with a list of:

  1. Relevant websites that are not your competitors
  2. Partners, affiliates, co-workers, family members’ blogs, social media pages
  3. Contact them to find the PIC
  4. Get personal with them
  5. Ask nicely. You don’t want to piss them off by being pushy
  6. Insert this activity (backlinking) into your everyday to-do list and make it a habit
  7. Measure their responses and analyze your success rate
  8. Just do it. 

I wish you all the luck in the world if you’re going to give this a shot and please take it one step at a time. Pick one task and insert it into your to-do list. Within a week, it might start feeling like an ingrained part of your work-day. 

And never stop learning. Ask people about what and how they do it and put it into your list and TRY IT. 

Happy writing and marketing,
Marsha