Of all the attributes used to calculate a website’s search engine ranking, inbound site links are among the most challenging. Organic links represent a consistently effective way of boosting SEO performance, driving extra traffic at little or no cost. Yet many people still fail to understand why backlinks on third-party websites can have such an effect on your own site’s ranking.
‘Bound for glory
Google and Bing use a variety of mechanics to calculate ranking results, and the number of inbound site links is highly influential. Search engines want to display authoritative results, and few things suggest authority like unrelated websites being willing to direct their own visitors to a specific URL. Those third-party sites could be damaging their own SEO performance by encouraging people to go elsewhere, which indicates that they believe the content they’re linking to has real value.
Of course, it didn’t take spammers and black hat marketing agencies long to figure this out. Cue overseas link farms, populated entirely with cut-price backlinks to small business sites. This displeased Google and Bing, who started applying punitive ranking penalties to both the link farms, and any sites associated with them. This restored the outbound link’s respectability, necessitating a change in the pursuit of quantity rather than quality.
Today, generating inbound traffic involves establishing authentic links on legitimate websites – a much harder task than throwing a few pounds in the direction of low-grade link farms. And although a link on an academic .ac or .edu website represents the Holy Grail, inbound links from any respectable platform will boost your own site’s Google and Bing rankings. These are some of the ways you can optimise inbound site links:
Discretion is important here since many online directories are on the spammy side. However, legitimate sites like Quora and Crunchbase often support company listings with URL links. You may even be able to build out a sponsored profile on a community site or a platform that is specific to your industry.
Create engaging, original content.
One of the best ways to earn inbound site links is by publishing informative material which people want to link to. Long opinion pieces, how-to guides, authoritative white papers, and press releases all work. This is even more beneficial if this educational content includes questions or discussion points, starting a debate.
This takes a bit more time, but infographics are among the most popular resources shared (and therefore linked to) online. You don’t need to be a graphic designer either, thanks to sites like 99Designs and Canva. Promote infographics as you would a blog, and allow people to republish it with a URL acknowledgment.
Engage on social media.
You can create links and share blogs/infographics via reputable platforms like Reddit and LinkedIn. Join in a conversation, and say “I wrote about this recently” before pasting a link to your resource. Providing the content is relevant to what’s being discussed, this is a great way of increasing inbound traffic.
Reach out to suppliers and companies you already deal with.
If you sell products and rely on a drop-shipping partner, it’s worth asking whether they’d consider reciprocal outbound links. There’s no cost involved in adding a URL to a website, but if both parties benefit, the risk of people leaving your site is outweighed by the link’s value.
Approach bloggers and influencers.
Many have forged careers out of generating online content. Promote your content to them, and offer to contribute to future podcasts, blogs, or interviews. If your expertise is relevant, these high-profile individuals often acknowledge your involvement (or offer) with a backlink.