Article | June 26, 2012

Backlinks: The #1 Most Fatal SEO Oversight

By Scott Calonico, Web content manager, GFI MAX

What are backlinks and how do I get them?

Gaining plenty of backlinks into your website is a valuable part of every SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.

Backlinks are links to your site from elsewhere on the Internet. If, for example, you post an interesting and useful blog article, you may find several people link to it as recommended reading for viewers of their own sites.

How do Backlinks Help Me?

Every link to your site from elsewhere on the Web is a direct “hook” into your site that can increase your traffic. The more backlinks that exist to your site, the more traffic you should see – and this traffic provides you with exposure and potential sales leads.

In addition, the number of inbound links to your site influences the perceived authority of your site, which in turn affects your rankings in the search engines. If Google notices plenty of respectable Web sites and blogs linking to yours, they will see this as a sign that your site contains valuable and relevant information.

How do I get Backlinks?

The very best way to get backlinks is to fill your site with content that is genuinely useful to those surfing the Internet for information. If your content is good enough, people WILL link to it, often without any prompting.

There is plenty more you can do to help the process. Joining forums relevant to your business and making valuable contributions to discussions can deliver traffic to your site if you provide relevant links to articles on your website. Another tactic in forums is to make use of the fact that most forum platforms allow you to include a URL in your signature. By doing this, you’ll be including a link back to your site with every post you make.

You can also make use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to draw attention to your site. Posting new content to social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon and Digg can also prove beneficial.

After a while, a sustained effort of producing good content and ensuring it is promoted will build your traffic and incoming links organically. Slowly, this should begin to increase your position in search engine rankings.

The golden rule is to always ensure the content you provide is of genuine high quality and of help and interest to readers – if not, no amount of forum posting or social networking is going to prevent those who arrive at your site immediately clicking the “back” button.

Should I buy Backlinks?

Buying backlinks or participating in link exchange schemes was once considered a valuable and effective SEO tactic.

Google’s continual algorithm changes now appear to be penalizing sites that have bought or sold large numbers of links, so this can be a risky practice.

Although Google states that buying and selling links is in violation of their guidelines, many sites still participate in the practice. Indeed, many SEO specialists will still use this strategy as part of their service. Ensure you discuss the risks in detail if you choose to go down this route.

Ultimately, backlinks are the Internet equivalent of word of mouth. If people choose to tell others about your site via their own, traffic naturally follows. The best way to make this happen is to produce a site that people WANT to see. There are other SEO tactics, many of which are perfectly valid, but as search engine algorithms continue to get cleverer, quality will increasingly be what counts.