A backlink is when another website links to your website. This is often done in blogs linking to an expert source in order to legitimise statements. Saying "chocolate makes you happy" sounds like fluff, but linking to an expert blog written by a medical researcher, physician, or psychologist provides validity. For your website's reputation, this validity also goes the other direction. When other websites link to your pages, they are saying they trust your content as valuable - which (unsurprisingly) Google cares about.
"...but linking to an expert blog written by a medical researcher, physician, or psychologist provides validity."
Backlinks are how web crawlers determine your 'authority' beyond the quality of your content. How does the search engine know if others trust your content and consider it to be an expert source in your field? Backlinks. When another website links to yours, especially to your content marketing or service pages, this adds legitimacy to your website and can increase your SERP ranking for the linked pages - along with your overall website reputation with Google.
"...this adds legitimacy to your website and can increase your SERP ranking for the linked pages..."
Authority is especially important for YMYL or 'your money your life' brands. Any website that tells people how to make personal decisions, especially regarding health or finances, must have perceived E-A-T or 'expertise, authority, and trustworthiness' to rank. Google doesn't want to propagate bad advice. As such, backlinking is an important element of earning your E-A-T.
"Any website that tells people how to make personal decisions...must have perceived E-A-T or 'expertise, authority, and trustworthiness' to rank."
Link building is the practice of creating more backlinks to your website in order to boost your page authority. The best backlinks, of course, are from organically inspired writers who find, trust, and reference your content. Creating great, referenceable content is, therefore, a pretty good initial link-building strategy, but most brands resort to outreach and partnerships to help get more links out there directed back at their best content.
"...most brands resort to outreach and partnerships to help get more links...directed back at their best content."
Link building is important because, in order to compete with highly referenced websites (and get discovered via search), organically inspired links just don't cut it. Brands need a strategy to cultivate more inbound links from other sites because Google prioritises authority so highly when determining SERP ranking.
"Brands need a strategy to cultivate more inbound links from other sites because Google prioritises authority so highly when determining SERP ranking."
Getting more backlinks is tricky business. But there are current best practices and things NOT to do (ever!).
The best ways to build backlinks are through partnerships. Partner with other businesses, influencers, and business organisations to share links between sites. The key is to make sure every single linked page is highly valuable to the reader, and that the link provides them value as well.
"The key is to make sure every single linked page is highly valuable to the reader."
For example, a wedding photographer spotlights and links to wedding venues, caterers, and florists for their nuptial-planning readers. The venues spotlight their partner vendors including the photographer with links back to each website.
A popular ancillary tactic is to join professional groups and create online profiles for your business, services, or on-staff professionals. A link to your website may naturally be included in the profile.
The worst 'accepted' way to build links is to buy guest posts in popular publications. Part of the reasoning for this is that these are typically overpriced rackets, paying hundreds to thousands for just one backlink.
"The worst 'accepted' way to build links is to buy guest posts in popular publications."
These are backlink tactics that were popular in the early days of SEO that Google has since cracked down on and penalises heavily. Never use these tactics or risk being shadow-banned from Google SERPs:
Here are some tactics your brand could be using right now to start building links and link-building partnerships:
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