A Startup's Guide to Backlinks (And Why They Matter So Much!)

Remember last week, when you checked up on your site analytics and noticed a visit from a “referring site?” Upon further investigation, you determined that someone had mentioned your startup in an article about emerging technology and had included a link to one of your landing pages. Cool, huh?

backlinks point to your startup's website from all over the internet, but it matters which sites are linking.

That was a backlink, and there’s a strong case to be made for spending some of your marketing time and energy on building more of these.

There is no better way to strengthen your SEO, attract new site visitors and eyeballs for your content, and start elevating your authority in the ever important eyes of Google.

Backlinks: the basics and why you should care

Simply put, a backlink is a link on another site that points back to a page on your site. For example, when you write a guest blog post, any links you put in your author bio or include in the piece itself (this is a great technique we’ll talk more about shortly) that takes viewers to your About page, or a product landing page, or a signup page for your next webinar—those are all backlinks.

Now, as for why any of this should matter enough to take up your valuable startup time and energy, there’s a bit more to that story.

Google has always given a lot of power to backlinks; however, a few years back they started changing things up. Gone are the days when you could post a blog on a throwaway domain and stuff it full of backlinks to your main site. This sort of activity now counts against your SEO and can hurt your authority as well. That said, there are still three ways quality backlinks can help:

1. Indexing

For people to find you via Google, Google has to find you first. To do this and keep up with the onslaught of new domains coming on line every day, they employ what are called “spiders” to crawl the internet searching for new sites. They then index everything they find, meaning they now have a record of all the content on your page and a marker telling them what’s there already so they can identify new content when it goes up.

The fastest way to convince Google to index your site and raise your status at the same time? Quality backlinks. Reach out to industry leaders and see about doing a guest post on their blog. List yourself with the leading directory sites for your sector. Be sure your Yelp page is up-to-date and has appropriate links. Each of these will increase your authority and the speed with which Google finds and indexes your site, which will, in turn, further increase your SEO pull overall and put your site in front of more searchers.

2. Authority

You know that old saying, “you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep?” Authority is basically the 21st-century internet version. The more backlinks you collect from authoritative sites, directories, blogs, and so on, the more credibility your own site will develop.

It’s this credibility that will give your site authority in Google’s algorithms, further enhancing your SEO pull and getting you yet more eyeballs on the SERPs (search engine results pages). And as Google goes, so goes the rest of the internet. Meaning that as your authority rises, your site will develop more SEO pull from other directions as well.

3. Traffic

It’s a vicious cycle, where the more authority you build, the more traffic you’ll get, which builds authority, and around, and around again. This is all a long game alongside other content marketing tactics. However, it’s a long game that has the potential to drastically increase your SEO, pull in eyes that will convert to customers, and in the end cut your marketing costs as you’ll have a constant stream of organic leads coming in.

One key point to highlight—you’ll notice each of these entries are things that “help” SEO? Backlinks won’t do any of these great things without backup from things like general site optimization, pillar pages, and of course killer content that keeps your audience engaged.

Key backlink tactics to remember

  • Keep your audience top of mind. They will always matter more than the search engines.
  • Directories can be awesome resources. Just don’t go overboard. It’s easy to slide sideways into link stuffing territory, and you do not want to be on that list.
  • Don’t neglect social media. Not only is it the best way to interact with and engage your audience, but it’s also a fantastic way to build backlinks. That link in your Twitter profile? Backlink. Instagram profile link? Yep, backlink.

The keys, as always, are consistency and quality. Don’t alienate your burgeoning follower base by spamming their timelines or stuffing links everywhere you can. Sales-y pitches don’t fly. Post quality content, in a variety of places, with strategically placed links to the right landing pages and watch the organic visits grow.

Don’t forget to post on a regular schedule. Automation software can be a huge help with this one, so your followers will know precisely when to expect new witty and engaging content (with appropriate links, of course!).

Perhaps the best backlink building tool ever: blogs

This is so important, it gets its own section.

Blogs are perhaps the single best way to go about building backlinks to your startup’s website. You’re new to the industry, heck, you’re new to the business world in general. That means you have some catching up to do in terms of online presence, being known around your sector, and making a name for yourself. And despite some ill-founded rumors, blogs are not dead. In fact, they’re making a comeback in a big, big way.

There are two ways to go about this. First and most importantly, you need to get your own company blog up and start filling it with informative, engaging, and most importantly trustworthy content. Write about your industry, your niche within that industry, and how your product will solve your audience's problems. Don’t write too much about your product itself at this stage. Remember that comment earlier about sales-y pitches not flying with consumers today?

As you post more and more quality pieces, you’ll start to have clumps of content on similar topics. That means it’s time to create a pillar page where you bring together that information in one definitive guide. Then you backlink from that pillar page to each blog piece that’s related, and from each piece to that pillar page. Congratulations, you’ve just created a topic cluster! And Google loves these for authority building, not to mention giving you more pages to link to.

The other option is to write guest posts on blogs scattered throughout your industry. These give you several great opportunities to up your SEO pull:

  • By linking to your blog from your guest author bio
  • By linking to a couple of key pages from the piece you write
  • By submitting posts for high ranking, authoritative sites in your industry

All of these give Google some great fodder for how trustworthy and credible you are, further improving your authority and leaving some excellent backlinks in the process.

Backlinks are a powerful tool that every startup should be putting effort into. They’re an easy way to quickly draw more viewers to your new website, they leave a breadcrumb trail from other top sites in your industry so people can find their way to your site organically, and they help build authority for your site.

That last one is a long game, but it’s one with the potential to have dramatic results for your site going forward. The stream of organic site visits will only grow, and some number of those visits will be potential leads just waiting to convert.

Unlocking Growth Guide Inbound Marketing

Jesse hails from Seattle, Wa. When he’s not creating great content, or staring at his laptop screen waiting for inspiration, he’s probably walking in the trees somewhere in the foothills of the nearby Cascade Mountains.

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