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?

Startup Backlinks

That was a backlink, and there's a strong case for spending some of your marketing time and energy building more of these.

Why Do Backlinks Matter?

  1. 98% of search engine traffic comes from organic search results. If you want your website to be found by potential customers, you must ensure it ranks high in search engine results pages (SERPs). Backlinks are one of the most important factors that Google uses to rank websites, so building backlinks is essential for any startup that wants to be successful online.

  2. The average website with 100 backlinks receives 50% more traffic than one with Zero backlinks. This shows that even a few backlinks can make a big difference in website traffic.

  3. A study by Backlinko found that the top 100 websites have an average of 3.8 million backlinks. This shows that the most successful websites have a considerable number of backlinks.

  4. The quality of backlinks is more important than the quantity of backlinks. Having a few high-quality backlinks from reputable websites is better than many low-quality backlinks from spammy websites.

  5. Backlinks can take time to build. It is essential to be patient and consistent when building backlinks. It may take several months or even years to see the full benefits of backlinks.

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 leading site. This activity now counts against your SEO and can hurt your authority. 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 online daily, they employ "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 to identify new content when it goes up.

What is the fastest way to convince Google to index your site and raise your status simultaneously? Quality backlinks. Reach out to industry leaders 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 the 21st-century internet version. The more backlinks you collect from authoritative sites, directories, blogs, and so on, the more credibility your site will develop.

This credibility will give your site authority in Google's algorithms, enhancing your SEO pull and getting you more eyeballs on the SERPs (search engine results pages). And as Google goes, so goes the rest of the internet. Your site will develop more SEO pull from other directions as your authority rises.

3. Traffic

It's a vicious cycle, where the more authority you build, the more traffic you'll get, which builds authority 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 increase your SEO drastically, 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 these great things without backup from general site optimization, pillar pages, and 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 fantastic resources. Just don't go overboard. It's easy to slide sideways into link-stuffing territory; 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. Is 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 various 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, 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 best way to build 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 regarding the online presence, being known around your sector, and making a name for yourself. And despite some ill-founded rumors, blogs are not dead. 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 company blog up and start filling it with informative, engaging, and trustworthy content. Write about your industry, niche, 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 related blog piece and from each piece to that 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

These give Google some great fodder for your trustworthiness and credibility, further improving your authority and leaving some excellent backlinks.

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

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

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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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