What You Need to Know About Building Backlinks in 2021

Search Engine Optimisation

Close up of spider web with dew, representing the concept of backlinks.

If you’ve ever read or spoken about search engine optimisation (SEO), chances are you’ve come across terms like backlinks, search engine results pages (SERPs), domain ratings and more. It can be a lot to take in, and there’s a lot to learn – but no matter where your specialty in marketing lies, there’s no doubt that getting a handle on backlinks can put your business in good stead going forward. Let’s take a look at how.

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are simply links from one website to another. In practice, if an external website links to some of your content, you’ve earned a backlink. Pretty simple, right? Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo (as well as many other search engines) use backlinks as a metric to help determine how valuable your webpage will be to those searching for the topics you’re talking about.

Why Are Backlinks Important?

When another website links to your content, it is recognised as more valuable, relevant, and trustworthy by search engine algorithms. This increases the likelihood of your content ranking higher on the SERPs. However, it’s important to remember that not all backlinks are as valuable as each other. Search engines will also pick up on the trustworthiness and relevance of sites that are linking to yours, which can work for or against you. This is where domain rating comes into play.

The domain rating (DR) is a score that is given to a website domain based on the number and quality of backlinks to that site. The domain rating is also known as the domain authority (DA) or authority score, depending on the SEO and backlinks tool you’re using. Domain rating scores, which can reach up to 100, reflect how authoritative a site is based on search engine algorithms. Theoretically, the higher your score is, the higher your site can rank in the SERPs.

You Don’t Make Friends with (Bad) Backlinks

As we’ve touched on, your domain rating will fluctuate depending on the sites that are linking to yours. The trustworthiness and relevance of those sites are taken into consideration. The best way to think of this is like a friendship – generally speaking, you won’t become friends with people that you don’t share any common interests with. Like all friendships, mutual interests are so important.

This concept can be applied to backlinks; it can be damaging to your ranking when irrelevant and untrustworthy sites link to your content. For example, if you’re an ecommerce site that is selling laptops and blogging about technology, you don’t want a cosmetics and makeup site, or even a restaurant, linking to one of your blogs when it’s not appropriate to do so.

If you still find yourself asking, ‘yep, but why and how does any of this matter?’, we’ve got you covered. When people search for the things you’re talking about, you want them to visit your website. If you’ve built a strong and healthy backlink profile, you have the opportunity to rank well in the SERPs – the higher you rank, the more likely you will see an increase in visits to your site.

3 Great Ways to Generate Backlinks

Now that you’re (hopefully) all up to speed with the essentials of backlinks and how to build out your profile, we’ll walk you through 3 great ways to help generate backlinks. These are not the be-all and end-all of backlink building, but some areas where we’ve had success when working with a range of clients.

#1 Creating Unique and Engaging Content

This is something that we’ve found to be super valuable in helping to generate backlinks – always aim to produce content that other sites will want to share and refer to. Unique research or resources are particularly effective.

One of the most important justifications for creating unique and engaging content is duplicate content (content that is similar or exactly the same as content on other websites) can lower your website’s chance of appearing in the SERPs.

Monica Campbell, our Account Manager and Senior Digital Strategist at Clue, outlined what she considers to be some of the most important things to remember when curating unique and engaging content.

“Do your keyword research; find out what people are searching for and what they’re interested in. The link between what you’re writing and the people who are reading it is so important.

“Another thing is to write with purpose – don’t produce content for the sake of producing content. What does your target audience find valuable and relevant? What questions are they asking Google? What do they enjoy reading?”

#2 Guest Posting

Guest posting is the process of creating content for someone else’s website. This is a complimentary way to generate backlinks, because you’re able to direct traffic to your site, increase your domain rating and build the trust and credibility of your brand – all while producing content for another business. This brings us back to creating unique and engaging content – it’s the only way guest posting will work when it comes to building backlinks.

“Guest posting isn’t the first tactic I ‘d use to build backlinks. It is however a good tactic for brands getting serious about SEO. Your content should be developed and built out before you venture into this area. You want people to gain something from reading what you’re talking about and linking to. Successful guest posting will only work if your content is unique, engaging, and high-quality.”

#3 Broken Link Building Outreach

Broken link building is an effective way to enhance your backlink profile. Most articles on the Internet link to resources for further reading or attribution of quotes. These links break if something chances on the destination URL (like the site no longer exists). Broken link building involves finding sites with broken links to content that is relevant to your site and reaching out to the publisher with your content instead. While this seems simple, and the core of it is, using broken link building to generate backlinks involves building relationships and meaningfully engaging with organisations and individuals that you interact with.

“There is a rule of thumb I like to work to when building backlinks via broken link outreach. Build the relationship first before you bring up the backlink to your content. Show that you’re interested and engaged with the business before you highlight an issue with a piece of content – in this case a broken link. It’s also important to remember that other businesses are not always going to want to link to your content, which is normal... don’t take it personally.”

Backlink Building is Not Dead

Historically, doubt has been cast over the credibility of backlink building within the marketing space. This is because it’s not a victimless SEO strategy… when it’s not done properly, it can negatively affect your business. On the other hand, when it’s done right, the impact it has on the rest of your marketing activities can be powerful.

There are some great ways to generate backlinks, three of which we’ve looked at. Getting this right can help improve your organic rankings, increase your domain rating, and get your incredible content noticed by the target audience.