While there are 200 known Google ranking factors, backlinks count as one of the most important for Google search.
That’s because a link to another website is more than just a link — it’s a vote of confidence, a recommendation, a way for publishers to say to their readers: “Here’s a source I trust. Go check it out yourself.”
It’s incredibly difficult to get that kind of endorsement, especially for small businesses or startups. But if you want to boost your SEO performance, you need to make sure you consistently earn high-quality backlinks to your website, better and faster than your competition. It also shows readers where your company falls concerning other brands — and reminds readers that there is, in fact, a human behind the screen. Backlinks can demonstrate a relationship between two sites and how each site is working to help the other grow.”
“Plus, backlinks help readers get the highest degree of information that answers their questions.”
Keep in mind, though, that not all backlinks are created equal. If you think of a backlink as a vote of confidence, it only makes sense to also evaluate the credibility of that vote.
In the past, tactics such as link farms, PBNs, and comment spam allowed black-hat SEOs to create vast backlink profiles and successfully game the system. However, these black-hat link-building techniques no longer work because Google has gotten savvy to them. Too many “unnatural” links may even earn your site a penalty.
In other words, quality matters as much as quantity when it comes to backlinks.
Earning High-quality Backlinks is probably the most challenging part of SEO. You’ll want links that are:
Authoritative – The site has a standard backlink profile (many votes of confidence), generates a lot of traffic, and even ranks well in the SERPs itself. In addition, .gov and .edu sites tend to carry more weight, as do industry-leading sites.
Relevant – The referring page tackles a similar topic or niche. e.g. If your technology company’s homepage gets a backlink from a blog post on “how to golf,” this would not be seen as a relevant or quality backlink.
Unique – You will get an edge if the site refers to you but does not refer to your competitors. Otherwise, the backlink may be good to have, but it’s table stakes.
Natural – The link is not sponsored, the anchor text is not branded or spammy, and the referring page has a natural number of links on it.
For a real-world example of a company that utilized these backlinking rules to rise to the top of the search pages, check out our video case study on Glassdoor.
As an SEO strategist specifically focusing on link building at HubSpot, I’m no stranger to the challenge of finding high-quality sources that will link back to your site. To help you improve your company’s SEO ranking, I’ve cultivated this list of creative and unique ways to earn backlinks.