You’ve educated yourself enough on SEO to know that backlinks are important, but you know that you do not have the time it takes to find and get quality backlinks. So you did the next best thing and hired an SEO company that promised you lots of backlinks in a short amount of time. Over the span of a few months, you get reports showing you a growth in backlinks. But you haven’t seen your keyword rankings improve. Weren’t the new backlinks supposed to drive your keyword rankings to the top?
This assumption isn’t as simple as 1+1=2. There are more details that go into a backlink building strategy than just increasing the number of backlinks. Three main parts of this process are:
- Updating your disavow file and submitting to Google and Bing
- Starting the hunt for new backlinks
- Earning the backlinks
The information below should help you have a more informed conversation with your SEO company in regards to why the new backlinks haven’t increased your keyword rankings.
Update Your Disavow File
A disavow file is a list of domains and specific URLs that you submit to search engines telling the search engine that you do not want certain links associated with your website. At its core, creating a disavow file is like doing spring cleaning for your website. It gives you an opportunity to throw away the stuff that is irrelevant, keep the valuable stuff and provide an idea of how many backlinks your website actually has.
If backlinks are so important, why would you ever want to “throw away” some of them? The simple answer is that not all backlinks are created with equal value. The value of a backlink comes from how relevant that backlink is to your business, as well as the Domain Authority of the website that is linking to you.
So, for example, if you’re a personal injury attorney and saw the following URLs in your backlink profile, which one would you add to your disavow file?
If you’re a plastic surgeon and saw the following URLs in your backlink profile, which one would you add to your disavow file?
If you are a dentist and saw the following URLs in your backlink profile, which one would you add to your disavow file?
Finally, if you’re an ophthalmologist and saw the following URLs in your backlink profile, which one would you add to your disavow file?
It should be pretty obvious that the second URL in each of these cases is the one that should be added to the disavow file. In some cases it isn’t this obvious, and you’ll have to check out the URLs and go to the website to verify if it’s something relevant to your business. This digital spring cleaning should be done at least one time per year to keep your backlink profile manageable.
Hunt for New Backlinks
Now that you’ve cleaned up your backlinks, you have to go out and gain some more like your SEO company was supposed to. Before Google started catching on, many SEOs added their clients’ URLs to backlink farms. This would raise the overall number of backlinks, but this approach rarely ever gains valuable backlinks for websites.
Over time, Google took notice of these practices and started to devalue websites with poor-quality backlink profiles. However, link farming still goes on at a smaller scale. This is why it’s important for you, the business owner, to be involved as much as you can and ask questions whenever something isn’t clear.
At Page 1 Solutions we’re very transparent in our efforts to gain backlinks. We always communicate what specific backlinks we’re trying to get for our clients.
If you’re thinking “where do I start” when it comes to gaining new links, there are a couple of tools you can use to scan competitor sites and see what backlinks they have that you don’t. Use a tool like Ahrefs to get a list of backlinks that your closest competitor has. Then compare that list with the disavow sheet you just submitted and see what you’re missing. This will give you a quick starting point with a list of links to go after so you can be on par with your competitors.
Get the Backlinks
This may seem like the easiest step, but it’s probably the hardest. Once you’ve identified a list of links that you want to pursue, some may need to be purchased and some will require organic outreach. One backlink stereotype is that any backlinks that you have to purchase are automatically bad, but this isn’t true.
Some backlinks come in the form of directory listings. For example, Martindale-Hubbell is a high-authority site for attorneys, but the only way to get a backlink is by becoming a member and paying a monthly or annual fee. This investment is worth it not only because of the high Domain Authority, but also because people search for attorneys using the website’s “Find an Attorney” tool; you want to make sure you have a presence.
Most backlinks will have to be gained via organic outreach, which involves reaching out directly to the webmaster of the site and starting a conversation to see if you can get a backlink. The best way to approach this is to offer something of value to the site you’re reaching out to. Maybe you have an excellent content piece that would be useful to their audience. If the webmaster agrees to link to that content piece on your site, you earn a backlink.
One somewhat sneaky backlink approach is to search for broken links on a site you know you want a backlink from. There are broken link checker tools out there that you can plug into your browser which makes the process quick and easy. If you find a broken link that you can replace with a link to your site, use that as ammo to reach out to the webmaster. Let them know you found a broken link on one of their pages and offer a link to your website to replace it with. Your message is well intended because you’re cleaning up an error on the site.
These are just a few tips on how to approach the art of link building that you can use yourself or challenge your SEO company with when you have the conversation around the increased backlinks and lack of keyword rank increases.
If you want a second opinion on your current search rankings with an objective SEO audit, please contact Page 1 Solutions at 800-368-9910.