Backlinks are links that originate from another website that link back to your website. Backlinks are also referred to as "incoming links" or "inbound links" and are an important factor in your SEO strategy.
Backlinks from reputable sites are good indicator to the search engines that your site is 'worth a visit' as a backlink is effectively an 'endorsement' or 'vote of confidence' from the originating website. Simply put, the more backlinks you get, the more important the search engines think your website is and are therefore more likely to give your pages a higher rank in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Before you even consider requesting a backlink from another website, you need to make sure that you have something worth linking to. Some examples of "link worthy content" are 'How to' articles, 'Industry', 'Brand' or 'Product' specific articles, 'Newsletters' and rich media content, such as 'Videos'. The primary objective here is to provide perceived value to the website your requesting a link from.
Another approach that can work well is to offer something in return - something along the lines of a free trial, or a product for evaluation etc. Another means by which you can attract inbound links is to create some kind of competition, which could be promoted on the website you're wanting to earn a link from. This can work really well if there's a mutual benefit or complimentary product or industry. E.g. Get a backlink to your Car dealer website from a local Car valeting company website with a mutually beneficial competition, such as a '£500 deposit contribution and a free Valet on all used cars in January', for example.
It's assumed that you know who your competitors are, but how much do you know about their link strategy? This is where competitive research comes into play - it's a big part of any successful link building strategy, and its good to assume that those competitors are scrutinising your strategy also. Build and improve your backlink strategy to to stay ahead of the game and outrank your competitors on the search engine results pages.
In the good old days, a reciprocal link (where websites link to each other) was a positive signal in SEO. In more recent times, however, depending on the nature and quality of the linking websites, there's a risk that some reciprocal links can be flagged via the various algorithms that this is simply a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" strategy. If there's no perceived value between the links, it can actually work against you in your SEO efforts and even drop your position in the SERPs. Do your research and proceed with caution.
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