As we’ve discussed before, there are three primary factors that determine your website’s search engine ranking: relevancy, authority, and popularity. Relevancy and popularity are fairly easy to understand. How close does your website match the query in question, and how many people visit your website on a monthly basis? If the answers are “very closely” and “a lot,” the odds are good that your site will rank well. However, there is one other ranking factor – authority – which plays a role, and this is determined largely by backlinks. Which begs the question (at least for SEO beginners)…

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are inbound hyperlinks to your website from other websites. They are a core ranking factor for search engines like Google. Why? Because they are seen by search engines as an endorsement of sorts. Inbound links from reputable, authoritative websites are an indication that the website being linked to (i.e., yours) is also authoritative and reputable. In other words, if the New York Times or Harvard University sees your website as authoritative, Google will too. Think of backlinks as an equivalent to citations in academia; if a book is respected within its field, it stands to reason that any books which are cited within that book should also be respected. The same is true for websites.

Are Certain Backlinks Better Than Others?

Yes! For one, there are organic backlinks and paid backlinks. Backlinks that originate from ads (paid) don’t really count, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. By all means, leverage pay-per-click advertising as part of your overall marketing strategy, just don’t expect it to contribute to your organic search results. For that, you’ll need organic backlinks. However, it’s worth noting that not all organic backlinks are created equal. In fact, an abundance of backlinks from unknown or disreputable websites can actually harm your domain authority. This is intended to prevent so-called “black hat” SEO tactics.

Optimally, you should be looking for editorial backlinks from reputable websites. This includes websites from:

1. Well-known and well-respected news outlets, such as CNN or the Wall Street Journal;
2. Government organizations (including local municipalities), such as the CDC or a local chamber of commerce;
3. State and national media outlets, including magazines like TIME and television channels like NBC or CBS;
4. Colleges and universities, like Johns Hopkins or MIT; and
5. Large corporations and non-government organizations, such as General Electric or the Mayo Clinic.

The question of course is how do you get organic links from these websites? There’s no easy solution, otherwise everyone would do it, but there are a couple of strategies that can yield positive results.

Earning Backlinks from Reputable Sites

If you want any hope of earning authoritative, organic backlinks, you must first have a sound content strategy in place. Quality content begets quality links. If your website does not have quality content, other websites have no motivation to link to it. So that should be your first priority. But assuming your content is good, what should you do next? There are several options.

Share Your Content – It goes without saying that you should share your content far and wide so that it is seen by as many people as possible. Spread it via social media networks, send it out via email, and even consider publishing press releases if it makes sense to do so. As the old saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?

Grow Your Partner Network – In business, it pays to know the right people. Networking is a great way to bring your content to light, as it broadens your potential reach. With partners and peers that support your endeavors, you can not only leverage your own social channels, but theirs as well. Which means you not only benefit from organic backlinks that improve your site’s domain authority, but a larger audience too.

Become a Contributor – Many well-known media and news outlets (such as Forbes and Entrepreneur) seek out contributors to help them maintain a diverse and robust publishing schedule. Different points of view, representing different industries and areas of expertise, allow these publishers to present their readers with diverse and interesting content. As a contributor, you can market yourself, bolster your company’s reputation, and potentially earn some backlinks in the process.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that we can help your company earn reputable backlinks. If you are interested in becoming a contributor with a known publishing house, or would like assistance sharing content via online channels, EXERTUS is here to help. We have the contacts and experience you are seeking.
Do you have questions about SEO or organic backlinks? If so, download our SEO guide today and contact EXERTUS for help.