In part 1 of Taking the Mystery Out of SEO, we explored the first foundation of SEO – keywords. Keywords are what make your content discoverable by search engines and by extension, readers.
Keywords are controlled on your own website; this is part of on-site SEO. Linking to other pages within your website is also on-site SEO. Internal links help search engines understand the architecture of your information. The more understandable your website is to search engines, the better it will rank.
Building backlinks is called off-site SEO because the references to your content comes from other websites. On-site SEO is more easily executed than off-site because you do not need to depend on the endorsement of others in your industry or even your competition.
Backlinks are how you gain domain and page authority and rank. When other people link to your content, they are telling search engines that what you’ve written is a credible reference. They are citing your work to add to or validate their own information.
The more links to your pages, the more credible your content is seen to be and the higher your page ranks. If you think about this, it makes a lot of sense. Would you reference an irrelevant or poorly written source and associate it with your own company?
Backlinks, referral links, or inbound links were (and are) the source of a lot of SEO black-hat tactics. Black-hat practices are attempts to trick search engines. These practices are dying out not because people are becoming more ethical but simply because search engines have become very good at detecting when links have been purchased or traded on black-hat link networks like PBNs and pay-per-link directories.
The proper and ethical way to gain backlinks is by writing citable high-quality work and by reaching out to others in your industry or related (shoulder) industries to ask for links in a natural way. You can:
1. Ask for links (phone, email, groups)
2. Write guest posts and link back to you own site
3. Send out press releases with references to targeted content on your site
4. Create infographics
SEO Copy vs. Creative Writing
Narrative, poetry, journaling: to search engines, none of this computes (most of the time). That is not to say you can’t post poetry or fiction online. What it means is that this content is not written for SEO and will not get a lot of inbound links. If what you write is absolutely mind-blowing, yes, people might link to your work simply to endorse your creation as high-art. However, there is a delicate balance to writing good content that readers both enjoy and that answers search queries.
In summary, if you want backlinks, you must write informational content that answers questions, that is well-written and entertaining. What’s more, to achieve SEO greatness, you need to succeed at this better than any other piece of content on the web. At least that should be your aim. It’s a tall order, but if you understand SEO, it becomes much more achievable.