You'll have more linking opportunities in 2021 because new media channels and innovative content formats have emerged. But there's more competition for those backlinks, and search engines use ever more sophisticated algorithms. We'll look at the six best ways to take advantage of those opportunities, beat the competition, and satisfy those search engine algorithms.
It all started with RankDex, and an algorithm invented by Robin Li, which indexed web pages on the basis of their interlinking structures. RankDex inspired the link-based search engine Google, created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. This new generation search engine was far superior to existing text-based and keyword density-based search engines at the time.
Robin Li went on to create the largest Chinese search engine, Baidu, and Google built an empire by adding elements to its already successful search engine.
So, it's all about links, but how do you get them?
Overview: What is a backlink?
A backlink is a link from a website pointing back to your website, hence the name. We distinguish between internal links, connecting pages within your website, backlinks pointing from other sites toward yours, and outbound links pointing from your website to other pages.
When building backlinks, we distinguish between dofollow and nofollow links. In the HTML code, links are by default dofollow, so only nofollow requires coding.
They can be designated as either nofollow, UGC, or sponsor. All three are believed to have the same effect on ranking: none. However, they allow search engines to better understand the nature of a linking relationship and tell them if you paid for a link, or didn't code it yourself.
How do backlinks benefit your SEO efforts?
Since links are at the core of modern search engine algorithms, they are essential for SEO. Here' how they affect SEO:
1. Backlinks ensure your site is crawled
You don't need to submit your site to search engines anymore. They will find your website as soon as they crawl a site linking to it.
2. Backlinks increase your page strength
Perhaps the most important effect of backlinks for SEO is the way they're interpreted as an indication of importance, or strength of the page they point to. The stronger the page that points to your site, the more power, and hence ranking potential, your page will receive.
3. Backlinks can provide topical proof
As algorithms evolve, the nature of links is increasingly taken into account. When a strong page within a certain topic or industry points to your site, it transfers some authority on that topic to your page, giving it a higher potential to rank for keywords related to that topic.
4. Backlinks can even drive traffic
We tend to almost forget, but links are created for users to click on. They can generate traffic. Backlinks from strong pages, which drive traffic and perhaps even use the right keyword in the anchor, are what most SEOs dream of at night and value most.
6 ways to get more high-quality backlinks
When you work on backlinks, use a great backlink tool to help you identify obstacles, opportunities, and estimates of the relative difficulty of these links.
Let's look now at some ways to get backlinks.
1. Lost opportunity
Let's get this one off the list quickly, if you haven't already done it. If your site has been around for a while, or if you've installed major updates, such as domain name changes or a new CMS, you may find non-functional backlinks caused by those changes. Run a broken links report with an SEO tool, or check your logfiles for 404 errors to find them and get them fixed.
In 2021, you can extend that idea by looking for non-linked brand mentions which could be changed into dofollow links. You can also do this by soliciting the author of articles and sites mentioning your brand but not linking to you. Check for typos and misspellings both for your brand and for your URL.
2. The best links to your competitors
Backlinks tools can work from your keyword lists and identify inbound links to your main competitors but not to you. Those are straightforward lists to work through to identify low-hanging fruit for which you can request links. This technique is still valid in 2021, but depending on the speed at which your competitors advance, you could be playing catch up.
3. Fast on the news
Building up your business intelligence to be the first to identify trends and document and share them via website and social channels can be a valid content-driven link building strategy in 2021. The key is to be first with the news and to share it quickly and widely. This approach generates links that are organic, dofollow, and of high quality, although sometimes valid only for a limited time.
4. Content for reputable sites
Guest blogging, or creating custom research or data for a reputable site in exchange for recognition, will be an interesting strategy in 2021. Linking clauses can be written into a partnership agreement as a separate item of recognition, or you can simply submit content for blogs in exchange for recognition via links to the author.
5. Digital PR
Digital PR, or the process of creating outstanding content and sharing it widely via outreach online and offline, can produce massive SEO success. As with traditional PR, every story won't fly, but the ones that do strongly compensate for the ones that don't. It may be one of the best performing off-page strategies in 2021, and it's risk-free.
6. Your CEO on video
Video is booming. Even CEOs have gotten used to Zoom. Take the next step and have your CEO produce live videos to post on your website. Talk about valuable and linkable content!
Backlinks go to outstanding content first
In 2021 more than ever, you need to create meaningful connections to get the highest-impact backlinks. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated, and the best backlinks result from outstanding events, content, and press coverage.