First and foremost, backlinks continue to reign supreme, despite some articles popping up over the web to suggest otherwise (spoiler: backlinks are still very important).
In fact, SEO industry studies continue to find that backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors.
When it comes to earning backlinks, there are a lot of tried-and-true methods, like guest posting. But, there are also a lot of lesser-known or underground ways that you earn links.
We’ve talked about the skyscraper technique on our blog, which is another way you can earn backlinks that you may or may not have heard of before. Backlinko’s Brian Dean used this method to increase his traffic by 457%.
You can also use the mirroring technique.
For those who are aren’t familiar with backlinks, we will first divulge into a brief explanation of what they are and why you need to think about them if you want to gain a competitive edge for your business. For those who don’t need a crash course, skim past it.
A Brief Introduction to SEO and Backlinks
It is no secret that internet language has developed and evolved as quickly as, well…the internet. Around the wide world, we have languages. Around the world wide web, there is an entirely new language to learn. It can often feel like an underground language.
Some people speak it, some people understand it, and some people have no clue how it can help them.
For those who speak it and for those who understand it, they have the advantage. They know more. They recognize how the underground language of the internet can help them build their business, bring consumers to their website, and be on the coveted first page of Google for their professional and relevant site.
For those who have no clue? Well, they are the ones who wonder why nobody is visiting their website while on the 29th page of Google.
So let’s take this opportunity to make sure you have the information you need to speak the underground language of the internet and are fluent with a few key words and concepts. Especially when talking about SEO, backlinking and backlink sources.
SEO (Translation: Search Engine Optimization)
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is an expansive topic, but it the process of getting your website to appear as high as possible in search engines. Search engines drive a lot of organic traffic to websites.
If your website appears at the top of the search engines, you’re going to get noticed. Backlinks are a major ranking factor, but more on that in a moment.
Why is this SEO important for your business?
SEO for your business is important because it allows consumers to find you when they search online. This is what helps your businesses’ website be seen on the first page of Google, not the 29th.
Here is an example of how SEO can help small businesses:
Haircuts by Harriet is a small salon in Edgemont Village, British Columbia. While being a small salon, she has invested in ensuring her salon’s website has a strong SEO presence. She has used phrases such as “Best Hair salon in Edgemont Village,” “Kid’s haircuts in Edgemont Village, North Vancouver,” “Hairstylist in North Vancouver ” on her website.
Haircuts by Harriet’s competition is the newly renovated, bright salon, three blocks away. They have new equipment, hired an expensive tttographer to take photos of their salon for their website, and have the space to accommodate double what Haircuts by Harriets can. However, they decided not to bother investing in their website’s SEO.
Which salon is visible on the first page of Google when someone searches “Edgemont Village Hair salon?” Haircuts by Hariett.
Which salon is most likely to receive the most number of new clients by referral of the internet? The client who has the stronger SEO presence: Haircuts by Harriet. How are we doing so far, good? Great. Now let’s add a new word to our internet vocabulary – backlinking.
What are backlinks?
A “backlink,” also called an incoming link or inbound link, is when another website links to your website.
In short, it signals to Google that your website must be popular or reputable if others are linking back to your content. It means you’re producing great content, which Google will reward by ranking you higher in the SERPs.
Are backlinks important to your business?
Absolutely! Backlinks are important to your business because of how they help your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking and differentiate your businesses’ website from all the others in your industry.
In short, when you rank higher, that means more visibility for your business. More visibility turns into business growth.
Here is an example of how backlinks and backlink sources on your website can help your small business grow:
Now that we understand Haircuts for Harriet has the stronger presence online because of her SEO ranking, let’s look at how her website became so highly recognized by search engines.
In addition to text on her website explaining that Haircuts by Harriet is the “Best Hair salon in Edgemont Village,” do “Kid’s haircuts in Edgemont Village, North Vancouver” and is a “Hairstylist in North Vancouver,” she also made sure her website was available on other websites.
How did Haircuts by Harriet do this?
Haircuts by Harriet made an account on Photobucket, uploaded photos of freshly styled clients to the site, and included her website domain address under each of the photos. Now another site can see Haircuts by Harriet photos, and has a link to her businesses’ website!
She signed up for about.me. A website she could create a profile for her business, explain what the salon does, and include her Haircuts by Harriet website. Now, another site has her information and links back to her website. Get it?! Back. Linking! Spoiler: you can use this to earn a backlink.
Haircuts by Harriet also registered her business with Yocale. Listing her business with yocale.com allows customers to book their appointments online. Not only is Haircuts by Harriet listed on Yocale, but it also serves as a backlink source.
The second (and perhaps most valuable) benefit to signing up for Yocale is that this backlinking site will also bring customers to Haircuts by Harriet using their booking service.
When potential clients look for nearby services in Yocale, they discover Haircuts by Harriet’s profile in their search listings. Following that, they can see the salon’s availability and book from their mobile phones.
We’re really becoming fluent now! Ready to make SEO and backlinking work for your business website? Super.
Underground Backlink Sources
1. Provide Testimonials
Testimonials are the equivalent of candy for businesses. Businesses seek them out because they know that social proof is necessary to sell their products. As such, offering your own testimonial presents a great opportunity to earn yourself an easy but highly authoritative link.
Businesses that show that testimonials are coming from real people (such as yourself) appear much more trustworthy, which is why many businesses will link to your site without even asking.
All you have to do is choose a product or service that you use a lot (or at least like), and contact them asking how you can provide your own testimonial.
Many websites even have a Testimonial page on their website, making it easy for you to submit a testimonial directly through their website.
This backlink tip is courtesy of Backlinko’s Brian Dean who says that he even goes so far as to buy the actual products because this method is that effective.
2. Locate Company Mentions Around the Web That Didn’t Link To You
Another very powerful way to earn backlinks is to find mentions of your company around the web but that didn’t link to you. All you have to do is email the webmaster with the page link and ask them to link to your site.
How To Do It:
Reach out with a friendly ‘thank you’ and then ask if they would mind also linking back to you.
You can use tools such as BuzzSumo to find who has mentioned your company name on the web. This tool will even alert you whenever someone writes about you, so you can stay on top of any missing links.
3. Backlinko’s “Moving Man Method”
When it comes to backlinks, earning links from .edu sites are some of the best. Unfortunately, they are also some of the hardest to get (this article goes into how to get .edu backlinks in more detail).
In the meantime, Backlinko’s “Moving Man Method” is another highly effective but easier method to earn links. It is similar to the “Broken Link Method, which we’ve covered on our blog before.
As for the Moving Man Method, you want to replace links to companies in your industry that have shut down, moved URLS, etc. (the Broken Link Method replaces pages that are specifically 404ing).
Then, you reach out to those webmasters and inform them of the dead link. In that same e-mail, you provide them with a link to a relevant piece of your own content that they can replace it with.
The reason why this is effective is that these dead links aren’t good for SEO purposes, which means it’s in their best interest to replace these links.
How To Do It:
To find these websites that have shut down, enter [your keyword + shut down] into Google or [your keyword + rebranded] to get started.
Then, you want to find what websites are still linking to these dead links. You can use tools like Ahrefs or Majestic Search Explorer to determine high-quality websites in your niche that are still linking to these pages.
Next, find their contact information and reach out to them with a replacement. It’s as simple as that.
4. Let Authority Bloggers Try Your Product/Service For Free
If you sell a product or service, a great way to earn backlinks is to let authority bloggers or news sites in your niche try the product or service for free.
Once you identify the authority sites, you can send an email along the lines of mentioning how you came across their site, telling them about your product and then adding, “All I would ask is if you mention it.”
Not only is this a great way to earn a backlink, but it also gives you exposure for your product or service – more bang for your buck.
Note that you have careful about what you say in your email. Specifically asking for a link or a review can violate Google’s terms. You have to hope that they consider your product or service worthy enough.
Quora is a Question and Answer website. Quora not only helps you to get content ideas but can also provide you targeted traffic (and, of course, a link back to your site). But it takes time. This is not a get rich quick kind of scheme.
You have to invest time into answering people’s questions in order to gain credibility. You more you do this, the more you will receive more views, shares, etc. Answer questions, yes, but invest time by being really helpful. Write step-by-step answers and then follow this up with a link to a relevant blog post you have written in the past.
Remember – Quora is not about building links. That means when you do link to your website, you want to ensure that you only add one link for each answer and do so naturally.
Neil Patel goes into more detail as to how to use Quora to get backlinks.
What it is: Yocale Marketplace assists people in finding open appointments with partner local businesses, matching them to service providers’ availability based on the services they want. The best part? It’s free.
Business Pro Tip:
Social media websites (ex. Facebook) also count as a back linking sources! While not as “underground” as the sites listed above, ensure your business has a Facebook Page that links to your website!
Now that you are more fluent in the underground language of the internet, we hope you understand the importance of putting effort into SEO rankings and how backlinking can differentiate your business online and increase the number of potential customers visiting your website.
Now get ready for your customers, your business is about to get a whole lot busier!