What are backlinks? What’s so special about them and how can they help improve your website’s SEO?

As you know, if you want to get clients for your online store, you need to work hard on your SEO.
But SEO work can seem like a never-ending chore. 
You’ve searched for all the keywords, optimized your content and product cards – and now, on top of all that, you’ve read that you also need backlinks.
However, it’s not easy to wrap your head around this whole new concept since all the pages you read are full of strange jargon: link building, link juice, domain authority
Is it really necessary to make things so complicated?
Well, it is if you want your online store to generate sales. 😉
But don’t worry too much about it – if you have any doubts about links, we’ll be sure to give you a hand in this article.
Here you’ll learn:

All this is explained very clearly and in easy-to-understand terminology.
You’ll understand everything to perfection sooner than you think! 😉

? What are backlinks?

If you’re not an expert in digital marketing, you may be wondering, “What are these backlinks all about?”
It’s fairly simple: They’re links pointing to your website from another one.
For example, when someone publishes the URL of your homepage or some of your products, they’re giving you backlinks.
Right, so are inbound links really that important for SEO?
Sure they are – but less and less. 😉
As Google’s algorithm develops, it awards more importance to the user’s experience on a given website and less importance to its backlinks.
This doesn’t mean they’re useless, however – quite the opposite, actually.
But you should only try and get more links once you’ve made sure your website offers convenient and intuitive navigation.

✅ 1. The importance of backlinks for SEO: A question of authority

So, what do inbound links have to do with the SEO of your e-commerce?
To put it simply, backlinks help your website gain more authority in Google’s eyes.
Authority is a score the algorithm awards your website based on different factors. The greater your authority, the easier it’ll be for you to reach the top spots.
And one on the factors affecting authority has to do with the backlinks you get.
Here’s an example:
Say you’re looking for a shoe store and all your friends recommend going to the same one.
You trust them, so you’re sure this shop will give you whatever it is you want. If all your friends agree, there must be a reason.
Something similar happens with your website. When somebody inserts a link to your site from their own site, they’re telling Google they trust you.
That is, part of that website’s authority is transferred to yours. 
But here’s where things get tricky, because not all kinds of links give you authority. 😉 

✅ 2. What kinds of backlinks are there?

In general, all links are divided into two main types: follow (or DoFollow) and NoFollow.
Why should you know this?
Because Google behaves differently depending on which type it is.
Let’s see how:

  • DoFollow: All links are DoFollow by default. When Google’s tracker finds one of these, it follows it through to discover the page it leads to. These links do give you domain authority.
  • NoFollow: Generally speaking, trackers don’t follow links labeled as “NoFollow”, so they don’t affect your domain’s authority. Posts on social media or forums are usually set up in such a way that their links are automatically labeled as NoFollow.

Does that mean you should only be concerned with DoFollow links?
No.
Google would find it a bit weird if you only got one type of link. 😉
NOTE: If you’d like to implement this thoroughly on your website, we suggest leaving it to an SEO expert. Otherwise, you’d be risking it, as Google may spot something strange and could even penalize you.
For the time being, you just need to know about these two types of links and why they’re different.

NOTE: Starting March 1, 2020, Google no longer uses NoFollow links as a rule, but as a suggestion. This means they have the same value, but Google’s spider will follow them and will index the page they lead to. We still don’t know the consequences this change may trigger in terms of the positioning of the page inserting a NoFollow link and that of the page receiving it.

? How to get high-quality backlinks for your SEO strategy

We’re now approaching the subject you’re most interested in: “How do I get backlinks that help me position my shop on Google?”
Not to worry – we’ll share some tricks with you very soon.
But you should bear something in mind first: You only want quality links
And what does that mean?
There are many factors to take into account, but there are two that are particularly relevant in this case:

  • The authority of the site containing your link: The more authority the other site has, the more you’ll get. If you don’t know how to distinguish them, think of popular websites in your sector or domains with the extension .gov or .edu (universities, public institutions, etc.).
  • The topic: It’s always best to receive backlinks from websites in your sector. For example, a garden center would benefit most from links coming from gardening blogs or similar businesses.

Now you know the types of backlinks you should try to get, so let’s have a look at two ways of getting them – link baiting and link building.

✅ 1. Getting quality links through link baiting

 “I already spend loads of time on improving the content of my online store. And now you’re telling me I have to start looking for links?”
No, you don’t. 
Link baiting only requires you to keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing: creating quality content.
The idea, however, is to create something so good that people provide a link to it without you even asking for it.
This way, the backlinks you get are much more natural and you don’t have to worry about being penalized by Google. 😉
Sound too hard to get? Don’t worry, here are some tricks:

  • Publish evergreen content: We’re talking about articles with content that never gets old. For example, if you own a photo studio, you could write a guide on the way DSLR cameras work since this information will be true for a long time.
  • Use infographics and videos: Multimedia content, and particularly these two types, is typically the most widely shared.
  • Create megaguides: Megaguides are a frequent element in inbound marketing strategies. This type of content is usually more useful when trying to get backlinks.  
  • …and lists: another classic that never disappoints. The typical articles named “The 10 best…” work pretty well because they’re specific and easy to read.
  • Generate debate: Sometimes, writing about a polemic issue with multiple opinions is a good idea as well as inviting users to give their own.

But the most important thing is to get more visits to your article.
If no one sees it, no one provides a link to it.
That’s why it’s important to search for keywords before starting to write, as you should use the post to address a specific keyword.
And once you’re done creating the content, don’t let it stagnate – share it on social media.
On another note, if you run out of inspiration to create new posts, don’t forget content curation is a good source of ideas.

✅ 2. Link building: Creating links

In contrast to the previous method, link building lets you “create” links to your website.
There are different ways of doing it, but here are some of the most effective ones: 

  • Guest articles: Look for a well-positioned website within your sector and offer to write a post on it. Contact the site’s administrator and suggest a couple of topics you can write about and think are of interest to their audience.
  • Mentions in the press: Appearing in the press gives your company good visibility in and of itself, but if the text of that news article also links to your website, you’ll also gain lots of authority.
  • Comments on forums and blogs profiles: More often than not, these are NoFollow links, so you won’t gain much authority. However, they’ll still help you keep a health backlink balance and increase your visibility.
  • Social media: Apart from being a good sales channel, social media can also become part of your link-building strategy as another source of NoFollow links.
  • Directories: Business directories are a habitual source of backlinks. Mind you, take a look at their domain authority to make sure they’re not link farms. This strategy can prove really useful to boost the local positioning of your website.
  • Mentions: Have you activated Google alerts to be notified when your website or brand name get published on another website? If that’s the case, you can double-check these notifications to see whether your website is properly linked and, if it isn’t, email them so they know.

Working on your SEO through link building is risky – if you get lots of links overnight, Google will realize they’re “artificial” and could penalize you.
That’s why you should rely on an SEO professional that can assure that your link profile looks natural in Google’s eyes.

✅ 3. Bonus: Always check who’s providing the link to your website

Striving to get links will be useless if you don’t check on them every now and then.
Under the heading “Links to your Website” in Search Console, you have a list of all your backlinks and the sites they come from. 
However, this tool doesn’t give you any information about the authority of those sites.
The quickest, most effective way to do that is with a link-auditing tool such as Ahrefs, Semrush, or Majestic.

? Already incorporated backlinks into your SEO strategy?

Now you know why it’s so important to work on external links to rank higher on Google and how to get them.
And if you’re still unsure about the type of content you can create for a link-baiting strategy, check out this guide on content marketing we published in our blog.

Start working on the ideas we’ve given you and see just how much ground you can gain on the competition. 😉