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Building backlinks for your business or non-profit’s website is one of the best ways to improve your reach and expand your online presence.

If you happen to be the ‘accidental marketing person’ working your way around contentSEO, and strategy -and trying not to burnout through the process- then this article is for you.

I’ll clarify concepts that may seem foreign if you are just getting started and share 5 effective ways to get backlinks for your website.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is simply a link pointing to a page on your website. 

You have internal backlinks -which is when you link to pages within your own website- and external backlinks. In this guide, I’ll focus on how to get mentions, aka external links, from other sites.

Backlinks, when done right, are one of the essentials of SEO. They have the power to magnify your business or non-profit website’s reach by helping you build authority and expertise -and signal that to Google!

How to make the most of building links to your site

External backlinking is also called ‘Link Building’ and consists of getting incoming links from websites with, ideally, more authority than yours.

Let’s say you hosted a fundraising event. It got media coverage from a major local newspaper, and an article about your event is featured on their site with a link pointing to yours. That’s a relevant external link.

The most important trick to nail external links is these should come from relevant, authoritative websites within your niche -or close to it

Why? Because Google sees links pointing to your site as votes of confidence.

The big brother of search engines wants to show web surfers content from tested-and-tried sources. So, if a newspaper is talking about you, that’d be a good sign, right?

There’s still one more thing to consider before celebrating your brand new link…it should be a do-follow link. A what…?

Do-follow vs no-follow backlinks

It’s worth noting that all good mentions are valid. But when it comes to the technical side of building links to your website, there’s a big distinction to make.

There’s something in SEO called ‘Link Juice.’ This refers to the power of a link -aka a vouch of confidence for your site. If the link is a do-follow, it means that website is passing ‘Link Juice’ to your own website. When Google crawls the page with your mention, if their bots read a do-follow link, they’ll follow it and consider it a valid vote.

However, if the link was set as a no-follow link, then Google won’t pay that much attention to it when crawling the article. Hence, you’ve missed out on ‘Link Juice.’

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding follow vs no-follow links. Especially when it comes to comments on blog posts. Many times, when you are leaving a comment, you’d have a blank field to leave your website’s URL. Well, most of the time, those links are no-follow.

Some experts say these still have some level of importance for link building, but with Google’s algorithms changing often, it’s hard to tell. In the end, this is quite a time-consuming strategy that doesn’t produce the best results.

How to know if a website is authoritative and relevant?

Many different tools can help with this. Still, as small business and non-profits usually run on tight budgets, here are a few hints you can use to discern if you could benefit from a link from a certain site:

  • If the website looks professional, it’s updated and has relevant content.
  • You know they are an established business or non-profit, blog, educational platform, or media outlet.
  • Are people talking about them on Social Media? Can you see how many shares their content has? Are they coming up first when you look for certain words on Google?

5 Ways to get free backlinks to your site

1- Guest posting

Guest posting is one of the best ways to build your own authority by sharing your knowledge on a different website.

This strategy entails writing articles for other sites and, in return, you get links to your website. These links usually point to your home page, and 1 or 2 pages relevant to the article’s topic.

Keep in mind this is an exchange. You shouldn’t pay for links, if you do, these would have to be set as no-follow or sponsored-link. I won’t get technical here, but bottom line, don’t pay for links!

It takes time to write guest posts as you really want to provide as much value for your host’s audience. Aiming to write one guest post per month is a good start. Not all websites feature guest content, but many do it all the time!

Start by researching sites you respect within your niche and reach out to find out if you can write for them.

2- Blog collaborations

This is a quite easy and fun way to get links to your website. The trick here is to hang out in the right places -pretty much the only way to find opportunities for collaborative blog posts. Or, again, run a Google search and figure out which sites have these types of articles.

‘Collabs’ basically consist of roundup articles showcasing expertise and opinions from different authors -for example, an article titled ‘Top 10 Non-Profits to Follow in 2020.’

For a collaboration on the example above, you’d write a blurb talking about what you do, and why your business or non-profit rocks! In return for your participation, you’d get a do-follow link to your site.

3- Related content opportunities

It may take a bit of time to find these opportunities, but even if you only find a couple, these can have a great impact.

I’m talking about going through a website’s content -typically their blog- and finding content that presents an opportunity to add a link to your own website.

Imagine your project teaches people about sustainable practices. You could find bigger websites that talk about environmental practices and check their blogs.

You’ll likely find an article that relates to one of your articles without touching on the exact same topic. This means that your content can help expand their article, thus provide even more value to their audience. If you approach this strategy as value-based, then you are off to a great start.

4- Media mentions

This one simply goes back to the example I shared at the beginning of this article. Getting mentions on newspapers’ sites, or any other highly respected media can help magnify your reach ten-fold.

5- Creating amazing content

I left this one for the end because at the heart of everything you do, lies the value you provide. 

Think of great content as your wild card. If a related site sees you have superb content, they’ll likely be keen to work with you. This also relates to the importance of building connections to help lift your website.

In the end, think of building links to your website as a leg of your overall marketing strategy. Having a healthy link profile is a major Google ranking factor, so get into it as quickly as your busy schedule allows!

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