Backlinks — those friendly little links to your own site from external sites across the Web — have long been a mainstay of successful blogging, high-traffic e-commerce, and the perennially vital search engine rankings. For years people have looked to backlinks to improve their sites; unfortunately, this has led to a lot of poor backlink usage among the masses.
To stand out from your peers (and dodge any unexpected penalties), you need to practice backlinks the right way. Here are six tips for activating solid backlinks in 2014.
1. Focus on specifics, not general SEO
It may be tempting to pick a particular topic (cats in hats!) and focus all your efforts on generating backlinks for that one topic that will bring readers to your home page. But this could be dangerous for several reasons.
Your home page is rarely the best place to link to; specific blog pages or product pages are much more reader-friendly. These also allow you to create a variety of interesting backlinks instead of focusing on the same topic or anchor text over and over, which is ultimately unhealthy for a website.
2. Aim for natural links
The best backlinks are the ones that make sense . Many web professionals know this but have trouble putting it into practice.
Excellent backlinks do not spring from directories or article depositories. While those may help to increase your rankings and visibility, real traffic and fans find your site through related media.
So pursue backlinks through a community of like-minded bloggers, or sites that deal with similar topics; or develop links from sites that work in the same market or industry.
3. Make backlinks official
If you have an online business, try writing press releases in 2014. Press releases are a more official style of news announcement that can be optimized and shared (with backlinks) on many channels that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as prweb.com and others.
4. Keep up with backlink trends
This point calls out lazy backlinking and ignorance about shifts in ranking criteria. Read up on backlinks every few months to make sure you’re still doing them right.
This will help you in several ways. First, you’re likely to find new sources for potential community and backlinks. Second, you will keep on top of any new web-ranking trends, or changes in search engine algorithms that treat back links in a different way from what they did before.
5. Be relevant
Yes, arranging for useful backlinks and making sure your links appear in comments and article directories is important. But this is no reason to settle for fluff.
Get better pagerank scores by sifting relevant information, picking interesting articles or blogs, and making real comments that add something to the general discussion.
Don’t settle for cheap excuses to paste your links everywhere.
6. Don’t overflow
When in doubt, avoid a frenzy of backlink activity. That will inevitably reduce the quality of your links and encourage search engines to conclude that your website is spamming.
Not every single page or bit of information needs lots of backlinks. Similarly, questionable ads or cheap comment backlinks will also work against you.
When in doubt, take it out, and focus on only the most reasonable, interesting back links; in short, the kind you would want to visit yourself.