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When researching how to create backlinks to your site, you might feel like there is an overwhelming amount of strategies to explore. While link building can be a complex, time-consuming process, the first and most crucial step is having high-quality, value-driven content on your site that’s worth linking to.

As link building experts, we’re dispelling the myths about “creating” backlinks and shedding light on the interconnected relationship with good content.

Understanding the Backlink Basics

Imagine it’s Saturday night, and you want to try something new for dinner. Instead of picking a random restaurant, you Google reviews, check Yelp and text friends for input. With their stamp of approval, you make your selection and enjoy a delicious meal.

Just like the endorsement for a good restaurant, backlinks are a recommendation from other websites that increase your standing with search engines. When websites link to each other, it signals the validity and value of their content, thus “digitally vouching” for the web page. This process helps your content surface on a SERP (search engine results page) and ultimately improves your ranking and visibility. 

As Ahref’s explains in their article on ranking higher, “build more high-quality links to your page. It’s as simple as that.”

The Different Types of Links

Before we dive into how this process works, it’s important to understand three key terms you might come across in your research and planning:

  • Internal link: A link on your web page that leads to another piece of content on your site. This does not qualify as a backlink and will not necessarily help increase your search rank. However, these links are useful when focusing on increasing engagement and decreasing bounce rates. Effectively internal links also boost overall SEO (find out why in this Yoast guide). 
  • External link: A link that directs from your page to a different, yet relevant website. Technically qualifies as a backlink for the site that you linked to. 
  • Backlink: When an external website links back to your content (i.e., when an article mentions or cites your content).

The quality of backlinks depends on the website’s validity and domain authority. A mention from a high-value, relevant site will increase your website’s subsequent ranking. Conversely, links from lower-authority sites that do not relate to your organization/brand could hurt your ranking. 

Why should I focus on content first?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when brainstorming how to create backlinks is to focus on the links first. Instead, take a step back and reframe your approach with the goal of developing meaningful content. When you optimize your content to drive impressions, engagement, and conversions, you’re inherently curating value-driven content that a third-party website is likely to use.

Content quality is a natural driver of a backlinking strategy—the better your information, the higher potential for links. For example, if your company is the authority on a topic and writes an original guide to help your audience understand that concept, similar businesses, websites, or publications are likely to link to that guide as a resource for their audience. 

What’s more, if you have proprietary data, original reports, or other unique content that proves a strategy or theory, that type of content is an excellent source for writers or journalists. For instance, if you create case studies that show the success of your services with data-backed ROI, someone writing on that topic could use that as a source to prove the effectiveness of similar tactics. Alternatively, if you survey your customers/clients/audience on a relevant topic and display the results in a blog post or infographic, those data points are incredibly link-worthy content. 

Just as you create content and externally link to value-adding sources, ask yourself what type of content you can develop that others would want to link to. 

How do I build a content-focused backlinking strategy?

If you want to build up your website’s efficacy, authority and rank through strong content, use these steps to guide your approach:

  1. Define your target audience and relevant content that will drive action or provide value.
  2. Perform market research and identify effective keywords.
  3. Research competitor’s content to find potential content gaps. What type of topics aren’t being explored that could be useful to others in your industry, as well as your audience?
  4. Develop your content, creating a mix of content types for greater distribution potential.
  5. Create case studies, reports, or display survey results, to develop unique, data-driven content that attracts links.
  6. Publish your content on social media platforms, newswires or other relevant digital platforms.
  7. Execute a digital PR plan to share your content with outlets that may find your topics or insights complementary to their work.

Quality Content Leads to Valuable Backlinks

A smart content strategy is more than just knowing how to create backlinks. It’s knowing that you don’t create backlinks, you earn them by creating link-worthy content. 

For the next step, check out our six proven link building tactics

If you need help creating a targeted content strategy that drives traffic and links or developing a white-hat strategy to earn high-value backlinks, reach out to us