backlink strategyAt some point in a social entrepreneur’s journey, there will likely be a need to build a website, a blog, or some meaningful web presence so you can be found. When that happens, you are immersed into the sometimes-clear, often-murky sea of search engine optimization.At the end of the day the goal is to be found online by major search engines such as Google and Bing.When it comes to placating search engines, and even impressing them, the idea of backlinks comes to play. A backlink is when another site links to your site.

Simple, right?

Part Art, Part Science

Google actually evolved from a project originally called BackRub was a way to look at backlinks to a site to determine that site’s importance or relevance of a site.  It kind of makes sense, right….if Jane tells you about a great new bakery in town, you’ll listen and maybe be interested. But if Maya, Juan, Roger, Penelope, and Dwayne also tell you about it—-there’s a good chance the bakery recommendation may be more valuable to you.

Now, search engines come up with complex algorithms to try to discern the relevance and importance of a website based on a variety of factors, including valuable backlinks.

There is a great talk on Lynda.com about Backlink strategy called “SEO Link Building in Depth” by Peter Kent. While Kent goes into great detail about various nuances of the art and since of increasing backlinks to your site, here are a few broad overview tips that may be helpful.

5 Tips on Building Quality Backlinks

1. Look at keywords. As you get more comfortable with the logic behind search engine optimization you will start seeing the connection between the words you use on your website and how search engines tend to notice.  And you may become an evangelist for effective keywording (i.e. the key terms or phrases you use throughout a page or post to describe its main crux). One place that you can place keywords is in the link title and anchor text used to describe the link. Make the most of these opportunities to be found by using deliberate, researched keywords.

2. Build relationships with websites with related content.  If your site is about cake decorating, a back from an auto repair website might be great. But don’t you think a link to your site from a cake decorating tools manufacturer would be even better? There’s a good chance the search engine algorithms agree and value links that are related a similar nucleus of content.  It may be worthwhile to build relationships with bloggers and web administrators and social media folks of sites related to yours. Plus, it may also help you discover ideas and other great sites related to yours.

3. Use awesome anchor text. Once you’re in the keyword know (i.e. see #1), try to score great anchor text umbrella-ed in the backlink to your site.  Sure you can connect a backlink to site with phrases like click here. But why not use the opportunity to say something meaningful about what the link is linking too, and including some of those snazzy keywords you are trying to highlight…

4. Don’t forget to link within. You may have some wins with closely related sites, linking to yours, and using great anchor text–but don’t forget about your own site as a way to highlight your content. You can use the same practices to link back to relevant content in your site and use great anchor text and rich keywords. You may want to keep track of your content in some content management way so you can easily reference related posts or pages.

5. Focus on what you can control = write great content. Building an army of quality backlinks is challenging. There’s so much you don’t have control over—i.e. whether sites will link to you or not, whether you can suggest that they use great anchor text, and whether you can ever amass enough links to bump up your PageRank. However, there is one thing that you have direct control over. Building amazing, awesome, relevant, helpful, useful content that is off the hook. Focus on this and other sites won’t be able to resist linking back to you. The industry calls this link bait, but link chocolate sounds pretty good too.

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