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Building relationships to boost backlinks

One of those elements is backlinks – if your site is linked to by others, Google will like that. If the sites hosting those links are considered authoritative and valuable, then Google likes that even more. So when it comes to getting your site to rank, you can’t go wrong with lots of backlinks from respected peers.

Of course, that’s very easily said, and doing it is a lot more nuanced. If it was simply a matter of dashing off a quick blog post and then asking Buzzfeed to link to it, an SEO’s job would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. If you want those valued backlinks, you are going to have to work at it. And the key to getting backlinks is relationship building.

People have to want to link to you

Back in the day, people would pay to get their links on directory sites, because (they thought) it looked very official and would get their site flying up the page rankings. It didn’t even work then, because nobody uses link directories. If they don’t know the URL of a site, they use Google. So you can’t just pay for a link to be slapped on a site somewhere – it needs to be placed, in context, on a site that people visit through choice. The owners of those sites curate their content tightly, so for them to put your backlink on their site, they’re going to want a good reason. Make your content readable and thorough – stats show that people just don’t link back to dashed-off musings.

Flattery gets you everywhere

Well, not everywhere, but it will do you some favours. If you’re looking to get people to link to you, it pays to operate in the same niche as they do. Then – and this is the key part – you approach them as the expert you consider them to be. It can be beneficial to do this while you’re writing the piece you want them to link back to. A friendly email saying “I’m writing about [topic] and I’ve always loved your insights on this. Any chance you could give me a quote for the piece?” goes a long way. After all, they’re in the same game you are, and a good namecheck is worth having. There’s then a decent chance they’ll link back to your post.

Act like an authority

For the avoidance of misunderstanding, we’re not saying you should call people up and demand that they link back to you. That can only go badly. Instead, aim to make your content authoritative. Write longer blog posts – if you want to ask for backlinks on them, they should really run longer than 1,000 words. They should be thought-out, well-argued and respectful of the reader – and they should link out, ideally to the kind of sites you want to link back to you but also to prestige sites such as academic studies and newspaper long reads. This kind of content will get some incidental backlinks, but also gain you mutual respect with the creators with whom you want to build relationships.

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