What is a backlink and why are they important?
After working with many startups and businesses to help set up the foundation of their marketing systems and SEO, we found that everyone was forgetting to do the easiest part. It's something that nearly all marketing professionals forget as well!
No one focuses on retaining their backlinks. All good growth is underpinned by retention, and link building campaigns are no exception. As much as it's important to acquire links, it's just as important to keep them.
This is an introductory article to cover the basics of this strategy and why it's important in the bigger context of SEO and marketing. It's written for people who are just setting up their first website and for people who manage hundreds of websites.
Here's what we will cover
- What is SEO and why do people do it?
- Why are backlinks important?
- The easiest SEO strategy you are not doing
What is SEO
As a million articles might have already told you, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is a marketing tactic used to increase the position of your website in Google (or Bing 😂).
What you won't read is that SEO can be broken down into these three activities:
- Publish good content
- Regularly acquire new links
- Have an easily crawl-able website
As you can see in the diagram below, these fall into either on-page or off-page categories. On-page refers to the things you do on your own website and off-page is about other people adding your website link on their website.
The ultimate goal of all of these activities is to rank higher in search engines for the things people search for (keywords), to find your website / product / service.
There are so many great guides on on-page SEO tactics found here, here, and here. Our focus is on backlinks on the off-page side, and specifically, on the part pretty much everyone forgets to do.
What are backlinks and why are they important?
What is a backlink?
Simply, a backlink is when another website links to your own website. Someone has decided that your website is worth sharing so they added a link to your website.
This is a backlink to an email marketing tool you should check out. This is a backlink to my website. This is a backlink to this publication. Get it?
Why are they important?
Search engines rank your website based off your on-page activities and, amongst 100s of other things, the number and quality of the links pointing to your website (off-page).
If a website with a high page rank, government site (.gov), or education site (.edu) links to your site it has a significantly larger impact than if a bunch of low-traffic low-quality website directories list your website (so don't pay someone to get you 1000's of cheap backlinks - this strategy doesn't really work).
Let's say you worked hard to get into an accelerator and got featured by a local startup publication. This could give you your first two backlinks (besides the 32 you should have acquired already). These backlinks will help you start to get ranked on the first page of Google for your brand name at least.
People usually only focus on acquiring more backlinks. If we use the analogy of the marketing funnel (shown below) you can see that the acquisition stage is covered, but the retention side is missing! Would you only focus on getting new customers and not keeping your old ones?
Do you do anything to keep the backlinks you acquired?
Yes, websites lose links.
The easiest SEO strategy you are not doing is retaining your backlinks. Next let's go through how to retain your backlinks through the backlink recovery process.
The easiest SEO strategy you are not doing: backlink retention
Backlinks are worth a lot to you, from our experience people on average spend $50 to acquire a backlink. So it's worth recovering them if they are lost.
Backlinks get lost or break all the time. For example, links can be lost when a website redesign happens, when content is refreshed or un-published, when templates or styles change, or part of the website goes down. There are many, many scenarios where website loose links. We estimate that websites lose between 3% and 5% of their backlinks every month.
To recover these lost backlinks you have two options: the manual way, or the automatic way.
Option 1: The manual way
Do you remember how hard life was before Keywords Everywhere? Keyword research was hard and manual. It's the same for recovering backlinks at the moment.
We wrote a more advanced guide on how to do this manually. It involves comparing backlink domains over time, looking up the contacts for the domains, and then contacting each one.
Option 2: The automatic way
We were sick of having to do option 1 so we built a tool to do it automatically.
Basically, it finds what you backlinks you lost, gets the contact for that domain (from Hunter or our own database), and after your approve it sets up an automated email campaign to get the backlink back.
Try it out now.