What are backlinks and how do you get some?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a language of its own. From “whitehat” to “blackhat” and “nofollow” links to “dofollow” links, this digital lexicon requires more than a few definitions to make sense of the madness.

Today, we’re looking at one of the central components of an effective SEO strategy: “backlinks.” Widely heralded as the currency of SEO, backlinks are incoming hyperlinks that point from one website to another. For example, if Advisor Launchpad mentioned an article in The New York Times, that hyperlink would be considered a backlink for the famed publication. 

Backlinks are an integral piece of search engine ranking algorithms. If your website receives an abundance of backlinks from high-quality sources, Google will recognize your growing authority and boost your ranking.

While backlinks have long been part of the digital marketing conversation, the means of actually getting them have changed drastically. First, there was the old-school approach that saw hosts spamming comments sections with links to their own websites. Then came the “ends justify the means” crowd who bought backlinks from “link farms” to help increase their popularity. 

Though these tactics worked for a time, Google and other search engines caught on to the schemes and leveled harsh ranking punishments (and even banned) websites attempting to cut corners. The backlink goldrush inevitably led to a more tightly monitored and regulated market.

Backlinks are crucial to help grow your online presence, but only when they are earned through networking and a consistent emphasis on producing quality content.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Position Yourself As A Thought Leader

Backlinks themselves carry little value; it’s the destination they take you that matters most. Rather than fret over the number of backlinks you can attain, focus on the most important goal: establishing yourself as a thought leader in both your local and industry markets.

The financial advisory world is inundated with competing voices that often regurgitate the same information. Carve a niche in that community, and you’ll not only boost your backlinks, you’ll also grow your business. 

  1.    Build Your Content “Skyscraper”

What’s the best way to enhance your online presence in the financial space? Take a look at what’s already working. Run a quick Google search of popular financial blogs and articles authored by competing advisory firms. Tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Buzzsumo can help you pinpoint the biggest content influencers and closely analyze their backlinks. 

Take note of the topics they cover and the tone they take, then put together a game plan to exceed their efforts. Brian Dean of Backlinko calls this the “Skyscraper Technique,” an approach derived from the “whatever you can do, I can do better” school of thought.

This could entail writing a more comprehensive or “ultimate” guide to the topic at hand, providing more real-world anecdotes and explanations to personalize your content, or simply altering your blog’s structure to feature more image-based or list-driven content. 

In short, be aware of the content that has a proven track record of success, then expand those qualities and put your own unique spin on it. 

  1.    Leverage Industry Partnerships 

Once you have cultivated your content, it’s time to launch it in the marketplace. Your best target? Financial industry partnerships and local community alliances. 

Say you published a blog that stresses the importance of incorporating an estate plan with your overall financial strategy. Your investment management firm works closely with local attorneys who specialize in estate plans. In this scenario, you could ask those attorneys to feature your guest blog on their website, or simply have them link to your article in one of their own posts. Google prizes these sorts of backlinks, as they rank high in both quality and relevance. 

Beyond leveraging your industry relationships, consider reaching out to local businesses with whom you may already have clients. The power of community credibility cannot be overstated. If a local shop gives you a shout-out in one of their own blogs or newsletters, you’ll earn both backlinks and new business. 

  1.     Publicize Through Social Media 

While leveraging your professional network, be sure to double your influence by capitalizing on social media. LinkedIn shares, Facebook posts, and Twitter retweets go a long way to getting your quality content on the map. Continue cultivating relationships with your social media followers, and it won’t be long before they start promoting your content.

Ultimately, getting backlinks takes time, creativity, and commitment. By focusing on developing unique and compelling content, then taking a multi-pronged approach to publicizing it, your website will gain backlinks as your company gains business. 

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