The idea of a backlink is simple: every time a website links to the target website, Google counts this as a vote of approval for the target site. And the higher the quality of the inbound link, and the more relevant it is to the target site, the more “link juice” it conveys.The rumors over the years that Google has stopped using backlinks in its index have all been false. Without backlinks there would be no Google. No better ranking factor has shown up. Google can only use information that is available to create its index and backlinks continue to be an important (though gameable) quality signal.
One of the more often repeated mantras of search engine optimization is “just create good content,” implying that good content alone will get you backlinks and Google ranking. This is only half-true. Even good content must be promoted somehow. Here are two ways you can promote that good content so that you can obtain organic backlinks (people linking to your site organically, without being asked).
(1) Build a network or following on social media
Your social media connections are your best source of organic backlinks. If you engage with and create and share engaging content with your network of like-minded social media connections and followers, you will get organic backlinks. This is how it works:
- You post a blog post to your Twitter or Linkedin feed.
- Your reader is interested in your blog post and feels it is relevant for their site. They create a blog post that links to your blog post.
Done. Organic backlinks. Without social media engagement it’s hard to see how one can even obtain organic backlinks. Social media is an essential tool if organic backlinks are your goal. No content is good enough to rank without it organically.
(2) Boost ranking content
When your website gets fairly well-established you will start to notice that random blog posts are ranking in surprising ways. It’s hard to know how or why Google chooses which of your content pieces to elevate but when it happens you should react. Here’s what I mean:
- Go into Google Search Console and find which among your blog posts have been getting the most views and clicks over the last 28 days.
- Use Surfer or similar tool to optimize the on-page SEO for each of these ranking blog posts that you would like to target.
- For each targeted blog post, create five new blog posts that are related to the targeted blog post. Each subordinate blog post should (a) link to the targeted blog post high on the page, and (b) link to one other subordinate blog post lower on the page. Don’t include other links to other sites if you can avoid it. You can find topics for subordinate blog posts by seeing the “people also ask” section of the search results that your target blog post is showing up in. This process of creating subordinate blog posts that link to the target blog post is called reverse content silo and is very effective at helping to boost already ranking content.
The overall idea behind this method of boosting already ranking content to rank higher is that once it hits the first page for high-volume searches people will start to see it as authority content. So when other people are writing relevant blog posts they will link to your content as sources and you will build organic backlinks in this way.
Note: The blog posts you boost don’t have to be important sales pages of your website. The goal of this process is just to get backlinks so it doesn’t matter what the content is that you are promoting.
“Just create good content” is not a good mantra for search engine optimization. The problem is the “just.” You must also promote it. I’ve described two ways to do this: (1) by building a social media following and (2) by intentionally boosting content that already ranks high.