Backlinks – What They Are and How To Use Them

One of the tips we share in our Purple Snowflake Marketing book is the value of obtaining backlinks to websites and blogs, and how to go about getting them. Because of this I was asked in an interview recently if, looking back, I now consider this endeavor as a waste of time – after all, it does not result in immediate sales or increased clients. I can certainly understand how people might question the value of doing this time-consuming activity when there are so many other things pressing on the daily schedule. However it is a valuable task to fit in the schedule, none-the-less.

First, let me try to explain what we are talking about here. When a website publishes a link to another website, it is a “backlink”. On the Conscious Discussions blog, for instance, we often publish an author interview and share their website for readers to follow up on, that is considered a “backlink” for the person we interviewed. (Backlinks are sometimes also referred to as: one-way links or incoming links.)

In order for a backlink to be effective it must be hyperlinked – this means when a mouse is dragged over the backlink the item can be clicked and this automatically takes the user to the website. Backlinks must also must be on another website; any link on your own website taking a user to another page on the same website is called an inbound link and has nothing to do with backlinks.

When entrepreneurs are ready to feature their work online, the first thought is how to go about setting up a site. The business needs to decide if it will purchase a website URL, use YouTube or Facebook, or if it will focus on utilizing a blog format. Perhaps it will decide to utilize several different mediums. Regardless of the medium the business chooses to utilize, there’s a lot of thought and weeks of work that go into getting it just right for the initial release. Each of those mediums will have a unique URL that can be used to create backlinks.

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Once the site has been published for the public to access, the business owners might send out notices to direct contacts and announce it in social media or include it in their email signatures, but generally speaking – no one knows about it. Neither do the search engines that use intricate programs to determine where to place your site on their ranking ladder. And believe me, you want to be on that ladder. It works like this: When someone does a search using keywords that are associated with your business, you want your site to show up in the search results. Over time, your site will climb up the ranking ladder to be among the first recommendations on the very first page of search results, instead of at the bottom of the last page – where it may never be seen.

The way to get the attention of search engines, and get them to see you as a relevant site, can be done a variety of ways, including backlinks. The goal is to get that URL published on as many sites as possible. While this activity does eat up a bit of time, business owners can pace out the time that they spend on this project. Initially, they might schedule two hours on a specific day of the week just for this task. As time goes on, they might only put in a half-hour per week. Sometimes they might skip a week, or two or even a month. However, no backlink opportunity should be overlooked.

Quite often I might find a resource such as a small business listing for our area, or a place to submit a press release, or a profile that I could fill out more completely, or getting listed as a recommended resource on a blog, and while I may feel that these are all good backlink opportunities, my schedule is so heavy that I cannot deal with any of it right away. In this case, I find it most helpful to have a file on the desktop where I can make a note of that resource. When the schedule allows for such activities I can come back to that file and never feel like I have missed out on an opportunity.

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