Why backlinks are so beneficial to Squarespace SEO
“My backlinks bring all the boys to the yard…“
LOL! Ok, that’s not entirely true but I do still LOVE backlinks, mostly because they are fun to build and lead to major SEO goodness.
"What are backlinks and why do they matter for SEO?" GOOD QUESTION, my friend!
Today we are going to do a deep dive into the wonderful (and sometimes shady) world of backlinks and I’m going to show you why they are so important for your Squarespace website’s SEO and how to build backlinks.
In last week’s newsletter (which you can sign up for here, if you aren't already part of the crew), I briefly mentioned how guest posting is a great and effective way build backlinks to your website and improve SEO. And wow, who knew that that topic was something so many people wanted to learn more about?! I received over a dozen replies to that newsletter (!!!) asking for more information on building backlinks for better Squarespace SEO, so I’m happy to share that information with you here today. Ask and you shall receive, my friend!
SEO is an art, not a science, and it’s one of the most popular topics on my blog. There’s so much to learn about Squarespace SEO which is why I have written about it a lot. Check out my Squarespace SEO Series for more blog posts & video tutorials and get your copy of my Squarespace SEO Checklist for free!
Squarespace SEO Series
This article is part of my series on Squarespace SEO. I have so many tips to share on the subject that it would have been crazy to put it all in one article! There are many misconceptions about Squarespace SEO which is why I've dedicate so many posts to this topic. Enjoy!
Click to view all posts in the Squarespace SEO Series
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What are backlinks?
Backlinks are simply incoming links to a website or webpage. In other words, they are any links that are directed to your site. Backlinks are a main building block of good SEO because they help to indicate the importance or popularity of a website.
You might also hear them called “inbound links” - same thing.
Website traffic predominantly comes from one of two places:
- search engine results/rankings
- referral traffic
This means that in order to grow your website and increase traffic, your site needs to be picked up by search engines (like Google, Bing or Yahoo) AND be referred to by other places on the internet.
Did you know that according to Conductor, search engines direct around 47% of online traffic? This is major and it means that an even larger amount of traffic is independent from search engine rankings and results. Backlinks mean more traffic from search engines, but that’s not where it ends. Well placed backlinks on legit and authority sites are what we're aiming for because they can also direct a lot of referral traffic! It's a double whammy.
Backlinks back in the day
When the internet was just a PYT in it’s early stages, search engines were a hot mess. Search results and rankings were all over the place because Google hadn’t figured out how best to index or make sense of all the content on the web. During these years, it was easier to cheat the SEO system and find sneaky ways to get higher rankings.
In those days, low quality backlinks actually helped sites rank higher in search results, because the emphasis was on building as many backlinks as possible - quality control wasn't a thing back then. It was all about splashing as many links to your site around the internet as possible, and there were whole shady enterprise built on this stye on backlink building.
Luckily, that’s no longer the case. Google now has very sophisticated algorithms and expensive teams of brogrammers who keep things running fairly, so it is important that backlinks come from quality sites.
Nowadays, backlinks need to make contextual sense in order to be recognized and rewarded by search engines. For example, I blog about Squarespace and web design/development so anytime my site gets back linked from a site with related content, it’ll be beneficial for SEO. On the flip side, if my website randomly gets a backlink from a beauty blog in China (unlikely), Google will be like WTF and won’t pay attention to or reward that backlink.
The current state of the internet and SEO is that it’s no longer enough to accumulate backlinks from any random website. Nowadays, the goal is to get links from authoritative and relevant sites, which I’ll explain more below.
Relationship between backlinks and search engines
There are several search engines out there (like Google, Bing and Yahoo) but all of them are tasked with indexing, recording and contextualizing of all the content on the internet. They make note of every website, web page and piece of content online, and then have to figure out the best way to make sense and deliver it all to people who do online searches.
Since there is so much information online, search engines naturally have to prioritize certain web content over others. Not all websites are created equal. Bigger websites obviously have an advantage, but it’s also possible that smaller and niche sites can rank high in search results!
One of the strongest ways to rank higher in search engine results is to accumulate backlinks to your website. Websites and web pages with more backlinks tend to rank higher in search results than other websites that stand alone and aren’t connected to any other sites online.
When a website has a lot of backlinks, search engines make note of this and will consider those sites more valuable and relevant. In turn, they will reward them with higher rankings in search results.
Backlinks are also valuable because they lead to faster indexing of a website. Google and other search engines crawl every website to discover and index all the content on the internet. Obviously this is a HUGE job and it’s a lot to make sense of. One of the things they look for is backlinks and every time they find one, they record that connection and crawl your website more effectively in the future. New websites in particular can benefit from backlinks because it means faster discovery by search engines and better indexing of the content of their website.
Quality over quantity
As I mentioned above, all backlinks are not created equal and some are way more valuable than others.
When it comes to backlinks, you should always focus on quality over quantity! High quality backlinks are a major piece of search engine algorithms. Google, for example, routinely rolls out updates and data refreshes to penalize low quality sites that use spammy link building techniques. This is because those shady sites and back linking strategies are a way to manipulate search results and Google doesn’t like this because they want to return the best content online, not just the content that is turning up because people are cheating the system.
When it comes to getting backlinks to your website, DO NOT opt for spammy or shady shortcuts. Ask yourself “what would a real person working at Google say if they saw this backlink?”. Be sure to build backlinks that provide value and come from legitimate content, unless you want to be penalized for crappy, low quality links.
Benefit 1 : Increase organic ranking in search results
Backlinks help your site rank higher in search engine results, which is incredibly important if you want to grow your website. High quality backlinks are beneficial for your website as a whole, but they can also be targeted to specific pages and posts. Either way, search engines will recognize these backlinks to your website and deem your content important, valuable and relevant, which means that they will reward you with higher rankings.
Benefit 2 : Referral traffic
Referral traffic is when someone clicks on a link and is taken to the linked website or webpage. A single link can continue to refer traffic for years to come, especially if it comes from evergreen content. Referral traffic is so valuable because it is usually targeted and has a low bounce rate. Another reason why referral traffic matters is that it’s a guaranteed way to grow and increase traffic to your website over time. Backlinks can continue to refer traffic to your website for years to come so there is huge value beyond short bursts of “going viral”.
Note: Did you know you can easily see the top referrers to your website on Squarespace's Analytics tab? Here's how to do that!
Benefit 3 : Build brand authority
A backlink to your website indicates to internet users that your brand/website/online business is worth attention. It’s a signal that helps attract an audience by association since backlinks present you as an authority or valuable information source within your niche/industry.
Everyone wants their brand/website to be an authority in your niche, seen as a leader or major player in your industry. You want to be the “go to” website for something specific. Backlinks to your website from authority sites are very important because these links help others to see you as highly reputable, and people are likely to trust you or think that you’re legit because they see that you’re being linked to by an authoritative site. As you build your online authority, you’ll be rewarded with higher search results rankings and the SEO benefits will snowball.
Don't forget about how valuable backlinks are for name exposure and recognition! Anytime your website/brand is linked to, your site is associated with a particular niche or topic. People who are interested in that niche or topic will see your name/site pop up all over the internet and they’ll begin to recognize you and pay attention to you, and even start following you on their own.
Benefit 4 : build relationships
From my own experience, link building is way easier to do if you have or can call upon relationships with other website owners in your niche. Think of it as a friend helping out a friend. As you build relationships with other websites in your niche or related niches, opportunities will present themselves where you can link to each other’s sites. Exchanging guest posts with an online biz friend is a good example since it’s helpful to both of you AND your website’s audiences who benefit from the exciting new content. Or you could link to a bunch of products/tools that your audience might be interested in and let the website/biz owner know that you are sharing their offerings. You’ll notice that over time, the partnerships you build with the people behind other websites/brands/businesses become crazy helpful and you can turn to each other for help and support.
Relationships with other websites are undoubtedly important but don’t forget about how backlinks will help you to build relationships with actual people too! Individuals will click through a link and end up on your site, join your newsletter, connect or follow you on social media, bookmark your blog, whatever. Thanks to these backlinks, you’re able to get in front of a new or larger audience, which brings your website closer to these new visitors and potential customers.
Benefit 5 : promotion
You can’t expect that your ideal audience will miraculously find your website all by themselves. You could have the most beautiful website with all the best offerings and the highest quality content, but if you don’t promote it, no one will check it out. Backlinks can be both promotional AND beneficial, so don’t shy away from them! They are one of the best ways to grow your website and promote your brand and build an online audience so it’s definitely worth your attention!
How to build backlinks
Have I convinced you that backlinks are worth it yet? It’s time to have fun and get to work so that you can reap that SEO goodness!
Once you’ve decided to build high-quality backlinks to your website, you have to decide the SEO strategies that are most effective and worth your time and effort. If you’re wondering how to do this, look no further! I’ve got you, boo.
There are countless ways to build backlinks that will have SEO benefits but these are the most popular and effective ways:
- create great pillar/evergreen content that people will naturally share or link to
- guest post or write articles
- get media features : pitch yourself to different websites/online publications or use tools like HARO to secure media mentions, etc.
- participate in interviews
- be a case study example
- share product news on sites like Product Hunt or Reddit
Commenting on other websites and submitting to web directories are other ways to build backlinks and improve SEO, but I can’t say I’m an expert in doing either of those things strategically.
At the end of the day, the best way to build backlinks to your Squarespace website and improve SEO is by creating and promotion amazing content. After that, it's all about making sure that more sites link back to your site so you need to break out of your comfort zone and start promoting and pitching your site!
If you're serious about improving your Squarespace website’s SEO, I strongly recommend you build backlinks. Backlinks are beneficial for many reasons but remember to focus on building high quality links instead of randomly getting links from a million crappy sites on the internet.
Backlinks to your website will naturally be built over time and the search engine alarms will sound if all of a sudden your site randomly appears in strange places or shady websites. By focusing on quality over quantity, you can build backlinks to your site the right way and you’ll reap the SEO benefits for years to come.
There’s huge value in a “good click” because those backlinks will improve your website’s ranking in search results AND increase traffic through referrals. SEO is your friend and backlinks will help you to grow your website and get the results you want a whole lot faster.
Remember that SEO will grow and improve over time as you build it up, and search engines won’t expect you to be perfect right from the start. SEO is ever changing and requires constant attention, but it doesn’t have to take hours and hours of your time in order to start seeing real results.
Now it’s your turn to tell me, how do you feel about Squarespace SEO? Have you heard of backlinks or is this totally new to you? Do you have any backlinks to your site already? What can you do today to start building backlinks to your website?
Leave me a note down in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. No matter what type of website you have, it will benefit from SEO so I encourage you to start where you are and work on improving your SEO a little bit every week.
If you want more SEO goodness, be sure to check out the other posts in my Squarespace SEO Series.
You can also sign up for my newsletter below, where I often share Squarespace SEO tips, tricks and high-quality exclusive content. i send out emails to my list every week and while I don’t talk about SEO every time, I can guarantee that you’ll still find the newsletter topics interesting, entertaining and worth your time.
Finally, shameless plug : hit me up with any specific questions you have about Squarespace SEO and your website because I’m your girl. You can reach out to me directly if you’re interested in working together on your website and we can talk about whether or not you would be a good fit for my consulting and ongoing services. I can’t take on every request to do SEO consulting but I do pick a few websites and businesses to work with every month and I’d love for you to be one of them.
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