When you start to evaluate your website traffic, small and medium sized businesses often overlook the value of backlinks. You’ve probably heard that backlinks are important, when talking to SEO professionals, but their approach to securing high DA (domain authority) links may have come with a fee that didn’t fit with your budget.
And for many businesses, that means shelving that important marketing activity for later, assuming that there is nothing you can do to acquire those vital links affordably. What your aspiring SEO providers didn’t mention to you (for reasons you can understand) is that you can do a lot of that work yourself, for free.
Let’s have a conversation about backlinks, what they are, how they work, and the steps you can start taking on a weekly basis to hardwire your website to organic and free (no strings attached) links to authority websites that help build your business website traffic.
Alexa Browser Plug-In for Quick and Free Web Analytics
You aren’t going to do a deep dive into website analytics, because you are a business owner and you really just want a snap shot of where your website is now, and how it is performing. Many businesses have no idea how to find out how many backlinks they have on their website, but there is a free plug-in (owned and operated by Amazon) that’s easy to use, to help you review where you are now, and track your progress.
- Visit Alexa.com
- Install the free website browser plug-in for Chrome.
This is the best free tool for business owners who want to be more hands-on about their SEO. Once the browser is installed on Chrome, type in the URL of your website, and then click on the new extension. You will see a dropdown that looks like this:
So, what do these stats mean?
- Alexa Traffic Rank reports the popularity or quality of your domain, against 200,000,000 websites around the world. The lower the number, or closer to #1 your business website ranks, the better.
- Domestic Traffic Rank reports where your business website ranks domestically, among approximately 8.7 million websites in the United States (for example). This ranking reveals your website traffic within your local country.
- Sites Linking In reports how many backlinks your website currently has. The more backlinks you have that are high quality, the better. Don’t get too worried about zero backlinks; you’re going to start fixing that on a monthly basis.
- Site Speed is a variable rating of load time for your website. This is a constant work in progress for many business particularly if you have video loaders, visual sliders and other multimedia on your website.
Now that you can see the snapshot statics for top-level web traffic, let’s look at what they really mean. For instance, does your website have a global ranking, but no domestic ranking, I.e., not ranked in the United States?
What that means is that there is very little traffic to your website from your country of origin, and insufficient landing page content and optimization. Essentially, if you have a report of ‘no data’ for your domestic ranking, search engines have no idea where your business is located.
So, if search engines do not know who you are, or where your business is located, how can they refer customers who are looking for your products or services? They can’t. And that’s a big problem for your business, because it’s like being invisible to search engines.
You can’t fix what you do not know is broken. Using Alexa is the first step for beginners to understand the value of important marketing activities that can address a ‘no ranking’ situation for global or domestic traffic.
Check out our “DIY Hacks to Get Your Web Traffic on Track” article for some content strategies that will help you fix the problem.
What Are Backlinks and How Do They Help SEO?
Every incoming link to your website is a backlink; whether it is a high-quality link or a low quality one, will determine its overall value to your traffic ecosystem. Low quality links can be purchased, but they can actually do more harm to your website traffic than good. It’s risky when you consider buying bulk backlinks, because there can literally be a lot of garbage sites in those links, that will pull down the value of your domain (and traffic potential).
Here are some other types of links that build for SEO performance:
Your friend has a successful blog with a great traffic rank. You ask for a link from that website to any of the blogs on your website (or your homepage). That is quality link juice, when you can create that kind of solid link between your website and another high-traffic, well-ranked site. The best way to do this is to volunteer content; a blog article on a shared theme that isn’t too advertorial, with 1 hyperlink embedded in the post, that links to your business website.
Linking Root Domains
In that same scenario, would you get multiple high DA backlinks for your website, if you provided 10 different articles? Linking root domains means you get credit for one quality backlink from each domain you connect your website to, through a live link in content. Each link you acquire has to be from a different website.
When you are writing blog posts for your website, are you incorporating high quality hyperlinks from authority sites into your post? Yep, it takes some extra time, but that is how you get do-follow links and these provide valuable link juice too.
Anchor Text Links
Let’s say you were growing your business as a marketing or SEO agency. Linking subtext in your on-page content (primarily blog articles) that related directly to the products and services that you offer, helps search engines recognize those specialty areas, when they crawl your site.
See what we did there? Make sure it’s relational however; closely tied as additional resources external to your website, that support the message you are sharing in your blog article.
Refer to your Alexa plug-in to verify the traffic ranking of the website you are linking to in your anchor text; under 300,000 global and domestic is worth linking to. Avoid sites with no domestic ranking. Also avoid SEO experts with bad web traffic (just saying). They are out there (and now you have a new tool to identify whether they have their OWN SEO together).
Why Would a Website Offer Free Links to My Business?
It’s called reciprocal linking, and it is “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” mentality in link building. Just as your business website is going to get valuable backlinks, so too will the source or host website gain value from another external link.
Because every business wants to protect the quality of the backlinks they acquire, you will have to meet certain criteria in terms of your own traffic and ranking, as well as confirm the frequency that you add content to your site. If you are conducting those activities on a weekly basis, you should have fewer problems pitching your site and requesting backlink opportunities.
How Many Backlinks Should I Have to Improve Traffic for My Business Website?
It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Some businesses have found themselves in really hot water, after trying to ‘short cut’ their way to a huge amount of directory listings and backlinks to websites that are frankly garbage.
You know what those sites look like. They have thin-content (or really small, short and often irrelevant blog posts). Offshore providers create these link magnets with cheap content that really serves no purpose, other than acquiring an inflated website ranking. They may have 100’s of similar sites, and broker out the backlinks to unsuspecting businesses, because they are an offer that’s hard to refuse and super economical.
Buying Links Can Be Risky Business
Thinking of investing a sum to acquire a lot of paid backlinks to rapidly increase your website traffic? HOLD ON THERE! That’s one thing that will get your business website noticed by Google, but in a totally bad way. Google bots and other search engines are constantly crawling your site. If you go from 0 backlinks to 200 in a week, they are going to register that these are not natural or organic backlinking in progress; and you’ll get slapped with a domain penalty.
Once you have a domain penalty for violating Google guidelines, it can take months or even years to reverse that penalty (and thousands of dollars in SEO repair work). Don’t do it. Follow a strategic schedule to help build new links every week. Research the links and make sure they are relational to your business niche (product or service categories).
Garbage in? Garbage out! Build a healthy ecosystem of high DA backlinks, one relevant link at a time for long-term SEO success and web traffic growth.