Today we are going to do a deep dive into the wonderful world of backlinks. I’m going to show you why they are so important for your Shopify website’s SEO and teach you how to build backlinks.
Remember that SEO is an art, not a science. There’s so much to learn about Shopify SEO which is why I have written about it a lot - it’s the most popular topic on my blog by far. Check out some of my other posts on SEO here and here.
So get ready my friend, this is going to be a good one!
Backlinks are incoming links to a website or webpage. In other words, they are any links that someone else has on their website that when they click on it they are directed to your website.
Backlinks are a main building block of good SEO because they help to indicate the importance or popularity of a website.
Sometimes backlinks are called inbound links - it's the same thing.
Website traffic predominantly comes from one of two places:
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.
According to Conductor, search engines direct around 47% of online traffic. This means that an even larger amount of traffic is coming from somewhere other than 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 win.
When the internet was in it’s early stages, search engines were a complete mess. Search results and rankings were all over the place because they hadn’t figured out how to best index or make sense of all the content on the web. During this time, it was a lot easier to cheat the SEO system and find other (sometimes sneaky) ways to get better rankings.
During that time, the goal was to build as many backlinks as possible because the more you had, the better your site would rank. This resulted in many bad and low quality backlinks. However, that didn’t matter. The goal was to put as many links to your site around the internet as possible.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Search engines now have very sophisticated algorithms and invest a lot to keep things fair.
With that being said, it’s important that backlinks come from quality sites and they need to make contextual sense in order to be recognized and rewarded by search engines.
Here’s an example:
I blog about Shopify, eCommerce, and web design/development so anytime my site gets the honor of being linked on a site with related content, my sites SEO will benefit. On the flip side, if my website gets a backlink from an architect out of China, search engines will instantly be confused and won’t reward that backlink.
As of now, the goal with backlinks is to get links from relevant and reliable sites. If you can do this, search engines will reward you by improving your search engine rankings.
But how do you do this?
All of the search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) are tasked with the same thing - indexing, recording, and contextualizing all of the content on the internet. They catalog every website, web page, and piece of content online, and then have to make sense of it and deliver it to people making online searches.
Since there is so much information online, search engines have to prioritize some web content over others. Remember, their goal is to provide the most accurate content to the person searching online. The good news is that bigger websites aren’t always going to have the upper hand with rankings. In fact, it’s very possible for smaller, more niched sites to rank higher in search results!
One of the best way to rank higher as a smaller company is…..
You guessed it!
By gathering quality backlinks to your website! Search engines tend to reward websites and web pages with quality backlinks - no matter the size of your business than other websites that aren’t connected to any other websites online.
When your website has a lot of backlinks, search engines notice! In fact, search engines view your site as more relevant and valuable. Because again, their goal is to connect people searching with the most relevant and valuable content to keep them coming back to their site!
Website indexing is the process in which a search engine adds web content to its index. Think back to the Rolodex days. (Some of you might be too young for this - Google it if you need to!)
Instead of having to find a phone book for frequently called numbers that you hadn’t memorized, you had this nifty little spinning thing that sat on your desk and contained all of your important numbers. This would save you a ton of time looking through EVERY Smith in your phone book to find the one that you needed.
While Google doesn't have a massive Rolodex that someone spins through trying to find what you’re looking for, they have something way more advanced and efficient.
The process of Search Engines looking at your site and trying to understand what it is called “crawling.” Sounds creepy, I know, I didn’t name it that. When a search engine is “crawling” your site, things like keywords, metadata, and related backlinks are being looked at and recorded. Once your site has been looked at by search engines, your site has been index.
Here’s the issue though - Google as great as it is, can’t index every single piece of content on the web at once. In fact, it can take anywhere from days to weeks for Google to crawl a website. To speed this process up, you can do a couple things - one of which is…
You guessed it again!
When search engines find a backlink on your website, they record that connection and crawl your website more effectively in the future. This can be beneficial for new website in particular because it means faster discovery by search engines and better indexing of the content of their website.
Like I mentioned earlier, backlinks are not created equal. Some backlinks are more valuable than others.
You should always focus on quality over quantity for your backlinks. High quality backlinks are a major piece of the puzzle for search engine algorithms.
Still need some more convincing that high quality backlinks are more beneficial than having a bunch of irrelevant backlinks?
Okay - get this…
Google is known to routinely roll out updates to penalize low quality sites that use spammy links. This is because those sites are trying to manipulate Google and they don’t like it! Because remember, their job is to provide people with the most relevant content that they are searching for. Chances are if people aren’t directed to relevant content when making a search, they won’t use it again.
So don’t try to cheat the system. Google and other search engines will find you!
When thinking of ideas for getting backlinks, think to yourself “What would someone from Yahoo or Google think if they saw this link?” Would they find the content relevant and helpful? Or would they find it spammy and low quality? If you’re thinking it might be the later, then remember that they can penalize you for that!
Here are some other benefits that come naturally with creating high quality backlinks:
Referral traffic is when your website is linked on a website and someone clicks on it and is taken to your site. This is so valuable because most of the time the person clicking is interested in a topic similar to what you have on your site - resulting in a low bounce rate. A single link can result in referral traffic for years to come. It’s a guaranteed way to grow and increase the traffic to your website over time.
A backlink to your site shows internet users that your website/brand/business is attention worthy. It helps build instant credibility with an audience you haven’t reached yet.
You can’t expect for your ideal audience to miraculously find you and your website. You could have the best website with the best offerings, but if you don’t have an easy way for people to find you, they probably won’t find you.
If your site is linked on another site of authority, it helps visitors see that you’re legit and are valuable. This is also hugely beneficial for name recognition and exposure! Anytime your site is being linked to, it will give you an opportunity to organically be introduced to a new audience. This will result in better search engine rankings for your business and a bigger audience!
Gaining backlinks is probably easier than you think. I’m sure someone else in your industry or a related industry is looking for a way to build backlinks too. Reach out to them and see if they would be willing to link your site if you linked their site. Overtime, these type of relationships benefit you and your business - especially the ones that want to grow their business as much as you! Not only will you be able to call on them for your backlink-ing needs, but you’ll have someone to call on in the future for any needs you might have. Use your community wherever you can!
Think of something that your target audience would find beneficial or helpful and create content on it. Chances are, if you create something good, you'll get recognized for your information.
Find opportunities to write on third-party websites as a guest blogger. Not only will this help you to make social connections but also fetch a backlink for your site or your social media profile. Reach out to your peers to see if they would be interested in letting you create a post or an article on their site.
P.S. Never forget to mention the link to your social media profiles and to your site in your guest post as per the guidelines of the third-party site.
Contact a business owner and inform him/her about a broken link on their website and provide something meaningful content and as you provide something valuable to them in their favor, the chances to get the backlink to your website are high.
If your website has great a great internal linking structure, other site owners of your niche are more likely to link to your website, credited to the easy navigation of your site due to internal linking.
If you want your content to get noticed, promote it actively with relevant hashtags and mentions for your business. People from the industry keep searching for the content that can help their business, so if they really like your content, you can get a backlink.
A simple way to get a backlink for your site is to write testimonials for the sites you are using that have some relevance to yours. There is a high possibility that you get a backlink from doing this easy task.
Search for relevant posts, add helpful information, and link back to your site. This is a great way to get more people to your website and introduce your product/brand.
Since you’re an expert in your field, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to pick your brain and feature you in an article.
At the end of the day, the best way to build backlinks to your Shopify website and improve SEO is by creating and promoting amazing content. Then, it’s all about having quality sites link back to your site. Reach out to some of your peers, offer to post a link to their site on your site, and promote your products.
If you’re serious about improving your Shopify website’s SEO, I strongly recommend building backlinks to your website. As I’ve talked about in this post, it’s incredibly beneficial to have high quality backlinks and focus on quantity over quality and you will reap the SEO rewards for years to come.
By focusing your SEO energy on putting out quality content and by creating relationships with people in your industry, backlinks will naturally be built over time. SEO will grow and improve over time. Search Engines are forgiving and don’t expect you to get it right the first time. So, take your time, learn new techniques, and try to enjoy it along the way.
If you want to learn more about SEO, check out my posts here and here for more information.
Finally, if you’re in need of help with your website, I’m your girl. Reach out to me directly if you’re interested in working together on your website. I’d love to hear from you!