In my SEO Basics series, I cover some things every small business owner needs to do to their website whether you host on Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress or another platform. This article is SEO Basics: How to get Backlinks (the easy way). Backlinks, which are links from another website to yours, are key for ranking in Google’s Search engine rankings. Why? They create authority – somebody ELSE thought highly enough of you to link to your site. That makes sense, right? In theory the BEST backlink is the one with the most search authority. What does that mean? I’ll give you some examples: a well trafficked news site, a well trafficked referral website, a site in your industry that is neutral, other businesses similar to yours.

In my community we have a site called 517 Living and it’s got a calendar of events and businesses. While I don’t expect I’ll get too many referrals, the mere fact that that site (highly trafficked by locals looking for things to do and buy) links to mine because I put a link there, helps my business. I placed some display (web) ads on a website that I fully NEVER expect to get a referral from – but I did it because it’s a highly trafficked news site in the industry I’m in and links from their site to mine has search authority, improving my rankings.

On another site I use for my personal blog, I link from a well trafficked, and older URL site (yes, the older the URL the more “authority” a site has!) to mine. I am allowed to put reviews of products there and I link to my own blog.

I also link from YouTube (or Etsy too) to my website, because links from THESE sites to your site are also considered excellent back links.

Beyond that, a backlink audit might reveal some toxic links (you can disavow those with SEO tools), and link opportunities that seem… ridiculous. For instance, the Wall Street Journal will NOT link to this blog post. But certainly I can ask my clients or colleagues to link to this post and they are probably likely to do so. If you can create a collaborative relationship with other small businesses, it benefits you both.

Backlinks are one tool in your SEO arsenal that is fairly easy to control and highly desired by Google. But as always, you’re doing SEO for humans, not just Google.