The #1 Reason You're Being Outranked by Your Competitors

At BOOM, our SEO agency, we regularly get called to the rescue of websites that look great at face value.

We're talking about sites with strong technical SEO foundations, clean designs, and content that's second-to-none.

Despite this, though, they still fail to outrank the competition. Why?

Usually, it's because Google assesses each of these competing sites as having more authority.

And the source of this additional authority?

Backlinks.

More specifically, quality backlinks.

To illustrate why these are so important, you first need to understand that Google is (quite rightly) a little bit paranoid.

They understand that if they show poor-quality, or irrelevant, results over and over again, they risk damaging their position as the dominant search engine.

There's no denying that on-page factors like technical SEO and excellent content are essential.

But the problem for Google is that these factors are too easy to manipulate to be trusted at face value.

Because these changes happen on your site, there's no need for any input, or endorsement, from someone else to approve the changes you're making.

A good comparison would be writing and publishing a blog post on a particular topic, versus spending the time publishing a peer- reviewed research paper on the same issue.

Which do you think would garner more trust?

And when it comes to assessing the authority of websites, Google views quality, relevant backlinks from authoritative sites as 'seals of approval'.

They are a very effective way of assessing other people's endorsement (or lack of) for your site.

The more 'seals of approval' you have in Google's eyes, and the higher quality they are, the higher your site will rank.

It's that simple.

It hasn't always been this way, though.

Several years ago, it was the sheer quantity of backlinks that matter when it came to ranking, regardless of their quality.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case.

Nowadays, gaining loads of backlinks without considering their relevance or quality could be viewed as 'negative SEO', potentially leading to penalties from Google and dips in your rankings.

So, to prevent this, and to help you massively boost the authority of your site in Google's eyes, let's look at the types of backlinks you should be targeting...

What Makes a Good Backlink?

There are six things that we look for from every backlink that we build for our SEO clients.

We refer to these as our backlink foundations.

If a backlink doesn't meet at least the first four criteria here, it's unlikely to be doing your SEO any real favours.

There's no point reinventing the wheel here, so feel free to steal these and use them to massively improve the effectiveness of your SEO campaign...

A ‘dofollow’ link

There are two main types of link, 'nofollow' and 'dofollow'.

The one we're interested in from an SEO perspective is 'dofollow, as these links help your search engine rankings whereas 'nofollow' links do not.

The only real difference between the two is that 'nofollow' links have a specific HTML tag added to them (rel="nofollow"), but the repercussions of this are huge from a ranking perspective.

Without getting too technical here, Google uses an algorithm called PageRank to rank search results.

Google have openly admitted that using the rel="nofollow" tag stops the transfer of PageRank across the link, providing little to no benefit to ranking.

So, to boost your site's authority, it's essential that you focus on getting 'dofollow' links.

A link from a high-quality web page

Bear with us here.

If you were to ask questions like, "How can I measure the quality of a web page?", and, "Isn’t this a bit too subjective?", you'd have some legitimate concerns.

Clearly, to help us, we need to find an objective way of measuring the quality of a web page.

One of the easiest ways to do this without paying for expensive online tools is by using Moz's Page Authority (PA) metric.

PA predicts how well an individual page will rank in the SERPs, as scored from one to 100, with the higher the score, the better you can assess the quality of the web page to be.

It's worth noting that the PA scale is logarithmic, meaning it's much easier to grow the score from 25-35 than it is from 75-85.

So, when link-building, look for sites with as high a PA score as possible, because the higher the PA of linking page, the more reputable the linked-to page on your site, and your website as a whole, will look to Google.

boom agency seo page authority process map

Simple.

A link from an overall high-quality website

It isn't enough to only target high-quality web pages.

You want links from overall high quality domains too.

When it comes to assessing the quality of a website as a whole, Moz's Domain Authority (DA) metric is a good option.

DA is similar to PA in that it predicts rank-ability; however, in this case, it assesses the website as a whole rather than the individual page.

Again, as with PA, the higher the DA of the linking site, the better, and the more this additional authority will contribute to helping you outrank your competitors.

The Relationship Between Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)
Now that we've covered PA and DA, it's worth discussing their relationship and how they impact each other.

Here's how they are linked:
  1. As a web page on your site acquires more quality backlinks, the PA value for the web page will increase, leading to better rankings by the search engines.
  2. The increase in this specific web page’s PA value will lead to a subsequent increase in the site’s overall DA value.
  3. The increase in your site’s DA value will provide benefits to all of your site’s web pages (including those with fewer quality backlinks).
The opposite of this is also true...

Increasing the number of poor quality backlinks has been shown to decrease rankings.

Why?

Because the opposite of the above process occurs, with the increased number of crappy links diluting the web page's authoritativeness in the eyes of Google.

Similar to the chain reaction above, a dip in PA for a particular page will cause the site as a whole to lose DA.

This dip in DA negatively impacts the rankings of all pages, regardless of which one the weak link is associated with.

Can you see now why building high-quality links is so critical?
A link which is relevant

The fourth foundation of a strong backlink is relevance.

There are a few different ways that a link can be considered to be relevant, including:

  • Website to website - The linking website covers the same topic as your site.
  • Website to web page - The link website's overall topic is the same as your site's web page that receives the link.
  • Web page to web page - The linking web page covers the same topic as your site's web page that receives the link.
  • Link to web page - The text surrounding the specific link on the web page is relevant to the content of your site’s web page that receives the link.
Keyword in the anchor text

It's very beneficial from an SEO perspective to have your primary keyword included in the anchor text of your backlinks.

This has been shown to boost rankings.

If you're confused on what anchor text is, it's the specific text that someone clicks to follow a link on a website.

A word of warning though...

Google's algorithm is more than smart enough to spot shady tactics.

One of the things it penalises websites for again and again is the overuse of exact-match anchor text.

Let's pretend you run a graphic design business that specialises in infographics, and you wrote ten guest posts that all link back to your site.

If all ten links used the words 'infographic design' in the anchor text, for example, Google would get suspicious because this starts to look spammy.

If all ten links were added naturally by different site owners, there's almost zero chance of them all containing the same keyword.

When this happens, it looks unnatural, and this raises a flag which could lead to a penalty.

A link from a site that hasn't linked to you before

It's essential to understand the law of diminishing returns when it comes to backlinks.

It isn't the sheer number of backlinks that necessarily matters, but rather the specific number of domains that link to your website.

From a ranking perspective, it's generally better to get backlinks from two different websites than it is to get a second link from a particular domain, for example.

You'll get less and less ranking benefit from the second, third, fourth, fifth link, and so on.

Because of this, it's better to target new domains in your link building campaigns.

Doing so will help you grow your site's authority by as much as possible.

How to Build Backlinks

Now that you know what to look for, the next step is to go out and start building quality links to your site.

Be under no illusions here, though, building links is hard.

And building links with sufficient quality to move the traffic needle is harder still.

Because of this, you may be tempted to settle for a link that meets one, two, or even three of the 'foundations' we mentioned above.

However, that would be a mistake.

You need to avoid 'quick fix' solutions like the plague, and things like paid link-building schemes and swapping links with a stranger's crappy website are complete no-nos.

They aren't worth the risk.

Yes, you'll probably see from benefit in the short-term, but Google will figure out what you're up to and penalise you accordingly. They always do.

There's a reason why proper link-building and boosting your site's authority are critical factors to SEO success. They take vast amounts of time and effort!

Adding an H1 tag to your site is simple, whereas getting a backlink from the likes of Forbes is extremely difficult.

Take solace in this fact though, because if quality link-building were easy, all your competitors would be doing it - and the truth is, they aren’t.

Sure, they may build the odd link here or there, but most sites still focus on quantity versus quality, and very few have the commitment to consistently build links over the long-term.

That's your in.

That's how you can compete.

Focus on quality, and make link-building a priority that you focus on continually (not something you do now and again when you remember or when it’s 'flavour of the month').

Trust us; this is the number one strategy to turn the tables and start stealing the traffic from your competitors' sites.

Here are some of our favourite ways to build links:
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Write Testimonials

You probably use various products and services while running your website.

Some of these you may even think that you can’t live without.

Have you ever thought about writing testimonials for these?

It's a great way to boost your site's exposure while simultaneously growing authority.

Testimonials are a proven way to grow sales. Because of this, the businesses behind whatever product or service you use heavily will usually be more than happy to feature your glowing review on their site.

Don't forget to ask for a 'dofollow' link back for maximum impact.
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Find Resource Pages

Resource pages are web pages that curate and link to useful resources for a specific industry.

They're one of the quickest and easiest ways to build valuable, quality backlinks, especially if you’ve got heaps of link-worthy content.

You can quickly find these types of pages on Google.

Provided they're relevant and of sufficient quality, contact the site’s owner and ask your website to be added.
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Create Link-Worthy Content

Research the top-ten results in Google for your chosen keyword, and then create something more in-depth or present the information differently.

The bottom line?

You need to create content that's better than anything else out there.

Once created, reach out to the owners of sites that are relevant to yours and tell them how the content will be valuable to their audience.

That's how you get links. That's how you build authority.
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Competitor Mentions

Similar to unlinked mentions, this is where a website has mentioned some of your competitors but not you.

As with unlinked mentions, you can use a tool like Mention. com, or you can search for these mentions directly via Google.

Again, you’ll want to make sure that the references are positive, and the link pages are of sufficient quality.

Once you've determined this, you can contact the site owner and ask them to reference your brand or website too.
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Guest Posting

Guest posting is the #1 strategy we rely on at BOOM.

It involves finding opportunities and request to write and submit content on other, relevant sites.

When it comes to guest posting, your primary considerations should be quality rather than quantity, and relevance.

Creating high-quality, ultra-targeted guest content will help you build relevant, quality backlinks which Google can only view positively.
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Broken Link Building

Broken link building involves finding links in your niche or area of expertise that are no longer live.

Once found, you’d then create a piece of high-quality content that’s relevant to the original link.

The next step is to contact website owners to ask them to replace their broken link with one to your new resource.

It might sound laborious, but if you uncover a popular resource that is no longer live, you can find potentially hundreds of new backlink opportunities for your site.
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'Unlinked Mentions'

This is where someone has mentioned your website somewhere online, but they haven’t provided a link.

Unlinked mentions are another relatively easy way to build links that you’ll want to take advantage of.

You can use a tool like Mention.com to keep track of discussions around your brand or website.

Follow these discussions up with a simple email request for a link when you find unlinked mentions.
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Contact Journalists

A great option is here is HARO, which stands for ‘Help A Reporter Out’.

It can be a great way to boost exposure by getting media coverage of your business or website.

HARO pairs journalists with authoritative sources of information, including business experts, which could provide you with opportunities to establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
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Blogger Outreach

Blogger outreach is another strategy that we rely heavily on.

The reason? There are millions of blogs online, covering thousands and thousands of different topics.

The whole concept of blogger outreach is to find influential bloggers in your space, reaching out to them, and building a relationship.

The end goal of this is to guest post on their site, request they share something, to ask for a link, or to develop a partnership, for example, via a content series.
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Create Roundup Posts

A popular type of roundup post is the 'expert roundup'.

All you need to do is ask several influencers within your niche the same question; something that your audience would benefit from or find engaging.

You'd then write an article or blog post featuring their answers, highlighting the similarities, differences, and whatever conclusions you find interesting.

The influencers will usually be more than happy to share the link to because it features them, boosting your article's authority and exposure. A real win-win.
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Get Interviewed

Reach out to podcasters, YouTubers, or website owners in your niche with whom you could potentially collaborate.

You could agree to an audio interview, a video interview, or even a written Q&A that you email back.

Interviews are a great way to build a relationship with an influencer while simultaneously getting your website in front of a broader audience.
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Infographic Outreach

Infographics are hugely beneficial from a link-building perspective because of how shareable they are.

They’re proven to increase web traffic, as well as increasing engagement, which improves on-page metrics like time on page, and more social sharing.

Because of this, website owners tend to be more open to posting an infographic on their site than a guest post, because they realise the value for their audience and their website as a whole.

So, spend time developing quality infographics, and then pitch the hell out of them to key influencers in your niche.

Conclusion

We hope that you've found this article interesting and valuable.

The key takeaway here is that you can't expect to outrank your competitors if you aren't focused on building relevant high-quality backlinks.

We've given you everything you need to get started.

There's no point reinventing the wheel here, so feel free to steal our backlink strategy to massively improve the impact of your content marketing.

Don't forget - if you require any help with building backlinks or your website's SEO as a whole, you can get in contact with our SEO superstars here.

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