In the game of search engine rankings, SEO backlinks can make or break your site’s position in search results. A backlink is simply any link to your site from another site. For the purposes of search engine rankings, a link from an article or site that is somehow related to your own topic has more power than a directory listing or a page filled with advertising.

Backlinking Magic

Once upon a time, websites tried to get as many backlinks as possible without worrying much about the quality of the backlink. However, with changes to Google’s algorithm, and all search engines looking at higher quality search results, the quality of backlinks has become as important as the number of backlinks.

Some things to look for as you search for sites to link to your own include:

  • Sites that rank high. Check this on sites like or by downloading Google’s Page Rank toolbar.
  • Sites that aren’t heavy on ads. Sites that have too many ads may be seen as spammy by search engine raters and penalized, which in turn may hurt your site ranking later on.
  • Sites that have nothing but links to other sites. Link pages truly should be a thing of the past. A better way to backlink is within the body of an article, on the other site. Of course, the topic needs to be related to your site.

Check Out the Competition
Once you identify sites that rank high in search engines, study what your competition is doing for their own backlinks. Use tools like Backlink Watch and enter in your competitor’s website address to get a list of backlinks.

Now, take the time to study this list. What keywords are your competitors using the most? What keywords are less competitive between your competitors where you might be able to gain backlinks and thus some traffic that your competitors do not have.

For example, if your competitor has several sites linking to:

You might try to gain backlinks with the keywords “successful backlinks” instead:

Two Things You Can Do Today to Clean Up Your Backlinks
If you’re like most small business owners, you may already have backlinks from several places and now realize that you need to better utilize keywords for optimum search engine placement. There are a couple of quick things you can do today to start cleaning up your backlinks and improve your search engine rankings.

  1. If your site is linked from a directory or ad-heavy site, contact the owner and ask to have your link removed. Remember that quality is more important than quantity. One exception to this is if you check your web traffic stats and see that you get a significant amount of traffic from the directory.
  2. Create new content with keywords that your competitors are not using and ask for backlinks from new, high traffic sites.

Remember, offer content that is of value to the readers of the high-value sites you want backlinks from and you’ll improve your search engine rankings. Plus, those who click on the backlink will appreciate the value of your site and may just bookmark it for later use.

Do you plan to do any work on your SEO backlinks after reading this article? What’s first on your list?

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