Because backlinks boost a web page’s level of authority – and authority is a key search engine ranking factor – it is absolutely essential that any web page you are trying to promote has a lot of high-quality backlinks pointing to it in order to achieve high search engine rankings.
While the best backlinks are those that are earned on the strength of great content, great content will not be seen unless the web page it occupies is highly visible in the search results. If it’s not seen, it won’t attract backlinks. If it doesn’t attract backlinks, search engines will not see it as an authoritative page and, as a result, it will be virtually invisible in the search results. Little or no visibility in the search results perpetuates the vicious cycle of little or no search referral traffic, few or no backlinks, and low authority pr backlink.
Popular Sources of Easy-to-Get Backlinks
While they’re on their way to being discovered for their great content, many website owners embark upon campaigns to proactively build backlinks by targeting websites that permit (and even encourage) the creation of backlinks.
Following are some of the most commonly targeted backlink sources:
Forums and bulletin boards
Social bookmarking sites
While the quality of backlinks obtained from the above-noted sources varies greatly, they can help to accelerate your progress towards greater visibility in the search results, more natural search traffic, natural backlinks, and increased authority, which, in turn, leads to even greater visibility, more traffic, more natural backlinks, and more authority. On and on it goes.
Your Competition as a Source of Backlinks
Another great and often overlooked source of powerful backlinks is your competition – specifically, competing web pages that rank at or near the top of the search results for the same keywords you’re targeting.
After all, they attained their high search engine rankings due, in large part, to their authority – and since authority is mostly a function of backlinks, it’s theoretically possible for you to achieve the same level of authority simply by embarking on a backlink-building campaign that targets the same backlinks they have. Very simply, if you could get all of the web pages that have backlinks on them to a competitor’s web page to add backlinks to one of your web pages – all other things being equal – that page would be equal to the competitor’s web page in terms of authority.
In fact, it’s theoretically possible to surpass the authority of any top-ranking individual web page by targeting all of the backlinks of the top two, three, or four search results – rather than only the backlinks of the top search result.
Finding Backlink Data on the Competition
To find backlink data on any web page, simply visit Yahoo’s Site Explorer, enter the URL of a page whose backlinks you want to identify, and click on the “Explore URL” button. You will be served up with a list of the backlinks point to the page you specified (note: you can harvest backlink data on Google and other search engines, but Yahoo will report up to 1,000 backlinks – which is more than any other search engine).
If you want to dive a little deeper in your backlink analysis – by reviewing backlink quality factors – consider installing SEOQuake’s free extension for Firefox and Chrome. In addition to providing you with a list of backlinks (it uses Yahoo Site Explorer for this), it will also report on a number of different factors that affect backlink quality, such as PageRank of the page and the domain, “Nofollow/Dofollow” status of the backlinks on the page, domain age, and so forth.
Target Your Top Competitors’ Backlinks for Some Quick and Easy Wins
While it’s true that many web pages earn the majority of their backlinks on the strength of great content and not a backlink-building campaign, it is not at all uncommon to find that a number of top-ranking web pages in some industries have a disproportionate number of backlinks coming from sources that are generally regarded as questionable in quality: forum profiles, social bookmarking sites, blog comments, and so forth.
Nevertheless, since “questionable quality” backlinks form a major part of the backlink foundation upon which high search engine rankings are built for so many web pages, you should set your sights on your top competitors’ backlinks and embark upon a backlink-building campaign that can put you on the fast-track to the top.