What is Backlinking? (And Why Education Providers Should Care)
For any business looking to market themselves and reach customers, backlinking can be a massively helpful tool.
Backlinks are links on other websites that link back to your own site. This is different from linking pages to one another within your own site, as these inbound links are coming from an entirely different source.
But how can education providers take full advantage? How do backlinks help generate traffic, increase conversions and improve on-site SEO?
We’ll go through some of the critical methods that you can use to help take your SEO and web presence to the next level.
Why should education providers care about backlinks?
Boosting your backlink profile improves your onsite SEO and can help make a splash on Google’s front page. Although you may not see results overnight, establishing a long-term strategy that is based around quality content and links to sites that use quality SEO practises is the best way forward.
Backlinks help with your Google Ranking
Google is one of the most popular search engines globally, so appearing high up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for valuable search terms is an excellent way for customers to discover you.
Google Ranking describes how high you show up in search results and varies from search term to search term. So, if Google ranks your content highly, then you’ll be amongst the first few results that appear.
Ranking highly on Google’s search results can have a huge impact. A study from Backlinko found that moving up to the number one position on Google for a search term can boost click through rate by as much as 31%.
Backlinks help Google decide whether your content is actually relevant to a user’s search query. One way is by using factors to determine how trustworthy you are as a source.
If other websites link to your content, Google trusts that you are a reliable source of information. Many sites could reference you as a recommended education provider if they link to your home page. If it’s a specific piece of content, many sites might have quoted you as a reliable thought leader or valuable source of information that backs a point they’re validating.
Google is constantly working to decide how reliable your site and content are for a particular search term as a place for quality information. Backlinks are one of the most powerful tools you can use to make the case that you are a good source.
Builds your reputation
Appearing on other websites shows your potential students and other institutions that there is significant interest around you and the services you provide.
Much in the same way an author or academic might gain additional credibility by being featured in lots of newspapers, this same principle is true for backlinks from other sites. If you already have an outreach strategy to promote your expertise, layering a backlinking strategy over it can be easily done. It can quickly boost your Google rankings and online presence.
Backlinks can increase Google’s level of trust in you, and this goes for people as well. In the same way providers use LinkedIn or other social media to promote themselves, the same approach can be taken with backlinking. Getting your name out there through backlinks generates greater interest around you while also positively impacting your Google ranking and onsite SEO. The process of manually acquiring links is known as “outreach.”
It can attract more traffic and increase conversions
A study from Ahrefs found that across 920 million web pages, the higher level of traffic correlated with the number of referring domains. Simply put, those websites which are being linked to by a greater quantity of websites tend to have a greater volume of users.
This data demonstrates the clear correlation between high search traffic and a high number of backlinks. Not only can backlinks provide your site with all of the benefits discussed above, but there’s clear evidence that it will drive traffic to your site. This is a key factor Google considers when determining your rankings for each search term.
Ideally, you want to acquire links that meet some sort of quality score, and while these measures may somewhat differ from organisation to organisation, it’s essential to stick to these metrics whenever you are looking at external websites from whom you want links.
When conducting outreach, the most powerful and helpful links will be for sites that are similar to yours and are used by a similar audience. This is because they’re more likely to be clicked on, although links from all sites will help in some part to boost your Google Ranking.
Three simple backlinking strategies
Outreach to thought leaders in your industry and ask them if they would like to feature or link to your work on their site.
Become a site that is trusted as a resource through content, which can generate self-promoting links.
Create thought leadership content that makes you stand out as a leader in your industry that other businesses and publications will want to use as a source, or link to.
What are the risks of a poor backlinking strategy?
A poor backlinking strategy causes you to miss out on improvements to your Google rankings and greater brand authority.
You may already be reaching out and making connections with other businesses but not making the most of your relationships in an SEO capacity. In that case, it can be challenging to go back and reconnect as opposed to doing it at the first point of contact.
Lastly, good outreach can help you respond to newsworthy trends and events that are occurring within your industry. If you aren’t getting your expertise out there, you run the risk of falling behind those competitors who are more proactive in doing so.
Ultimately, backlinking should be a core part of your SEO and engagement strategy. It can help to supercharge your site traffic and onsite engagement, allowing you to reach more potential students and increase conversions.