Let’s start at the beginning: what are backlinks? Backlinks are inbound links that come from other sites to your site. Backlinks have been an important topic of discussion when it comes to websites’ SEO for quite some time. Just as a colleague would refer another colleague in real life, the same thing happens online. A site having a link to another site provides a referral, or a vote of confidence, for that site. In the SEO world, this has been referred to as “link juice,” meaning that a link from another site is passing “link juice” or “vote of confidence” or “endorsement” through to another site. When you have good backlinks from other credible websites, you reap the benefits through better rankings. One of the most important factors when it comes to backlinks is that the site providing the backlink is deemed as a credible source of information. In other words, links from spammy sites could actually have a negative effect on your SEO. Google doesn’t like when its algorithms are manipulated, and they are getting really good at being able to tell what’s natural and what’s not. In fact, Google is beginning to view brand mentions in a similar way to backlinks, which provides you with another opportunity to build credibility.
Brand Mentions and Backlinks
So, what do backlinks have to do with brand mentions? Well, just as backlinks from credible sources provide “link juice” to a site, Google is starting to pick up on brand mentions in a similar fashion. When a business’ name is mentioned online, Google is able to identify this information, and again see this mention as a vote of confidence for a site. This applies to other online assets like social media sites.
But who can provide brand mentions for you, to help your site and rankings? A good place to start is with the business relationships you have already created. This could be vendors, partners, clients, events, sponsorships, etc. Ask them to mention you online and link to your website. Then, you can look at who is making brand mentions online to your competitors and uncover opportunities there. Find influencers in the industry that are willing to engage with you online through links or brand mentions. Make sure you are engaging with others by posting brand mentions or backlinks in return, or to help engage with other businesses online. Share the wealth!
Another excellent SEO opportunity is turning brand mentions into links. Determine where you brand mentions are coming from, and request that they add a link to your site. As a note, links are going to hold a little bit more weight when it comes to equity over brand mentions. Make sure you are linking to credible sources and where it makes the most sense to link to other sites.
Bad Backlinks and Brand Mentions
All “press” is not good press when it comes to backlinks and brand mentions. Bad backlinks and brand mentions can hurt your site and your rankings, so it’s good to make sure you are not getting links or brand mentions to your site from spammy, low-quality websites. These bad backlinks could tank your website rankings outside of your control. Unfortunately, there are no laws against this practice, so competitors can build bad backlinks to your site, for which Google can penalize YOU for.
But what you can do is monitor both your backlinks and mentions for any sketchy activity. There are online tools you can use to track your backlinks and brand mentions:
Tools for Tracking Backlinks
Tools for Tracking Brand Mentions
In addition to just monitoring for bad links and mentions, you need to focus on building good ones. If you are not staying on top of your brand mentions and backlinks, there is a good chance that you could fall behind your competitors who are and miss out on some really great opportunities. If someone links to your site, chances are others will, too. Links build more links, and if you’re not the one having those links built about your brand, it’s going to be hard to catch up to your competitors that are building those links. The same goes for brand mentions. Also, if you are building valuable content but not focusing on backlinks within it, you’re missing out on getting your content into the web for users to see it!
If you have questions about backlinks, brand mentions, or anything related to SEO and digital marketing, contact us! We’re always here to help.