Backlinks are probably the most important aspect of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Building or optimizing your website by implementing an effective content and keyword strategy, and organizing your on- and off-site elements, is a great foundation for SEO. Optimizing these elements will certainly go a long way in increasing your search engine rankings. But at the end of the day, a comprehensive (and on-going) link building campaign is the catalyst that will take a well-ranking website and really push it to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
When trying to aquire backlinks for SEO purposes, look for websites that are considered authorities and top dogs, or at least reputable companies and businesses, in your industry. Industry authorities usually have lots of backlinks coming in to their own websites themselves, which is definitelty a plus when it comes to SEO.
Focus on getting backlinks from sources that have similar or relevant content to your own website. When the website is based around the same subject as yours, or is at least related to your subject, then it’s considered a “relevant” backlink. Backlinks from related websites carry a higher link equity (how much weight the search engines place on that link when deciding how much it should help your search engine ranking). It’s beneficial if the originating site also uses some of the same keywords that you use on your own page.
There are a couple of other things to keep in mind when vetting backlinks for SEO. First, try to make sure that the anchor text of your backlink (the word(s) that the user clicks on to come to your site) contains keywords for the page on your website that it is linking to. The only way for you to control this is to get in touch with the webmaster of the other website and ask that they use your requested anchor text. For example, if I were trying to get a backlink from the directory of companies that sell Martin Guitar Straps, you would want the anchor text to say Martin Guitar Straps on Sale or Cambridge Valley Music – Your Martin String and Accessorie Shop instead of just “website #12” or something non-descriptive of your site’s content.