What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are a fundamental aspect of any successful SEO campaign, and it’s important we get them right. But what exactly are they?
To put it simply, backlinks tell search engines that other sites vouch for your content. A backlink is created when a link to your website appears on another website, or vice versa. Backlinks have the potential to be a primary measure of trust, rank and importance in Googles eyes.
Back in the early days of search engines, link building was a pretty basic concept. A link was a vote of popularity, and so the sites with the most links were the sites that ranked the highest. As you can imagine, this system was easily abused, and abused it was. In the world of SEO today, link building in general and the potential impact of a backlink have seen some fairly dramatic changes.
Why You Need Backlinks?
So we understand that backlinks are a pretty important part of Search Engine Optimisation. But why do we need them? What do they do?
Search Engine Rankings
If you’re taking the time to implement SEO for your website, you’re probably aware of the value of high keyword ranking in search results. Well, backlinks remain one of the most heavily weighted ranking signals in Google’s Algorithm. In other words, backlinks are crucial to your websites ranking success.
In fact, according to First Page Sage, links were the number one ranking factor in Googles Ranking Algorithm last year:
Page Rank Boost
Page rank is a calculation made by Google which evaluates a web page and determines a score (0 – 10) of that page’s authority and importance. This score then comes in to play when controlling things such as ranking positions on search engine results pages. In part, page rank is determined by the quality of the websites that provide you a backlink. If your website has high quality backlinks from websites with high page ranks, there’s a good chance that your page rank will see a boost too.
If you have a website, you probably want people to be able to find it in search engines. In order for your website to appear in google search results, the pages need to be crawled by Google bots and added to Google’s index. Learn more about how to index your website and get your pages ranking faster.
With the millions and millions of web pages out there to be crawled and indexed, Google needs signals to help determine which pages deserve to be added to the index first. One of these signals is backlinks. The more quality backlinks a site has, the more trustworthy, reputable and better quality is it in the eyes of a search engine. A site with a solid backlink profile is a site that Google is more likely to prioritise during crawling and indexing processes.
What Google Wants
Google has some fairly detailed guidelines for linking which give you a full understanding of their link building policies.
But in short, Google sees a healthy backlink profile as an indication of authority, relevance and trust in your site. Google wants your backlink profile to be made up of links that come from a diverse range or sources, and are connected to topic relevant and high quality content on trustworthy domains.
Your links should appear natural, Google isn’t a fan on mass produced links and see’s them as an attempt to manipulate the ranking processes. Here’s what they’ve said about natural link building:
“When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google’s perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking.” “The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. …Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
Its might be time to re-think those bulk directory listings!
Best Practice Link Building
Gone are the days of building as many links as you possibly and in the shortest period of time! Today, link building is about natural growth, genuine content sharing and relevancy to search queries.
Based on Googles linking policies, and following our goals as marketers, it’s time to stop the aggressive link building to spammy, low quality websites and start focusing on relevance and content quality. A link is not just a link. In fact, a low quality back link profile can do some real harm on the value of your domain. So build mindfully!
Here’s the main take-away for best practice link building in 2018:
Relevance: The page you are linking to, or the page that is linking to you, should be relevant to the content on your website. Focus on context and relevancy.
Quality Sites: Carefully review each and every site you form a link with. Look at things such as Domain Authority (credibility score), content quality, keyword rankings and consistency of activity and engagement.
Quantity: As we’ve determined, the quantity of backlinks don’t matter unless they are also quality. Google doesn’t respond well to bulk link building and values gradual growth highly.
Content: When is comes to SEO, content is key. This is no different for backlinks. The content on the page you are linking to (and from) needs to be relevant, high quality content. Avoid anything full of spam, thin on words or not unique.
Link building is a crucial component of any good SEO campaign, so it’s important to make sure you’re building a healthy backlink profile for your site. Get in contact with the team at Lauren Benedetti to learn how to incorporate link building into your SEO strategy!