Backlinks, or incoming links, are links from one website to another. If someone links from their website to yours, that is a backlink for you. If you link to someone else’s website, that is a backlink for them.
Backlinks are important because the quality and quantity that you have can help you rank higher in search engine results pages. Google and other search engines consider backlinks as ‘votes’ for good content so they help the EAT principle – Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness that forms the cornerstone of Google’s ranking factors. A website with many good quality backlinks will receive more organic traffic.
Using links in a search engine algorithm is nothing new. In fact, backlinks formed the foundation of Google’s original algorithm (known as “PageRank”). Although Google has made thousands of changes to its algorithm since then, backlinks remain a key ranking signal. Backlinks should therefore be an important part of any SEO strategy.
What types of backlinks are valuable?
Not all backlinks are beneficial. Here are some of the qualities that make a good backlink:
Google will prioritise links from quality, trusted websites over those from little known websites. This is known as Domain Authority. One link from a trusted source is more valuable in terms of SEO than 1000 links from poor quality websites.
Google uses algorithms to determine page authority, you can check this by using a free tool from Moz.
Google will also put more weight on links that relate to your content. For instance, if you write a blog about swimming, Google will give more credit to links from websites related to swimming and sport than any others.
3. Editorial Standards
The best links come from sites that have editorial standards. If a site is handing out thousands of backlinks it will look spammy to Google and won’t be trusted.
Don’t bother getting backlinks from any site that isn’t indexed. If a site isn’t in the index, it will never show up on an organic search.
Sites get indexed when Google’s spider crawler visits and explores them, following links to find out what’s there. Each page it discovers will have either an index or a no-index meta tag, and the spider files that page in the index or not as instructed.
Fortunately, it’s really easy to find out whether a site is indexed. If you have a backlink offer from BrainSurgery.com, just do a Google search for “site:brainsurgery.com.” If it doesn’t appear in the results, don’t accept the offer.
5. Anchor text
Anchor text refers to the clickable words that form a backlink. Google says that anchor text influences rankings in their original patent.
“Google employs a number of techniques to improve search quality including page rank, anchor text, and proximity information.”
That said, when Ahrefs studied the relationship between anchor text and rankings across 384,614 pages, the correlations were weak. So while anchor text does matter, it’s not as important as other things.
Links should also be ‘dofollow’ links, ‘nofollow’ links tell Google to ignore them.
How to get backlinks
1. Create great content
One way to earn backlinks is to create interesting and informative content that others will want to link to. This is a strategy that will take time and effort. The content doesn’t have to just be written, infographics are more likely to be shared and linked to.
2. Write articles for other websites
Guest blogging is a good way of achieving a backlink to your site, offer to write articles for websites that are appropriate for your industry. You can then include a link to your website in the content.
3. Join Industry Forums
When you join an industry forum you can include a link to your website in your profile. You will then be able to post comments, start discussions and connect with others which will all give you backlinks, just try not to be too promotional.
4. Post blog comments
If you’re a bit selective and your comments add value to the thread this can generate traffic to your website. Just be careful not to spam multiple blogs just to get a link in, you want to come across as intelligent and thoughtful so write a sentence or two picking up a point from the blog and include your link naturally.
5. Submit testimonials
Companies big and small love to show off customer testimonials. If you’re using a product or service that you love (or at least like), consider sending them a review. To show that you’re a real person they’ll often add a link to your website, without you even having to ask.
6. List in Directories
If there are local or niche directories that are suitable for your business, listing in them will provide a backlink to your website. Just make sure they are relevant to your business.
Backlinks to avoid
1. Public link networks
These are websites where people pay to have links from them to their website. Google hates these networks because they don’t create value for the reader. They pack their home pages with unrelated links and have hardly any content.
When Google finds these networks—and they often do—they can de-index the network and shut it down. Google can also penalise the owners of the links, so don’t think that losing the backlink is the worst that can happen. It’s best to avoid these full stop.
2. Automated link building
There are software programs that promise to put your link on multiple sites. The trouble is they aren’t selective and having your link on many irrelevant sites may earn you a penalty.
3. Purchased comments
Again, although these are inexpensive, they will pack your backlink in with many others which may be disreputable sites and will get you a penalty.
4. Header and footer backlinks
Google prioritises links that are relevant to the content on the page. If your link is embedded in the header or footer and visible on every page this is more likely to be ignored by Google as it isn’t relevant to the content.
Quality backlinks are a cornerstone of any SEO strategy and so should be prioritised. They add authority to a website’s content and are therefore focused on by search engines. It can take time to build up good backlinks but it is worth the effort and worth being selective.
For help with your SEO strategy get in touch with us, either by phone on 01202 650 333 or by email on email@example.com.
Back to blog home