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One of the most important parts of creating a strong website that brings in a good amount of traffic and converts that traffic into customers is using backlinks.
Gaining quality backlinks is one of the foundations your search engine optimization plan should be based on because they are so important to getting your website ranked higher on Google and other search engines. However, unlike some parts of your SEO strategy, backlinks are built a little bit differently and are actually more challenging in many ways, especially when it comes to quality links.
What Is a Backlink?
A backlink is, simply, a link from any other website that connects to your website. If someone links to your website in their blog, that’s a backlink.
Learn the Definition of a Backlink
Learn the definition of a backlink in video below.
When your business appears on a review site such as Yelp and there’s a link to your website, that’s another type of backlink. In most cases, these backlinks are created by other webmasters, bloggers, social media users, and anyone else who links to your website from another.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks are important because they speak to how popular your website is. If many people are linking to your site, Google will take notice of this.
The search engine will give websites more points for having a large number of quality backlinks, which means that it will be ranked higher in search engine results than those that don’t have many backlinks.
Because you have no control over which websites link to yours, Google sees this as a good way of determining the quality of your website. Trusted sites that Google knows to be high quality wouldn’t link to yours unless it was also high quality and contained useful content, so seeing a backlink tells Google that your site is an authority on the information it shares.
However, there’s a keyword that must be kept in mind at all time: Quality.
If a website has hundreds of links to it from websites that Google considers very low quality or spam, those backlinks will actually hurt the website’s reputation.
Years ago, webmasters could simply buy backlinks from link farm sites (also known as Private Blog Networks) or offer a “link for link” trade with other webmasters. Today, these tactics are no longer valid and leave websites ranked far lower than they might otherwise be.
If a website has no relevant content, uses nothing but copied content, or includes any SEO techniques that Google does not approve of, it’s likely that any backlink from that site will impact your results negatively. If you see links like that, it’s best to ask the webmaster to remove them or to use Google’s disavow links tool to state that you have no connection to that website.
Relevance of Backlinks
Besides quality, backlinks have one other very important factor that helps Google determine how many points you get for that backlink, and that’s relevance. You get more benefits for a backlink that is from a relevant site or contains content relevant to your website, than you do from an unrelated site or having your link in unrelated content.
For example, if you run a florist website and you receive backlinks from a gardening blog, a large florist network, and a group such as the Society of American Florists, those backlinks will all help your website because they’re all related to your site. However, a backlink from a computer software website will do very little for you because that site is not related at all.
Acquiring Backlinks Is a Slow Process
Backlink building is a slow process, and that’s how it should be. If you start up a new website and immediately have hundreds of backlinks from different websites, Google may be very suspicious.
Websites that do that often buy backlinks from poor-quality, irrelevant sites, and that only hurts them. On the other hand, if your website gains a good amount of backlinks from trusted sites over a period of months or even a year, Google sees that as your site naturally gaining recognition online which boosts your online visibility (rank position’s in Google).
Page Authority of Backlinks
Backlinks play directly into your page authority, which is an aggregate score based off of a number of different factors complied by Moz, a website that looks at link counts, popularity, and more. The higher your page authority, the higher your website will most likely rank on search engines.
The algorithm is predictive, which means that while it is very, very good at determining a page’s expected rank; it may be off a bit.
Having a strong page authority does more than just show that your website is going to rank well on Google. It also means that any backlinks you provide to other sites are likely to be considered strong links because your website is a trusted source.
This is why you want to look for websites with a high page authority for your own backlinks.
You can actually use Moz to look at the page authority of various websites. You can seek out sites that are related to yours and have strong page authority and approach them for backlinks.
Domain Authority of Backlinks
A related factor is domain authority. Domain authority looks at the entire domain or subdomain rather than just one website to determine how high quality the domain is.
Domains with many websites that offer helpful, unique content are going to rank higher and, therefore, give better backlinks.
The Importance of Anchor Text
The anchor text is the text that is hyperlinked to another website. Often, anchor text is the website name or a keyword that is connected to the website.
For example, on your own website, all of your navigation links are anchor text. The words you use for anchor text are important in two different ways.
First, the keywords tell Google what the website is about. The more strong keywords that are used as anchor text for your website, the more Google considers your site authoritative for those keywords.
The florist site mentioned earlier may have the word “florist” appear in the anchor text of many of its backlinks, which tells Google the site should rank fairly high in queries for a florist.
The other use of anchor text is to tell the reader where the link is going to take them. Rather than simply using something like “click here” or “this site” for anchor text, readers want to know what the link is going to provide them with.
That’s why most people use descriptive anchor text that is almost a summary of the destination.
One interesting thing to note about anchor text is that Google only looks at the first anchor text on a webpage for a linked website. That means if you link to the same website three times on a page, only the first anchor text is going to be noted by the search engine.
With that said, you want to use your strongest keywords at the top.
Spam backlinks are basically any type of link achieved through black hat SEO techniques. This includes purchasing backlinks on link farm websites (PBN‘s), but there are many other types of spam links, too:
Leaving comments on multiple blogs or forums with a link to your website in your signature or in the comment itself when the blog/forum is completely unrelated.
Posting linked articles on article farm websites.
Creating a blog or other social media site that contains only a few pages that all have backlinks to your site.
Links in the footer of every page of a website.
Links on social bookmarking sites.
Google will ignore some of these spam links and penalize your website for others. That’s why it’s important that you regularly look at your website’s traffic sources.
If you see a URL that you don’t know, you may want to visit it to see why it is linking to your site. If it’s a spam link, attempt to have it removed or disavow it as soon as you can so it doesn’t negatively impact your website.
Acquiring Backlinks is a Challenging Task
Acquiring quality backlinks is a challenging task, there’s no doubt about that. However, if you create strong, useful content that your visitors find helpful, acquiring backlinks can naturally occur but that is usually few and far between.
These days, you need to be aggressive in acquiring backlinks and not wait for them to come to you naturally.
Ways you can help it along are by contributing guest posts to other blogs with a link to yours, purchasing sponsored posts, and other cooperative ventures (such as sharing inforgraphics you create to other websites with a link back to your website); but overall, you want your backlinks to be relevant.
Get Help Acquiring Quality Backlinks
If you need help acquiring quality backlinks to your website, ZrysMedia Team can help. Contact us and we will share how we can help you.
We successfully acquire backlinks for clients in various industries, and will be happy to do the same for you. View proof of our quality link building services by viewing our Client Examples page which showcases recent links we've built.