Backlinks, or also known as inbound links, are no doubt an integral part of SEO. If you want to make sure that your site ever sees the light of day on Google’s first page, you have to have enough credible backlinks pointing back at you. That is a major part of Digital marketing 101 in building up your site.
A website’s backlinks are Google’s way of assessing popularity and site reputation. The logic behind it is that if a lot of good and quality websites are pointing to it then it’s trustworthy enough to be shown to the majority of Google users. As one of the building blocks of a solid SEO foundation, it’s an essential part of your SEO campaign that you can’t afford to leave out. Below are just some of the reasons why!
Go For Quantity or Quality?
This has been a much-debated aspect when it comes to backlinks. Do you actually go for quantity or quality?
To that, I say, it’s still best to go for quality. Going for quantity means the effort and time you have to put in has to be multiplied as well. This could be a viable strategy if it’s super effective but the thing is, it’s not. If you think a couple of mediocre links can equal one hard-to-obtain quality backlink then it’s time to update what you know.
Even just one backlink from a high authority site can give a big bump to your site which means you get to skip a couple of pages and rank closer to the first page. Link building is an important part (the most important part) of SEO today.
How to Determine Quality Links
One of the foremost features of a quality link is relevance. Whatever site you’re trying to get a backlink from, it has to be related to your niche. If you’re a business in the construction industry, don’t go and try to get a link from a fashion website. The disparity is obvious and you’re unlikely to attract anyone from their current audience. The more relevant your backlinks are to your site, the higher its quality is.
There’s no denying that today’s link quality standards have gotten more stringent before. This is because there have been a lot of cases in the past where people resorted to using shady tactics such as adding hidden links or having automated pages meant to just generate links from other sites. The act of using the said methods has been called as “link farming.”
All of the above moves are pretty suspect in Google’s eyes and it’s been cracking down on sites that use such strategies more than ever.
If you think it’s worth risking, think again. In fact, the majority of experts would advise you against using dubious tactics as it can net your site a penalty or in a worse to worst basis, have your site banned totally from Google’s search engine results.
With that in mind, choosing quality links is no doubt the better option no matter which way you look at it.
Backlinks, Site Traffic, and Reciprocal Linking
As mentioned above, another great benefit of obtaining backlinks is that it increases your site’s traffic. As opposed to what a lot of people think, you can’t just build websites and expect people to come to you. You either have to employ a marketing or SEO strategy so that you can boost your site’s traffic.
Another great tactic you can do is to make use of reciprocal link exchanges. Although Google sought to discount it in a previous update due to people exchanging links recklessly, it can still work when done right.
The key here is to exchange links only with relevant sites that are close to or related to your field. Not doing so will lead to your reciprocal links being disregarded by Google. It will only serve to lower your relevancy score and subsequently, lower your page rankings as a result.
How Google is Further Changing the SEO Landscape
The changes being made to today’s SEO doesn’t stop with the updates Google releases regularly. In fact, Google is working on a patent that would better determine which sites should rank higher or lower.
This particular patent is meant to assess the popularity and trustworthiness of a site being linked to as well. So if you keep linking to sketchy sites then your own site could suffer some penalties or damages to your rankings.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, only link to relevant sites that are related to your industry and those that don’t have a tremendous amount of outbound links on just one page. Lastly, you should also look out whether a site uses bad SEO practices or not. The said factors will definitely ensure that your own site’s Google standing isn’t compromised in the process of linking to others.
What to Steer Clear Of and What to Do
Aside from the above factors, you should also avoid interlinking several websites together that are on the same IP. The thing with this practice is that having multiple related sites that link to just one page can look a little suspect to search engines. Rigging backlinks by getting them from sites on the same IP address can easily backfire on you since it can be considered as backlink bombing.
Although there are instances where it’s okay to get backlinks from sites with the same IP address, moderation is still key. A few links won’t hurt but having more than the usual can raise a red flag in Google’s eyes.
A better way to backlinking is to use the right tools to aid you in getting them. One such tool is one that allows you to monitor your links so you’ll know what sites are linking back to you. This will also help you track the anchor texts used by the sites that have linked back to you. Some good examples of link tracking tools are ClickMeter, Domain Stats, and Linktrack, just to name a few.
Another useful tool to have in your arsenal is one that assesses the quality of your links. More specifically, such tools will help you find sites that are relevant to your niche. The good thing about this is that websites similar or related to your industry are more likely to link to you. This no doubt makes the process of procuring links easier on the whole.
Backlink Factors to Take Note Of
A good backlink is more than just getting your link placed on a relevant site. You also have to be aware of a few other elements that would affect how Google sees the inbound link you just got.
One such factor is the anchor text. An anchor text is a keyword that holds your link. This is an important element because it serves an indicator of what your site is about in Google’s eyes. That’s why it’s important that you don’t waste your link opportunities with vague, non-specific terms such as “Click here” or “Check more info on this page.”
When you’re tracking your links, you’ll also be able to see what anchor texts were used by those who’ve linked to you. If there are any specific terms that aren’t related to the keywords you want to rank for, make sure you contact the site and suggest an edit for the anchor text of your link. This will definitely help improve the quality of your backlink score.
Why Backlinks Should Be a Priority
The field of SEO is vast and there are a lot of strategies and tactics you can always employ to rank better and get more traffic. However, backlinks are no doubt one of the most important ones you could ever use for your own site.
If all the above information is too much to take in at once, just remember that what Google wants is a level playing field where sites build their backlinks naturally and gradually over a reasonable amount of time.
The thing is, some may get away with manipulating links and ranking highly in the short-term but it’s not a sustainable strategy for the long run. You’ll only waste your effort and time if ever the time comes Google penalizes your site for doing so.
However, it’s fairly hard to manipulate links when it requires other sites to link back to you that’s why backlinks factor so much in search engine rankings. But lately, the standards for assessing inbound links by Google has gotten even stricter. This tougher take on backlinks has been the search engine giant’s effort to curb people trying to rig how they get backlinks.
In short, there’s hardly any incentive to try and circumvent the system Google set up in place. Moreover, getting quality links mean that you also get to attract better visitors to come to your site.
With the above tips, you’ll surely be able to construct a solid backlinking campaign that’s based on sound principles. Take note of the advice in this article and get to prioritizing the tactics which will help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your business. Integrating all those will no doubt lead to results that will stand the test of time and multiple Google updates as well.