There have been many articles on backlinking over the years. I have heard positive and negative remarks about it. In fact, even today as I do some more fact checking, I found so many regurgitated articles on the Pros & Cons of Backlinking. I understand why a website owner might get confused!
Backlinking is the “link juice“ for ranking your website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It used to be that the more backlinks you had on your site, the higher you rose in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Many website owners purchased links from link brokerages to increase their link juice.
There’s a problem with this method of backlinking. When Google rolled out the Penguin update back in 2012-2013, things changed. Google’s new Penguin algorithm aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violated their webmaster guidelines. Google wanted to remove what we know as black-hat SEO techniques that involved artificially increasing the ranking of any web page by manipulating the number of links pointing to each page.
The guiding principle for the Penguin and Panda updates was to penalize websites that were using manipulative techniques to achieve higher rankings. Google’s purpose was to catch excessive spammers. More changes followed between 2013-2015. Each update honed from the last one.
With Google cracking down on black-hat SEO techniques web pages with spammy links and ineffective keywords were penalized by Penguin and knocked down in the SEO rankings.
So, now that we know a little history let’s talk about the benefits of backlinking. Backlinks do still count as organic ranking for Google as they speak to the overall authority of a domain.
When building a website, the focus for increasing search engine optimization (SEO) has been to add keywords/key phrases that coincided with the content on each page of your website. Of course, you will see controversial opinions on this subject as well, but I feel keywords and key phrases are just as important today as yesteryear. Perhaps in another article, I’ll explain why I think keywords/key phrases are important. One crucial yet overlooked SEO factor is backlinks.
Experts in the industry estimate that backlinking accounts for upwards of 80% of the page ranking weight that search engine algorithms give websites. It stands to reason that if you want to improve the ranking of your business with search engines, you need to cultivate links from other sites that point back to your own.
In Simple Terms
Let’s discuss what backlinking is first. Google says that backlinks display other web pages that link to your posts. Google gives this example: Suppose Alice writes a blog entry that Bob finds interesting. Bob then goes to his blog and writes a post of his own about it, linking back to Alice’s original post. Now Alice’s post will automatically show that Bob has linked to it, and it will provide a short snippet of his text and a link to his post.
Simply speaking, a backlink is a hyperlink (link) connection between two web pages or websites. Links that connect another site to yours are understandably called backlinks because they point back to your website.
What’s the importance of link building?
Links demonstrate the popularity of a web page or website. Every time a site links to yours, it bumps up your reputation and says that you’re worthy of sharing. As search engines deploy their spiders, and those spiders find a lot of linkages back to your site, the conclusion is that your web pages/site provide quality material and, therefore, deserve the reward of higher rankings.
Ranking algorithms also take into consideration the ranking of the sites that link back to you. For instance, a backlink that comes from a high ranking site counts more than a low ranking site, or a link from a relevant site within your industry, a related business, will rank higher.
How do you start building backlinks to your site?
It’s not enough to just write engaging content, although it helps. Here are some pointers on how to be proactive with link building.
- Backlinks should come from relevant sites that publish quality material.
- Don’t use “black hat” strategies that search engines don’t condone. Often, this would include paid for linkage. You should never pay for backlinks.
- Take your time building backlinks. Proper backlinking takes time. If you build too quickly, it may set off triggers alerting search engines that you are manipulating rankings, and thus, put you in the proverbial penalty box.
One method of finding good backlinks is to check out your competitors’ inbound links. You can do this with tools like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, Moz Open Site Explorer, or Google Webmaster Tools. Do those sites that link to your competitors’ sites seem to be a good fit with your content? Reach out to them.
- Offer to guest post on people’s sites.
- If you have something newsworthy, set up a press release.
- Social Networking can boost your backlinks.
I read an article some time back that suggested linking back to your site when you leave comments on websites. Be careful here though because not all bloggers or website owners like having links in their comments. You don’t want to come across as a “Spammy Commenter.” As with all things, moderation is best.
Let me clarify. As a moderator of blog post comments, I will look at a link submitted in comments. If the website has something in common with my website or the post that I’ve written, I’ll allow the comment to remain on my site. However, if the link leads to some unusual place like a store or porn site, I remove the comment immediately.
One more thing you can do is to set up a Google Alert to search for your business name. Setting up alerts will allow you to find all unlinked mentions of you or your company. Finding mentions enables you to request your business name is linked back to your website.