WHAT ARE BACKLINKS AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT FOR SEO?
Backlinks are a critical component of search engine optimization (SEO). Building up your backlinks can take time and work, but your efforts will be amply rewarded. And yet, only 5% have any backlinks at all. That is a tragic waste of resources and potential growth for your business.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is simply a hyperlink that connects one website to another. For example, let us say that you own a construction business and keep a blog. One of your blog posts is about the pros and cons of various roofing materials. Because your post is so informative, a roofing company might consider linking one of their posts to yours. This is a backlink or inbound link for you. For the roofing company, it is called an outbound link.
Why Are Backlinks Important for SEO?
Backlinks are like third-party validation of your website content. It’s like all the people who found your page helpful and informative have “voted” for you. Search engines like Google count those “votes” as a signal of your authority. Thus backlinks are an essential part of search engine algorithms.
Search engines rank the relevance of your website based on the quantity and quality of backlinks for the site. The higher the backlink score you have, the higher up you will be on the search engine results page (SERP).
Strong backlinks also improve your likelihood of being discovered by search engines because one of the ways that search engines find new websites is by visiting popular sites and checking for outbound links. If your website gets discovered through a trending website's outbound link, your chances of being discovered are much higher.
Finally, when another website links a page or a post to your site, and any of their readers click on that link, you benefit from any traffic you get because of that referral. And who doesn’t like referral traffic?
What Makes a Good Backlink?
Not all backlinks are created equal. If you’re getting your backlink through illegitimate or manipulative methods, your can harm your search engine rankings.
The backlinks that are most likely to improve your search engine optimization have the following qualities:
Built-Up Over Time
A sudden flux of backlinks is not as impactful as backlinks that gradually increase. Search engines view a sudden influx of backlinks as possible farm links. Farm links come from automated websites set up purely to "farm" backlinks. This dishonest method can work for a time, but search engines catch on to what is happening before long.
The best search engines rely on "reasonable surfer" traffic to place value on backlinks. These search engines have a way of deciphering how likely a backlink is to be clicked on by referring to the relevance to the topic. This applies to the specific content of a post and the general content of the website. A visitor to the construction website mentioned above is much more likely to click on a hyperlink about backhoes rather than ornamental knitting, for example.
The location of the backlink matters. The best location for backlinks is in the body paragraphs of a page or a post. These links are called contextual backlinks.
Contextual backlinks are more likely to be relevant because they are linked directly to the information being conveyed on the web page. Search engines look for contextual clues around the link to understand the topic of your page. The more context—and the more relevant that context is to your page—the more powerful the link.
Most link building providers—including Longtail Dragon—measure authority in terms of Moz Domain Authority (or Ahrefs Domain Rating or a number of similar domain-level scores).
This is by necessity, but it can be misleading. Domain-level authority may be helpful, but the real authority of a link comes from the authority of the page the link lives on, rather than the whole domain.
So why do link building providers price on DA rather than a page-level metric such as SEMrush’s Page Authority Score? Because most of the time, we’re creating new posts or pages to house those links. When the page is new, the page authority is always 0 at first. We hope that these new posts will accumulate more page authority over time, and they often do. But there’s just no way to predict how much authority a guest post will accumulate over its life or how long that will take.
Some links contain an attribute called rel=”nofollow.” These links look the same to users, but they signal to the search engines that the link isn’t an endorsement and therefore the link shouldn’t pass authority.
Some studies suggest that nofollow links can still be valuable, but everyone basically agrees that links without a nofollow attribute (i.e. do-follow links) are superior to nofollow links.
What Makes a Bad Backlink?
No one is exactly sure what Google is looking for when identifying spammy links, but we can reasonably assume that algorithms will devalue links that show signs of manipulation.
Remember, Google likes backlinks because they are third-party validation. If you obtain backlinks that don’t constitute third party validation (i.e. you paid a website to post a link, or you used a second website that you own to build the link, or you posted the link on a website that doesn’t editorially evaluate content), your link is likely to be devalued or even penalized.
How to Get Quality Backlinks?
However, there are still great ways to build your backlinks gradually. We have already mentioned a few ways not to get quality backlinks. Never use dishonest means or "farm" them, and do not try to sneak a link to your website on someone else's comments page.
Use Longtail Dragon
We have built relationships with thousands of independently-owned publisher websites. Using Longtail Dragon’s link building service, you can increase the strength of your site’s backlink profile dramatically!
When you place your order, we will identify topical overlap within our publisher inventory. Once a publisher is selected, we write a blog post for that publisher using your target page as a source. We pitch the article to the publisher, and if they accept it, you have a fancy new backlink. It’s that easy!
Source for Bloggers and Reporters
You can provide sourcing material for bloggers and news sites. You can register as a source and send pitches when you have a great idea to offer. This will take some time and effort, but it can go a long way toward improving your SEO.
Guest-Write Blog Posts
Many bloggers are looking for guest writers. Taking advantage of these opportunities is a great way to get a backlink for your website on those of popular bloggers.
This strategy is to find very high-traffic content, one-up it, and go to the people who linked to the original content and convince them to link to yours instead. This can be an effective strategy, but you will have to deliver. Make your content light years better than the original.
Replace Outdated Backlinks
This strategy takes doing some homework, but it can also be effective. Find all the web pages with links to an outdated domain name within the same industry as you. Contact those people, inform them of the dead links, and ask to be linked instead.
Search engine optimization is a massive marketing tool that is way under-utilized. You can significantly increase traffic to your website by using SEO strategically. Taking the time to build your backlinks is well worth the effort.
If you would like to know more about SEO and the art of building links, then please visit us at our website here.