What Are Backlinks and Why are They Important?
Backlinks are a tool that search engines like Google use to determine how relevant your website’s content is. These links are created when one website links back (hence the term “backlink”) to yours. That link improves the relevance score of whatever content it is linked to, thus improving the potential search results of said content. However, earning backlinks the right way is essential for the best possible performance.
Is There a Wrong Way to Earn Backlinks?
“So”, you say, “Google uses backlinks to rank my site. The more I have, the better off I should be, right?”
That’s not always the case. You see, Google also ranks the quality of the sites linking to yours. If that site is ranked poorly 0r—worse yet—blacklisted, that link can actually hurt your search results rankings. That’s why it’s so important to know where your backlinks are coming from and how you earned them.
Now, most backlinks (such as those in comment threads and most forum postings) carry little to no weight at all. These “no follow” links are specifically redacted from the Google algorithm which can be a good thing or a bad thing. What you want—what your business needs—is solid backlinks from well-respected websites. So how do you get that sort of quality backlink that really matters in the long run?
Three Tips for Earning Backlinks the Right Way
- Guest Blogging–Guest blogging is a technique through which you approach websites you’ve specifically targeted and ask them if you could post your content on their site in exchange for abacklink. There are a few things to keep in mind when using a guest blogging strategy:
- Find non-competing websites—you don’t want to give your competition free content. That’s just bad business.
- Create content that’s relevant to that websites readers (not necessarily content you would post on your own site). You want that business owner to see the value your content provides to his customers and his business.
- Ensure you get the backlink! Sometimes something as simple as a spelling error can derail your whole guest blogging endeavor. After the content has been posted, verify the backlink is in place and that it’s working properly.
- Know Your Site’s Google PageRank–Google PageRank is a numerical value that the search giant uses to help identify the overall value of a given web page. It’s based on a complex calculation that includes a number of factors but boils all that down into a simple number. You can use Google’s own toolbar to quickly and easily see the PageRank of any website you visit. Simply install the toolbar, activate it, and the PageRank will appear in the upper portion of your web browser. It used to display a number but now appears as a meter which fills with the color green corresponding to the page’s overall rank. Now that you have that value, it’s important to keep in mind that you want backlinks from pages with similar or higher PageRank. Remember backlinks from lesser site may actually hurt your search results!
- Stay Away from Article Submission Sites–Article submission sites used to be all the rage with internet marketers. These sites allowed them to cache piles and piles of crappy content and earn tons of backlinks. Many people used these shady resources to boost their Google search results quickly. However, in a move to improve search results for everyone, Google actually rewrote it’s search algorithm to penalize these article submission sites. Overnight these sites went from top performers to basement dwellers—taking away any coveted “Google Juice” they may have produced and dropping the PageRank of sites relying on them. You want to put quality, relevant content on the internet and you want that content on sites that are well-respected, well-ranking, and run by people who are interested in partnering with you to further not only their own success but yours as well.
Don’t Expect Results Overnight
Earning backlinks the right way works but it doesn’t always work as fast as you might like it to. Why? Because, depending on the authority of your website and it’s relevance Google may only crawl your site (and index your new content) once a week, once a month, or once every two months. You can improve this crawl rate by ensuring your website’s content is crawlable and creating new content on a regular basis.