Search engine ranking is a complex science that goes far beyond keyword-rich engaging content and engaging images.
The criteria that Google and other popular search engines use taps into a wide range of factors, including backlinking. To truly help boost your website you need to move backlinks up your list of priorities.
Though just how important backlinks are in your SEO strategy can vary. To truly make sure you are using them correctly, we are going to have to take a closer look at the value of backlinks and how to use them best on your website.
What Is A Backlink?
A backlink is essentially a link in the content of one website that leads the user to another reputable website. Google and other popular search engines assess backlinks as an important ranking value as it tends to indicate that the content is noteworthy. Effective use of backlinks in a search engine optimization strategy can help to increase your website’s ranking position as well as visibility in search engine results.
Are There Different Types Of Backlinks?
Backlinks can be used in evergreen content, blogs, or short-term content in a variety of ways. There are internal backlinks which are links within the same website domain pointing from one page to another. Currently google has stated there is no limit to the number of internal links you can have on your own website within your own content. Then there are external backlinks which come from other websites that link to your websites content. Sometimes a website may add a link to your site in their footer, which appears on every page of their website, so it appears you may have 500 links from a site. This can often cause more harm than good. The link should usually be naturally flowing within similar content. If the article is about cupcakes, and there is a link to a website about chocolate icing, that is very relevant and natural, however a link to car engine repair in a cupcake article is not expected, and likely not to have as much value behind it. The more relevant the article to the link, the more value google assigns to that link, compounded by the overall trust and value that the website as a whole has.
The backlink itself can be broken down into two different groups. The Nofollow and the Dofollow backlink. More recently backlinks can also be tagged with rel=”sponsored” in the case of a paid link to some type of advertising agreement and or rel=”UGC” for User Generated Content which is something a web surfer may write in comments, something that can often be used to create spammy links.
Nofollow backlinks have a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag that are inserted into the code. They tell search engines to ignore the link. Since they don’t pass any value from website A to website B they have little impact when it comes to improving your website search engine ranking or overall visibility.
Though they still have value in helping your website avoid problems with search engine algorithms believing that the site is attempting to sell influence or that the site is somehow involved in schemes that might be deemed as unacceptable SEO practices by the search engine’s criteria. Taking the time to use Nofollow Backlinks is a great way to send a message to search engine algorithms that you are a truly reputable site and company.
Dofollow Backlinks use a rel=”dofollow” in the underlying code. At first glance, Dofollow Backlinks are the type of links that help boost your website’s rankings on Google and other popular search engines. Though this is a double-edged sword, as the temptation is to overuse Dofollow Backlinks, or to use backlinks to other sites that the search engine’s algorithm doesn’t consider to be high-quality content or a reputable site.
Some so-called “Toxic” backlinks come from suspicious websites or sites that are gained by breaking the search engine’s terms of service, which is a quite lengthy read.
Ultimately anytime you use a Dofollow Backlink, you need to focus on the quality of the backlinks, rather than the quantity. This can also include taking the time to code in Nofollow backlinks to send the message that you are indeed dedicated to quality content that users want.
Can I Backlink A Photo?
It is possible to backlink a photo, even without permission. To do this you need to perform a Google reverse image search. You simply upload your image or paste the URL. Then Google will give you pages where the image is being used. Though Google isn’t always perfect.
Once you have the images and the URLs, you can then ask some key questions such as:
- Is it actually your image being used on the page?
- Is that site crediting you with a link?
- Do you truly want a link from this website or is it possibly a toxic backlink?
Do your best to stay abreast of various sites that allow or encourage image backlinks. This includes things like LinkedIn who just recently started allowing for brand pages.
What Is The Best Way To Build Quality Backlinks?
Getting other sites to backlink to your website is a great way to improve your rankings on Google and other popular search engines. Just keep in mind that building backlinks to your site requires a patient approach and a fair amount of effort. To help speed the process of building backlinks to your site you can try the following strategy.
Offer Superior Content
Use a popular search engine like Google to find a pertinent post that is already ranking well, or has been selected as a snippet for a key question. Then rewrite that article in your own original words, while making an active point to improve it.
Links To Social Media
Make sure to add social media links to your site in a tasteful, not heavy-handed way. Then also include social media icons in blogs and other posts on your site where applicable.
Encourage Employees To Backlink In Their Social Media
This is a very simple way to build backlinks that will help give social signals. A lot of employees do this as standard practice when they “Start A New Job.” Though it never hurts to encourage them to do so just in case.
Create Questions Using “How To” or “Why” Posts
Google and other popular search engines often assign a higher rank to articles that directly pose an important question and then answer it succinctly. Making sure to answer the question in the first sentence will also increase your chances of being selected for a snippet. This in-turn increases your chances of someone backlinking to your site.
Include Ultimate Guide Posts In Your Evergreen Content
Also known as “Pillar Posts” these are evergreen articles that are very long. Some over 3,000 to 5,000 words that explore popular, relevant topics. This content should also include key questions, that are answered clearly in the first sentence, to increase the chances of being used as a snippet. Then also make sure to include a “Hook” that entices the reader to continue reading your ultimate guide for more information. If they like what they read, it greatly increases your chances of them backlinking to your website.
Maintain An Active Blog
Blogs have always been a great way to enhance content while also demonstrating the kind of activity that Google and other search engines like to see. If possible, try to invite guest bloggers, industry influencers, and people outside your company to write a blog or upload a vlog. Not only does a guest poster boost your reputation, but most will backlink to their article on your site as part of their own social media management practices.
Volunteer To Blog On Other Industry-Relevant Websites
Writing blogs on other industry-relevant websites, such as product features on your site or reviews of new services help increase your overall visibility. It also encourages them to backlink to your site as a way to boost their own reputation. You usually have to do this for free, and unless you are involved in a co-op arrangement, you should avoid volunteering to post on a competitor’s blog.
Invite Or Interview Industry Influencers
These days just about everyone has some type of newsletter or signup notification list. Getting your website signed up or simply “Liked” on social media by an industry influencer increases the chances of them mentioning you or backlinking to you via their own social media platform. This might also serve as a great introduction to get them to write a guest blog for you.
What Is Competitive Backlink Research?
Competitive backlink research is a somewhat labor-intensive way to attract other sites to backlink to yours. This starts with compiling backlinks from your competitor’s website and then assess which ones are ranking the best. You can cut down on the total research time by using a backlink tool like SEMrush or ahrefs. They have sophisticated analytics tools that can help you quickly find your competitor’s backlinks. Then you can start targeting those various domains via your own backlink building strategy.
Is It Possible To Check My Backlinks?
Remember quality backlinks are an essential part of improving your ranking. To that end, there are some backlink monitoring tools that can help you monitor your website’s backlinks. It’s also important to note that as great as these tools are, they often follow the directives set forth on a websites robots.txt file that instructs what a web crawler can or cannot crawl to display with. Crawlers are basically a way Google, or SEMRush can scan a website to know the content or links within. If the robots.txt file states for SEMRush to no follow a specific url path, then usually the crawlers abide by those guidelines to ignore them, and in turn, those links will not be displayed in those tools such as SEMRush for your research purposes.This is why there are quite often very different numbers in new or lost links from one tool to the next.
Some of the more popular tools are:
Google Search Console
This is a free service that Google offers to help monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot a website’s presence in Google Search results. You can even set it up to receive alerts when Google encounters indexing, spam, or other problems on your site that might lower your ranking. It includes a feature that shows you which specific websites are backlinked to your website.
This is a very popular comprehensive suite for improving your website’s online visibility as well as researching and discovering new marketing insights. They have offered a wide range of tools, including reports that can be used to improve SEO, PPC, SMM. They also offer keyword research tools, competitive research tools, content marketing tips, and even online campaign management. Though there is a modest fee associated with everything you get.
This is another online suite of tools that can be used to analyze a specific website’s link profile. This includes things like keyword rankings and even SEO quality. You can also use Ahrefs to perform keyword research that applies criteria from Google, YouTube, and AWS.
Importance Of Performing A Backlink Audit To Remove Toxic Backlinks
Google and a lot of other popular search engines take an arguably overly hard view of toxic backlinks. Case in point, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines actively allow you to ask that toxic website domains remove their backlinks to your site. Failing to do so promptly can result in Google reducing your website’s ranking. Continued failure to audit and remove toxic links can cause your website’s ranking to slip even further over time. However, Google has repeatedly stated that they know more about backlinks than anyone, and with each major algorithm update, they learn more and more; to the point that they have claimed they will devalue the bad link to your site before you even know its there harming you. There is much consensus on this, and it certainly doesn’t hurt if you want to take it upon yourself to submit a disavow link file in Google search console.
What Are Toxic Backlinks?
Toxic backlinks typically display symptoms or signs of low-quality, poor management practices or actively attempt to manipulate their rankings. This includes things like:
Links that come from sites that have been built only to link out.
- Sites with excess content that isn’t topically relevant.
- Sites that aren’t currently being indexed by Google.
- Heavy keyword and link scheme manipulation
How Do I Find Toxic Backlinks?
Both SEMRush and Google Search Console have tools that make it relatively easy to find all your links and then analyze their quality as it pertains to your site’s SEO. Though combing through a lot of backlinks can be time-consuming.There are various tools out there in SEMrush and ahrefs that can give you a toxic link score based on their internal algorithmic mechanisms which you can use to make a judgement call if you should manually disavow them. If you DO disavow them, its a good idea to monitor the rankings of a webpage before and after to see if there is any type of page ranking correlation that is affected. This way if there is a decrease in rankings post disavow, you may want to undo.
Quality backlinks certainly play an important role in maximizing your SEO strategy and improving your website’s performance. It’s a highly manual process that simply cannot be automated. It’s one of the reasons why link building can be costly when targeting a lot of keyphrases. When you come across various services that claim to get you quality backlinks for $5, remember, just like a car, you get what you pay for, and you are likely paying for something that can cause more harm than good. Just make sure not to overuse backlinks to other sites in your own site, and do your best to attract quality backlinks from places like associated product sites, social media platforms, and industry influencers. Be patient, stay diligent, and as time goes on chances are good you will start to garner high-quality backlinks in a variety of forms. Just don’t get complacent. Make sure to frequently perform backlink audits to catch toxic backlinks early, and then make every effort to have them removed.