Why are backlinks so important?

October 30, 2013Blog

What are backlinks? This is a question often asked by first time website owners. Backlinks are a link from one website to another which can be used to drive traffic and increase exposure. Inbound or incoming are a few alternative names for backlinks, which are often used throughout the Internet.

A backlink is used by search engines to determine the popularity of a website. These links are often seen as votes by search engines which, amongst other criteria, will decide the page position for a given search term. A common example of this is the Page Rank algorithm provided by Google, this takes into account the quality and quantity of links to determine search positions.

Why are backlinks important?

Optimising content and having perfect on-site SEO is only the first step to a successful online marketing strategy. To get to the top of search results it is essential to have good quality links pointing towards your website. This will, in turn, bring in highly targeted traffic which is another advantage of relevant backlinks to a website. Simply having hundreds of links pointing towards your website will not be enough to gain the search engine positions you require. Gaining links from reputable and relevant sites will have a greater improvement over hundreds of low quality spammy links.

The Anatomy of a Backlink

  • Anchor Text – The anchor text is the “clickable” part of a link. This is used by search engines to determine a link’s relevancy.
  • Link Juice – Each website has authority which is transferred through links, this is measured via Google’s PageRank system.
  • No Follow – One of two tags which can be added to a link to control the amount of link juice passed on. This tag will reserve the authority for the website owner.
  • Do Follow – The second of two tags which control link juice. Do follow will pass on authority to the website contained in the link.
  • Internal Link – These types of links are used to interlink pages together on a single website, this includes the site’s navigation and articles. An SEO boost can still be gained by this method due to passing authority to a page with a lower search engine position.

The Process of Building Backlinks

What are Backlinks ImageBuilding backlinks is an on-going process which needs to be addressed regularly. Off-site SEO is, for the most part, out of the website owner’s control. Actually building the backlinks can be a tedious process for some people and the results aren’t visible straight away. There are a multitude of places to obtain genuine links from; some are harder to gain than others.

Buying links is a process used to build the link profile of a website. This should be avoided at all costs as it can be detrimental to a site, leading to a penalty from Google which can take months to recover from.

Good and Bad Links, What is the Difference?

We have all seen or had spam emails from shady companies advertising ‘1000 backlinks for $10’. This is now considered bad practise with the introduction of the notorious Google Penguin update. Combating web spam and targeted those in particular who were buying links was the primary aim of the algorithm update.

A good backlink profile is not necessarily one with hundreds of links across the web.

Good backlinks need to be:

  • relevant to your site
  • from a domain which is a few years old
  • one of only a few on the page
  • from a website with a higher page rank

Bad links can be a severe, and often expensive, obstacle for a website to overcome. Low-quality content and repetitive anchor text is usually the first sign of a bad backlink.

Bad backlinks originate from …

  • websites containing hundreds of links
  • suspect quality and low page rank websites
  • a website which does not appear on Google
  • over optimised anchor text

Preventing a Crisis

You’ve ran or purchased a link audit and found some suspicious looking links, what do you do now? Manually removing these bad links is not an easy process and can take a huge amount of time. The process of identifying a bad link and then contacting the website owner with a link removal request can be done by you or outsourced to an SEO agency. If this doesn’t work, then as a last resort, the Google disavow tool can be used to remove the link from Google’s index.

Managing to get the links removed can be a rewarding process as your site starts to climb once again, along with dodging a Google penalty. The advice is, remove the bad links straight away before they cause more damage and frustration to your business.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, backlinks and content are two of the most important factors when increasing the search engine presence of a website. Building a slow network of backlinks to a website is essential in modern SEO strategies. A link audit could be the first step to creating a genuine backlink profile for your website, see what SEO Nuts can do for you by clicking the link below