Everybody working in SEO knows that backlinking is one of the most important aspects when it comes to ranking your website.
The most powerful backlinks will come from niche related sites and they will be contextual.
A mix of dofollow and nofollow links are needed with the majority being dofollow.
What is a backlink?
When one website links to another it is known as a backlink. Backlinks are also referred to as “incoming links” or “inbound links”, not to be confused with “internal links” which are links between your web pages on your website.
Useful Tool: Check your backlinks for free with Backlink Shitter
Why are backlinks an important part of SEO?
A backlink from another site is a signal to the search engine bots that your site is a valuable resource on the subject. Many look at it as a vote or a plus one for your website.
The search engine algorithms use backlinks as a way to rank websites higher or lower on the results pages. The more niche related contextual backlinks that you have the more votes of confidence you have. This is why it is super important to earn backlinks to improve your keyword rankings and of course increase traffic.
If you are new to link building or have been working in SEO for some time then you will find something useful in this guide. SEO and link building is changing day by day, there is one thing that stays constant, that is that backlinks help rankings. If your website is going to get traffic from the search engines then it is important to understand this, this guide will help you get things moving. We have broken everything down into a step by step easy to follow guide, we hope that you find our guide to backlinking in SEO useful in some way.
What is link building?
It is important that you understand that it goes against Google and the other major search engines guidelines to build backlinks yourself, you must earn them. The process of link building involves attaining links from other sites to yours. A backlink is also known as a hyperlink and they help web surfers move from one page/website to another. The search engine spiders use these links also, they move from one website to another to discover new content and also register the links from external sites to yours as a vote of confidence. Your internal links help the search bots move around your site and find and index all your content. There are many different link building strategies out there, some can be done fast, while others take a lot of time. In many cases, the most powerful links are the hardest to get. It is easy to get this right, make sure you get niche related backlinks that are contextual, these are high-quality links and will put you ahead of the competition. If you select the right keywords the effort will be well worth it.
Is link building important for SEO?
So what does the html code look like for a backlink?
To know just how important backlinks are you must know the basics of how a link is added to a web page. This way you will know how the search engine bots view the links and how they use them.
- HTML link tag start: The “a” tells the search engines that a URL is about to follow that is to be linked to.
- Website location: The “href” section is where the hyperlink sits, this is where the destination URL is located. These can be links internally or externally to different resources like images or even PDF files. If you see a “#” then the link will move you internally to a different part of the same web page.
- Anchor text: This is the actual text that is shown on the web page and is not hidden in the code like the other parts. This is the text that is clickable that will take you to the destination. Often hyperlinks will be shown on the webpage in a different color to the surrounding text or will have a line underneath it.
- Closing the link tag: The “/a” tells the search spiders that the link has been closed.
How search engines use links
Search engines use internal and external links for a few different reasons:
- To discover and index new content
- To attach value to content to place it in the search engine results pages accordingly
First the search bots will crawl the content, if the content adds value and is not duplicated from anywhere else on the net it will add it to the index (search results pages). The content will be focused around search terms (keywords) and will be ranked for these accordingly. To determine what keywords (search terms) the content ranks for the search bots will use signals like the use of anchor text on backlinks and the words used in Meta Data and within the content on the landing page. In very simple terms, the more niche related sites that link to you the more chance you have to rank higher in the search results pages.
Links are and always will be a ranking signal as part of the Google algorithm, the number of links pointing to a web page determines it’s placement in the search engines results pages. Larry Page invented what is known as PageRank, this was used to determine the quality of a piece of content/web page based on the number of backlinks it has. Although this was just a part of an overall ranking algorithm it is one of the most important parts, and still is, for pushing keyword rankings.
The theory behind backlinks is that a link is seen as a vote for a web page/piece of content, poor quality pages/content would not get backlinks. It implies that when a person links from their website to another they are saying that it is a good resource on that subject matter. When you link to another website you are saying that you like their content and it is useful, it is important to know this before you link out to another website.
Over time, SEO workers took this on and started building any old backlinks to get rankings, and it worked for some time. This was a way to game PageRank and it could be achieved using backlink building software. Now, the algorithm has developed and in most cases understands which websites are trying to manipulate the search engine results pages by building backlinks to their own properties.
So, now it is important to get niche related contextual links from different IPs, low quality links from free websites and directories do not work as well anymore. Getting links from forum profiles and blog comments still work, however they hold less weight than they used to, they have much less value.
It is well known that Google has punished website owners by lowering their keyword rankings if they have used such low-quality backlinks to try and game the rankings. One major change was the Penguin update, you must know that earning contextual backlinks from niche related sites will always help your rankings.
The full Google algorithm ranking signals are not known, however, many SEO experts know from testing that links have a big impact. Backlinks are still the biggest thing that you can do to change your keyword rankings quickly.
What are the Google ranking signals?
It is well known that if all these ranking signals are the same for one web page and another then the number of links will be the deciding factor when it comes to ranking higher for that keyword. You should also be aware that social signals, mentions, and links from sites like Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook will help with rankings too.
For the most part, it is the high-quality links that will determine where your webpage lies in the search engine results pages. Depending on the keywords (search phrases) you choose the higher your rankings go the more traffic you will get. There is no doubt that you should be focused on quality and not quantity, over time Google is getting wise about detecting free and low-quality backlinks. This has a direct impact on your SEO work, link building techniques are changing with the emphasis on quality and not building thousands of links using a SEO backlink software.
What are nofollow links and are they worth it?
Remember the HTML make up of a backlink that we discussed earlier? Well, there is an add on to that called a “nofollow” attribute. This tells the search engine spiders not to follow the link, the crawlers will not pass through the link to the website within the HTML code. If a nofollow backlink is given to your website it will look like this:
Take a look at the “nofollow” added to the HTML code. This tells the search engine spiders not to follow the link to the landing website. You are not passing on any link juice, however, these links do help with rankings, any brand mentions or site mentions mean something, and will be considered in some way to help improve your website’s rankings.
If a site like a forum or a social media platform does not have control over the links posted on their website they will use nofollow tags, this ensures they do not lose their rankings if people use their site for spam posting and backlink building. You may also see the nofollow tag used on:
- Question and Answer sites
- Blog Comments
- Edu and Gov Sites
- Guest BookMarking Sites
- Wiki Pages (free to edit)
- Web 2.0 Sites (free to use sites like Wix and Weebly)
These are usually very large sites and it will be hard for them to check every link posted, the nofollow attribute ensures they do not have to do this. To stop as many people from spamming the sites to game search engine placements they use a nofollow tag, although it does not deter everyone.
You will also see a nofollow tag used on adverts across banners and paid link placements, this is common on sites like BuySellAds for example. This is because it goes against Google guidelines to buy backlinks to game the rankings. Following the general Google Quality Guidelines will help the bot find, index, and rank your website.
Working in SEO you should be aware that follow links have more impact on keyword rankings than nofollow links for the reasons listed above. Do not fall into the trap by thinking nofollow links are worthless, a natural backlink profile will have them, you should too. That being said, you still want the majority of your backlinks to be follow and the minority to be nofollow. There is no given percentage here, it is different for every website, just keep in mind that every backlink will help, be it nofollow or follow. There is a Chrome add-on that you can use to help you highlight nofollow links on a webpage.
How will link building help your web site?
As you now know, backlinks will help your website rank higher in the search engine results pages. When you have more backlinks the number of traffic that feeds into your website from the search engines increases too. That is the one main benefit of link building, TRAFFIC. The more traffic you have the more money you will make online.
Like I have already pointed out over and over again, the best backlink will be contextual and come from a niche related site. You can get this kind of links by reaching out by email to other webmasters in your niche. This is normally done by bringing a new piece of quality content on your website to their attention. Your main focus should be to get them to link to your site from a piece of content on their site, a good connection like this can lead to further connections in the future by word or mouth. If you strike a relationship with the right influencers in your niche things can turn around pretty quickly, a quality link like this will be invaluable to any website/business, it is worth taking the time and effort to get them. These days just one quality backlink can be the difference between the number 1 spot and the no traffic spot on page 2.
Links from real sites send real traffic
A good backlink from a high-quality website will send you traffic too, not all traffic will come to your site from the search engines. If you are working on an eCommerce website then it will most likely increase conversions too. Any good internet marketing company will focus on getting traffic, backlinking in SEO is fundamentally done for that sole reason. If you secure a guest post on another blog that has a lot of traffic to it and is related to yours then your traffic is going to increase big time, not just from keyword ranking improvements but from the website that links to yours.
Being careful with your anchor text profile will build your online reputation and brand exposure through link building. Any link building campaign can only be successful on the back of some very high-quality content on your website. Writing top quality unique content will help you become an authority in your niche and will earn your site backlinks on autopilot from one simple social media outreach campaign. When you reach out to other webmasters in your niche they will look at your content, if it is great the links will follow and others will start to contact you.
Be warned that link building is completely different to link earning, earning a link comes from people linking to your webpage on their own. Link building is where you actively go out and create/build the backlinks yourself. Link building goes against Google Terms and can get your site penalized if you do not know what you are doing.
You must, first and foremost write some quality content, that has been optimized around your main focus keywords. This means that you have something available on your website that is worth a backlink.
Valuable content will be something unique, something that people want to share. The content must be useful and different in some way from what is already out there. Low-quality content will not be shared and will most definitely not earn backlinks. You still see low-quality content at the top of the SERPs, why is this? They rank high because they have quality backlinks, you can use this as an opportunity to outrank them, you can have the quality content and the backlinks.
Earn Backlinks and Give Them Out
There are two essential parts to SEO, you have on-site SEO and off-site SEO. Earning backlinks falls under off-site SEO, it is also known as link building and backlinking in SEO.
You must be aware that backlinks differ in value, some are much more powerful in search engine movement than others. Without any doubt, the most powerful backlinks that you can get will come from popular niche related sites and the link will be placed somewhere within the valuable content. Backlinks from low-quality sites with random poor content on them are considered to be spammy. A link is followed (dofollow) if the person that set the link allows the search engine crawl spider to pass from their site to yours, a person that blocks the spider from passing from their site to yours will have added a nofollow link, these are still important but not as powerful in ranking terms. If your site is mentioned on a large website using a nofollow link still has an impact on rankings and traffic.
You will also link from your website to others, this will also have an impact on that website’s keyword rankings in the search engines. When you link out to external sites it will impact their rankings based on the number of backlinks the page has you are linking from, the number of outbound links on that page, the quality of the content, the anchor text that you use, if you choose to use a dofollow or nofollow tag. The sites that you link out to will also help rank your content, it is good practice to make sure the links point to niche related sites with quality content on them.
Research the competitions backlink profile
It can take a long time to earn a lot of quality backlinks through any backlinking outreach program. When it comes to link building and SEO it can be difficult to get started as a new site owner, that’s where it helps to view your competitor’s backlink profile. You can view the sites that link back to the top-ranked websites for your selected keywords, this gives you an idea of where to start and what needs to be done to achieve a top ranking. Take note of the anchor text used on the links and the type of links e.g. web 2.0 backlinks, profile backlinks, contextual niche-related links, etc. A good free backlink tool like Backlink Shitter will help you discover this data so you can get the same links in your own link building outreach program.
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