BACKLINKS. You may know what they are, but what is the real impact they can have on your business website’s visibility? And why do I want to talk about backlinks today ?
Well, a few days ago I was approached by a business owner who asked for help with his new website. During our conversation, I asked if he ever considered link building to improve his site’s visibility.
His answer was something like, “Yes, my backlinks are being set up and should be up and running in a few days.” Naturally, as this isn’t really how backlines work, my next question was, “Who’s doing this for you?”
As it turned out, he hired someone from Fiverr (yes, the site that allows you to outsource tasks for only $5 each) to handle the task. When I heard that, I had to stop myself from screaming NOOOOO!!!!
I did my best to explain why hiring someone to build backlinks for $5 is a very bad idea. After the call ended, I found myself thinking, “Wow! I thought everyone understood the fundamentals of backlinks, but boy was I wrong.”
So today, I want to clear the air. I want to make sure anyone and everyone – including you – knows what backlinks are, why they’re important, and how to get them. Let’s dive right in.
What are Backlinks?
Simply put, backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to yours.
For example, if we look at this page on the local board of trade website, you can see where our company is listed. The listing is also linked to our website, so if someone were to click it, it would take them directly to SpotOnDigitalMarketing.com.
So in a nutshell, this is a backlink.
Why Should You Care?
For many years, Google has been using backlinks as a key factor in ranking websites. Generally speaking, Google gives more credit (and better rankings) to websites that have a good number of backlinks.
It considers these sites higher in quality and relevance than sites without backlinks, and it’s more likely to display the backlinked sites in results pages when a user enters a search term.
How Google Uses Backlinks
Search engines like Google use the number of backlinks, as well as the quality of the sites doing the linking, to determine how much of an authority your website is.
Let’s say you have 10 backlinks – each one with the title tag “Plumbing Repair Toronto.” Let’s also say those backlinks are located on plumbing repair directories, plumbing wikis and other informative, related sites.
In evaluating your site, Google will see these backlinks, as well as the keywords and the sites doing the linking. With all of the references to plumbing throughout the search, Google will quickly establish that your site is a hub of plumbing repair information. That means it will be a valuable resource to anyone searching for plumbing-related terms and, as such, Google will start displaying it high in the rankings.
What Are “Quality Backlinks”
The definition of what quality backlinks are has evolved through the years. While earlier on the quantity of backlinks was almost the only factor (that’s when the Fiverr approach actually worked), Google has continuously developed new ways to analyze backlinks and “back links” profiles.
Generally speaking quality backlink are:
- coming from authoritative websites
- and appear on a website with the same theme, similar content topic or location as your own website.Quality backlinks are typically placed on reputable, long-standing sites (like the Better Business Bureau) your local chamber of commerce, regional organizations, sports teams and more.
What Are “Low Quality Backlinks”
Low quality – or ‘spammy’ backlinks – are what you have to be more concerned about. Low qualities are those placed on low-quality sites – ones without a lot of information, little search engine clout and very few backlinks. These kind of links are much easier to create and, unfortunately, some so-called S.E.O. companies still use link building methods that create low-quality links.
Over the last number of years Google has developed algorithms to reduce the trust that Google has in sites that have cheated by creating ‘unnatural’ backlinks that are designed to gain an advantage in the Google results.
The current reality is some backlinks can actually have a negative impact on your ranking, hurting your search position and, in turn, helping your competitors. Here’s just one example of the type of messages Google sends out when it detect backlinks it doesn’t like:
This is a real message one of our clients received few years ago. The ‘unnatural links’ mentioned in the message were created about a month before they hired us. It took several months and a lot of work to fix this and, in all those months, their website was not even indexed by Google. Thus, their site was not shown on any organic search results.
Where to Start
Paying a digital marketing company to help is certainly an option. They’ll know the best methods and strategies for not just getting backlinks, but getting high-quality backlinks that improve your web presence and your search rankings, as well.
Unfortunately, not all business owners have the budget to outsource, or some may simply prefer to the work on their own. In this case, you’ll want to start with reputable sites in your local area. Get listed in the city newspaper’s site, sponsor a local sports team and display your name on their site, or add your name to the chamber of commerce for a small fee.
You can also look to others in your industry to swap links with. Say you’re a realtor. You may also look to local home inspectors, builders, contractors and others in the industry to switch links with. Chances are you already deal with many of the same customers – just at different points in the home-buying process. You may be able to provide value – as well as search engine clout – to each other. It’s a win-win for both of you.
Not prepared to do the backlinking work, yourself? Then let Spot On Digital Marketing help! Our experts know how to launch a quality, results-driven backlinks campaign that will improve your visibility and get your company noticed. Contact us to learn more or get started…today!