Backlinks and SEO
Backlinks can be valuable for search engines looking to understand the role a particular website plays within the digital ecosystem of a topic. SEO backlinks speak to the perceived popularity and authority of the website and how helpful users find the information.
As the Google algorithm continues to update to better understand user intent and identify high quality content, however, they have also been taking a careful look at these links. Link farms and links from low quality pages no longer can help websites and might even hurt them. The role of backlinks in current SEO is debated as marketers try to determine if there is a place for link building in optimization efforts.
We believe that SEO backlinks continue to play a valuable role in the success of content, but it is critical that you pursue your links effectively. Like everything else in SEO, your efforts become valuable when they offer something in turn for the end user. Here is what you need to know about effective backlink usage.
What makes a backlink valuable
Google, and the other major search engines, want to see backlinks that come from other reputable sites to your page. It is understood that if a website is linking to another site, it is vouching for the content of that page. If the link is coming from a spam or otherwise poorly regarded website, however, this link will be worth little. When you have established and trusted websites linking to your page, however, it can have a big impact on your page’s traffic and how it is regarded by the search engine algorithms.
It is worth noting a backlink SEO controversy that arose in the beginning of 2015. John Mueller of Google seemed to imply during a Google hangout that webmasters should not be focusing on building links. When comparing what Mueller spoke about during this hangout when taken in context with what he said in past hangouts, however, it could be largely agreed that he was discouraging trying to build links with sites through spam methods. You want to make sure your links come from a variety of different sources and you want those links to make sense in terms of logic and consistency between your site and the referring site. You should not have to trick people into linking or negotiating a ‘you link to me, and I will link to you’ type scheme. These are the situations that Google frowns upon and could end up hurting your optimization efforts.
Link building is valuable when it provides purposeful and logical input for the end user. When a link to your site will help users further investigate a topic or answer their questions, you have a high-quality link. If you would want a particular site to link to you, even if it were a nofollow-link, then you know that is a backlink worth pursuing on a content and a traffic basis.
How to attract quality backlinks
Produce high-quality content
If you want other reputable websites to link to your own pages, you need to first make sure that your content is worthy of the attention. People will only link to your pages when they find the information interesting and informative. Original hard data numbers draw a lot of backlink support. Focus on understanding exactly who the content is intended for and then dive into producing the high-quality information that they would like to read. Generic and material that is replicated in different forms throughout the web will not produce the intended impact. Instead, analyze the topic, offer your opinion and deeply explore the material so that people trust your site and walk away from the information having learned something new.
Promote your content
Once your content has been developed to the quality standards that your intended audience would like to see, social media can be an excellent vehicle for promoting your material. Although Google has indicated that it does not check the social reputation of authors, they do index social media sites like other websites. That means links from social pages, such as Twitter or Facebook, may serve as helpful SEO backlinks where the networks are crawlable. Social media will also help in increasing number of people come across your content. The more people who are exposed to your high-quality material will increase the number of people who share, forward, and place links to your content in their blogs and other websites.
Leverage your thought-leadership
Editorial links that involve company mentions in the media, such as thought-leadership articles that you write and publish on other highly regarded sites, are extremely beneficial for a backlink profile.
To succeed in this area, you have to take your time to find a few sites that effectively target your ideal audience. You want to make sure you understand who reads the publication and what they want to see. The piece should not be focused on being promotional but rather aim to establish yourself as a leader within your field. Keep overt company advertising to a minimum and develop content that is interesting and informative to increase editorial back links. It will be a great addition to your backlink profile while also expanding your brand reach and reputation.
Target particular sites that would be helpful for links
In addition to sites where you publish, it can be particularly helpful to target a few other sites that would provide useful backlinks. You want to find websites that also speak to your target audience and will find your information helpful while also having a strong reputation.
Finding websites with desired traffic and page rank can be a challenge, but there are a number of tools that can help you evaluate the websites based upon the value backlinks can offer your own site. At BrightEdge, we use Majestic’s technology to power our backlink analysis on our platform. Through a backlink analysis, you can easily track your own SEO backlink profile, including information, such as the type of link and the page URL. You can also track the domains that you are targeting for backlinks to monitor your success with your efforts.
Once you have found sites that would serve you well for backlinks, you then need to attract their attention. Engage with the website and the authors on and off the page. Follow them on social media, comment on articles and become a part of the site’s community. This will encourage the site owners to look at your site and see what you have to offer as well. When you pair these efforts with the high-quality content you should be producing, you will have the recipe for success with your SEO backlinks.
Watch your backlinks profile
The idea of negative SEO is a controversial one. Although the major search engines generally say that it is difficult if not impossible to hurt another site through negative SEO, there are also reports of brands saying that their websites were impacted by backlinks from spammy sites. It is always a good idea to check your backlinks and make sure that they are from reputable sites and can help your search engine rankings. If you find links that are not up to your quality standards, it is possible to disavow them so that Google knows that you do not want this site counted among your backlinks.
Backlinks are the fundamental structure of the Internet and are quality signal to search engines that your content is valuable and that people appreciate what you offer. The key to leveraging this signal to increase your page’s ranking is producing high-quality content and getting it in front of the people who are likely to link to it. Follow the best practices, and use the backlink checker tools available to you to get the most out of your SEO backlink building and optimization efforts.
Looking for more techniques to build a strong backlink portfolio? Check out our 10 Link Building Ideas You Can Do In a Day.
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