What is a Backlink?
What’s all this hoopla over backlinks? Every SEO forum and blog you stop by is constantly touting the power and necessity of backlinks they must be a pretty big deal! So what exactly is a backlink? Simply put, a backlink is a link on another website (external) that leads to a page on your website. For instance, a link on this page to a page on another website would be a backlink for THAT webpage.
How do Backlinks Help us Rank?
Think of it like this: backlinks are human citation. In a sense, we decide what pages we, as internet users, want to show up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by linking to the content we like. A page with more links of a higher quality than others will rank higher. The part about quality is really important. It’s not just about who has the most backlinks it’s about where those links are from.
If you were trying to lose weight, would you be more inclined to trust the opinion of some Joe Shmo or from a professional health expert? This principle is applied to backlinks and the way they affect our rankings. Links from sites that are established as authorities (like the health expert) carry much more weight than a link from someone commenting in a fitness forum somewhere. Google weighs out these links and their value using their complex algorithm and uses this data to decide how to rank your website/webpage. Your site does not have to be a monster authority site to rank highly. Rather, you can rank highly by getting high quality backlinks from other authority sites.
Let’s pretend that the health expert from earlier told us that Joe Shmo actually made some good points and his opinions are quite valid. Wouldn’t we start to trust Joe Shmo more and see more value in his opinion? Similarly, if an authority health site linked to Joe Shmo’s small niche site, Google would realize that maybe Joe’s site is more authoritative then they realized, and they would rank it higher. The web is not controlled by computers. It is run by people, and this is reflected in the way we act and link online. Search Engines know this and respond accordingly to try to give us the results that we demand and construct ourselves.
How do we get Backlinks?
Now that we know the importance of backlinks and why they affect our rankings the way they do, we need to figure out how we can get some. A full answer to this question might take some hundreds of pages, so we’re going to take a broad view of some backlinking strategies to get a good idea of how to get quality backlinks.
Sadly, backlinking isn’t as simple or straight forward as our health expert example above. You’re not so likely to be granted a link from some powerful authority such as CNN or Apple just for creating great content. Our techniques are going to have to be a little more guerrilla-esque. This isn’t to say that the quality of your content doesn’t matter, it’s quite the opposite. At the core of your promotion and backlinking strategy should be great, quality content. We’ll assume you already know how to make great content and get on with the backlinking.
There are many different ways to get backlinks and each of the methods takes time to learn and master. Rather than getting super-in-depth with any single backlinking strategy, I’m going to provide you with a list of ways to get backlinks. We are going to continue this SEO course by covering the governing principles of backlinks and how to measure their quality – knowledge you can apply to every single backlinking method successfully. Here’s a comprehensive list of ways to get backlinks:
Free blogs (blogger, wordpress, squidoo)
Each of these methods can be deeply explored to achieve the best results. For this SEO Course, we are instead going to cover the factors that make a great backlink.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyper-link. For example, if you look at the links in the resource box for this article, one of them has the anchor text “SEO Course” while the other simply has my website’s URL as the anchor text.
Anchor text is very powerful and has a big impact on how effective a backlink is. Anchor text gives search engines a quick glimpse of what the page on the other side is going to be about, so you want to use your keyword and other keyword variations as often as you can. Google and other SEs look at the text closest to a link to decide what it’s about, and in essence, your anchor text is technically the closest text to the link (it IS the link!). You won’t always have the option to use anchor text, but don’t give up an opportunity when one presents itself.