If you read our recent blog discussing the Importance of Google Reviews for SEO, you’ll understand that search algorithms are extremely complex; Google releases approximately 500 algorithmic updates a year, and although the majority of these changes are minor, keeping on top of the latest developments isn’t a straightforward task.
However, one thing that has always remained a pivotal component of Google’s algorithm is the impact of backlinks – links from other websites, to your own. Acquiring backlinks from appropriate and authoritative websites is a tried and trusted way of improving your site’s SEO. They have become a fundamental part of an effective Search Engine Optimisation strategy and are vital to improving your digital presence, so it’s something that all businesses should be proactively looking to prioritise.
In this guide, we’ve explained everything you need to know in regard to backlinks, including exactly what they are, the benefits they can offer as well as some of the ways you can obtain them.
What are Backlinks?
Also known as inbound links, backlinks are links that are directed towards your website from other websites. Google perceives the number of backlinks your website has as an indication of your site’s popularity and significance, with those having numerous high-quality links favoured by Google and more likely to be shown higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Why are Backlinks Beneficial?
Displayed Higher in SERPs
When search engines determine the relevance of a site to a particular search query or keyword, they take into consideration the number and quality of links to each site, largely affecting how high in the SERPs each site displays. For the more competitive keywords, Google is likely to show websites with the best backlinks and perceived authority higher. Those with very few backlinks are likely to struggle as Google can’t associate much trust and reliability to the website as no one is mentioning it, therefore impacting upon its visibility in results pages.
Informative Anchor Text
Not only are backlinks important for bettering your site’s position in Google, but they’re also used to help search engines understand exactly what your site is about. Their algorithms have been designed to assume that there’s a relationship between two sites’ content when one links to the other, helping them to make sure that your site ranks for relevant search terms.
The algorithms pay particular attention to the anchor text (the hyperlinked words containing the link), so it’s essential that this text includes specific keywords that tell search engines and readers what type of content to expect when the link is clicked. For instance, rather than hyperlink ‘click here’ to view one of our services, we might say bespoke and responsive website design.
Increase Visitors to Your Website
Encouraging users to visit your site can be difficult for some businesses (especially newer businesses with little brand exposure), so having a backlink is the ideal way for directing potential customers or clients to your site, from an existing location where they already ‘hang out’.
What are the Best Types of Backlinks?
In the early days of SEO, site owners strived to get as many backlinks as they could from wherever they could. Link farms were created and webmasters paid in bulk to get an abundance of cheap links to their site from a network of worthless web pages. However, Google picked up on this crafty SEO strategy and put it to an end; the link farms were quickly identified and the influence they had on search results were soon filtered.
Nowadays, the aim of the game is quality, not quantity.
The most effective types of links are those from sites that are not just relevant to your business, but are also reputable and authoritative. You’ll get far more benefit from a link from your local newspaper or the BBC than you would a small website that has no relevancy to your services and only receives 10 visits a month, for example.
Defining a ‘reputable’ and ‘authoritative’ site is a bit of a grey area. Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine a site’s authority and relevance, but to get a brief idea of a site’s credibility, look out for the following indicators:
Site Age & Domain Authority
The most reputable sites are usually the ones that have been around for a while and have a high level of domain authority.
Regularly Updated with High-Quality Content
Google prefers sites that are frequently updated, either through blogging, case studies or by other means. It’s also vital that this content is quality, readable and relevant to its audience.
Complies with Google’s Guidelines
Sites that only link to legitimate sites and comply with Google’s guidelines are predictably favoured.
Sites that receive a constant flow of valuable traffic are recognised by search engines.
Sites that are often visited by Google are generally credible.
How to Get Backlinks
Here are just a few of the ways you can encourage other businesses to link to your site:
Create Blogs/Content that People Will Naturally Link To
The best types of backlinks are the ones that appear organically whereby people value your content and share it with their audience. Creating advice articles, videos, informative blogs and sharing tips for particular problems are ideal for sharing on social media.
An easy way for businesses to gain links is to collaborate with their clients and partners. You could perhaps provide them with a testimonial that contains a link back to your site, or ask your clients to include you in their footer if you provide a particular service, such as ‘Website by Squarebird’.
Creating blogs that you can give to other sites can be an effective approach. For example, say you’re a security firm, you might create a blog on behalf of a nursery explaining how you provided them with the latest security equipment for them to add to their site. It’s a win-win for both parties as potential parents are likely to favour a nursery that is safe for their children, and your website receives a seamless backlink (as well as bit of brand exposure).
What is a Private Blog Network & Is It Valuable?
A sneaky technique that some SEO practitioners actively implement and base their entire backlink campaign off is to encourage their clients to link to one another. Although a couple of sporadic links here and there for related websites can provide value, taking this too far will create what’s known as a private blog network and can damage how Google perceives your site. Google will quickly become suspicious if 30 or so websites all suddenly start linking to each other, identifying it as a private blog network rather than a series of backlinks, so it’s best this approach is avoided.
SEO & Backlink Professionals in Bristol
Are you looking to improve your website’s performance? Are prospective clients finding your competitors before you? Here at Squarebird, we specialise in creating and implementing a bespoke SEO approach, tailored to your individual business and the nature of your industry.