First off a little disclosure this article over laps the Backlinks category of the FAQ.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are links from other sites. Think of them as votes of affirmation. Only one vote can come from a domain so for SEO purposes it doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 1 link from the same domain one link is the count you gain. Subdomains are viewed separately…thats why yourblog.tumblr.com isn’t a tumblr backlink. Now those other links may increase traffic to your site but in regards to SEO value its one vote. Some call this metric “Domain Pop” … how many different domains link to a site. It’s also gotten more complicated as people would host multiple sites on a shared IP. How many backlinks come from different IPs is “IP Pop.” It’s common to see a little higher domain pop than ip pop but if its a huge gap its suspect.
The more domains that link to you the more authoritative you must be right? Well Kinda. If 1000 domains link to your site you likely are more authoritative than a site that 3 sites link too. Not all domains or votes or backlinks….are the same. A link to your site from UltimateSEO.org carries with it the weigh attributed to that site by its backlinks. People refer to this as “link juice” basically the backlinks coming in to a site fuel the backlinks leaving a site.
Link juice prevents someone of registering 10 new domains and making 10 backlinks to their original site because those ten new sites probably lack link juice from their own backlinks. Generally said though backlinks increase a site’s domain athority or citation flow. Different companies refer to the authority of a site differently. Beyond DA and CF there is also LIS but I have found DA to be the best singular indicator of a sites worth.
You can see a site’s backlinks from many indexes, most are paid. Ultimate SEO recommends Monitor Backlinks if you want a tool that is really good at backlinks. UltimateSEO received nothing for that endorsement. The endorsement or vote …. as you see it’s a backlink.
What Kinds Of Backlinks Are There?
Beyond saying Good and Bad there are actually a couple to be aware of “follow” or “do-follow” and “nofollow.” They get their names by the instruction they give search engine crawlers…no follow links mean don’t follow this to that site. In theory a regular link is a follow link and serves as the backlink you ultimately want.
Some reason folks went a little crazy and no-followed everything … even internal links. No-follows were meant to combat link building schemes such as blog comments. While its fine to have no follow links to your site there should be a limited mixture of them in relation to your actual do-follow links. No-follow links are still indexed and I feel strongly have some SEO value still even if its just to drive traffic to your site. In the end you want do-follow links because they come as full fledged votes for your site, where as no-follows are more or less saying “here is this link to a sight I don’t want to be associated with necessarily.”
It’s that distance that makes “no-follows” a poor source of SEO efforts and its why you should use them sparingly in internal links. Why would you send a signal to Google that you don’t stand behind an internal link to yourself? Some try to hold onto all the link juice coming in and no-follow” every external link, this is a poor practice and its been shown that linking your content to relevant good external content helps you.
No-Follow Internal Links…Just Don’t
I rarely use no-follow links, I kinda think they system there is broken so I just follow them all. Sometime ago people started no-following everything and lead their link juice to specific pages they wanted to rank. Since this was a misuse of the no-follow Google changed how it handled no-follows, it doesn’t keep the juice in your site or on a page it just disappears. No-follows take the same amount of link juice as a regular link but no one gets it. Pointless then right? We’ll debate that more another day.
What Is Anchor Text?
Anchor text is the “keyword” of a backlink. Ultimate SEO for example is anchor text for the link http://ultimateseo.org which that link had no anchor text. Anchor text defines the backlink vote. If enough people make a link to your site like “Miserable Failure” it will teach Google that the target of that link is a miserable failure. This happen to George W Bush’s White House biography page long ago and is called a “Google Bomb”. It’s that old saying…if you say something often enough it can become true.
How Many Do I Need?
A lot. You need as many as you can get from as many places as you can get them. Just keep in mind that a backlink from my personal site isn’t as powerful as a backlink from the CDC.gov website …. they have the authority. Thats also why .edu and .gov backlinks are especially coveted.
A quick rule of thumb to determine how many you need is to simply Google the keyword you are attempting to rank for….lets say “cool music from the 60s.” I get pastemagazine.com leading the pack. According the SEMrush.com that site has 2.7 million backlinks coming from 36,700 domains on 44,300 IP addresses. So roughly keep that your target if you want to rank #1 for “cool music from the 60s.”
How Do I Get Backlinks?
Many ways….the Gods honest truth is to do it the obvious way …. by having content worth linking too. If you want a page to rank at the top you need a site thats fast, optimized on page, has relevant … awesome content … and people will backlink to you. Over years and years and years and you’ll need to keep that content better than everyone else’s … thats not super realistic though. Sometimes the best content is on page 2 and it’ll stay there…I often Google something and skip the first things just cause they are often just the most SEOed things. BUT most people by far pick the first result, then the second and so on.
What Are Some Popular Link Building Techniques?
So you need to prime the pump and simulate organic growth and popularity and now you’re in a link building scheme. Some are looked down upon more than others but make no mistake any attempt to gain backlinks is a link building scheme. Press Releases, Guest Blogging, Commenting in Forums, making profiles on other sites, link swapping, selling or buying links and finally PBNs. PBNs are private blog networks where you make zombie sites that link to your important site … but considering that the example above had 37,000 domains linking to it how effective is a network of say 200 sites? Well surprisingly effective…and thats why Google hunts PBNs like Buffy the vampire slayer.
Thats our Backlinks 101…I’ll talk more about some of these concepts in future posts.