SEO Basics: Backlinks
So you have a website, you added your keywords, your service area, your products, your contact details, a few graphics and now you sit back and watch the results … wouldn’t it be lovely if that were the case.
To gain high exposure in the major search engines, like Google and Bing, relies on a whole host of factors – the one we are focusing on today is Backlinks.
What is a backlink?
A backlink is a hyperlink from another website to yours.
This could be from your profile page in Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, or it may be a link from a suppliers or customers website.
Backlinks are a little bit like money – you never seem to have enough!
If asked for the optimal number for backlinks for a website I’d have to say how well do you want it to perform?
Google sees backlinks as one major indicator of site integrity – and it’s not just the number, it’s the quality as well.
Like the huge range of web pages found on the Internet, so too are the diversity of backlinks.
There are many forms of URL extensions such as .com, .edu, .org, .gov sites. There are OBL’s to consider, anchor text, pagerank and then the Do Follow or No Follow rule!
.GOV is a Good Surname
Let’s start with the URL extensions – every website on the web has a unique address called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) which goes something like http://www.dlook.com.au. There can be no two website page addresses are the same – like a phone number – every page has be uniquely identified to ensure you get where you clicked.
In terms of understanding backlinks the focus is on the “.com.au” section (as shown in example) known as gTLD’s (global Top Level Domains). These consist of restricted and unrestricted domain extensions that are weighted differently by Google.
A gTLD extension denotes the type of page it is, the most common is .com (which includes .com.au as well as other country codes) and are given out for general use. More recently the .org extensions were classified unrestricted and fall into this category of general release as well.
However, .edu and .gov extensions are restricted gTLD’s and therefore less accessible. There are numerous restricted URL extensions but these two are the most common and typically are harder to get and so hold more weight in the eyes of Google.
Though backlinks are worth collecting, not all backlinks provide the same value … .gov and .edu extensions are much more desirable than the more common .com.
I Will Follow You
Websites may provide backlinks but they have the option of adding their tick of approval … or not.
Some websites choose to add the phrase “NoFollow” in their source code – which means the originating site does not endorse the link or, more specifically, it removes any search engine value from the link.
The link is still available to be clicked by real (human) viewers, but adding NoFollow has instructed the search engine that their site does not support the link.
The only way to check if a site provides Do Follow links is to check the source code of the website you are looking at.
So the best links are Do Follow backlinks … providing a full endorsement to your page.
Why Link Pages Don’t Work
Well, that’s not totally true. Though a single web page only has so much value to give out.
If we put a figure of 100 as an example … If you only have one link on the page then that link gets 100%. If there are two, 50 / 50. Five 20% each and so on.
The term that pops up often is OBL’s or other backlinks. When you run a search with a backlink checker it often includes a column denoting OBL’s. This is to highlight the number of other links that share the page with you – this could be a few to a few thousand.
So getting lots of No Follow links on pages with OBL’s numbering hundreds or more … well is possibly not the best use of your time.
Anchor Text Explained
Another key factor in integral backlinks is anchor text – this is literally the words that are used in the hyperlink. This text is given more value than the surrounding text – you’ve considered this important enough to use as your key words.
The text you use as anchor text should be the phrases or keywords that are most relevant to your page. Just writing “Click Here” doesn’t identify anything about the content. If your page is about shiny widgets then your link should be “shiny widgets”.
All Links Are Not Equal
Backlinks are not all weighted the same, we’ve already discovered that there are various extensions like .gov or .edu, there are Do Follow and No Follow and that OBL’s play a part … the final piece of the pie is Pagerank.
Pagerank is a Google patented algorithm that provides their view of a website’s integrity. The Pagerank (PR) score ranges from 0 through 10, with the majority of sites either unranked or achieving a PR of 1 or 2.
The higher the PR the less web sites with that score. At the top are behemoths like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter then cascading down to the millions of websites that pop up each and every day.
A backlink from a PR4+ site is quite a coup … Add to that .gov and Do Follow and a few hundred of those would do me just nicely!
Finally there are reciprocal links, where each site links to each other.
If you scratch my back then I’ll scratch yours!
If you close the loop on a backlink, providing an equivalent link from yours then this is also a good indicator of integrity.
Well there you have it, an intro to forming a backlink strategy – like a giant virtual group hug.
The intricacy of linking and backlinking, reciprocal links forms a mosaic that all helps create relevance and site integrity.
The Backlink Shortlist:
- Create a lot of them
- Variety counts (.com, .edu, .org, .gov)
- Relevance counts too (anchor text, Do Follow)
- Be a backlink VIP (check the OBL’s)
- Look for the premium seats (Pagerank counts)
There are lots of ways to generate backlinks, hopefully this gives you a start on what to look for.