Backlinking Factors to Improve Site SEO
Recommendations build trust and trust builds authority. When other sites link to yours they are effectively recommending your site. This is how your site builds backlinks or inbound links. Earning links is like earning online votes; they help to build trust among your audience. The more recommendations you have, the more trustworthy your website seems and this is what will help your website rank high in web searches. Over time your website’s PageRank and overall popularity will increase, thus building a strong authority in your niche and drawing new visitors to your site.
Why are backlinks important?
- Backlinks improve your search ranking. Take a look at this graphical representation of the Spearman Correlation Study of Google search result ranking factor’s:
- Backlinks have the potential to improve your site’s PageRank.
- They increase your online popularity.
- They improve social sharing of your content. This in turn improves social signals on your website, which is a major search ranking factor, as evident from the graphical representation above.
- Building links can help foster ongoing and beneficial relationships with other webmasters/businesses in your niche.
- Most importantly: Backlinks improve your site’s SEO.
The major reason for creating backlinks is to improve your site’s SEO. Until recently, building backlinks was the most important deciding factor for a site’s search engine ranking. However, like every other search ranking factor, the practice of building backlinks has been abused by some webmasters, resulting in irrelevant search results. Since then, search engines such as Google have adopted algorithms that consider other ranking factors, such as social media popularity, user behavior on the site, location and fresh content. Nonetheless, backlinks do feature as one of the topmost ranking factors. What has changed is that a site is judged not only by the number of backlinks it has but by the quality of these backlinks as well.
Backlinking factors that improve search engine ranking include:
The quality of a backlink is determined by the quality of the website that is linking to you. Search engine crawlers detect quality in your backlinks by looking at the PageRank of the website linking to you. If you have a site with a PageRank of ten linking to you, there are higher chances of your website appearing in the first page of search results. In general, aim to receive backlinks from websites with a PageRank higher than four. Having said that, links from PageRank zero to four are not useless; they provide variation in your linking profile, which in turn indicates that your site has built its links naturally. Ideally, websites linking to you will:
- Be rich in content.
- Have properly indexed pages.
- Not have ad banners above the fold.
- Not belong to link farms.
- Have a prominent social media presence.
- Have great user experience and low bounce rates.
- Not be stuffed with keywords.
- Be optimized for on-page SEO.
- Not be associated with spam.
- Have a large number of high-quality backlinks pointing to it.
A few years ago, high numbers of backlinks was considered a search engine ranking signal. However, many sites started building links by the hundreds or thousands in the hopes of gaining higher rankings. Many cheap SEO companies offered link building services that promised thousands of backlinks. This kind of linking led to poor search results. For instance, in the past, link builders could earn 100 links from press release sites by distributing the same content to all of them. A search for the target keyword would display multiple press release sites with the same content, thus leaving no space for other quality articles to feature in the first few pages of search results. Eventually search engines such as Google penalized these link farms, content farms and low quality directories. The idea was to curb the low quality links. Some SEO experts now think that building fewer links of high quality is more effective in earning a high position in the SERPs than building many links of low quality.
However, if your site has two high-quality links and your competitor has twenty high-quality and twenty mediocre-quality links, search engines are likely to rate your competitor’s site as more popular on the web and thus rank them higher. So, quantity is still important, but it must go hand-in-hand with quality. After all, the number of links correlates to the number of votes of recommendation your site receives on the web.
Earning links that originate from different online sources is more natural than earning links in bulk from press release sites alone, for example. Search engines rank sites based on the diversity of the links in their backlink profile. So, if your backlink profile has mixture of links from video sites, social media sites, social bookmarking sites, article sites, blogs, blog comments, forums, online directories, niche websites, review sites and so on, search engines will likely rank your site higher than sites with little diversity in their link profile.
The rate at which your site earns links is also a ranking factor for search engines. Some sites invest in link building via SEO companies. This results in a sudden generation of bulk links by the hundreds or thousands. With sophisticated search engine algorithms in place, this sudden increase in links to your site triggers an alert for unnatural linking, thus threatening to decrease the search engine ranking of your site. It is more natural to build links at a consistent pace so that search engines trust your efforts.
If your site sells electrical appliances and five inbound links are generated from sites offering yoga lessons, this creates suspicion and triggers an ‘unnatural linking’ signal to the search engines. It is safer and preferable to earn and build links from sites in your niche.
Anchor text helps search engines understand what keywords your website is targeting. So, if your backlinks are earned from anchor texts such as ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ it is difficult for the search engine crawlers to understand your website content. Thus, if site XYZ links to your site that sells electrical appliances with anchor text, “discounts on Morphy Richards toasters”, search engine crawlers rank your site high for the keyword Morphy Richards toasters. However, since Google released the Penguin update last year, sites that had all their backlinks connected with targeted keywords as anchor texts (exact anchor text matches) went dramatically lower in search engine rankings. It was obvious that all inbound links could no longer be linked to your site with targeted keywords. Since you have no control over the anchor text the webmaster of the linking site chooses to link your site with, you have to be careful to keep your backlinks with exact anchor text to no more than 50 percent of the total. A good balance of branded keywords, (Martha’s Nursery School), generic keywords (click here), generic plus targeted keywords, (click here to find out more about the top 10 nursery schools), and location-based keywords (Nursery Schools in Southern California) can be used along with your target keywords as anchor text.
It is common sense that nofollow links do not transfer link juice to your site and contribute no ranking signals for search engines, but nofollow links do have some benefits:
- They add diversity to your site’s link profile.
- Nofollow sites generally have high web popularity. They have web traffic of their own. When you earn backlinks from a nofollow site, you have higher chances of exposing your site to its web traffic. This web traffic is independent of search engines.
- Although not proven, nofollow sites may trigger natural linking signals, thus benefitting the search engine positioning of your site. If you were building links using a link building service, you would certainly omit all the nofollow sites. Thus having a few nofollow sites make your site look like it is earning backlinks naturally.
These are the ways in which backlinks play a major role in your site’s SEO. Backlinks can be earned in many ways if you have quality information to share with your audience. These days people blog on their websites to motivate others to link to their site, which is a good way to earn natural links. You may also spy on your high ranking competitor’s backlinks to look for sites that they gain links from. You can run your competitor’s site in a WooRank Website Project to check the origin of their backlinks as well as the anchor text used in the linking.