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The Importance of Backlinks to Your Website

By Tyler Hendershot | Digital Marketing Coordinator
The Importance of Backlinks to Your Website

So, you’ve decided it’s time to build a high caliber website for your business. You’ve put in long hours narrowing down the content you are looking to put on there and the way you want it structured. Having high quality and SEO-friendly content is the perfect foot in the door for getting your website to rank high. You’ve tested and are ready for launch; a few months have passed, and you’re still not seeing the traffic increase you want even with high quality, on-page SEO. Everything looks good on the site itself, so now we need to look into building up authority from other sources.

So, what about the backlinks coming to your website?

Backlinks? What about them? Backlinks, also referred to as inbound links, are a status symbol demonstrating the popularity and trustworthiness of your website through the eyes of a search engine. The more backlinks you have from high quality websites, the more traffic you are able to drive to your website. However, there is more to it than just driving traffic. Let’s look further into the art of backlinks and how it can do wonders to your online presence.

What is a Backlink?

A backlink in one of those digital marketing terms that sounds super complicated, but actually is fairly self-explanatory.

According to the dictionary, a backlink is considered an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website. In literal terms, a link on another website taking people back to your website. These can come in a lot of forms, from directories and citations, to earned media, social media, or online news stories. Links from another high quality site to your website tells search engines that your site is high quality enough for them to take the time to reference you and direct their users there.

Other Key Backlink Terms

Link Profile

A link profile is looking at the status and source of all links coming in and out of your website. You can also provide backlinks to other websites; sharing the love is key to getting backlinks on your own site! If we are working with you on this, when we analyze your backlink profile we look at what sites are linking to you, how they are linking to you (text, image, or other), and what the quality score of their site looks like to make sure it’s a good match.

Referring Domains

An individual website that is linking back to your website, providing you with a backlink. While the number of backlinks are important, the number of individuals or organizations that link to your website is more important. You can have 3,000 backlinks from one website but that doesn’t carry as much weight as having backlinks from 50 different high quality websites.

Link Juice

While this is not an “official term,” this is used commonly by digital marketers to refer to the “value or equity passed from one page or site to another.” This value is usually passed through hyperlinks (also referred to as backlinks). The more high quality links you have coming to your site, the more link juice your website will have.

Anchor Text

The clickable text in a hyperlink. SEO best practices suggest that you link text that is relevant to the page you are linking to whenever possible (rather than generic text like “click here”). Backlinks can be found in the form of text or images, but the more descriptive or specific the anchor text is the better it is for SEO.

Now that we’re more familiar with backlinks as a whole, let’s dig into quantity versus quality.

Backlink Quantity: How Many Backlinks Should You Have?

From a marketing perspective, this is a great question to ask but one that doesn’t necessarily have an easy answer. The answer that tends to come up when this is asked is: it depends. A good way to look at it is to consider what you’re trying to achieve with your website’s web presence. If you want to be more aggressive with increasing your rankings then you’ll need a stronger emphasis on the number of backlinks. It also depends on your industry and your competitors. If you want to focus on beating out your top competitors in your area and they each have around 1,000 backlinks, then you know where you’re aiming. However, it’s not just a numbers game, it all comes down to the quality of backlinks that you have.

Backlink Quality: Where Should Backlinks Come From?

The term ‘quality over quantity’ has never applied more than with backlinks. When Google analyzes what sites are linking to yours, the quality of the website where the link is coming from drastically affects your search rankings. For example, if you’re looking to run an ecommerce business selling streetwear apparel, you’ll want popular apparel retailers like Complex, Highsnobiety, or related companies to be linking to your website. Although you might have fifty backlinks from an agriculture business, it really isn’t helping your SEO rankings because it’s not relevant to your target keyword search phrase. Having a handful of backlinks from sites that share similar content is more important than an excessive amount of non-related ones.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to backlinks comes from an article from SEO Mark. They suggest trying to achieve at least half of this list when looking at obtaining new backlinks. Ensure your links are:

  • From a relevant source
  • From a trusted source
  • Sending traffic
  • Using an exact/phrase/synonym match for anchor text
  • Found within content
  • On a page with PageRank
  • Next to backlinks to authority websites
  • From a different source to your existing backlinks
  • Not reciprocal
  • Among only a few other backlinks on the page
  • Not easily acquired
  • Not paid for

Above all, remember that one high quality backlink can be worth more than a hundred lower quality or spammy backlinks; meaning, when it comes to building backlinks you should work smarter, not harder.

via GIPHY

Avoiding Link Farms

As previously mentioned, quality is what Google really wants to see when looking at your link profile. There is a technique that some people use called link farming in an attempt to trick search engines by linking multiple fake pages to their page so it seems popular. In the early years of the search engines, this trick would have worked well. But times have changed and so has the scrutiny by which links are analyzed. Thanks to algorithms such as PageRank by Google, link farms are becoming a thing of the past and can actually hurt your SERP results.

via GIPHY

Building Backlinks & Anchor Text

Knowing the difference between good links and bad links allows you to figure out what you want to link to your site and vice versa. Luckily for you, there are a variety of ways to help build backlinks without trying to manipulate search engines. There are multiple backlink builder tools on the internet that can show you what websites are likely to relate to you based off the keywords you are looking to rank for. Stay away from tools that are offering to do all the heavy lifting for you though; quality backlinks are always going to be acquired with a more hands on approach.

Anchor text is important to tell users where they’re going once they click on a backlink to your site. As you work on acquiring high quality backlinks, talk to the webmasters about how you want your backlink to look. Depending on the source, they can customize it. However, some directories might be set on how they format a link back to your site. Always shoot for text links that are descriptive to where they are leading on your website, including key service offerings and your name if possible.

Take Action

It’s important to remember that good backlinks are not built overnight. It is a timely process that requires patience to build up successfully, however, it’s an important one. Accumulating good backlinks is going to do wonders for your search visibility and rankings; as Google sharpens its search algorithm, we can see that they really care about factors that instill trust in your website, domain, and brand. Keep in mind that you are looking to link with quality websites that are related to your industry or your target customers.

Not sure how to get started? If your business is looking for SEO, Digital Marketing, or Google help, contact Webspec Design today to talk about an audit so we can help you uncover where to start when it comes to your site’s SEO!

Tyler Hendershot

A West Des Moines native and the youngest person in our office, Tyler just recently received his B.A. in Enterprise Leadership from the University of Iowa before joining Webspec. Tyler’s job is to make sure that our clients’ SEO results are optimized to the highest extent. When he isn’t in the office, you can find Tyler writing his own music, researching trivia questions or watching basketball crossover highlights.