What are backlinks and do they affect search engine rankings?

So, you have heard about backlinks.

Perhaps you heard about it through an article online or through an industry insider. Whatever the cause, you’re excited. You have heard about their power and want in.

So  this begs the question “What are backlinks and how can they help me?” Link building in layman’s terms is the promotion of your website on other websites to grow your organic traffic.

Through effective promotion of your website onto other websites, causes backlink creating which is a link on another website linking to your website. This link can be to a particular page on your website.

For example, if you create a Facebook or Linkedin profile and add your website URL, this is a backlink. The aim here is to create high quality, relevant backlinks to point from authoritative websites back to yours.

Through the creation of high-quality backlinks, your website’s Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) is increased.

As you grow your backlinks, and as a result, your DA and PA, Google and other search engines will rank your website higher than your competition that doesn’t, assuming there are adequate on-page optimisation practices in place.

Backlink creation comes with a word of warning. Link quality has to be scrutinised for each of your backlink possibilities as creating backlinks to your website from low quality or spammy websites can and will negatively hurt your website’s ranking.

Quality over quantity approach is recommended, which focuses on quality websites to link to your website as this is more ideal than 1,000 links from low-quality websites.

Can backlinks to my blog boost my SEO?

Blog Posting is a popular way to add content to your website. Through this content creation opens up many avenues for backlink creation for your website. Just writing blogs alone on your website without promoting them is not likely to improve your SEO however, the quality and relevance of your blogs will.

If your blogs are captivating and provide genuine interest then people who don’t know your company could find them by chance and even interact or purchase with your services or products.

The challenge here is to be patient when you are writing blogs on a new site. It is unlikely that you will be able to draw traffic just because your blog is great. Promoting your blogs on other websites and social media, can create a massive difference.

How do backlinks help my SEO?

In order to appreciate how significant backlinks are, we will explain how search engines use them in their ranking process.

  • Anchor Tag: within the code of a site, an anchor tag is simply the letter “a” which directs Google’s web bots that a link to something is following this denotation. Anchor tag denoted by “a”, this is used to open a link tag and informs Google that a link to anything else is going to follow.
  • Placement of link referral: a hyperlink referral in HTML is ‘byhref’, with the text within the quotes showing the domain name to which the backlink is pointing. Sometimes this domain name will be a webpage, whilst at other times it could be a file image. In addition, links that are internal to the webpage are denoted with a # tag, called native links, which navigate you to another section of the web page you are visiting.
  • Visible or anchor-text of link: Visitors to your site can view the anchor text of links, commonly known as an HTML link, often underlined in blue. For example Seoz – here we can see ‘Seoz’ is the anchor text and https://seoz.com.au/ (the page you are brought to after the link is clicked) is the hyperlink.

Obtaining quality backlinks

Your website will perform better in SERP’s based on many different ranking factors, including the quality of incoming links you have to the pages of your website. As Google relies on the information attached to the links in order to rank your site against your competitors, the more links that show useful and credible information the better and your site will rank higher.

Google’s latest Penguin and Panda updates have made it difficult to simply automate backlinks from spammy or fake sites. You will need to create useful and purposeful links of your own. Here are some ideas below:

1. Use informative and catchy ‘link bait’ when you post and share

The term “Link Bait” is using any type of web resource that will improve the engagement with a link. Frequently it refers to videos, infographics, polls, and controversial topics to get the attention of visitors and provoke them to share.

Example: Top 10 Brisbane Coffee Shops is more catchy than Good Brisbane Coffee Shops

2. Be a guest blogger on business websites

If your site is new, and you don’t have a large customer base, it can be difficult to establish and grow backlinks as external websites will not feel obliged to link to your content.

When you are a small website you should look at creating what we call micro links. These micro links can include writing reviews or blogs on supplier sites may help you get traffic to your site, if you’re able to use the link bait well and grow a ‘fan base’ of readers.

Apart from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you can easily start doing video reviews and posting it on YouTube. The company you are reviewing for may also notice you and share your testimony with a link from their website to yours.

It is a win-win situation for both businesses, as long as your links and blogs are well written and add value.

3. Networking via the real world

If you are a member of groups or professional or social organisations, make enquiries and find out if you are able to create backlinks to those member pages. It is a great way to develop familiarity of your site within people who are already in a circle in which you operate.

Perhaps you have people in ‘real life’ that have websites that will link to your website – you don’t know until you ask! The suppliers for your business for example, may allow reciprocal link building.

Offer to write a review or testimonial for them, as you are their customer too. In return they will (hopefully) do the same for you, or at least permit your link on their site.

Websites are constantly on the lookout for growing their website. They look for quality, high impact content which they can show on their website. Content they didn’t have to write is the cherry on top!

4. Check your competitors’ backlink profiles

Once you have assessed and scrutinised the backlink profile for your website, you can assess that of your competition. By doing so, you can identify weak points in your competition’s backlinks and build on these to give your SEO strategy the edge. Some of these tools include Moz Link Explorer and Majestic. These tools, after signup, will provide you with a free glimpse into the websites that are backlinking to your competitors’ sites. You can also purchase subscription plans which will give you a more comprehensive insight of all the backlinks for a particular website.