Backlinks and SEO

Backlinks and SEO

Everything you ever wanted to know about backlinks. From the books “Backlink Basics” and “Backlinks: Marketing Gold”

A Simple History On Backlinks

Backlinks have always had some bearing on how well a site ranked in search engine result pages (SERPs). However, in the past, the algorithms were not designed to take into account people trying to cheat the system.

This is done by loading up on backlinks from sites that had nothing but links on them, no content of any real relevance. These sites quickly became known as “link farms” and were used by webmasters to increase the ranking of their multiple sites.

In addition to this practice, webmasters often created one web page specifically to house reciprocal links called a links page. It was used by people building reciprocal links to better leverage their site in search engine results but provided no real content.

Sometimes, reciprocal links were even exchanged between sites that had no direct relevance to each other too. So, on a links page, you might find a link to a toy site when the website hosting the link had to do with the elderly. It obviously made no sense to reward this type of behind the scenes ranking manipulations!

Google Rewards

Google was one of the first major search engines to start looking at how to reward good quality links that had relevance and added content to a site. This is instead of rewarding savvy, but somewhat unscrupulous practices of cheating the search engine results with backroom deals and black hat tricks.

They kept using backlinks as a determinant of reputation but also strengthened the algorithm to look for specific quality links and penalizing link farms and other black hat maneuvers.

Backlinks Are Simple

A backlink is really very simple. Anytime another website places a URL link on their site that links directly back to your site, it’s called a backlink.

Why are backlinks important? Because they help bring people to your website, but also because they help boost your site’s search engine standing.

All this from just a simple link to your site? Yes! But only if you know the differences between types of backlinks and understand how to get the best mix of types to get the most traffic to your website.

Beware, though, because there are some pros and cons to each kind of backlink. If you use them incorrectly or in the wrong combination, you could end up actually lowering your search engine ranking by mistake.

Why You Need Backlinks

When we think of Internet marketing, the word “backlink” doesn’t automatically come to mind. In fact, most people who aren’t involved with a website would not even know what a backlink means. To put it simply, a backlink is any URL link from another website that will take web surfers directly to your website.

So, a backlink is like a business card (in the form of an Internet address) that you gave to someone who then refers other people back to you. Using this metaphor, one can see that the more backlinks you get the more business you get too. However, that’s not the sole reason why backlinks are important in Internet marketing.

A Measure of Your Website’s Reputation

While a backlink is a type of referral, it also can be a measure of your website’s reputation. This is why major search engines use backlinks in their search algorithms.

They catalog the number of backlinks and the strength of the people who are backlinking to your site. They use this in their algorithm to determine how well you rank amongst other sites that deal with your website niche.

Raise Visability

Using backlinks you can raise the visibility of your site by getting your site highly ranked in the search engine. This, in turn, will lead to more people visiting your site and thus more business.

As if that weren’t enough, the backlinks are also used to determine the worth of the website should you decide to sell the domain later. So, backlinks can turn into dollar signs, even if your site happens to be a blog, instead of a full website. That’s how powerful backlinks are!

NOT ALL BACKLINKS ARE THE SAME

Being the Internet, of course, nothing is as straightforward as it seems. It’s simplistic to suggest that anything that is a backlink will enhance your site’s value or search engine ranking. Tech wizards invented the Internet, and many of those geek geniuses ended up in search engine companies.

So, even though a standard HTML URL is easy enough to understand (once you get the hang of it), search engine optimization is quite intricate and often a very secretive business. After all, if we knew exactly the algorithms that major companies use to rank the sites in their listings than anyone could fool a search engine and the entire industry would collapse overnight.

So, while you can learn as much as you want about how to code a backlink, you probably won’t get the finer points of which backlinks are worth more than others to your website unless you read this eBook.

Backlinks: Marketing Gold

You will find out what specific aspects of a backlink are important in Chapter 2 of “Backlinks: Marketing Gold”. There I discuss the importance of the anchor text that is linking back to your site and the types of sites that link to you. This is just one of the elements that can affect your search ranking, but it appears to be a strong criterion in how you rank, at least in the Google search engine.

In “Backlinks: Marketing Gold” you can also learn how the context and positioning of a backlink has a great effect on how useful it is to improve your page rank in search engines.

Backlink Ranking

Of course, you will want to get backlinks from sites with good page rank, as they will be weighted more or considered more relevant by the search engines.

The higher up you are in the page listing (home page not necessarily being the best page), the more the backlink is weighted. You will learn why link referral pages are no longer as good a strategy as getting your link on relevant pages with few other backlinks.

Also, it may surprise you to learn that where the link appears on the page (top, middle, and bottom) can also influence how strong a backlink is perceived to be by the search engine ranking algorithm.

One Way Backlinks

There is of course more to why you need backlinks. Specifically “One Way” backlinks, but from this article, hopefully, you have learned that you do need to use them. How to get backlinks and how to use them most effectively you can find in the eCourse, “Backlinks: Marketing Gold” you’ll find linked at the top of this page.

About Backlinks And Search Engines

With all this talk about Google, you might think it’s the only major search engine around. Actually, there are various search engines around, but Google with its Adwords campaign of advertising is the most influential one for advertisers.

Many advertisers and website owners make significant income from Adwords. When such a company threatens to ban you, it isn’t just about losing a few backlinks, it can also mean the loss of significant revenue from Adwords, which is a pay-per-click scheme.

Black Hat, White Hat

There is a whole culture built around Google’s search engine policies with some practices being labeled “black hat” for evil marketing practices that allow people to pay their way into a top search engine ranking and “white hat” practices that are deemed more natural estimates of a site’s reputation.

Gray Hat

In the grand scheme of things, there are many gray areas, and “gray hat” practices that can be allowed even though they may be commercially motivated and that’s hard for any search engine to spot.

However, Google does try to keep people from buying their way into top rankings as this would make their search engine ineffective and help them to lose market share. Then, someone else might be cleverer in delivering search engine pages that match a higher level of integrity in search matching that isn’t influenced by commercial interests.

That’s why when Google decides to penalize people for tricks (whether black or white hat) that help them to place better in SERPs, there are many cries of dismay when the rules change. They mean serious business and won’t be upset if you lose your livelihood in order for them to keep their business alive.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing

However, no matter what rules Google puts in place, Yahoo! and Bing is their own separate search engines. Their rules may be different. And, the myriad of other smaller search engines too may not be following the same standards that Google tries to enforce on the Internet.

So, despite the fact that Google is a major player right now, it doesn’t mean they will forever dominate the Internet search engine business.

Plan on Using Google

Try to follow Google’s rules as best as you can without alienating potentially other profitable ways to do business on the web such as gray or white hat tricks of the trade. Google might penalize you for a paid backlink or review, while Yahoo! and MSN couldn’t care less. They are just one player in a very large, and dynamic, environment that is constantly changing.

Who knows if Google will be there tomorrow or not? Since it is the BIGGEST it probably will. But hopefully, your focus is on keeping yourself alive on the Internet and making sure your business is healthy while not tripping any live wires out there that other Internet entities rig for their benefit.

Backlinking Do’s And Dont’s

Here are a few additional strategies that might help or hurt your site when planning out your backlinking strategy and the reasons why:

Do Scope your own and competition’s backlinks. For this, you will simply log into one of the main search engines and type in special search terms to pull up information on your own or your competitor’s backlinks. It’s like an online business spying.

Do Offer RSS feeds. If you offer people looking for content, an RSS feed to content on your site, they will automatically backlink to you.

Do Press releases
If you have noteworthy news, you can write up a press release and send it out to sites that publish new announcements.

Don’t Do Backlink bombing
If you own more than one site (and start to put in reciprocal interrelated links for all your sites in a massive bombing), Google will penalize you.

Do Lateral linking
Add content to popular social networking sites like YouTube or Facebook with a backlink to your site. If your content goes viral, you can end up with many quality links going back to your website.

More, more, more
The more backlinks you get the better so continue to keep working on your backlinking strategy on an ongoing basis forever, not just when you launch your new website. One of the quickest ways the search engines are going to realize that your backlinks are real is if you have a huge surge of backlink building activity right when your site launches and then it stops immediately in the near future.

Grow Your Backlinks

In order to show natural growth and look like a truly important site in your niche, you’re going to need to continue to build your backlinks on an ongoing basis for the life of your website. This is not a part-time job unless you want to make part-time money, to put in the time to continually build your backlinks your website will rise in the search engines faster than you can imagine.

Backlink Ideas

It seems like every day someone on the Internet discovers and ingenious way to get a one-way backlink.

Sometimes people luck into them by buying advertising in a paper publication or directory that later gets posted on the Internet. If they happen to land on a .edu site this way, they can end up with great backlink ratings and not even know how they managed to get it. So, always keep an eye out for additional strategies.

Here we offer you a sampling of some innovative ways that other people have used and whether they will help or hurt you in the long run.

SCOPING OUT THE COMPETITION’S BACKLINKS

This is actually a great way to see how your competition has scored some good PageRank. You can also try to get the same backlinks to your site and at least keep par until you can figure out a way to surpass them.

Use the following search engine to figure out what backlinks are going to any site, whether it is your own or the competition’s: www.backlinkwatch.com.

This easy to use SEO tool allows you to see the people linking to you or any URL, and more importantly, to see whether the link is a no-follow link.

It even gives you the anchor text being used to link back to you. Use this on your own or on the competition to quickly size them up and start your own backlink campaign.

OFFER RSS FEEDS

Today’s surfer is far more sophisticated than in the past. They, not only surf for content through search engines but also RSS feeds. If you have constantly updated content, you can attract people who are searching the web for it quite easily. Just offer an RSS feed that puts it all in one place for them.

People take multiple RSS feeds and are able to read and search them in an RSS feed reader. This helps people locate content quickly that is recent and up-to-date. If you submit your RSS feeds, then many readers will link back to you.

PRESS RELEASES

If you’ve done something noteworthy, don’t forget to toot your own horn. Send out press released with a backlink embedded back to your site. This offers you valuable publicity and keeps you front and center in the public’s eye.

LATERAL LINKING

There are myriads of social networking sites out there that will allow you to add some lateral backlinks to your site. These are areas that are set up as community sites that can help build your PageRank, especially if you get good reviews from people because of them.

Facebook and Myspace are great sites for networking and there’s nothing wrong with discretely putting a backlink in your profile. YouTube is a great place to put up videos that attract people back to your profile page, where you’ve placed another backlink.

Strategy

This strategy offers several benefits. First, social networking sites cater to a large audience of people. You can get quite a bit of exposure just setting up a profile and becoming part of the community.

Secondly, they offer you the ability to get feedback on the offerings of your site. This can help you to tweak your website so that it becomes more naturally popular.

Finally, social networking sites are a great place to network and find more websites that might help you boost your rank by putting up a backlink, whether reciprocal or one-way.

Affiliate Programs Are Backlink Gold

When it comes down to it, the only real reason you want backlinks is to make money my right? Affiliate marketing is a way to sell other people’s products on your site while still making a commission on each sale.

You can sell your own products on your site and create an affiliate marketing program that sells them on commission on other people’s sites too. You can easily use your affiliate marketing program to harvest multiple backlinks to any website that you wish. This is a sure way to hear the ring of the cash register.

A Thought

Heck, think about this for a minute. If you been doing much backlinking so far then you already know that you’re willing to pay for high-quality backlinks, what if you set up your affiliate program to pay 100% commission on any of the less expensive products that you sell to generate loads of backlinks.

Your hundred percent commission offer will be highly motivated to affiliates that will be happy to link back to your site through your affiliate link giving you loads of backlinks.

I know you’re offering 100% commission, what you’re really doing is getting free backlinks, and free leads at the exact same time.

Buying Links

We both already know buying leads and buying links can be expensive. By offering a higher percent affiliate commissions on lower-priced products in your current product line you can get both of these leads and links for free, and its affiliates that love you at the same time..

This is a win, win, win no matter what way you look at it. If you have an affiliate program set up for any website that you’re looking to get backlinks into then you need to start looking at getting your affiliate program set up right away.

Elements Of A Quality Backlink

Now, that you understand how a backlink is coded and some of the histories behind why the search engine ranking algorithms were changed, you are in a better position to see how your website might be analyzed for quality links. Obviously, you don’t want to add your link to websites that are link farms as this will now penalize, rather than enhance your search engine ranking.

And, you know that search engine optimization is interested in the relevance of your site compared to the content of your site. Understanding this makes it easier to understand that when your backlinks are analyzed, they aren’t just done so based on their isolated coding, they are done with respect to the environment too. This environment includes the page rank of the site that is linking to you, your own website’s content, and the page environment and content that the backlink springs from.

PageRank (PR)

The best types of quality links come from sites that have a high page rank in Google’s search engine. Page rank ranges on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest page rank. This is a measure of the referral site’s reputation and will give the search engine an idea of how reliable this source is about giving out links that are not relevant or within their own content stream.

If you don’t know a site’s PageRank (PR), you can download the Google toolbar and it will tell you what it is. It takes time to develop page rank and you should try to link to sites with a slightly higher page rank than your own, thus building up your own site’s reputation.

Website Content Matching

Ideally, you would want to get a backlink from a site that not only has a higher page rank than you do but also that has something to do with the content of your site. If your site is about dating, you may want to be included in a site that reviews dating sites. If you just get a backlink from someone who is selling Bibles, it’s likely to be ignored as a good quality backlink.

Page Positioning

A link that shows up near the top of the referrer’s page is worth more than one at the bottom. This may seem odd, but you have to remember that paid links are often placed nearer the bottom or out of the way of the relevant content. Paid text links are now not considered good quality links by Google, but how that algorithm is determined, it’s anyone’s guess. They appear to make page positioning an indicator of whether a text link is paid or not.

Page Hierarchy

Within any website, there is a directory tree that leads people deeper and deeper into the site. The higher a web page is in the directory structure the more value it has to you as a potential host for your backlink. The home page of a site with good ranking is an excellent place to get a backlink because this is the prime real estate for websites that everyone is sure to visit.

Anchor Text

The anchor text used by the linking site is becoming more important. If you have a site that sells shoes and the anchor text that backlinks to you is “pretty wear” then it won’t be as efficient as one that clearly describes your offerings like “quality top-brand shoes.”

This effect appears to be evaluated across the board with the more backlinks using quality anchor text, the higher your page ranking in the results pages becomes.

Apply these elements in your backlink campaigns and you’ll absolutely gain additional traffic.

Writing Articles to Get Back Links

Do you have a way with words? If so, you can take advantage of your skills to promote your website through article directories that have a large following. The audience is already created; you just add your backlink from your own articles submitted to these directories for free.

These actually count to your search engine ranking and also are a great way to capture more readers and steer them to your site with a nicely placed backlink. Even if you don’t fancy yourself a writer, you can always pay a freelancer to ghostwrite articles for you and then submit them to these directories.

Caveats

As with any strategy to get backlinks, there are certain caveats. Some search engines might be weighting some article directories a bit less. This can happen when a particular website or strategy gets abused by online spammers, making it less attractive for search engine ranking. Or, like in the case of paid article submission sites, like AssociatedContent.com, you may get great exposure, but no backlink! They are not a dofollow site.

Another way to get a ton of articles written for you without having to do much writing yourself would be to outsource that work on sites like Vworker or Elance. You can find the time writers that are happy to create as much cheap content that you can handle for less than the cost of a happy meal for each article.

There are also people on these outsourcing websites that will then go out and post these articles for you all over the net creating your backlinks for you. There’s almost no aspect of this type of backlinks strategy that can’t be outsourced.

Now you have no excuses to get started in your backlinking campaign today.

Bob Hoffman

www.greatpast60.com

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