What Are Backlinks and Why do You Need Them?

If you have a webpage and wanted to be ranked by Google as well as the other search engines, you need backlinks.  Why? Because backlinks to your web page are one of the highest attributes Google uses to rank your page.

So what exactly are backlinks?

Say there is an article about the best steakhouses in the USA, published in a major source such as Bon Appétit. Bon Appétit is read by close to 6.5 million unique readers each month. If Bon Appétit happens to mention your steakhouse in Austin, Texas and also provides a hyperlink to your restaurant, Samurai Bob’s Polynesian Steakhouse, that’s called a backlink.


Why are referenced links important?

Because Google aims to provide the most useful information possible to web surfers who rely on them for answers.  In the example above, Bon Appétit, with its highly sophisticated audience dedicated to food is a much better reference link than Mortimer’s favorite restaurants which may have a total readership of less than a thousand people a month.

But even a link back from Mortimer’s, which concentrates on restaurant reviews may be considered a better source than Peggy’s Parachute Jumping blog who happens to mention that while traveling to Austin and enjoyed Samurai Bob’s Polynesian Steakhouse.  Even if Peggy’s Parachute Jumping blog has three times the audience of Mortimer’s, the Google algorithm may rank Motirmers’s link worth more than Peggy’s because Mortimer’s deals exclusively with food too.


Are links back to your website important?

Yes and no. First of all, according to Neil Patel, an SEO Guru, some websites are actually punished for the links back to their website.  This is a remnant of the Wild West days of Google when all you needed to do to rank high is have a whole host of links back to your site.
It didn’t take Google long to catch on that the vast majority of these links were bogus. In fact, several years ago, perhaps 90 percent of all links backward to an individuals site were bogus.  It was possible for example, to pay $100, and get several hundreds of links pointing back to your site, even if those links had very little value.

So Google is cautious about reverse links, and in fact recommends that most people let their content stand on their own rather than using links back to their site to try and enhance their Google ranking.  It should be noted too, that many websites are more cautious of the links they provide to other websites, because if Google thinks there is something suspicious about the source of the links, Google can downgrade them for doing so.


Backlink Hyperlink Internet Connection Online Network Concept


Smart practices with reverse links

Neil Patel says that one of the best practices from actually benefitting with reverse links is with guest blogs.  Owners of websites, particularly smaller ones with perhaps 2 to 10,000 visitors are always looking for content. If you have point of view about a specific concept such as How to Invest, How to save for retirement, of even how to build a treehouse, if your area of expertise coincides with their, offer to write a guest blog for them.

It’s only natural that the other party, in publishing your blog will link back to them, as this is considered a legitimate reverse link opportunity.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that Google, again possibly for the Wild West days when reverse links were misused, pays significant attention to the first link in an article, but relatively little information two a second or their link in the same article.  It’s a proven fact that links that the higher up a link is in the HTML of a web page, the more that link counts.

Be wary of relying too much on one or two sources for links, unless they get a lot of viewing action.  Getting 10 links from 10 different sources will rank you higher than a site that already provides links to your page and does it over and over again. Google likes variety.  Also, be aware that external links will be valued by Google far more than internal links from your own page. Google also places great value on Seed sites that provide trusted information. Nasa.gov is a trusted seed site. The closer your links are to the trusted site, the higher the link will be of value.


Extra Tips

As already mentioned, the source of the link also plays a significant factor. If you produce dairy cows, a link from the National Dairy Association will be significantly more valuable than a link from the Austin Automobile Dealers Association. How does the latter have any relationship to Dairy Farming?

In addition, freshness counts. If a sports fisherman has a blog that publishes like clockwork once or twice a week, the value of a link from that fisherman will be considered of greater value than a 5-year old blog on fishing that is only updated once every two months.

Also considering freshness, if Google notices a sudden rash of new links on a website, the logical assumption, built into the algorithm, is that suddenly site A on politics has found a hot issue with viewers. Hot signals freshness, and a link from one of those sites may be worth 10 from another.


The bottom line

Don’t just assume any old link back to your site is valuable. Be picky and pick your spots if you want to remain high in the Google rankings.

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