WHAT IS BACKLINKING? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
What Is a Backlink?
Backlinks are links to and from the content on our websites. Content is king in the realm of search engine optimization (SEO), so using backlinks helps prove that the content on our websites is relevant to what’s happening in our corner of the market. Because backlinks are like a built-in mini index of ideas related to our content that can be found elsewhere on the web, they are a very valuable tool in the ever important, on-going practice of search engine optimization. In other words, backlinks help search engines determine whether or not the content on our websites has enough significance for it to be ranked as one as one of THE places where people should go when they want to know something about a particular subject, product, or service.
Types of Backlinks
There are two types of backlinks: those that lead from our website content to another (hopefully reputable) website that offers additional insight into the topic, and those that link other (hopefully reputable) sites to ours. Both outbound and inbound links should relate logically to what’s being said in our web content. For instance, content on a website about handcrafted gifts could contain links to other sites that discuss techniques for knitting, quilting and pattern making. Other reputable websites that link to the site for handcrafted gifts, such as a local or nationally recognized maternal and infant gift shop, help support the site in search engine listings. There are also internal and external backlinks. Internal backlinks link a page within a site to other pages within that same site. An external backlink is any link between separate sites.
Why Backlinks Are Important
Backlinks are important because they can help to improve and secure search engine listing and rankings. Favorable search engine rank (being # 1 helps!) increases traffic to websites. Increased traffic can stimulate sales. If our businesses or services don’t show up in the first three pages of a search for keywords, then it is safe to say that the chances of someone finding our websites are pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack. Because backlinks are a valuable part of SEO strategy to increase site visits, they are important to all things that relate to SEO optimization, such as: search engine optimization ranking, natural search engine optimization, Google search engine optimization, and the development of SEO software. Needless to say, it is important to think strategically about backlinks when creating web content.
Search Engine Optimization Ranking
SEO is a process for increasing the number of people who visit your website daily. It is also a long-term strategy for increasing the return on the time and money invested in our websites. According to the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors, search engines evaluate content, HTML, site architecture, links, social media, trust and personal qualities such as history, nationality and location. Search engines favor content that is fresh, well researched, uses excellent word choices, and is engaging. With respect to backlinks, search engines look for numbers, quality, and text. All of these factors and more have to be considered when we optimize for search engine rankings.
There are two types of search engine results: “natural” and paid for. Natural search engine results are free. Search engine results that are paid for are set apart as “sponsored” search engine listings. The websites in natural search listings are those that have been determined to have the greatest relevance to your search, based on search engine algorithms. Because they are algorithms based-on and selected for highest relevance, natural search engine listings are considered more accurate than paid search engine listings. When backlinks are tied to reputable, natural search engine listings, they are considered to be more relevant, and are ranked more highly. Solid backlinks help us website owners get found by weaving our content into the natural search engine landscape.
Because natural search engine listings are more highly valued by search engines, it is important that we plan our backlinks to include them. Keep in mind that natural search engine optimization involves making sure that the websites that link to and from our sites are reputable and make sense (be logically associated with our content). Voluntary (free) link exchanges with peer-valued sites is one way to build valuable backlinks. Another way is to post well written content on web forums and blogs.
Google Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to search engines, Google is the 800 pound gorilla. The search engine giant has an abundance of information to help business owners and webmasters in the never ending quest to obtain a page one (or two or three) Google search listing. In their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Google lists the following as some of the important steps in search engine optimization:
- Start search engine optimization on day one.
- Make page titles unique and accurate.
- Create a site that is easy to navigate.
- Use description metatags.
- Create content and services that are value added (high quality).
- Make search engine optimization an ongoing part of the process to evaluate and increase the reputation and relevance of your web presence.
Search engine optimization and backlink building are time consuming. People who own businesses don’t always have the time to learn SEO details and manually carry out SEO related tasks like keyword list development and backlinks. Software developers have come to the rescue to automate SEO tasks. This saves us both time and money. There are many SEO software programs out there, and finding the best one for your needs can be daunting. Our very own SEO Tutor is an affordable SEO solution that offers an easy-to-follow action plan, ongoing reporting and competitor insights. SEO Tutor also includes free consultation and education that includes keyword suggestions.
- Big list of SEO software. (n.d.). Website Magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2010/11/30/big-list-of-seo-software.aspx
- Natural search engine optimization guide. (n.d.). Directory One Search Engine Marketing. Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.directoryone.com/articles/natural-search-engine-optimization-guide.htm
- Search engine optimization started guide. (2010). Google. Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
- What is SEO/ search engine optimization? (n.d.). Search Engine Land. Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo
- What is a backlink? (n.d.). HubPages. http://wrylilt.hubpages.com/hub/What-is-a-backlink-web-address