Archive for the ‘Backlinking’ Category

SEO – Google Likes Facts As Well As Backlinks

The credibility of web content will be taken more into account in Google’s search algorithms to determine its position, not just that of inbound links

Image result for just the facts ma'am

Would anyone really tell lies on the internet?

The answer is yes. Not only that, but given the chance they will push their unsubstantiated information all the way to the first position on page one of Google herself.

There is no shortage of fringe groups and whack-jobs online with an agenda to push.

As things have stood for a while, these types of dubious web pages have been able to rise to prominence on Google simply by gaming their main criteria of determining rank.

Just make a nice backlink profile referencing your wild delusions and the world’s your oyster.

The backlinking system stands on the principle that if a number of established websites are linking to your page, then it must be “good”.

On the face of it, this idea is almost overly simple and leaves the search results wide open to abuse and manipulation. However, it’s cheap computationally and generally produces reasonable results.

The evolution

Google is now looking into more sophistication in the way that it processes its ranking algorithm.

A research team within Google is developing a means to quantify the “trustworthiness” of a given piece of content. We can infer that the intention of this research is to gain the ability to use the metric in isolation of inbound links.

That doesn’t mean that Google will stop using backlinks in search algorithms, just that they will have an extra dimension to evaluate against a web page.

Put simply, Google will read the “facts” presented in content and count every  “wrong” fact which will add up to a score. The fewer wrong facts Google finds, the higher the trustworthiness of the page, therefore the higher up the rankings it can go.

“Wrong” and “facts” are in quotes above because the question still hangs – how does Google know what a “right” or “wrong” fact is?

The answer is that Google maintains a gargantuan Knowledge Vault, which they got from…er…the internet. So we’re back to square one as to what is a “fact” on the internet, but these are facts that have unanimous agreement. Also, Google considers them to be facts, so that’s that.

Cynicism, you say that you detect? Well I never.

Backlinks for SEO

SEO is multi-faceted

On your journey of discovery in the world of Search Engine Optimization, you will more than likely have encountered the term “backlink” as having some kind of special importance.

Usually any complete SEO strategy will include the basic optimisations of:

1. keywords

The usual advice is to do some research on the keywords of your niche. This will differ depending on your promotional goals. You may be trying to sell something, get people to sign up for something or just be a general authority on a subject. Each case will require specific words to be used for maximum relevance.

Keyword-planner

2. keyphrases

A similar situation to keywords. These are often called “long tail keywords”. It just means a term containing more than one word, possibly up to a complete sentence. An example of a keyphrase would be “places to buy long sleeve shirts”. Long tail keywords are generally more specific and thus more targeted to a user’s intent, but at the same time they get a lot less search volume than one or two word phrases.

3. competition analysis

There are almost always other people in the same business as you or doing the same activity. This practice is just studying in detail what your competition is doing, particularly the ones at the top of the search engine results pages, and see where you can improve or incorporate the strengths that they are displaying.

4. content quality

“Content is king” used to be the cry we heard fom all directions in the SEO field. Content is vitally important, but it is also possible to rank on reputation alone. One might compare it to some popular music. The content can sometimes be garbage, but it is wildly popular regardless. This depends largely on your niche, culture and personal taste. In general, try to have the highest quality content possible within your niche.

5. social media strategy

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the rest must all be considered as part of the SEO ecosphere. A facebook page and a Twitter account specifically for your company or website can be a huge source of publicity and activity. Of course it takes time and resources to create and maintain these social media presences but it seems no business is complete without this presence.

facebook social

6. user analytics

Using a tool such as Google analytics it can be determined exactly how traffic behaves as it enters and leaves your website. You can see which country they came from, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, what browser they used, what operating system they used, the type of device it was (mobile or desktop) and lots more information. It is a lot to take in at once and it should be determined what will be monitered and what the data means to your site.

7. and the holy grail…backlink aquisition.

You may have seen backlinks written about with almost rabid fervor, or treated with the greatest of reverence as though they are the elixir of eternal riches.

There is a reason for this as not only do search engines consider them in their ranking algorithms, they also provide a direct pathway for users back to your website.

What backlinks are is a matter of perspective. Links from one web location to another have officially been known as “hyperlinks” since the birth of the internet. The perspective metioned here is the vantage point of your own website.

If you are looking at the internet from the outside, you see all the links pointing to each other and you say “look at all those hyperlinks!”.
When you look at the internet from the viewpoint of your own website and you see all the links on other sites pointing back at you, you say “look at all those backlinks!”.

Another term for a backlink that is sometimes used is “inbound link” or IBL. If your site has a lot of IBL’s from other respected and/or reputable sites, Google puts a lot of value in this. Regardless of SEO, such IBL’s will bring you traffic by themselves.

Backlinks are special.

If you are someone who is researching SEO and you have come to the subject of backlinks within that scope, you probably have noticed that backlinking stands out from other SEO disciplines. It has its own significance and the weight they carry for search engines speaks volumes as to why web masters seek and value them so much.

The search engine designers made the simple deduction that a site which is referenced by other sites, particularly those within the same subject area, carries some importance in that subject, therefore should be given preferential treatment in the results considering some other parameters.

While backlinks can and do massively help search ranking, it can have the opposite effect if done indiscriminately. There was once a time when you could rank your site for a keyword by simply repeating it tens of thousands of times invisibly in the site content, for example by making the keyword text the same colour as the background. The search algorithms in those days were so simple that they would see the keyword 5000 times on one site and 10,000 times on another and just put the one with the higher number in the higher position.

As search engines evolved, that trick no longer worked and in fact worked against the desired effect.

Backlinks then became the new keywords.

Web masters would simply splurge as many backlinks as they could around the internet pointing back to their website and that worked. For a while.

Google and the others soon caught up to that trick and now they look at the quality and relevance of backlinks and give those metrics a higher weighting than the sheer quantity of them. Quantity of backlinks alone can now work against a website’s search engine visibility if they are “unnatural”.

The look of a link.

Let us now clarify the forms that backlinks can take, i.e. how they might appear on a web page.

Backlinks might take the form of hypertext (a dated term, now more commonly called anchor text). An image can be a backlink, in which case the alt tag behind the image acts as anchor text. The relevance of this is that the text used as anchor text is considered by the search engines as well. It’s better if it is relevant to the destination, rather than something like “click here”.

There are two types of inbound links that Google (let’s be honest, that’s who we’re actually talking about here) generally considers.

1. Relevant, coming from a website of good repute and naturally placed there by writers or editors as a valuable addition to their own content.

2. Irrelevant, forced into place and unnatural looking, appearing similar to many links from other low quality sites.

The first of the items above counts towards a web site’s rank and the second, as if I need to explain in detail, counts against.

In fact, when I first bought this domain, the previous owner had link-spammed the domain name – backlinksforseo.com – into the ground. As a result, I got the domain name for a low price but Google didn’t trust the site. Now there’s a huge task to create some decent content and get enough high quality backlinks so that all the garbage ones no longer matter.

So how do we determine the “quality” of a backlink?

In this case, it comes down to relevance. Search engines are extremely advanced machines these days. They are supercomputers running artificial intelligence algorithms which can “read” and “think” about an entire website in several thousandths of a second.

The quality of a website is a result of things like the writing standard. Spelling, grammar and information imparted all count. Other content types are media such as images, video and audio. If a site with good content that is related to your website also has a link to your website somewhere in a good position, that would be considered a high quality link. The flipside is that a link from a website that is thin on content, perhaps poorly written and spammy, is a low quality link and one you would be better off without.

Another metric that would be considered about IBL’s is the uniqueness of the domains from where the backlinks originate. Thousands of backlinks coming from only a few sites or sites which are themsleves interlinked will count for less than the same number of links from individual sites.

Naturalness is a concept that must be borne in mind with any link building strategy. Google has algorithms that can detect if the inbound links are growing in a natural way or are being forced into place, for example by buying backlinks in bulk. After the backlink craze started, websites began to crop up which existed solely to host pages of links. These are known as link farms. You, as a webmaster, should never have anything to do with link farms, ever.

Two more types of backlinks:

The two types are “nofollow” and “dofollow”.
A nofollow link will have rel=”nofollow” as an attribute within the link tag. This is a request to the search engines not to consider that link in their ranking algorithms. It’s up to the search engines whether they aquiesce or not.
Dofollow links are every other type of link we have already mentioned. They are considered more valuable than their nofollow counterparts, but the link mapping of a website will appear more natural if it contains a healthy amount of both types.

If I can’t buy, trade or spam links then how do I do any “link building”?

Good question. You have to forget about any and all shortcuts to getting backlinks these days. You have to be open, professional and pretty much “white hat” if you want any type of link building strategy to work in your favour.

This means that you will need to have a website that offers some type of value. Whether it answers a question or solves a problem or is simply good entertainment, it will need to be a good experience for the intended consumer.

That’s the first step.

Once you have your awesome content, you can do nothing and let people link to it organically or you can actively promote that content. There are legitimate, effective and easily actionable ways to do this. I highly recommend Brian Dean’s site backlinko.com to learn the right way of content promotion and getting the topmost quality backlinks in ways that get results.

If you click through to that website and don’t come back, I’ll understand. With the info Brian Dean puts out for free, he deserves the extra traffic.

Link wheels.

If you own several websites, possibly even each with related content, then it might be tempting to link them all together and get all those “free” backlinks from your own websites. Google isn’t stupid. This is known as a link wheel and again, such antics can harm your ranking to great degrees. If you are interlinking the sites as part of your own user’s navigation experience through your content, then that is up to you to make it obvious what your intentions are. Even so, you still risk penalisation for trying to manipulate the backlink weighting of your sites.

You just need to get in touch with people in a civil way and give them a good reason or ten to put a link to your website on their own website.
Some of those reasons could be:

  • There’s a dead link on their webpage.
  • You have better content on your page than the link that’s already there.
  • You think your link will add value to their content.

Once you have your SEO and backlinking campaign underway, you will be pleased to know that there are tools to keep track of backlinks to a website. You can see who is linking back to you as well as how they are linking back to you, i.e. what type of anchor text they are using for the link. One good tool that Google provides for this purpose is the Google Search Console, another is the Domain Stats Tool. These tools allow you to see exactly what is mentioned here, anchor text and locations of inbound links. They also offer many other services and are well worth taking a look at.

Finally

Backlinks are quite an important aspect of any SEO campaign. I would still say though that content is king. That fact was proven to me today without a doubt as I saw a webpage I was working on jump from the 6th page of the target keyword to the first, eighth position, literally overnight. This was achieved purely with a content upgrade and absolutely nothing else.

In competitive spaces, getting high quality backlinks is essential. I would say the best way to do that though is to make the best content that you possibly can, and then start contacting the people in your specialised field, showing it to them and getting them involved.

In this case a bit of reciprocity will not harm at all. Quality and relevance trading links to one another is absolutely fine.

Some Off The Wall Ideas For Backlinks

Out there on the internet, just a keyword search term away, is tons of great information all about the best ways to get high quality backlinks coming back to your website.

If you’ve done your reading then you will know all about writing guest posts in other people’s blogs, submitting your link to different types of user-generated content sites, perhaps doing some article marketing (yes we all know this one isn’t as effective as it used to be, but still works to an extent) as well as several other quite niche backlinking strategies. In fact you can find 17 excellent ones at backlinko.com/17-untapped-backlink-sources.

I’m going to mix things up a little bit here and try something different: 5 ways to get backlinks that are totally and utterly unique. You are guaranteed to have never seen or heard of these backlinking ideas anywhere, ever. Some of my ideas might seem quite strange or even esoteric, because I am going for totally unique content here and everything else has already been covered multiple times before, so here goes:

1. Pray for Backlinks

Yes, you could directly ask a higher power to deliver you backlinks, but that’s not what I mean. My idea is to go to a place of worship, pray, and then after the praying is done, start talking to the other worshippers there. Find out if they have businesses and websites of their own. You already have something in common; presumably your religion, so you can help each other out by backlinking your respective websites.

It would help if the websites were related by theme or topic in some way, then the links would have meaning to the search engines and carry a bit more weight. Failing that, try to get backlinks from sites with a higher page rank than your own website.

If you think business and religion doesn’t really mix, read here for some perspective.

2. Cold Call for Backlinks

First go through every business directory. Determine the businesses that are similar enough to your website topic and make a list of the ones who also have an online presence. Next go through that list one by one and make calls. Keep talking until you get to the person who can put your link on their website.

Why would they link to you? You can offer them many different types of reasons. The simplest one for you is that your website is on-topic with theirs and outlinking to you will look good to the search engines. You might offer a reciprocal link. You might promote their business in a blog post or article on your own website in exchange for a measly link on theirs.

If you don’t mind swallowing your pride and possibly being perceived as somewhat annoying, you can keep calling that list over and over until most or all of them are backlinking to you on their websites. Here you are not limited to local businesses. You can go global. For a bit of work and possibly an increased phone bill, the opportunities are infinite (they are not really, but from your point of view they may as well be).

3. Wear a Sandwich Board

Reminder: these are “off the wall” ideas to get backlinks to your website. You might have even noticed that they are quite “old school” so far, borrowed from marketing methods employed during pre-internet years (how on earth did they survive?). We remember the iconic image of someone walking around a populated area advertising a local store by wearing a sandwich board.

Ask yourself this: if it never worked and no business ever gained anything from having someone walk around the streets wearing that board, then why would the practice still persist to this day? The answer is because it does actually work. Why would it not work for getting backlinks too?

The general idea is that your board would have attractive graphics on it and whatever witty, catchy message that would entice people to take notice and read. You could offer something free in exchange for a backlink, or you could just ask for them to give you what you want outright. If you wanted to get fancy you could design a sandwich board that is digitally interactive, made of giant touchscreens that are connected to the internet. Brave folks could insert your backlink to their website directly from your sandwich board.

 4. Hire a Pilot

Ever been on the beach and seen a light aircraft flying overhead while towing a big banner displaying some message or another? Now this idea will cost a bit, possibly a lot, but is sure to generate a lot of backlinks. At least locally.

So you just hire the plane for the day and it tows its banner with your website written on it around all day. If you do it somewhere that it’s quite obnoxious like over a parade or carnival, then people will take pictures, write articles and make complaints; all while describing and linking to your website.

You’d have to ride out the storm of negative publicity for a while but as they say: “any publicity is good publicity”. After the anger and outrage has blown over, you’d have all those backlinks making your site relevant left in the blogosphere archives.

5. Door to Door Backlinking

Why not just start knocking on doors? Websites are made by people and people live in houses. It’s a numbers game and would be very arduous, but you would not be trying to get the prospects to buy anything. All you would be asking for is for them to place a link to your website.

You could optimise this approach by only going around business areas. Small businesses, large businesses, most of them have an online presence these days. All you have to do is talk the site owner into putting a link on their website.

If the business does not yet have a website, offer to put one in place for them. This could be a simple affair with some content and pictures on a WordPress theme. Of course in exchange for this valuable service you would get – a prominent backlink to your own website. The better you make the business owner’s website, the more weight would be given to its outgoing links by the search engines.

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