Guide to Google Ranking Factors – Part 10: Backlinks

Last week we released the ninth installment of our comprehensive guide to Google ranking factors.

He focused on outbound links and how and why these affect your site’s ranking.

This week, we’re tackling backlinks.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is a link from a third-party website to yours.

These may also be referred to as “inbound” or “inbound” links.

Why are backlinks important?

As Andrey Lipattsev, senior search quality strategist at Google Ireland, revealed earlier this year, links pointing to your website are one of Google’s top three ranking factors.

Backlinks are a vote of confidence that someone outside of your own web property trusts your content and thinks it has value. Google evaluates each of these links and assigns the linked web page its own value.

What is Google looking for when it comes to backlinks?

1) The number of individual domains referring to your website or web page is a very important factor in Google’s algorithm.

2) The authority of the website or web page linked to your site is also essential. A few high authority links are much more valuable than many low quality sites.

This from our own guide to authority websites:

An authority website is a trusted site. It is trusted by its users, trusted by industry experts, trusted by other websites, and trusted by search engines.

The more good quality links you have, the better.

3) An authority website doesn’t have to be one of the usual big publishers. If you are a niche website or blog with relevant, high-quality content, you can be considered as highly as any other source.

4) Backlinks from older websites may be worth more than links from newer sites.

5) Backlinks from relevant sites in your niche are worth much more than those from irrelevant sites or web pages. Some people believe that links from competitors for the same search position as you are also worth more than others.

6) Links from low quality sites will contribute very little to your visibility. If the site practices Black Hat SEO (link schemes, spam, doorway pages), it can potentially hurt your rankings.

7) Links found in the main text body of a web page are more valuable than links found in separate plugins or widgets found elsewhere on the page.

8) If a site refers to you using the “nofollow” meta tag, the authority of their website will not pass to you. Some publishers do not automatically follow all external links, which is bad practice. Nofollow links should be reserved for sponsored or paid links and content that you don’t necessarily trust but still want to use as an example.

9) Links from a diverse range of websites are fine, many links from a single domain to your site (especially if it is one of the sites referring to you) can be considered spam.

ten) Despite the above assumptions, a link from a The 301 redirected page should not lose PageRank compared to a link from a non-301 redirected page.

11) Anchor text can affect how Google weighs links to your site. If you’re linking to your homepage and referencing your brand, the anchor text should simply say your website or brand name. Links to your homepage that are more descriptive of “top tier local SEO experts” can be considered manipulation, so you want to avoid that.

12) Anchor text to specific web pages on your site should be as descriptive (but concise) as possible in order to leverage the link.

13) Links at the top of a page have more weight than those below.

14) Links from longer, evergreen content (an article over 1,000 words that has been popular for a long time) will have higher value than short news-based posts.

15) Although the top-level domain is not necessarily considered a factor, some people believe that getting a link from the .edu or .gov domains may carry more weight than others. This may be because these types of websites have high authority anyway.

For more chapters in our series on Google Ranking Factors, check out:

Part 9: outbound links
Part 8: internal links
Part 7: site-level signals
Part 6: signals of trust, authority and expertise.
Part 5: duplicate content and syndication.
Part 4: content freshness.
Part 3: quality content.
Part 2: keyword relevance, frequency and latent semantic indexing (LSI).
Part 1: on-page signals such as title tags, H1 tags, and meta descriptions.

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