What makes good backlinks (and how to create them!)
Backlinks are the cornerstone of SEO today, just as they were 10 years ago. According to CIO, backlinks are the second most important ranking factor, after content relevance; while Moz declares that page-level and domain-level back-links are the most influential ranking factors.
However, unlike 10 years ago, today it is the quality of the backlinks that counts and not the volume. In fact, a large number of low-quality backlinks can cause your site to be de-indexed, thanks to Google. penguin Update rolled out in 2012. More than ever, a solid SEO strategy is vital to success. So what makes a good backlink? Perhaps more importantly, how can you get more good backlinks and avoid bad ones? Let’s explore!
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BACKLINK?
Google and other search engines use many factors to determine the quality of backlinks in order to rank websites. Although they rarely disclose their exact combination, experts believe that most of these factors can be roughly grouped into four broad categories:relevance, trust, diversity and authority.
Google and other search engines want to provide their users with the most relevant search results. If the quality of the search results they provide decreases, their audience also decreases. So it makes sense to consider relevance as a measure of link quality. A backlink is more valuable if it comes from a relevant source. For example, if you have a home decor website, an inbound link from a construction website may be more useful than a link from, say, a health and fitness website. . This is, of course, an oversimplification, however. Search engines consider a myriad of factors to determine relevance.
For example, a relevant link is likely to be clicked. Anyone who builds a house is likely to be interested in interior design and click on this link. On the other hand, someone looking for outdoor fitness advice might not be in the best frame of mind to click on a link to a home decor site. The anchor text (be careful not to over-optimize the anchor text links, more about it here), surrounding copy and surrounding links also help search engines determine if your link is relevant or spam.
By “trust” we mean how much Google trusts the website your links are coming from. Some claim that, in all likelihood, search engines use a set of “trusted websites” to determine the trustworthiness of a domain. Examples of trusted websites might include BBC, HubSpot, or Huffington. The closer a particular domain is to a trusted domain, the more trustworthy it is. Proximity is measured in terms of links between a trusted website and the relevant domain. So theoretically speaking, if site A has a backlink from, say, the BBC, and site B has a backlink from site A, the search engine is likely to trust site A more than site B, and and so on. Google is expected to use a confidence scale to determine how much value a link from certain domains can convey to the link destination.
Of course, the above is a too simple explanation of how search engines determine the trust factor. To rank higher, a website must have backlinks from trusted websites.
A diverse link profile would consist of links from different domains and different types of domains. By “different domains” I mean that all or the majority of your links should not come from the same domain. Different domain types mean that all or most of your links don’t have to come from the same type of domains, for example web directories. A robust link profile is diverse in both directions.
Diversity should also cover the location of the link on the page (body, footer, sidebar, etc.) as well as the diversity of the anchor text you use. It can also cover the link attribute, either FOLLOW or NOFOLLOW.
When people talk about link building, they usually think of creating explicit links from other websites. The thing is, today’s search engines are fast and smart enough to track even implied links, reviews, etc. from all over the internet. That’s why a reliable quote profile and social media presence should always help. Building links from these popular quotes, reviews, and social media platforms will make your link profile more diverse and provide a good foundation for your link building efforts.
There are many ways to look at “authority”. There seems to be an insistence within the SEO industry to assume that DA (Moz Domain Authority) is the default authority metric. Truth be told, DA is simply Moz’s attempt to figure out how Google might calculate authority. Domain authority is simply a 100-point algorithmic scale that you can measure using Open Site Explorer.
CNN.com’s domain authority, for example, is 97/100. It has over 152,000 total links from over 5,000 root domains. Similarly, you can check the DA of a particular domain before targeting it for your link building initiative. Above 70 is good, but above 40 is not bad either. However, using the DA metric alone doesn’t tell you the whole story of the domain.
Other tools have their own way of trying to determine authority.
It’s important to remember that it can be quite easy to learn/manipulate authority metrics by building lots of links from untrustworthy websites, so it’s also recommended to use trust metrics and try to create a picture in your header of the link profile of the website you want a link from.
How to get quality backlinks
In the words of Matt Cutts, “The goal is not to ‘make your links appear natural’; the goal is that your links are natural.” Some SEO experts have interpreted this to mean that you need to create quality content and people will automatically access it. However, “write it, and the links will come“ doesn’t always happen.
Good content is the first thing, but not the only thing you need to acquire backlinks. For this, you will need to actively target high authority websites with content that they would like to link to. The problem is that websites with a high DA score won’t always publish your content, and they rightly have extremely high quality standards. Here are some strategies that might work.
Audit your link profile with Majestic Seo
Majestic is a great tool for researching your current link profile and discovering areas you need to work on. You can quickly analyze your domain and your competitors’ websites and see if the quality, diversity, and relevance of your link profile stands up to those of your competitors. This will give you a fair idea of the particular websites you should target.
Make a list of websites
You can start by understanding your audience and making a list of websites that would interest them. The list should contain authority and trust scores as shown above and the perceived difficulty of getting a backlink from a particular domain.
For example, it is relatively easier to get links from a website that accepts guest posts from almost anyone compared to one that does not. Think about it carefully, however, the most difficult posts to acquire are usually the best links.
Discover the networking opportunities
Guest blogging isn’t your only option for building backlinks. There are many tools and techniques available to help you identify link opportunities on the domains you are targeting. I will briefly touch on a few important points here.
THE MAN IN MOTION TECHNIQUE BY BRIAN DEAN
1. Find websites/pages in your industry that no longer exist. You can do this simply by doing a Google search with phrases like “the page no longer exists” or “the service is not available”.
2. The next step is to use OSE, Majestic or another link mining tool to discover the domains and pages linking to the page that no longer exists.
3. Pre-select areas of interest. Create relevant and compelling content on the topic and offer the site owner or manager a link to your new resource from their old content. Details of this method can be found here.
THE BROKEN LINK REPLACEMENT METHOD
1. This is the reverse of the moving man technique. Instead of searching for pages that no longer exist, here we scan our target domains and discover broken links that lead to an outdated or unavailable page.
2. You can use Broken Link Checker or Google’s Broken Link Checker Chrome extension to find links to a 404, 500, or 502 page from a particular domain or webpage. You may find dozens or even hundreds of broken links on your favorite domains.
3. Pre-select topics of interest from links that no longer work. Create high-quality content on these topics and reach target domains by offering them to link to your content.
Reach out, follow up and repeat
As you might have guessed, you have a lot of work to do. Research, analyze, create, contact, and be consistent, and you’ll see your link profile and traffic improve sooner than you thought.
quite interesting, 46% of e-commerce businesses plan to use SEO to grow in 2017. For them to be successful, they must follow methods similar to those described in this article. But don’t forget that there are many other attributes that make for a good SEO campaign. Start of by auditing your website and make sure your content is up to date!
To quote Cutts again, “Building links is sweat and creativity.”
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* Adapted Main Image: Public domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com