Why are backlinks so crucial?
Backlinks are valuable because they’re essentially votes of confidence from other websites. Backlinks, also known as inbound links or incoming links, are created when one website links to another. All external links, links that point to an external domain, are considered backlinks. The higher the authority of the site linking to your domain, the more valuable that link will be as part of your backlink profile.
Building new backlinks is a crucial part of your off-site SEO. Generally speaking, dofollow backlinks from trustworthy and popular sites are going to be the most important for a high-quality complete backlink profile.
Backlinks are important for search engines because they can indicate content that is worth linking to. If many external sites are linking to your content, then it’s likely that your content is valuable, and you’ll have an easier time boosting your site in the SERPs.
Not all backlinks provide the same value or transfer the same amount of search equity between sites. For example, links with a NOFOLLOW attribute, Sponsored attribute, or User-Generated content attribute pass along significantly less equity than DOFOLLOW links. Separately spammy sites or sites using deceptive anchor text practices can actually have a negative impact on your rankings. We consider these toxic links.
Naturally, toxic links or any low-quality links from untrusted sites will damage your portfolio, and accruing enough of these could put you in need of a link detox. Any DOFOLLOW backlinks will pass link equity between sites, which can be good for your trust flow, but it’s important not to dismiss the value of NOFOLLOW links, as just having a positive mention on other high-quality sites can give you a boost.
Of course, you won’t just be collecting backlinks from other sites—you’ll also be giving out backlinks yourself, and the way you go about this matters. The links you create to other sites will differ in value due to the authority of the site you’re linking to, but there are other factors as well. These can include the anchor text you use, whether you choose a DOFOLLOW link or a NOFOLLOW link, and any meta tag associated with the site. While not the topic of this piece, outbound linking can also help improve your SEO.
Building high quality backlinks
If you want to significantly improve your search engine rankings, you’ll need to develop a link building strategy. There are, of course, some blackhat methods of obtaining backlinks, such as paying for unnatural links, but these tactics are generally considered negative seo and could easily result in a google penalty in the long run. It’s better to employ more trusted methods.
Infographics are in high demand, and for good reason. They’re easy to understand, and everyone likes visual data. Likely the best method is to research statistical data for your infographic, turn the date into visuals, and then post it somewhere it’s likely to generate valuable new backlinks. Something as simple as a line chart can be a good start, and if you want a chance at lots of social shares, you might consider hiring a designer for more complex graphics.
Another way to build high quality backlinks is as a guest blogger on other sites. This lets you get more exposure from other audiences, and if you’re linking your content on a particularly popular blog, you can increase your traffic dramatically. Guest blogging can also help increase your social media followers in addition to your traffic. One way to find leads for guest blogs is to find influential sources who regularly post guest blogs and see if you can pitch to the same sites they do.
Speaking of following other sites, it can be very worthwhile to spy on your competitors. You can, of course, keep up to date with your competitors’ social media movements to see if there’s anything you can learn. What’s often better, however, is to set up alerts for them. Subscribing to their newsletters is one way to do this, so you’ll be up to date when they publish on their own sites. If you want to go a step further, you can set up a link alert in Google to let you know whenever the specified url posts new content.
It’s also important that search engines continue to see other sites link to yours over time, this tells search engines that your content is still relevant. Majestic even tracks the freshest backlinks in a separate “fresh index”, weighting them more heavily as newer links are better indicators of relevancy and new links are more likely to still be live.
For more leads on new links, it may be worthwhile to use open site explorer. This is a moz search engine designed specifically to track links to your website.
Removing bad links
When optimizing your site, it’s important to do more than build good backlinks. You’ll also need to start removing harmful links.