How Backlinks Help Your Rank

Link Building is a core part of modern day SEO. There are plenty of people that will tell you that great content is all you need to get ranked in search engines, this is a lie. The issue is, if everyone has great content, who gets to be number one in the search results? The answer to this is SEO backlinks. Yes there are many ranking factors outside of backlinks but they are by far the biggest ranking factor and therefore need to be given the most attention. If someone tells you to write good content and you will rank, they are telling you lies!

How does Google use Backlinks to Rank Websites?

If there are three different plumbers in your town who are all fully qualified and are experienced, it is hard to know which person to chose. You ask 100 people around the town, which plumber should I go to. 60 tell you to go to plumber A, 30 tell you to go to plumber B and 10 tell you to go to plumber C, which do you go to? Based on numbers alone, you will go to plumber A because he got the most references. Google does the same thing. If one website has way more backlinks than the others, it will list the sites with the most backlinks first.

What If we took the same example but I told you that 30 of the people who said to visit plumber A were known criminals, would you still want to invite someone into your home that a bunch of criminals recommended? If a website is identified as being an illegal or spam website and is banned from Google, the backlink you get from that website is not a positive anymore. Who wants a bad person recommending you? Google will not only ignore these toxic backlinks, but will also punish you if there are too many of them.

Take the same example again, out of the 10 people that voted plumber C, one of them was your father who hired this very plumber last month. Would you still go with plumber A or would you go with plumber C because someone whose opinion you highly value told you to use this plumber? I know I would probably go with plumber C and Google would too. If a small website gives a backlink to another and then a big website like amazon.com links to another website, Google does not treat those links equally. Amazon is a huge website with great trust. A backlink from this website is worth far more than many from a smaller website.

All Backlinks are Not Equal

Just because a website has 100 backlinks and another has 10, does not mean that the website with 100 will rank first. It is all about quality, not quantity. Backlinks that come from good websites are worth more than links that come from a spammy website. When you are looking to improve your websites backlink profile, you need to target external websites that are of good quality and are professional. A blog post on some obscure porn website is not going to give any value for your movie blog.

Backlink Context Is Important

As Far as I know, context doesn’t have a negative impact for your website, but it can signal suspicious behavior to search engines and can also pass no value back to your website. If you run a movie blog and you get a backlink from a blog post about flowers on a gardening website, it will not be as valuable as a different movie blog linking to your blog.

Websites outside your niche can still provide valuable incoming links and if you want a great and diverse link profile from your website, it won’t hurt to have links from all over the place. However, if you are looking to focus your efforts into one place and get the best result from it, you should aim to get backlinks from a relevant website and make sure the backlink is inside a relevant post. This will ensure you get the best possible outcome.

To give another analogy. What is the best racing car in the world? One person, who works as a bartender at the local bar, says that Car A is the best. A second person, who works as a stunt driver and owns several high end sports car says Car B is the best. The second person’s opinion is more educated and therefore more valuable. Both opinions matter, but one is worth more.

Link Text Matters..A Lot!

If all you need is a link back to your website from another, can’t I just turn a full stop into a backlink and nobody would ever notice? Yes you could do this, and maybe it would give a little traffic, who knows, but ultimately, this is not how backlinks should be implemented. The clickable text on a website is known as the anchor text. The anchor text is directly connected to your keywords. If you want to get the most out of it, your keyword should be part of the anchor text.

If I want to rank for the term “best SEO hacks”, a backlink from an SEO website is great, but the link text is important. If this website has a link that says “terrible SEO hacks” and links to my guide for best hacks, what does this say about my guide? Weirdly enough the backlink will still give you the juice and your website will benefit from it, you this website is not backing up your target keyword. You are saying that this page is about the best hacks and a different website is saying it is about the worst hacks. This is a bit of an extreme case, but if you want to get the most of your backlinks, the clickable text should be the exact term you want to rank for. Your keyword should be part of the clickable link.

What Are Nofollow Backlinks?

Ah, so, this is going to throw a spanner in the works. You have found out that there is a way to get a backlink on Facebook by posting to your timeline! Awesome right, high authority website, lots of traffic and so on. There are thousands of websites that let you do this sort of thing, but there is a catch. Backlinks from social media websites or any other sites that allow open guest posts without moderation come with a small tag that kills the backlink completely. If you are earning backlinks and the link has “rel=nofollow” inside of it, then the links is completely worthless.

This sucks, I know! Every webmaster, experienced and new, has gotten excited at some point and then remembered the old nofollow catch. When a search engine crawler visits a website it will scan the external links on the page. If one of these links has “nofollow”, the crawlers sees this as the website saying “I am not supporting this website”. As a result, the search engine will not pass any of the link juice back to your website. There is no way around this, no hacks or cheats. Nofollow is the end of the line.

Do not see this as a negative though. Nofollow links are very common. If your website has a nofollow, it might not pass juice, but it will give you a very natural backlink profile. You should have a good mixture of both regular backlinks that pass juice and nofollow backlinks. If they are all follow links, Google might mark your website as suspicious. Nofollow backlinks are not the enemy. They are not your friend either, but they play their part in making your websites backlink profile look natural.

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