What You Should Know About Backlinks

What You Should Know About Backlinks

January 6, 2016 by Holly Rollins

BacklinksGoogle’s continuously changing ranking algorithm makes it difficult for many marketing professionals to keep up. It’s common knowledge among savvy marketers and SEO professionals that manipulative link building should be avoided. For some time now, however, rumors claiming that all external links are no longer important are inaccurate. Links have always played an important role in every SEO model and according to a recent study conducted by Moz, backlinks are still very substantial and one of the largest factors in Google’s organic ranking algorithm.

The Relationship

The biannual ranking study determined the top 50 Google search results for 15,000 keywords and allowed Moz to determine which factors correlate with high search rankings and how frequently those factors or characteristics show up. The relationship between Google rankings and number of external links showed a positive correlation. Higher correlations mean a higher chance that a page with that factor will outperform pages without it. Although this correlation does not prove causation, it is a pretty clear indication that in a competitive search, your website will most likely not rank without an external link. Also, out of the top 50 results, 99.2 percent of them had at least one external link pointing back to the website. It is still possible to rank without external links. The study showed some individual pages ranked fine as long as the website itself had external links pointing back to it or if the keywords for that website were very specific and not competitive.

Penalty Jail for Backlinks

In the past few years, Google has tried to crack down on link building using solicited links to gain higher rankings. With updated algorithms and guidelines on manipulative link building, Google has attempted to separate good, editorial links from bad, solicited ones. Adam Thompson, 10x digital’s Director of Digital and SEO Specialist, states, “Google has both algorithmic (automatic) and manual systems in place to penalize or demote websites that don’t follow Google’s guidelines for obtaining backlinks. Getting a penalty can be very damaging for a small business, because it can take months or years to escape the penalty once it’s been applied.” Thompson goes on to explain if you are in a competitive industry, it may be tempting to take shortcuts when trying to obtain backlinks. “Links that don’t follow the guidelines may drive good rankings for a while but could crash your website’s ranking later on,” Thompson advises. Although some of the guidelines are vague and not necessarily direct, even slight deviations can land businesses in penalty jail and completely compromise their SEO efforts. It’s important to seek an SEO professional’s help so you understand the guidelines and consequences.

Content Marketing & SEO

Instead of link building, use link-earning strategies to help your site stay relevant in the rankings and drive user experience. Content Standard by Skyword puts it simply: If you want someone to do something of value for your brand, offer valuable content in return. An editorial approach, or content marketing, can aid SEO efforts, earn backlinks, drive social metrics and traffic, increase engagement metrics and build your brand. Provide content that specifically appeals and interests your target audience and that audience will be more likely to link to you and your brand. “Editorial links are great because the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it,” said Thompson. While the content could include designing an infographic for one brand and publishing a survey for another, this strategy of marketing is a significant way to reach and influence an audience. “As far as SEO goes, it’s the best way to get high-quality, relevant backlinks,” he said.

SEO strategies that incorporate backlinks and other important factors are proving more successful than those focused solely on link building. Because the significance of backlinks could drop in the coming years, it’s important to adopt an approach that is well rounded for maximizing SEO efforts.