There haven’t been many optimisation techniques that have been used and abused as much as backlinking but that doesn’t mean your business should ignore it. As with most things in the world of marketing, if done well, backlinks are an excellent way of improving your Google ranking. Done badly they can put you on the wrong side of a search engine and leave you with a mess that is difficult to clean.
What is a backlink?
When someone links from their website to yours this is called a backlink. It is a key marker as to how popular your site is and something that search engines value quite highly. Whilst it is not the be all and end all of optimisation, it is an important part of any online presence and if you are serious about promoting your business you need to have a good backlink strategy in place.
The downside of backlinks
In the early days, backlinks from any site helped to push you up the rankings on search engines. Whilst everyone was aware that links from quality sites was a good idea (mainly because they get more valuable traffic) the emphasis quickly became about quantity over quality. That meant a number of supposed marketing initiatives started offering X amount of links for a small amount of money. It also gave rise to multiple sites that were specifically designed to post just backlinks.
As with many marketing fads, there was problem awaiting those who had taken this route of trying to get as many links as possible. Search engines are always evolving their algorithms and they progressed to giving more value to reputable backlinks and penalising businesses that depended too highly on what many see as spam sites. The truth is that bad backlinks can seriously damage your search engine ranking.
This has left a number of businesses having to do remedial work to remove the bad backlinks so that their ranking won’t be damaged by the major search engines. Many marketing companies have also been more than a little lax in moving away from the old practices and actively promoting the new way of doing things.
Good backlinks vs bad backlinks
A link from a reputable and related site is considered good.
Google wants to see links from sites that have a relationship with yours. So if you run a clothing shop then a link from a clothing blog is a good thing. If you have links coming from a forum about pet products then the search engines will think something fishy is going on. Google will also look at how often a link is used in relation to others on the site – if no one is clicking on it they will assume that it is a useless or spammy link. Developing good backlinks takes work and a good deal of experience but is well worth the effort.
Over the years the number of directories have grown, you can join and add your business website details, creating in essence a backlink to your site. There are those who say that directories still have a role to play but others who believe it either has no effect on your ranking or can actually harm it. Most directory sites are of high reputation so we do advise looking at using a selection of these.
Creating a good backlink profile
First of all, backlinking is important but it is not the be all or end all of successful organic SEO. The key to it working as a marketing strategy is that you need more backlinks from authorative/reputable sites and, hopefully, none from spammy or disreputable places. Another important consideration for a good link profile is to make sure that you have strong and varied branded anchor text (the words that people see in relation to the link), that is relevant to the location that the link takes the clicker.
Backlink development is a powerful tool but it is not simply a case of getting as many as possible. If you have taken on the services of a reputable marketing team, who know what they are doing and have the experience to match, you will find a number of factors need to be taken into consideration if you are going to maximise your standing in the search engine rankings.