SEO: Backlinks explained, what’s it all about?

At a recent blogging for business workshop the subject of SEO and specifically backlinks came up. Many of the attendees had heard of backlinks but had no real idea of what they are. So here’s my guide to the wonderful world of backlinks!

What is a backlink?

A backlink is simply a hyperlink from one website to another. For example, if your website has a link on a business directory site this creates a backlink. One of the ways search engines rank your site is by using backlinks to decide how relevant and important it is. You can see how important backlinks are to online businesses by the amount of spam you receive through comments on your blog posts (if you haven’t got sufficient anti-spam in place). All those “comments” from Viagra and fake Gucci handbags sellers are an attempt to get their link onto your website so that search engines rank them higher.

Quantity and quality of backlinks

What the spammers are attempting is to get quantity over quality. The more backlinks your website has, the more important it must be if lots of other sites are linking to it. However quality is also important; search engines rank quality backlinks very highly. High quality backlinks come from websites that score highly on PageRank; this is the algorithm that Google uses to determine the importance of a website.

On a scale of 0-10,10 is the highest and most important. A backlink from a website with a high page rank will be more valuable to you than one from with a lower page rank.

PageRank and backlinks

PageRank itself depends on backlinks. The more quality backlinks a website has the higher it’s page rank. Below are a few examples of the PageRank scale:

9/10 Google

8/10 Forbes

7/10 Marks and Spencers

6/10 Taxi – The Global Creative Network

5/10 Guardian Newspaper

4/10 most small or local businesses will rank somewhere between 1 and 4. A rank of 1 may just be an indication of a new website / business.

How to create effective backlinks

As well as the quantity and quality of backlinks there is also the “level” search engines assign individual links. Because backlinks to your website are generally created by the someone else, unfortunately you may not be able to influence the level of the backlink. However if you create backlinks between different sites you own, or if you’re creating a backlink to someone else’s site, the following shows you how to create an effective link.

  • Backlinks Level 1 – is a level 1 backlink. It’s a straight website link that lets search engines know the existence of this website. They already know this so it has little value, unless like in the case of the spammers, you can get lots of website backlinks.
  • Backlinks Level 2 – I Love 2 Blog 4 You is a step up. This is a business link, search engines look at the title and follows the link to the title of your home page.
  • Backlinks Level 3 – Jane Woodyer is a business ghost blogger. This is a keyword link which is the most effective backlink. Anyone looking specifically for my website would search “I Love 2 Blog 4 You”. That’s great but the whole point of SEO is to get new clients and / or leads; from people who don’t know your business name. So a keyword link is a gold star backlink. This signposts your website using valuable keywords, keywords that give you authority in your field, keywords that people use to find businesses like yours.

I will be exploring how to get more Level 3 keyword backlinks in another post. In the meantime if you’ve found this blog useful, please comment, like or share. Even better give me a keyword backlink! Thank you.

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  1. 8th November 2013 at 2:56 pm — Reply

    […] tell search engines what you do, as well as your URL. As you may have read in my previous post SEO: Backlinks Explained, often you have little control over the type of backlinks people give you; because most people will […]

  2. 15th November 2013 at 1:48 pm — Reply

    […] will also give you valuable backlinks that help your website’s PageRank. Find out more about backlinks and how they work in my blog on the […]

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