What are Backlinks?
A Backlink also called as an ‘inbound link’ is referred to as an incoming link from one web page to another website or webpage on a different domain. It is a ranking metric that Google and other search engines use to determine if the content is worth linking to and ranks the page higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs), improving organic traffic to your site.
Google has placed a significant importance on Backlinks after Google Penguin update. Google now focuses more on the quality of links rather than quantity.
What does this mean?
It means that the authority and site’s relevance of the page linking to you matters most than any other factor. So, it is best to gain links from sites that are closely related to your niche and from sites having high domain authority. This process of securing links to your website from other sites is called link building.
Why are Backlinks important for SEO?
Backlinks are building blocks to off-page SEO.
A link is like a vote or recommendation to your site. Google, Bing and other search engines use these “votes” of popularity to rank websites. The number of backlinks a website has is a good indicator of its popularity and importance with search engines. Search engines like Google give more credit to websites that have a larger number of high-quality backlinks and consider those websites more relevant to a search query and surface those sites to the top of the search results. Which is the primary objective of search engine optimization.
Remember in link building, quality is more important than quantity. Follow Cyrus Shepard’s 90/10 rule of Link Building
“90% of your effort should go into creating great content and 10% into link building”
A new link doesn’t affect rankings overnight. In fact, generating links to new content too quickly looks manipulative and can be a red flag for Google. There are several factors that influence how and when each link will take effect like your site’s initial ranking, when the linking sites were last crawled and who’s linking to you.
Besides high ranking and visibility, backlinks are also useful to build your brand, send referral traffic to your site and build relationships with influencers in your niche.
What type of link carries more weight?
- Internal links Vs External links
An Internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same domain/website. An External link is a hyperlink that points to an external domain i.e. if you link out to another website or if any other website links to you, it is an external link. External links possess more ranking power than internal links
2. Positioning of links on a page
Links from content or body of the page carry more weight than the links placed in footers, sidebars and navigation
3. Popularity of site
Links from popular sites pass more value. Now, what are popular sites and how do you determine if a site is popular? When you conduct a search using the relevant key terms in a particular industry, the sites that appear on the first page of search engine results are the most popular, trusted and high authoritative sites. These sites obviously get the most traffic. Another method to measure a site’s popularity is by using metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority and MozRank developed by Moz in their tool called Open Site Explorer.
If a well-respected site links to your site, then this is a recommendation to your site. Whereas, a small, unknown site’s vote does not count as much as a vote from an authoritative site
4. Keywords in HTML text pass more value than those in Alt attributes of linked images
Backlink Analysis Tools
A link analysis is required to evaluate current links to your site and to identify any broken/dead or dangerous links that may harm your site’s ranking.
- Google Search Console (Webmasters)
Sign in to Google Webmasters account. Under Search Traffic on the left sidebar, click on Links to your site. Here you can see the total number of backlinks, who links most to your website and the anchor text i.e. the words or phrases people use to link to your content
One of the primary features of SEMrush Backlink audit tool is to analyze backlinks based on ‘toxic marker’. A toxic backlink is a link that comes from the suspicious site or has been acquired illicitly. Once the analysis is complete they provide a list of backlinks sorted by toxic level. You can choose the ones you wish to disavow by submitting them to Google Disavow Tool. SEMrush can do it for you if you grant access to your Google Search Console.
- Create a free SEMrush account
- Click on Projects on the left sidebar on Dashboard page and click on Create my first project
- Enter your site’s URL and project name
- From the options, select Backlink Audit, choose Campaign Scope as Root Domain and start backlink audit
According to Majestic, they are the planet’s largest Link Index database. Enter the site’s URL in the search box, and you will see the number of backlinks, a backlink breakdown chart, referring domains, anchor text, and other useful data. Majestic has two trademark metrics ‘Citation Flow’ and ‘Trust Flow’. Both range from 0-100 and are used to determine the quality and influence the website or link carries
Moz Open Site Explorer (OSE) is a great tool to research backlinks, find link-building opportunities and identify dangerous links to your website. In addition to the data provided by SEMrush and Majestic, OSE shows you Domain Authority and Page Authority. Page Authority (PA) is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages (SERP) and Domain Authority (DA) is a score that predicts how well a website will rank on SERP
OpenLinkProfiler.org is a free service of SEOprofiler for link research and analysis that enables you to check the backlinks of any website.
- Enter a domain name in the search box and click on Get Backlinks data for an immediate and complete link diagnosis
- Under Link Profiler you can find a lot of useful data to analyze backlinks like the number of active links, unique links, anchor text, unnatural or harmful links that negatively affect your rankings, Link Influence Score (LIS) and much more. A link from a website with high Link Influence Score (ranges from 0 -100%) will have a positive effect on the search engine rankings of your website.
- Apart from link analysis tool, SEOprofiler also has other powerful tools to improve site’s SEO
Tools for Link Building
Backlink Checkers – Spy on your competitor’s link profile to get an insight into their link building strategies
Content Research – Use them to find previously popular content based on your target keyword. You can then build upon, improve or repurpose for your own campaign
Outreach Tools – Tools that simplify building a database of contacts and tracking correspondence
- Ninja Outreach
- Buffer – Tool to set up automatic updates on social media networks
Now, as for the techniques and strategies for link building, that’s another blog post for another time. What link analysis tools do you use? Let us know in the comments.