Quality Backlinks are an essential part of any successful website. You may already know that, you may have read the same advice a dozen times over the course of your SEO research. However, like many people trying to build their online presence, you may still be wondering what exactly a backlink is, what they’re for, and how exactly you go about creating them. This post answers all of those frequently asked questions and will teach you the basics to get you on your way to a building a great foundation of links for your site.
Q. What is a Backlink?
A: It’s a link that points to your site, from another site, simple as that.
Q. Why are backlinks so important?
A: Backlinks are important because the more backlinks your site has, the higher it will rank in Google searches, which of course ultimately means more visitors to your site.
Q. How do I build backlinks?
A: There are many effective ways to build quality backlinks, such as via blogging, social media updates & bookmarking, web directories and so on, but there are three golden rules to always keep in mind,
- Keep it real. By which I mean, keep it natural. One organically produced link is worth a dozen of the mass produced variety.
- Be consistent. Link building is time consuming, but it’s worth it. Make it part of your daily or weekly routine, much like responding to emails or updating your social networks.
- Never buy links, ever! Banner adverts promising thousands of links for a one off payment may sound tempting, but don’t be fooled! These ‘link farms’ are simply not worth the time or effort – and certainly not your hard earned cash!
Q. Why shouldn’t I pay for backlinks?
A: In short, you’re wasting your money and could ultimately do more harm than good to your website. The Google-bots that crawl the web, looking for links, are very clever. If they suddenly spot a massive surge in links pointing to your site, they will get suspicious, could start to mistrust your site and assume it is ‘spammy’. All of this will devalue your backlinks – the ones you’ve paid for and those you worked hard to create organically. Once that happens, it can take months to rebuild your reputation, if it’s even possible at all.
Q. What is an ‘organic’ backlink?
A: This is when someone else does the work for you – i.e. somebody finds your site, likes it, and shares it – either on their own site or via social media, etc. These are the most valuable backlinks, especially if the person doing the linking has a high Google rank of their own.
Q. What is ‘Link Bait’?
A. Link Bait is what savvy webmasters use to produce those all important organic backlinks. Essentially, it’s anything interesting that will encourage a visitor to your site to share your link with their own network. You can increase your chances of people linking to you of their own accord in a number of ways: fresh content, a well written blog post, unique plug-ins, free downloads, info graphics and so on – anything original that someone reading would be compelled to share.
Q. How many backlinks do I need?
A: The short answer is as many as possible! The long answer though, is that you should start small and look to build your links gradually, as the Google-bots mentioned above see this as more natural, organic behaviour, meaning they value each link more highly. Prepare an action plan – for example, aim to do 5 links a day for a week, then 10 links a day for the next week, 15 a day for the next, and so on, until you reach a manageable level you are comfortable maintaining on a weekly basis.
DON’T be tempted to do 100 links in your first week then do nothing for a month – consistency is the key, and will produce far better results in the long run.
Q. How can I check how many backlinks I have?
A: Of course, once you start to implement a strategy for building backlinks, you’ll want to check up regularly and see that your efforts are proving worthwhile. Search ‘free backlink checker’ and you’ll find an array of sites where you can do just that. (There are also many paid for services which can be used for more in-depth analysis of your stats, but to begin with at least, I’d recommend investigating a few of the free options and using your favourite.)
Personally, I use http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ as it’s simply a case of entering your address and viewing the results. It also shows the anchor text (the actual wording that contains the link to your site – useful when you’re doing keyword analysis) and the page rank of the sites that are linking to you.
You can also check who’s linking to you by using Google and the search term “link: http://www.yoursite.com“, replacing the text with your actual address.
While it’s important to keep track of your backlinks, don’t get obsessed, create a spreadsheet to keep note of figures, choose one or two sites you prefer, check them once a week and leave it at that. Anything more is just wasted time you could be spending building more links!
These are the questions I’m asked most often, but of course if you have any others, please do leave a comment below.
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