What are Links or Backlinks and how do they help my SEO and Google rankings?
Most site owners will have heard of links and how important they are but not necessarily fully understand what they are or how they work. There are different types of link and each one will have its own individual merits based on many factors making them all unique, even though two may seem identical.
When links are discussed by SEOs they are mainly referring to offsite links (popularity) pointing back towards your site, but there are also internal links within your site’s own pages and these are not back – links, as they do not link back (you see!).
How many links should I have to rank well in Google for my best keyphrases?
Well, there is no one single answer to this as all sites are different, but one thing we do know is that it isn’t just about overall quantity. Some sites rank well with just a few hundred links next to sites with thousands. There are many factors involved and whilst the amount you have is important as it shows activity and age, the most important factor is quality. This alone generates many questions in an ongoing online debate on this subject which has no real ultimate answer. However there are some simple basic rules of thumb. As discussed previously regarding being punished by aggressive black hat spammy link building, the opposite positive thing to do is also true and will help your site and it’s rankings. Constant ongoing link building in a natural way that is varied will never get you punished and slowly over time increase your rankings and traffic. Simply don’t do the same thing over and over again.
Are there different types of links?
Broadly speaking there are a few main categories of link types but all of them can be split into 2 simple categories by Google which are “earned” and “acquired”. The difference here is paid for links and ones that happened naturally on their own. There is obviously a middle ground where you can encourage or suggest people or sites write about you though. The point here is that Google is very good at spotting paid for links and punishing them, and spotting natural links and rewarding them.
The most common link types can be broadly broken down into coming from these types of sites:
Directories / Citations
Editorial / News
Blog Comments / Forums
Blog Posts / Articles
Images / Infographics
Do they all have the same power?
The short answer is no, but as ever it’s a lot more complicated than that. The biggest factor on your links is quality, and by that we mean what sites they are coming from. A link from the BBC is obviously going to be enormously powerful, but there are other factors too. The page the link is on, the traffic that page gets, the number of other links coming from that page, the amount of words and their overall subject and where the link is on the page and what form it takes. A good example would be a site that gets genuine traffic, is all about one subject, is on a page that gets visited and is old, has almost no other links coming from that page and has your link in the middle of all that unique content with anchor text. What is anchor text? Well these are the word(s) that are normally highlighted that when clicked take you to your site. Often you will just see the raw URL link which means it has no anchor text, but you can place that inside any words on a web page and it can be told to be indexed or ignored by search engines. Overall one link from the BBC could be as powerful as 1000 links from various other low quality websites, but bear in mind that almost everyone has some poor quality links. It’s just a case of the balance and whether or not Google will deem them harmful.
Here is a natural example of keywords matching the anchor text:
“ . . . now you know a bit more about links see how they can help your SEO results and rankings.”
Here is an unnatural way of matching a keyphrase to anchor text:
“ . . . now you know a bit more about links see how the best SEO company in Pattaya can help.”
Whilst the latter is not completely bad in isolation, it’s best to vary it and not keep trying to force the same keywords or exact key phrase matches into your content. You will undoubtedly have obvious ones like click here and visit website which is fine. The point is to make them varied and all of your links should be coming from various realistic sources and sites that aren’t built for black hat manipulation of Google.