It's no secret that hyperlinks are an important factor for ranking in search engine results - Google has even admitted that links are one of the top three most important factors the algorithm looks at when considering where to rank pages for certain keywords. When another trusted website links to a page on your website it’s a strong signal that the content on that page is good quality. The more trusted links coming from trusted pages, the more able that page will be to rank.
The trust signals passed between pages through links are often called 'Google juice'. If one page has more Google juice than another then it’s more likely to rank above it when the two pages compete for similar search queries.
On the other hand, if the page has a lot of links coming in from domains that the search engines don’t trust, like spam domains and private blog networks, this can adversely affect your website’s ability to rank. You may even be penalised and thrown out of the search results! If you suspect that spam websites are linking to your content you might want to think about disavowing those links in Google Webmaster Tools to avoid this happening. Find out more about disavowing links in this guide.
Creating outstanding, unique content is one of the best ways to get people to link to you. Gaining links often requires a lot of work after the content is created - sloppy marketers often spend too little time promoting their content compared to the amount of time creating it. Saying that, creating outstanding content certainly takes a lot of time.
The process of marketing content with the aim of generating backlinks is called link building and it's one of the key skills of any SEO. There are many different link building tactics out there, including finding websites with broken links and getting the links to point to you and writing guest articles on third-party websites with backlinks to your site.
Paid links are simply links that you pay for. While buying 1,000 low-quality links might have been able to fool the search engines in the past, it doesn’t really work now. You’re more likely to end up with a penalty than improved rankings.
While backlinks are important for every websites, for local business owners it might be more worthwhile to focus n a different strategy. Factors such as reviews and local citations seem to be weighted more than number and quality of backlinks for local search. Find out more in our guide to local search for small businesses in Edinburgh.
Don’t forget to link out from your website to others. If you’re expecting and even encouraging people to link to your site it’s only right that you share the love by linking out to relevant web pages from your own domain.
It’s important to pay attention to the anchor text used to link back to your website. Anchor text is simply the text used to link and what this is can give the search engines a good signal as to what the page is about. For example, if you have a guide on SEO, it’s better to attach the hyperlink to that than to another phrase such as “click here”. That way, the search engine has a clear indication that page at the end of the link is an SEO guide, whereas with “click here” or “read on” doesn’t give much of an indication.
Most good backlink analysis tools, for example Ahrefs or Majestic SEO, can tell you a number of interesting things about the backlinks to your website. Here are a few of the most important things to keep an eye out for:
You don’t only want to look at the number of links you have, but the number of domains that are linking. It’s far better to have 100 links from 80 domains than it is to have 1,000,000 links from one domain - quality over quantity!
You want to keep your link profile as good as, if not better than your competitors. If a competitor has far more links from more authoritative domains then you’ll find it hard to outrank them.
Another important thing to look at is how trusted the domains are that are linking to you. It’s all very well getting a lot of domains linking to you, but are these domains increasing the trust of your website or are they from dubious sources? Majestic’s Trust Score metric is particularly valuable for analysing this factor.
If you’re worried about the backlink profile of your website you should get a trusted SEO company to take a look. Good, honest SEO companies will not build any old links but will look at how the links that they obtain can help your website to rank in search results, bringing you more traffic for the keywords which are valuable to your business strategy.
If you’re certain that links are from spammy sources, for example, if you have 7,000 links from strange urls all belonging to the same domain, then you can use Google’s disavow tool to let the search engine know that you don’t want anything to do with the domain.
Building links and maintaining a competitive backlink profile can be a time-consuming process and it can take a bit of a knack to spot a bad link from a valuable one. If you’re in doubt, as with all things to do with your website and SEO, you should look for an expert to help you out.