Not so long ago the pinnacle of search engine optimization (SEO) seemed to be flooding the Internet with as much content as possible. But in recent years the Internet has become more discerning. With Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, the trend regarding online content has moved toward overall quality and popularity. And there are few better ways to measure the popularity of an article or blog post than backlinking.
But to understand how vital backlinks can be for online marketing, it’s important to understand the basics. Overall, backlinks are a simple concept. When an external website links to another website, this type of promotion is called a “backlink.” The more backlinks a website has, the higher it appears in an online search ranking. Needless to say, backlinking is one of the driving forces of effective SEO. Any current website owner or content provider worth his or her salt will try to accrue as many backlinks as possible.
As far as content is concerned, the more backlinks a piece receives is a strong indicator of the piece’s popularity. This method of searching for popular online material is called “crowd-sourcing,” and it’s one of the primary ways search engines decide whether or not content is good. This even extends to social media, as search engines such as Google are now indexing Facebook content. In principal, backlinking is no different than word-of-mouth popularity was before the Internet age.
But there are rules to effective backlinking that can enhance a content provider’s SEO.
While all backlinks are good backlinks, some are much better than others. For example, those who have an article on the topic of home maintenance would do well to have backlinks from a DIY or home improvement site. Search engines tend to give more credence to backlinks that are on topic rather than those that come from sites of a different specialty.
Those who use backlinking successfully do so organically, by providing quality content people want to read. Some content providers elect to use a third party to artificially generate content, but this is rarely successful. There is an old adage in the brick-and-mortar world that goes: There is a difference between “buzz” and “hype.” And this adage can be applied to backlinking as well.
One effective way to enhance backlinking is to peruse relevant sites and post links to a topical blog post or article. This has proven so effective, in fact, that many times bots are now taking over the process and adding these links automatically. But the best way to implement this method is to forgo bots in favor of diligent research and active comment postings on behalf of the author or website proprietor.
As mentioned above, it’s of little use to obtain backlinks from a site that has nothing to do with an article or blog’s overall topic. Conversely, website owners can help generate more backlinks for themselves by linking to outside blog posts or articles – as long as these are relevant. This is an effective strategy on two different levels:
- The more outside links a website has, the more search engines regard them as a community hub.
- Generating outgoing links establishes trust and goodwill among bloggers, who will then be more likely to link back to the original site.
These are just a few rules of thumb to consider when thinking about how best to utilize backlinking in SEO. And because the act of backlinking is inherently a popularity contest, don’t expect this method of online marketing to dissipate anytime soon. That means content providers would do well to start as soon as possible on building their outside links.
About the author: Jason Bayless is a professional blogger that gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. He writes for BestSEOCompanies.com, a nationally recognized comparison website of the best SEO companies in the United States.