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Explain Backlinks To Me: What's So Special About Them?

By Edited Aug 14, 2016 1 5

You might have heard internet marketers and content writers telling you that you need backlinks in order to rank your pages well on the search engines. They're right. Here's a simple explanation of how they work and why they're so special.

Let's back up a for a minute. Most search engine optimization advice is based off of Google's criteria.

Why Google? To date, they are the number 1 search engine in the world. Their search engine algorithm is set in such a way that allows them to produce the best search results for anyone looking for information on the internet.

Google has to organize these results, so they rank them. There are over 200 criteria that determines how a page is ranked, and backlinks carry a lot of weight.

Therefore, any content-made platform that is dependent on search engine visibility -- articles, blog posts, forum threads, website pages -- must have backlinks in order to get the best level of traffic.

Ideally, you want your pages to rank high enough so that it ends up on the very first page of Google's results, right after a visitor types in a particular keyword phrase in the Google Browser and hits enter.

So What Is A Backlink?
In plain english, a backlink is a link that goes from one site to another. They act as both a voting mechanism and pathway of traffic to your pages from another website.

Why is it called a "back" link then?
As a content writer or blogger, you want a one-way backlink that brings traffic and link juice "back" to your page from another person's site.

What do you mean one-way backlink?
In the past, and to a lesser extent today, bloggers would trade links with each other to help each other boost site rankings. This is called reciprocal linking. It was fine in the beginning until people started getting tired of the constant requests for trading links.

Link farms were online communities that were specifically designated for bloggers to hook up with one another and trade links. Serious internet marketers, however, consider these to be havens for poor quality links and lazy marketers. Most people would rather get one-way backlinks instead. Less work.

Low Quality? Why? A Link is a Link is a Link.
Not quite. Google takes into account the authority of the site you're linked to. The higher the authority, the better it is for your site, too. Put it this way. If you play the drums, would people take you more seriously if you played for Aerosmith or if you played for your uncle Bob's band downtown?

Okay. So I'll Just Link My Blog About Hot Cars To Tiger Woods's Website.
Uh...no. While Tiger Wood's website gets a lot of traffic and carries a lot of authority by Google's standards, hot cars has nothing to do with golf. So you must link to a site that's relevant to yours. Remember, Google wants to ensure the reader has the best search experience. So irrelevant backlinks will not be counted. Do this method too often and Google could penalize your site for spam. Try again.

How About Linking To NASCAR's Official Site?
A little better. You could leave a comment on their site. In the comment section, there's a place to add your name and the URL of your article before submitting. Your name will then be highlighted with the link underneath it, that is...of course...if their site's comment section is do-follow.

There are do-follow links as well as no-follow links. Do-follow links will give you plenty of link juice that will add to your page ranks. No-follow links don't allow that.

Why would they block me from getting link juice?
Well, put yourself in the shoes of a blogger. You've worked very hard over the past year to build up your ranking and traffic while staying out of trouble with Google. You allow commenting because this brings fresh content to your site, and you enjoy engaging in a conversation with your readers.

All of a sudden, some random commenter leaves "Hey, check out my blog at www.yadayadayada.com!". Not just one person does that, but several. Worse, you get porn sites wanting to advertise on your site for free!

Just go into the marketing forums. You'll find angry bloggers begging their comrades for help on how to block spammers. They'll moderate comments, use plug-ins to block spam, and make their comments no-follow to discourage spammers from draining their link juice.

So if you're going to comment on a blog, be polite. Contribute to the conversation. Don't just give yourself a shout out just to get a free backlink.

Okay. So How Do I Find Do-Follow Sites?
Simply go onto Google and type in "do follow sites". You may get search engine directories. You may get article directories. You may get other content sites. Remember, it's not always about quantity of backlinks. Relevance and quality of backlinks are more important. So quality trumps quantity.

Seems Like A Lot of Work To Get Backlinks
Well, yes it does, but you can do other things that help your ranking to become more efficient.

Like what?
Ensure your pages, articles, blog posts are optimized for low-competition keywords that are profitable and get good traffic. The more competitive your keyword, the more backlinking you have to do.

Most importantly, make sure your content is useful, detailed and interesting to the reader. While you want to rank well on the search engines, it's human readers who put money in your pocket. Give them a reason to trust what you say.

Automate Backlinking For More Effiency

If you want to make your backlinking tasks more efficient, it would be worth your while to outsource your backlinking. You can either pay an SEO company hundreds of dollars to do all the submissions for oyu, or you can do it yourself.

Good SEO companies will get your backlinks from relevant niche sites with high authority but from diverse sources. It helps to get backlinks from a variety of sources like: article directories, social bookmarking sites, press releases (if applicable), high traffic content sites like Mashable or About.com, videos -- all sorts. The more diverse, the more natural it looks to Google's algorhithm.


Beware of sites that offer "50,000 guaranteed hits in a day". Those are scams. Google is a smart cookie. It's not normal for a brand new page to get those kind of links in a day. They'll immediately suspect spamming and can throw your site into the sandbox for a few months.

About 300 to 1800 links a months is considered normal, give or take. Whatever speed you go at, stay with it for a couple months before deciding to increase the amount. Remember, you want to make it look natural to Google.

Do It Yourself Backlinking (automated)

If you still want to automate your backlinking but don't want to pay hundreds of dollars to an SEO company, there are various software and tools that can assist you. If it's software, be sure it's compatible with your computer. Not everything is Mac compatible.

Some services offer backlinking from articles. Others from web 2.0 sites. Sometimes the features include being able to spin your content for freshness and to avoid duplicate content. Just be sure your backlinking efforts are as diverse as possible. Check out how you can automate your backlinking for free by getting other people to bookmark your pages at Social Adr.



May 26, 2010 7:13pm
I've been trying to understand backlinks for some time. This helped a lot! It was straight forward and easy to understand. Thanks!
May 26, 2010 11:20pm
You're welcome.
Sep 9, 2010 3:43am
This helped me a great deal. Thanks.
May 31, 2011 7:39am
Thanks for taking your time to explain...
Dec 20, 2011 6:33pm
Very good explanation for why we should be working on getting backlinks.
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