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In this 5 minute video, we’re going to:
- de-mystify what backlinks are…
- and their importance in SEO rankings…
- and provide you with links to sources to obtain your own “low hanging fruit” backlinks.
We’ve covered aspects of SEO before, in particular better blogging practices, but covering backlinks is the first time that we’ve gone in depth on off-page SEO.
What are backlinks?
A backlink , also referred to as an “inbound link”, is simply a link to your website from another site. This is significant because Google puts a degree of importance in these, because if someone is referencing your web page, than there must be something important on there.
Google then evaluates the importance of that link based on the linking site’s Page Authority and Domain Authority scores – these are measuring sticks to how reputable a site is. The more reputable a site is that is sharing your link, the more “Google Juice” you get.
Are backlinks still important to SEO?
The short answer is – YES, backlinks are still very important to Google’s ranking algorithms.
Why has their importance been under debate?
Two main reasons for this debate:
The 1st wave of Backlinks Backlash got started in 2012, when Google unveiled its Penguin Algorithm. Penguin solved the problem of people manipulating their site’s SEO ranking by getting registered on “link farms” …or websites set up with the sole purpose of hosting backlinks. A lot of sites’ SEO got severely penalized by this, and this ushered in the first wave of controversy as to whether backlinks are good or bad for your site.
So, yes, backlinks are still very valuable, as long as they’re not on these “black hat” sites. And what Google effectively did with Penguin is divide the quality of backlinks into 3 main categories:
- The “Black Hat” link farms – these will penalize you. Chances are that you’re only going to find your way on these if you outsource your SEO to an unreputable source.
- “Low hanging fruit” link directories like DMOZ, BestoftheWeb, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google Places and such.
- And finally: Organic links: These are the links that you EARN by putting out great content and that content is found valuable enough to get shared and mentioned on sites with good… and hopefully GREAT reputations. These are the most valuable and they require a solid Content Marketing Plan to obtain.
The 2nd wave of Backlinks Backlash
In feb. 2015 Google’s own John Mueller was captured saying live in a Google+ Hangout:
“Webmasters should avoid trying to focus on link building. Doing so can ultimately lead to more harm than good for your web site.”
This was taken way out of context.
If you watch the video, you’d see that his followup to that comment was that, yes, they do still use links in their algorithms, but to only focus on backlinks will forsake the importance of developing great content that gets shared organically and forsaking website design that lends itself to sharing content.
These misconceptions get started because Google is very protective of their algorithms. They won’t divulge their criteria for rankings because that leads to people manipulating them. So, we in the SEO community try to draw conclusions through experimenting and comparing notes via blog posts and social media.
Further proof of the importance of backlinks
At Moz.com in 2013, Some of the top SEO experts in the field were asked, if the MUST give the #1 most important factor of SEO success, they will say quality backlinks.
However, if allowed to elaborate, every one of them will tell you that if your site and content are not using keywords properly, and/or your site isn’t user-friendly, then the backlinks are not your first priority.
And interestingly enough, we happen to have a new client on board and we’re commissioned to enhance his online presence, which we’re going to do via SEO and a Content Marketing Plan and implementation. They’re in the cosmetic medical industry, and most of their target audience is within a 30 mile radius, so local search and on-site SEO is our first priority, while we’re putting together their Content Marketing Plan. In the end, we’ll work our way up to obtaining those high quality backlinks via incredible content sharing.