Why are Backlinks such a Big Deal?

links in a chain

links in a chain

Backlinks are the hardest part of SEO.

What are Backlinks, Really?

They are links from other sites that point back at a page on your site.  Links from relevant sites with high PageRank help you get higher PageRank (it's one word and named after Larry Page) .  PageRank is a Google invention to determine how popular your site is on the internet.  PageRank is a huge part of how each of your individual pages get assigned their search engine result ranking for a specific search term, or query.

Back in the 'olden times' a person would aggressively create their own backlinks or buy them. Backlinks are still being sold like girl-scout cookies. They look good and are OH SO easy to get. They aren't Girl Scout Cookies. Don't buy them. It's really against the rules. Google is very clear about it. Making a load of blogs and pointing back at yourself is also a tactic you want to avoid. Too many low quality links coming in and your PageRank goes down. Google knows when a new site gets traffic and they definitely know when a site with no traffic gets 100 links in 24 hours.

I know it's hard. Backlinks count heavily in your site's page ranking, but the good ones come with time. Lots of backlinks from low quality sites are only going to hurt you. Buy them and your site might be severely punished by Google. Google might send you an "unnatural link warning" to your Google Webmaster Tools account. It takes months to get clear again.

The best advice? Write really good stuff that people want to link to. 

Other more specific advice:

  • Well - that the original time I wrote this I said to Guest Blog.  Now that's mostly out, too.  An occasional guest blog on a related and relevant site is still okay (8/9/2103).
  • When you promote your site, do it with the audience in mind, not the search engines. Put your promotions on websites that are relevant.
  • Make your links "nofollow" in your signature on forums and other places you might want to put a link yourself, but that do not have good PageRank.
  • Link back with long-tail keyword phrases that vary. In other words, mix up the words you use to link with. Use whole 3 or 4 word phrases that are relevant, but not the same one over and over.
  • Pick your directories with care. Getting listed in every directory under the stars might sound off an alarm. Nearly all directories do not pass PageRank anyhow!  Use them to drive traffic.

Remember: Never Buy Links. Not Ever.

links in a chain coming back together

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About Marviene Fulton

Experienced SEO professional, helping medium to small business owners rank higher, get more traffic and achieve better user engagement.