The Power of Website Backlinks - Boost Your SEO Results

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Links between web pages and website domains play a critical role to your website's search engine visibility. Links are how search engine spiders (also known as robots, bots or web crawlers) discover other websites and web pages. This discovery process is referred to as "indexing". Without links the web simply would not exist. Can you imagine! I know, it's a scary thought.

2 Guys in  Garage Change the World By Equating "Links" with "Votes"

Think way back to 1988... before smart phones, social media or collaborative online gaming... you know, the dark ages!

Larry Page and Sergey BrinGoogle's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin  (the smiling chaps shown here) were toiling away in their friend's garage in Menlo Park California. Legend has it that Larry and Sergey were tearing their hair out trying to figure out the magic formula for returning the best results for online keyword searches. Then Larry turns to Sergey and gleefully shouts out "I got it! It's all about links. A link to another website or page is like a vote for it's quality. The best sites in any given keyword category have the most links with the best quality." OK, maybe it might not have been exactly like this but you get the picture. Larry and Sergey figured this out: More links = good. Quality links = even gooder!

Google was the first search engine to make explicit use of links to signal a website's relevance and authority. Larry Page wrote this the now famous paper on "PageRank" while at Stanford University. Larry outlined how the quality and quantity of backlinks to a site or a page was one of the most important indicator for determining the most relevant pages to display in response to a person carrying out an online keyword search.

Now Backlinks Rule SEO

And that's how backlinks became so central to what is now so widely known as search engine optimization (or SEO). Search engines "index" the world-wide-web carrying out an extremely in-depth analysis of specific links to a website and the pages contained within each site. The search engine's spiders are searching for link profiles to help determine how important, credible and relevant a website or web page actually is. This in turn impacts which pages will be displayed in Search Engine Result Pages (aka SERPs) and even more importantly the order in which they will appear.

The table below details the most important backlink factors that impact SEO! So read carefully my friends and let it all soak in big time.

Backlink FactorsHow They Impact SEO
Popularity As noted above, the more links a website has pointing to it the more likely this site is relevant and important. But also as noted above "More links = good. More quality links = gooder"
Link Neighbourhood The types of sites that link to a website strongly indicate the quality and type of site receiving the backlinks. If these backlinks are from reputable and trusted sites then the site earns more points for being trusted by search engines. And if sites are from "bad neighbourhoods" that might be regarded as "spammy" those links can negatively impact the site being linked to. (NOTE: Google has recently addressed this by allowing site owners to disassociate their sites from certain backlinks.)
Anchor Text Anchor text defined: The clickable, visible text found in a link. The words found in these links reinforce the topic of the linked-to site or page. If you are a Vancouver Realtor and the link text pointing to your site reads "Vancouver real estate" celebrate. That's good. But don't get as excited if the link text read "Dentists from Des Moine". That text just isn't relevant.
"Freshness" Just like a loaf of bread freshness counts. Search engines monitor link changes. Sites or pages that are continually acquiring new backlinks get "bonus points" from the search engines (which incidentally is why a blog that has new content continually added can be so very helpful in gaining search engine visibility).
Relevance Links from sites that are related in content and are deemed authoritative help big time. For example, a hotel website getting a favourable review and link from the New York Times travel section is like hitting the jackpot. The same Canadian hotel getting links from a new sock manufacturer in South Africa... probably not so much!

Getting the Picture So Far? Links Matter!

The Power of Website Backlinks - Boost Your SEO Results

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Yup, we're pretty confident you are getting the picture. Getting links from other trusted websites, blogs, or social media channels is extremely important.

Now How to Get These Links?

Ah, my friend... that's what we'll review in our next blog post. Join us then for more backlink goodness lovingly outlined in our next article: "Successful Link Building Includes Diversity". In the mean time, please feel free to add any questions, comments or suggestions below RE: the power of backlinks.

Roy McClean
Nov 09, 2012
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