Everything to know about backlinks!
Off-site SEO is a key aspect of any strategy to increase the profile of a website. Therefore, it is important to learn about the backlink (or incoming link), which is the key element of this same strategy. But what exactly is a backlink and what are its functions?
Backlinks and off-site referencing, in a nutshell
A backlink, also referred to as an inbound link, is actually a hypertext link that goes from one site to another. The reason behind the integration of this link is that one site recognizes another as a reliable and credible source of information. In doing so, your content is supported by the included information as well as indicating the place it’s coming from, as proof of its validity.
So, what are backlinks for?
An incoming link has two main functions, and these are:
- Generating traffic to a site;
- The transmission of the positioning of a site in search engines (also referred to as Page Rank) in relation to the site where the user is brought when following the link.
Often, the development of partnerships will allow you to encourage your employees to put inbound links on their site in the direction of yours while you will also do the same for them. The practice of link building has been discussed in many of our other articles, including "7 ways to get good backlinks." In some cases, this creates what Google calls “artificial links” and this practice is not always appreciated. However, it is possible to derive beneficial effects provided that a logical link exists between the two connected sites and that you only create a limited number of these links per day.
The “no follow” or “not to follow” link
Although the inbound link that was mentioned earlier is the most used on the web, it should be noted that its opposite also exists. Indeed, there is a type of linkcalled "no follow". Therefore, the latter opposes the incoming link which is a follow link.
Unlike its counterpart, it doesn't transfer the SEO credit related to the positioning of the site to which it refers. So, Google understands that it does not need to follow the concerned link.
Why use a no-follow link?
The question that may arise at this point in the article is the following: why might someone use links that do not have any benefits in terms of SEO and that simply lead the visitor to another page? The answer to this question is related to the way that some people make use of forums or blogs. Indeed, oftentimes these discussion spaces are taken advantage of by users as a place to put loads of links towards their own websites, which is not good or profitable for the blog or forum in question as its purpose is being misappropriated. In some cases, users with bad intentions may place inbound links to sites of poor quality.
In order to avoid this type of practice, the site's owner will ensure that the link created on the site, although it works in the same way as an incoming link, is not taken into account in the site's SEO. As a result, the notoriety of the latter should not be affected by the presence of multiple links on the forum.
Note that if “purchased” links are present on the site, Google will automatically place this link as a “no follow” link, which may seem surprising. Nevertheless, allowing this practice will still make possible the redirection of traffic to a site and encourage visitors to use the services offered.
How does Google use the inbound link information?
To establish a ranking between different sites that exist in the same category or marketplace and are present in the vast universe of the web, Google has established an algorithm that takes several variables into consideration. Inbound links are among the elements taken into consideration in this calculation.
How does Google evaluate the value of inbound links?
In the eyes of Google, the number of follow inbound links that lead to your site, as well as the notoriety attached to them, is seen as proof of the quality of the information that you convey on your website. These will weigh heavily in the off-site SEO of your site.
Consequently, it is important to mention that the diversity of the sources of the incoming links is also a factor taken into consideration by Google. The more sites that link to your site, the more search engines can measure the reliability of your content.
Another aspect to consider is the domain name, which is the central piece of your web address (URL). In order to appear valuable to Google, the domain name of the backlink must be considered a reference in your field or marketplace.
Lastly, let us specify that the backlink to your site must also be linked to your area of expertise in order to have a real impact regarding your SEO.
One small clarification...
Although it is possible to produce inbound links on your own website, linking pages one to the other, focusing on this simple strategy will not be enough to make any real difference. Always keep in mind the information we have provided in this article, especially the importance of having inbound links from various sources that are well-known.
Do not forget about social networks
It goes without saying that exploring the world of social networks is an ideal way to connect with a large number of people. By distributing your content and links to your site, you will be able to bring in a large number of visitors.
An important tip regarding your backlinking strategy
Backlinks to your site should not point to a home page, but to a content page. The opposite strategy would ensure that other pages of your site fall into the shadows, and will decrease their degree of notoriety in the eyes of Google.
To make sure that incoming links to your site are pointing to content pages, contact the site owners who've created these links and let them know about your request. To maximize the positive impact of your approach, make sure to focus on sources that have a great reputation!