In this article you will learn everything about backlinks and link building.
Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. These backlinks are the basis of Google’s algorithm and contribute to your position in the search results.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, however, wanted to differentiate themselves from the competition with their plans for a search engine in 1996 by not only looking at the relevance of web pages to a search query, but also the quality. When you browse (crawl) and save all web pages on the internet (indexing) in a database, you have a repository to draw from as soon as a search query is made.
The search engine then only needs to match the search query to a relevant page. But when several pages are equally relevant, how do you determine in which order these pages are displayed in the search results? Which page contains the highest quality?
Larry and Sergey were inspired for this on their own campus. They found that papers (scientific publications), for example from professors in their field, rose in authority when they received recommendations from other papers. Papers are judged not only on the originality of their content, but also on the amount of references and quotations to and from the paper in question. This is so important in the academic world that its own scientific measurement has even been developed to map this out: biometrics.
This was the missing ingredient for Larry and Sergey. In addition to relevance, they would also look at the popularity and authority of a web page and determine this by the number of links pointing to a web page, the so-called backlinks. At first they called their search engine BackRub. This is because their algorithm mainly looked at the number of backlinks, more than the keyword density. Only later did they choose the name Google, a corruption of the term ‘googol’, the designation for a 1 with a hundred zeros (10100).
In the early days of Google, every backlink was seen as a ‘vote’ for your website. These votes together determined your website popularity and that could be read from your Google PageRank. PageRank returns one URL a number based on the backlinks to that URL and is named after Larry Page.
PageRank was always a score from 0 to 10. It was only determined by the number and value of your backlinks. However, Google itself used its own PageRank between 0 and 10,000 behind the scenes and looked at several factors.
Nowadays, your PageRank can no longer be traced, because Google no longer discloses this information. Possibly also because the total algorithm has changed so completely over the years that it has now become less important for your final position on the search results page. Instead of PageRank you can give an indication of your backlinks and yourbdomain authority get through various SEO tools such as:
- Google Search Console
In BackRub’s time, the web consisted of about 10 million documents. We are now more than 20 years in the evolution of Google and Google has indexed more than 130 trillion web pages. While backlinks are still important, Google has managed to employ a much more ingenious algorithm for indexing web pages.
To determine the relevance of a web page, many more factors are considered than just thekeyword density. To determine the popularity of a page, Google has evolved by not only looking at the number of backlinks, but also, among other things, the quality and distribution of these links, social media shares, reviews, check-ins, interaction on your website, click and visitor behavior, but also, for example, to the cohesion of all web pages within your website.
Google Penguin update
Since the inception of Google, there have been many developments in the qualification of backlinks. Especially the Google PenguinbUpdate (April 24, 2012) is intended to prevent over-optimization of backlinks: the so-called web spam.
Such practices, referred to by Google as ‘Link schemes’, are detected with the Penguin update, which then awards penalties to the affected websites. Google Penguin, for example, searches so-called ‘Link Farms’on. These are groups of web pages that share links among themselves to appear higher in the search results.
Where the search results in Google used to be dominated by large companies with high budgets for link building, the small independent blogger can now appear at the top much more easily. Google wants to show the most qualitative results per search at the top. For that you need qualitative content (relevance) and a qualitative link profile (popularity).
Initially, Google counted the number of backlinks to your website. Later on, the quality of the backlinks was considered more and less the quantity. But what is a qualitative link? To do this, we look at a number of factors, starting with the quantity link juice that is passed on.
Link juice, what is that?
Backlinks pass on value in the form of link juice. You can think of link juice as ‘leaking value’ from one page to another. For example, if you place ten links on your homepage, your homepage will leak link juice to the ten underlying pages.
The pages that most link juice trickle down to will receive the most value. This applies to both internal and external links, although external links (backlinks) are much more powerful. So if you get more backlinks to your website than your competitor, you will also get more link juice and get a higher authority yourself
It is important that a backlink may be followed by Google. For links from one webpage to another, we make a distinction between (do) follow and no follow left. Follow means that Google may ‘click’ on the link and index the content behind it. In the case of follow, link juice is also passed on.
No follow means that Google may not follow the link and index the underlying page via that link. Google must therefore ignore the link and only see it as a user object, not as a ranking factor.
If the site that links to you has nothing to do with yours, Google will also find the link irrelevant and will therefore yield very little to you. For example: A link from a website about entrepreneurship to a website with marketing information is relevant and therefore of added value.
A gardening website with a link to a marketing website is irrelevant and will therefore contribute less to your ranking. Building a natural link profile ensures that you will be less likely to be punished algorithmically or manually by Google due to backlink practices.
A natural link profile means that links come from all kinds of different websites and refer to all kinds of different pages and articles within your website. Below you can see an example of such a natural link profile.
Google wants to know what a link to another website represents, which is why a piece of text that is linked is generally qualitatively better than mentioning a domain name. For instance:
Adobe was always first in Google when you searched for ‘click here’. This was because many websites on the internet added a piece of text to their pdf downloads with “click here to download Adobe Reader”. The words click here would then be clickable to the Adobe site and so Google found the Adobe site to be relevant to the words ‘click here’.
Make sure that links from other websites do not all use the same anchor text. It used to be good to make your most important search terms clickable to your website. However, since Google’s Penguin update, anchor text over-optimization is being penalized. Nowadays, too, you prefer to have a natural profile of incoming clickable texts. Below you can see an example of such a natural distribution.
A title attribute can be compared with a alt tagwith a picture. It’s the title of the link. When you hover your mouse over a link, it will appear. This title shows, as it were, the title of the underlying page and contributes to your findability on that word combinations.
Reputation of the source
This is a very important one, Google also looks at the reputation of a backlink, whether or not the link authority of the web page (and not only the domain authority) on which the link is located. If you get a backlink from a page on a website that has no link authority at all, it won’t have any impact.
Now you may also understand that when you direct all your backlinks to your homepage, your homepage will also be the page that will be the strongest in your website. If you have a blog, this is fine, your new blog posts are often on the homepage and immediately grab link juice. However, if you want to score specifically on certain search terms with specific articles, make sure that you have specific backlinks for those articles.
Link building is the gathering of backlinks. It is important that you apply techniques that add value to your website and reputation in Google’s view. We also call this White Hat SEO.
There are many different ways to do link building. Below we discuss the most important and most common and we advise you to use or not use the relevant link building technique
To start your link building, you can sign up on a few start pages. Today this tactic is less powerful than before. Since a home page passes less value to each link the more links there are on the page, some home pages are not very valuable. Also try to pay attention to relevance by choosing a start page that is as close to the topic of your website as possible.
You can choose to go Googling to start pages such as startpagina.nl, startgids.nl, Snelstarten.nl, Handystarten.nl, Startkabel.nl and hundreds of other similar pages. Then check those start pages on which subpage you can best register.
Logging in works the same for almost all systems. Look for a button “add link” or contact the administrator. Do not be alarmed if you do not receive a response or if your link is not posted. That is usually the case, you have to rely on those few who do post your link.
Of course, it is best to take a rainy Sunday afternoon every now and then to gather backlinks. You simply search Google for relevant websites (websites in your industry) to approach them for placing a backlink.
Often they do not do this without expecting something in return and so this usually becomes with link exchange done. When there is a link exchange, this usually means that two companies agree to link to each other. That can be very logical and useful.
For example, you can meet with befriended entrepreneurs and / or the most important websites in your industry to link to each other. Make sure they put a backlink on an important page.
For example, a backlink from a page with “link partners” containing 100 other links will not add value to you. A unique link from a homepage all the more. Backlinks from a link exchange are recognized as such by Google and found to be less valuable. Google recognizes a chat among 2 websites that link to each other and understands that these links are part of an exchange. When you get a unique backlink from another website without directly linking back to it, that will be more valuable.
Another method of obtaining backlinks is article marketing. Article marketing is a form of link building in which you have your articles (guest blogs) published in as many places on the internet as possible, with a link or canonical URL to your website.
Many websites are open to external, valuable content. When you approach the most important websites in your industry and write a unique article for each of them with a link to your website, that is a win-win situation. The recipient gets a valuable article (with which they will score in Google) and you get a powerful, relevant backlink that contributes to a natural link profile.
A way to find out which blogs are all within you niche is to use Google Blogsearch . Enter a keyword that you would like to write about on someone else’s website, visit the websites you find and contact the owners of these websites.
With much abuse of guest blogging for links, Google has become a bit more skeptical about links that are obviously amassed by guest blogging. In the video below you can hear what the ex-web spam manager of Google Matt Cutts has to say about this.
When free guest blogging is not possible, you can often do this in the form of a advertorialor do press release. In many cases you have to pay for this, but it can certainly be worth it for a powerful backlink.
Press releases work very well for your publicity but also for getting backlinks. You can fill a press release with links to your website (in moderation). Because you do this yourself, you also have control over the quality of your backlinks. Your press release must be structured in such a way that you would like thousands of people to read it, because that is of course the intention!
The advantage of press releases is that these messages are also sometimes forwarded to other news sites and you automatically get more backlinks. These are some sites you can use to post press releases on the internet:
- Persbericht.com (paid)
Google has indicated a while ago that it will also look more at social media when it comes to Search machine optimalisation. We call thisSEOcial(a combination of SEO and social media). This means that links from social media also have an impact on your rankings, even if they are not backlinks.
What of course works well for your link building anyway is to have the link to your website in your social media profiles such as Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram to put.
In addition to consciously creating backlinks, you can also focus on a valuable one content strategy. For example, create valuable YouTube videos, podcasts, checklists orinfographicsthat others in your industry are only too happy to post on their websites.
You can also think about itinterviewsto give for other websites. Such an interview can, for example, be placed in text, video or audio form on another website, with of course a link to your website.
Maybe a bit “heavy art” but if you want to quickly gather large amounts of backlinks, you can also consider buying entire websites. By importing these into your own website and using 301 redirects, you also immediately take over all backlinks.
Link to others yourself?
A common question is whether you should link to other websites yourself because many website owners think that this will undermine the power of your own website. That is not the case … However; Only link to websites that are relevant to what you write about and make sure that the outgoing links on your website are also qualitative.
Google appreciates it when you refer the visitor to a website with additional information in addition to your own site. It must therefore be an addition and preferably to a website with a good reputation at Google.
Briefly the difference between internal linksand backlinks: Internal links are links that point from your own website to other places within that website. Because they are your own, they have less value. Of course, Google is not so confident in your objectivity to your own website that they get the same value as backlinks. Yet they do work the same as a kind of recommendation.
When you link from page A to page B, page A actually gives a kind of recommendation to page B. The anchor text is also important for internal links. For example, do you score on a certain keyword combination on the first page but not in the first place in Google? Then try to include an internal link to that article in the new articles you post for a while. Then make that keyword combination clickable. You will see that this affects your ranking in Google.
Buy Backlinks is a very dangerous practice and something we advise against by definition (unless of course you buy backlinks indirectly by taking over a website).