All Backlinks are Not Created Equal but They All Count

"Anchor links"Just what is a backlink?  I get asked this question fairly often. If this isn’t a term you’re familiar with, it’s one you should be especially if you have a website that you hope to have found on Google.  One of the fundamental cornerstones of SEO strategy is the concept of back links.

In a nutshell, back links are links that come to your site from another website – a link from one site to another is like a ‘vote’ for that site and it sends Google and the other search engines a positive signal about the website and its credibility. Generally speaking the more back links the better, as long as they are coming from good quality sites and follow the rules.

If there are two websites with equally good content and one of them has more back links or ‘votes’ from other websites than the other, if all other things are equal, the site with more votes has the higher probability of making it to the top of Google’s search results page.  There are many variables when it comes to which page is determined to be the most relevant, so it’s not an absolute guarantee, but it does increase the likelihood.

What is a backlink and how do you build them is a question anyone who has a website should be asking.

There are a variety of strategies and tools when it comes to building links to your website.  It’s important to note building links to your site takes time and is largely tied to the quality of your content and the number of relationships you can build.

10 Tips for Building Backlinks

  1. First and foremost make sure you have content that is worth linking to.
  2. Optimize your content with your primary keyword phrases.
  3. Add a blog to your website and update it regularly.
  4. Create great content like white papers, tutorials, and webinars and give it away for free.
  5. Promote your content through your social networks.
  6. Submit articles to sites within your industry (make sure the article contains a link back to your site).
  7. Write a testimonial for a product or service that’s related to your industry.
  8. Reach out to associations and organizations such as news sites, and establishments such as the local chamber of commerce. Directories can be another source for backlinks, just make sure it’s one that’s legitimate.
  9. Connect with your vendors and customers and ask them to add a link to your website or blog.
  10. Ask webmasters on sites that complement yours to put a link to one of your pages (be sure you build links to pages other than your home page).

Note:  Do not participate in an”if you link to my site, I’ll link to yours” approach to building backlinks.  These are referred to as reciprocal links  and they have little to no value.  If your site has too many backlinks of this nature it will look spammy to Google and can have a negative impact on your SEO.

Another question that I often hear is: “Do links from social media networks have any SEO value?”

The answer is yes and no.

Links that are posted in a social platform have no direct SEO value – they are set up as what’s called a ‘no-follow’ link and so the search engines don’t count them as a vote. However, links in social platforms have an indirect value in two ways.

  • They increase the reach of that link and the hope is that if people see it and like it they will share it and even better yet post a link to it on their website (creating a ‘vote’ which does have direct SEO value).
  • Search engines take social signals into consideration and if people are engaged with the content it can have a positive impact, as it relates to whether or not the search engines find the content to be relevant and worth returning in the search result.

There are folks who would  say that you shouldn’t bother with any type of link that isn’t going to be considered to be a vote but I don’t agree.  Promoting links on platforms like Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ increase the visibility of your content and therefore it has value.

Even if no one puts your link on their site, if you are promoting it in the right channels it will drive qualified traffic and does it really matter if the referral was a social network instead of Google or Bing?

I hope I’ve answered the question: “What is a backlink?”

Next on tap: “Tips to optimize your backlinks.”

What’s your favorite link building tip?


    • Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I truly enjoy the feedback – glad you’ve found it helpful. Link building is the least understood and in some ways the most difficult part of SEO

  • […] All links are not created equal – there are ‘do-follow’ links which are the kind of link that Google follows from one website to another as it’s indexing pages and determining relevancy; these links are like a ‘vote’ for your page, the more votes the better.  Then there are ‘no-follow’ links, Google doesn’t follow these links and they do not count as a vote; links from most social platforms are no-follow. […]