It has been confirmed by Google that quality content and links are two of the three most important factors for ranking SEO. While quality content is vital to success in organic search, it’s only half the battle. In this blog we’ll walk you through the other half of your strategy – off-page SEO, the foundation of which are quality backlinks. We’ll explain backlinks, how to get them, what a healthy link profile looks like and walk through some of many reasons backlinks are more relevant than ever in 2019.
Quality content and backlinks are a match made in SEO heaven
So, you have finally decided to create great searchable content that answer the user’s questions. A couple more posts here and there and a dash of on-page search engine optimization for good measure. You took our advice and have created a blog that directly ties in with your eCommerce store. It’s beginning to pay dividends as you start to rank for profitable search terms and see quality traffic increase. Have I done enough, you ask? Well, you’re on the right track but content alone doesn’t mean your site is going to consistently rank well. In fact, if you look across your industry by simply googling your products or services, you’ll find a lot of sites like yours ranked above you that also have those same qualities. What are they doing differently? They’ve got quality backlinks and more domain authority. Keep reading for tips on how to increase in both areas.
What are backlinks? Why are backlinks more relevant than ever in 2019?
Backlinks, also known as inbound or external links, are HTML hyperlinks that point to a specific web address or URI. These interconnect different sites and are basically considered as the currency of the internet. They act as reputation similar to the number of followers you have on Instagram and Facebook and subscribers on YouTube. And because we all thrive through our reputation, backlinks are more relevant than ever in 2019!
Backlinks tell Google how important your ecommerce site is and that it should rank it higher than other similar sites. It really is a measure of popularity and authority. Like if you go on a trip to a different city, and having asked multiple completely unrelated strangers where the best breakfast place in town is. They all answer Mama Bear’s down at the Boulevard. Then it is pretty likely you would choose that over the Uncle Bob’s place you passed by a block ago. That is what links do for SEO and that has been true ever since Google’s search engine became available.
Backlinking is one of the legitimate ways of increasing your Site’s domain authority (DA). By getting backlinks from sites with already high DA, you are essentially telling Google “this site is legit and you should rank it better.” Think of it as getting a restaurant recommendation from a professional chef as opposed to a stoner you met on the subway. Who are you more likely to believe?
Consequently, for the same reasons as above, backlinks will also increase the page authority (PA) of the exact page being linked to. Every time a backlink is made to a specific page on your site, that page will increase in authority and as more and more pages gain authority, your domain will also increase in authority. DA is basically an aggregate of all your PAs. If you just created a new page on your site or domain, that page will have a PA of 1 even though your domain could have a DA of 80. That page simply hasn’t been ranked yet because there are no external links linking back to it. You can help increase the rank on that page by linking to it from pages with higher authority from your own domain.
We call linking within your own domain internal linking and it works in the same way as backlinks. They can be used to make a logical map on how your website should be navigated and will help the web crawlers, as well as the visitors, follow the trail you have set within your own domain. If you already have a page that is ranked high due to backlinks, what you can do is add internal links towards pages that need it. You do this naturally, of course, and should not force it. Avoid the perception that Google thinks you are gaming the system and make sure any internal links fit within the natural ebb and flow of a page’s content.
How to create a healthy link profile
Google and other search engines are actually very smart. You cannot just spam your link anywhere and everywhere. This will not increase your score, in fact you get penalized for it. Once upon a time, this was the case. You might have seen comments on YouTube or older blogs that are just links to other sites. These are remnants of that bygone era where link quantity mattered over link quality.
Google will penalize your domain if the links to it are bad. That is why it is very important to create a healthy link profile. Your profile is the overall assessment of the total inbound links pointing to your site. It isn’t just the quantity of links that are considered, in fact it all depends on the quality and relevance. Are they spammy, meaning a lot of links coming from a single source? Or are they diverse, meaning many links coming from different sites relevant to your niche? Did you pay for them or earn them? The answer to these questions and more will help contribute to the overall health of your backlink profile.
If the search engine sees that you are spammy with your backlinks or there are a lot of them coming from sites with low domain authority, then your own DA could take a hit, otherwise those backlinks will not really count. That is why it is very healthy to keep track of your backlinks and try to remove those spammy backlinks using Google’s Disavow Link Tools. Disavow those links that are hurting your site!
Qualities of a healthy link profile
- Links are earned – the links we want are organically acquired links. We get them because other people genuinely like your content and are therefore linking to it to either prove a point or simply to point their readers and followers to additional quality content related to the topic. So if you can provide great content, people will naturally link to it.
- Links from sites with similar topics – links coming from similar websites or the same niche are seen as healthier. It means engagement in the community and it ties in nicely with the one above, that they are earned. It will be seen as weird if your ecommerce store that sells and blogs about apparel gets multiple mentions from a gardening blog.
- Links that send qualified traffic – as we have established, Google’s algorithm is quite smart. It has one sole purpose, and that is to give users what they are looking for. Naturally, it will be watching out for black hat methods that are trying to play the system. One of these black hat methods involve bots and zombie computers that behave very “nonuser-like.” Those links will be rendered useless or might even penalize your own DA.
We have only just scratched the surface of link building for the purpose of increasing DA and PA, and the ultimate goal of increasing traffic and revenue. There is so much to discuss and so many legitimate ways of getting high-quality backlinks. There are also a lot of tools out there, free or otherwise, that could help with checking the overall link profile health of your site. Of course, you could get this and more as part of our SEO services. Contact us and our experts are happy to help you out.