Because of the ever-increasing volume of content available on the Web, it is unreasonable to expect that merely good content will drive people to your website. It is important to understand how online traffic grows and how websites are discovered by people online. Google searches are among the most widely used tools for learning about new websites. Understanding how Google searches the Web for websites in response to a keyword entry by a user is one of the first steps to using backlinks for increased search engine traffic. This article explains what backlinks are and why they are important for driving traffic to your website from a search engine.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink or an inbound link is simply a hyperlink to your website placed on a different website. When a user visiting a different websites clicks on the hyperlink and lands up at your website, the backlink is said to have served its purpose. Obviously, the more backlinks that other websites have to your own site, the greater the volume of traffic that can be generated by people discovering your website through other websites. This is basically how backlinks function and help to increase the popularity of your website. A search engine like Google scans the Web for backlinks to a particular website in order to determine where to place your website in the search results. Apparently, if you want your website to appear in the top of the list of Google search results, your website needs to have a high volume of backlinks leading to it.
The Importance of Quality
It is not sufficient to just have a large number of backlinks embedded on various websites that direct the user to your page. It is more important for these backlinks to emanate from quality web pages. What this means is that Google not only counts the number of backlinks for a website but also assesses the quality of the web page that hosts the backlinks.
So how is the quality of a backlink measured?
One of the easiest ways to determine whether your backlink is hosted on a high quality web page is by relevance. Google regards a backlink to be high quality if the web page on which it is hosted as content that is relevant to the content of your website. For example, if you own a website on financial news and a backlink to your website is placed on a video sharing website, the backlink would not be regarded as high quality by the search engine. On the other hand, if the backlink to your website is hosted on the website of a financial magazine or supplement, then the link would be regarded as high quality. Consequently, the ranking of your website in search results could potentially increase.
The Ethical Question
There are important ethical considerations that one must keep in mind when developing backlinks. Google has made its web crawler algorithms increasingly smart over time in order to detect organic backlinks from link farms. Link farms are websites that have been primarily set up to host backlinks to a large number of websites. While it was earlier possible to get away with creating link farms, today’s search algorithms can detect link farms and eliminate such backlinks from consideration. In some cases, the websites whose backlinks are hosted on link farms can even be banned.
Backlinks to your website should grow naturally and organically. This means that instead of trying to manipulate the quantity of backlinks to a website, the owner should design content that makes it highly desirable and worthy of being shared by users on the Web.
Another unethical practice is reciprocal linking. In reciprocal linking, different websites agree to host backlinks to each other’s sites as quid pro quo. While this might seem like a fair exchange, it is actually deceptive because such backlinks are not always relevant. Google’s search engine algorithms have begun to target reciprocal linking and penalize websites by lowering their rankings on the search results.
Interlinking is a practice that is not unethical but does not produce beneficial results in terms of SEO. Interlinking takes place when the common owner of several websites places backlinks to all the websites he owns on every website. While this is a convenient way to facilitate online users from navigating across a set of related websites owned by a common individual or institution, it can lead the search algorithm to believe that the owner is basically running a link farm. Therefore, interlinking should be used as a minimal practice.
A set of online tools used to create backlinks are called backlink builders. Basically, these tools help you search for websites that carry content relevant to your website based on keywords you enter. When creating a backlink make sure that your link is descriptive and preferably contains a keyword instead of being merely functional. In this way, the search engine identifies the backlink along with the keyword and this increases the relevance of the backlink for the search engine.
Simply creating a large number of quality backlinks is not sufficient to ensure high SEO results. A website owner needs to constantly keep track of the performance of the backlinks. There are several tools available online that can help owners and website administrators keep track of their backlinks. Some of these tools such as Domain Stats will produce a comprehensive listing of all the backlinks to your website as well as how those links are ranked by various search engines and directories.
The SEO ranking of your website can be considerably enhanced by adding appropriate backlinks. Ensuring that a high level of quality backlinks is created should be an essential part of your SEO strategy. This involves identifying websites that are relevant to your own website and developing backlinks organically and naturally instead of using unethical and deceptive practices to lure online users to your website. Understanding the importance of high quality backlinks is therefore crucial to the SEO success of your website.