In a previous article I introduced the topic of search engine optimisation or SEO to give an overview of how google and other search engines, decide where to place articles in their ranking system. In this article I will look specifically at the topic of back links which are one aspect of creating a strong article, that google will see as beneficial and useful for your readers.
Remember the key point that was mentioned, with regards to search engines, is that google and others are trying to bring the best and most relevant articles to the attention of the searcher. That means that many of the old techniques for SEO optimisation (or how to cheat the google system) can backfire if they are not integrated with a more holistic approach to developing content.
- What are backlinks?
- Creating backlinks from
- other writers / articles
- Guest blogging
- Using social media
- Community Forums
- Checking backlinks
What are Backlinks?
Back links happen when you receive a link to your site from another website, for example this picture below was reproduced from another site, which I have named and provided a link here in the image caption. Now there is a link between my website and the one that the image is on, in other words they have received a back link to their site from mine.
Does google like back links?
The short answer to this is – it depends on the type of link. You may have heard about the Google Penguin update, well this refers to the changes google made to its search algorithm in April 2012, and has been updating ever since. The Penguin updates specifically focused on companies and websites that were trying to use back linking as a way to cheat the google ranking system.
In traditional SEO advice days, back links were seen as a way of showing how popular the site was and well respected within the community. There were a number of tactics that were used by website owners that would make it appear that the site was more popular than it was, which included buying links and/or acquiring them through link farms. However as with most things google soon realised what was happening, and along came Penguin.
In his article on why back links are not the future of SEO, Neil Patel outlines why content is now google’s number one priority and not the number of backlinks on a site. This is part of google’s overall strategy to raise the standard of content available out there on the internet, and to try and get marketeers and content writers to focus instead on developing real quality in the work they are producing.
Having said that back links are still a valuable way of acquiring traffic and also of increasing the quality of your own written content, so how do you acquire them?
Creating backlinks from other blog sites
The organic way to create back links is to create good quality content that other writers then share, like I did with the mention of Neil Patel’s article earlier on. As a writer Neil didn’t have to do anything other than create the article, however in reality he did have to do a lot more. In order for me to include him as a resource in my work he had to have achieved the following.
- established expertise on a particular topic
- have a strong reputation so that it would enhance the quality of my work
- produce an interesting article that my readers would also be interested in
In other words gaining credibility and having other writers link to your site takes a lot of time and experience. It is also important to routinely check your links because broken links leading to websites that have since been removed will make your own site difficult to navigate and you will be penalised for that by search engines.
So what other options, other than waiting for expert writers to recognise your talent, are there that could perhaps work a bit quicker?
Another well known route to gaining back links was to guest blog on a well established site and include your website link at the bottom of the article. This is another way to showcase your work to a wider audience and encourage readers to visit you to read more of your work. The problem with this approach is that many guest bloggers used writing from their existing work, so now the article was on two different websites and google decided this was duplicating content.
New google rules are – if you are writing for other sites be selective about who you write for, and about the number of sites and try to use original material at all times.
In todays social media world it is important to share your content on a number of different social media platforms. If your content has images then these can be picked up by many of the social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook, these types of articles are easily shared and can provide opportunities for back links to be created naturally.
Social media shares and likes are becoming one of the tools that Google can use to assess how popular and relevant your work is, and this may become more important in the future SEO algorithms that google develops.
Community discussion groups are another way in which you can spread the word about your work. Industry websites specific to your own niche area often have comment sections where you can add to the conversation and possibly add in any appropriate links to your own articles on the subject, (you just need to avoid spamming the site with irrelevant links though).
General chat forums are other ways in which you can share your knowledge and attract followers, you see more examples of how to utilise online forum sites in this article 7 Proactive Ways to get Backlinks
However it is also important that the links you acquire are not from spam sites or other sites that google has blacklisted. For this reason it is important to check the source of your back links.
One of the easiest ways to track your backlinks is to use Google Console, as it’s now called (formerly Webmaster Tools). As you can see from the screenshot under the Search Traffic heading there is a category called Links to Your Site. By clicking on this you will get a list of all the sites that are linked.
There are other tools available that you may already be using, such as woorank.com which provides a free trial analysis of your website including back link data. Its real use is much broader though and it offers a range of different analyses covering all aspects of your site.
Finally tools.quicksprout.com is another web site analyser, again it covers more than back links but can provide some useful information about overall site performance.
More SEO Information
Backlinks are only one tool, of many, that used together will contribute towards improving your overall search engine optimisation process. The important message for all SEO work though is that quality content is the first priority, especially in the beginning when trying to establish the expertise and trust of the site. Everything else is a tool to assist in promoting that quality content.
Finally this particular article is part of a series of content writing and SEO blogs, and you can check out some of the other topics on this site that are linked to SEO by following the links below.
I hope you found the information useful and if you have any queries please leave a comment below and I will get back to you asap.