A Short How and Why of Backlinks

Ever since search engines got more sophisticated than ‘just a list of websites’, people have been trying to manipulate the factors that rate and rank their sites – a task made more difficult by the fact that  these factors change on a regular basis.

Search engines want to give us exactly what they think we asked for, modified by their chances of making some money for themselves (cynics eye view). We as website owners want roughly the same thing except that any money flowing should come our way.

So what can we do to improve the situation in our favour?

All that used to be necessary to get a top ranking was to get a few backlinks from other sites to ours. Then it became backlinks from relevant sites (same or similar niche to ours). Now there are over 200 factors to take into account and as an non SEO expert I couldn’t begin to know a quarter of them, (so if any SEO expert catches me out then please feel free to comment and let me know. I’m just basing this article I what I perceive to be popular opinion).

External links and their sources are still important, so more weight is given to a link from a website that talks about similar things to what yours does. That doesn’t mean that off-topic backlinks don’t count, they just count less. Also how important the providing website and web page already are in the search engine’s eyes – The site rank and the page rank.

Blog posting and commenting is still good for backlinks, provided the content it relevant. Short comments are not usually given much credence, but longer comments are. Some webmasters try to qualify any backlinks from their comments as ‘no-follow’ which means search engines should not follow them, but since they do anyway it doesn’t seem to achieve much. Perhaps a little more weight is given to a follow backlink (as opposed to the no-follow backlink) but it seems to make far less difference than it used to.

It’s not just where the links come from but also what words are used to link back and sometimes the words around the link. So you can have links that involve keywords as the link or you can just have: For more information on this keyword – Click Here with the ‘click here’ holding the link code.

It is also good for your own page and site rank if you link to external authority sites, for example linking to Wikipedia for an authority definition of a word or phrase. I guess this shows the search engines that you acknowledge other sources of information, which makes you more trustworthy and reliable.

One other way to improve your own site’s status is with internal linking between pages. WordPress is useful here as it isn’t difficult (and it’s usually advisory) to use part of a margin column to hold ‘recent post’ links.

A final thought here is to remind you that if you thought you were clever and set up lots of websites on one hosting account is that you need to know that all the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses will be the same for each one of your sites and although they might have different domain names, search engines may see them as the same place. Bad news if a bunch of friends all got together for mutual backlinking and found they were all on the same host and server. As above, the backlinks wouldn’t necessarily be invalid, just they wouldn’t carry so much weight.

So here you have the briefest of outlines to how search engines rank your site and pages. As always, feel free to comment. I love reading them and try to reply to all of them too. The website that you type into the registration block becomes a backlink from your name, so there’s a bonus for you there, and on this occasion, if there’s a link in your comment too I’ll let it through if I think it adds value to the conversation here.

To get 500 free backlinks to a site or page of your choice (and these are good backlinks, not spammy ones) just visit http://bit.ly/links4free They’re actually rather good, certainly as good as any you could get on Fiverr and great for boosting individual blog posts up the rankings a bit.