How Backlinks Affect Google Search Engine Rankings

February 9, 2018

Reading Time: ~4 Mins

Well… It’s Like High School.

Google’s search engine page rank algorithm works kind of like high school. When someone waves “hello” to you in the hallway, they’re acknowledging you. They’re declaring that they believe you have value and that you’re relevant to their day. A wave “hello” is a backlink! When someone links back to your site from theirs, they’re establishing that your site is relevant to the topic at hand and they’re showing to their users (and search engines) that your site is a source of authority for the topic (keywords).

How does a “hello” affect search rankings?

If one person said hello to you in the hallway, would that mean you’re popular? Probably not. They’re just one person.

What if that same person waved “hello” to you 100 times? Would that make you more popular? Not really, but it’s clear that person REALLY likes you.

What if 100 different people waved “hello” to you one time? That would definitely mean you’re popular, wouldn’t it?

What if 100 different people waved “hello” to you one time, but they’re all unsavoury types (bullies, school thieves, and/or theatre-geeks). Does that mean you’re popular or an unsavoury type yourself?

What if you and 100 people got together and all agreed to wave “hello” to one-another in the hallway? People might think you’re popular, but you’ll quickly lose your popularity when they eventually find out.

What if you paid 100 people to wave “hello” to you every day? Would that make you popular? Yes… but for the wrong reasons.

Search engines analyze your backlinks (hellos), analyze those domains’ popularity (their hellos), then determines your popularity (your website’s relevance).

The reason search engines like Google do this is because they strive to deliver the most relevant results for your search queries. While Google used to focus on factors such as keyword density, it didn’t always mean that a page is the most relevant to your search. When multiple websites about the same topic link back to a particular site, it’s often an excellent indicator that the site is highly relevant to that topic.

To see who’s linking back to you, I like to use Ahref’s backlink explorer tool. Moz’s Open Site Explorer is also a great alternative.

The best way to get legitimate high-authority backlinks is by generating fantastic interesting content that people feel compelled to link to. You want to generate content that helps visitors learn more about a particular topic or, at the very least, entertains them.

How do you create great content people will link back to?

No need to reinvent the wheel! There are a few things you can do.

  • You can take interesting content that might be posted in other places and present it in a more user-friendly way. This could be a graph, infographic, an interview, a podcast, a video, an animation, the sky’s the limit!
  • You can create content by coming up with 5 or 10 questions, send those questions to 5 – 10 experts in the same field, and ask each one to answer them and post their answers. You can even read their answers in a video and show their picture while you read their answer.
  • You can take a sub-par 500-word blog posts and expand upon it, making it better. Make it the most comprehensive piece of content for that subject.
  • You can interview one expert, send that person your article, and have them tweet it to all of their followers – leading a ton of users on your blog and (hopefully) lead to more inbound links to your site. This is called Egobait.
  • Outreach! “Hey I noticed you have example company listed on your site as a resource on example.html page … We have 100 blog articles that your visitors might enjoy including this one that was posted on”. If they truly believe your site might benefit theirs, they might be compelled to link back.
  • Events, training seminars, contests, listicles (top 5 kitchen items for stay-at-home dads)… What are your top 3 workout routines and why (send to 25 fitness bloggers and then list them).
  • Reviews of products/services. Techniques you use to be more efficient or productive, book reviews of popular authors that write about your area of expertise, video testimonials…

The days of keyword stuffing are dead…

Gone are the days of writing content for the sole purpose of adding target keywords to your site. You should still have a strong keyword strategy and optimize your site for those keywords, but it should not be your focus. Having a solid & healthy backlink infrastructure with relevant anchor texts is how your brand will reach 1st in the SERPs.

Author: Sullivan Geneau

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