Phew – this is the last post in a three part series about the three factors of SEO that REALLY matter. Today we’re talking about backlinks. What they are, how to get them, when they matter, can bad ones hurt, etc.
If you missed the first two posts, you can check them out at the links below and we do recommend that you read those two first. The great thing about the first two factors is that they are completely in your control at all times. Further, they have to do with building your content the right way so you should definitely read about them before trying to get backlinks because without proper content backlinks only go so far.
Usually, SEO is broken up into two parts: onsite and offsite optimization. People tend to get really micro-specific about those two and can split each one up into dozens of different topics but that’s usually done when you’re doing things in an unethical way.
It’s always harder to lie in the long run
If you’re not going after legitimate backlinks and you’re focusing on spammy backlinks generated by software and bots then you’ll hear about breaking things down into tiers are link wheels and all that to hide your unethical practices from Google. It’s a lot of work and when you realize how taxing it can be you’ll wonder why you didn’t just do your link building ethically from the start as there’s virtually no maintenance.
So what are quality backlinks?
Quality backlinks, simply put, are links from other authority sites. Authority is, of course, a relative term. There are new sites that people sprung up a couple of days ago on Weebly or WordPress that have virtually no value, and there are behemoth sites like forbes.com where one link can literally catapult you to the front page for millions of keywords. Most sites fall somewhere in the middle.
If you’re looking to get a backlink from a site you should be looking at three factors: their Domain Authority, also known as their DA, their trust flow, and their citation flow. Generally speaking the higher DA the better. Anything over 30 is great. Even 15-30 is pretty good.
When it comes to trust and citation flow you generally want to make sure the numbers are close in range. So if your Citation flow is at 9 you want your trust flow to be around 9. If you see a CF score of 9 and a TF of 50 – something’s up and it’s a red flag for that site.
You can check these numbers over at moz.com, by the way. Sorry I didn’t mention that earlier.
Do backlinks from bad sites hurt you?
Spammy backlinks used to hurt sites and Google would penalize you for your spammy backlinks but as of a few months ago Google decided to stop penalizing people for them. My thinking is that it was abused by competitors to de-rank people so Google decided to just stop factoring those bad links altogether. So if you’ve done some damage in the past with spam links, have no fear, just stop doing it as it’s a waste of time.
How do you get good, quality backlinks?
If you have truly amazing content all you really have to do is let people know about it. Imagine if you were a divorce attorney and you wanted to get some backlinks from some authoritative legal blogs. You went ahead and put together the ultimate authority article on divorce law that explained everything from how much divorce cases cost, to how to find the right attorney to sample cases.
You wrote it in a very organized way with a table of contents that jumped to the specific section people wanted to look up – it’s essentially an incredible resource. It’s so useful that people would WANT to link to it. That’s the key with great quality content. It has to be so useful that it would be foolish to try to rebuild it and is much easier to just point people to your website instead.
When you have a great piece of content you can literally just email other website owners and let them know about it and you’d be surprised how many will link to it for you.
That’s the easiest way to get great backlinks. If you have something that’s that good you can actually generate hundreds of backlinks from a single article from quality websites. That is something you literally cannot buy and what we always strive for when building backlinks.
Of course, there are other methods. You could write guest blog posts for other sites, which will get you one backlink or produce an infographic that people might want to link back to – which might get you a dozen or so backlinks if you’re lucky. There’s also letting people know about errors on their site like broken links.
A theme is emerging
Maybe you’re noticing by now that people link to your site when there’s something in it for them. If you’re providing a great piece of content or resource or if you’re writing on their blog which will prevent them from having to write another article, all those things are useful to them and worth giving you a much-desired backlink.
Instead of trying to buy backlinks or spam your way to the top you’re better off creating great content and building relationships online with people in your industry through providing value. When you do that getting a backlink is as simple as writing a one or two-line email asking for it politely.