What are backlinks? Backlinks are external links from website A to website B, simply put. Not to be confused with internal linking, which never leave the website. Search engines count these external links as trust factors, and consider website A trusts website B enough that it will in a way, vouch for website B, by placing a link on website A to website B.
Backlink optimization is the process of analyzing, disavowing or monitoring the backlink profile of a website, using a backlink audit, and Google search console or 3rd party website backlink indexes. Another way to think of backlinks, is as a vote of trust. It’s possible to rank a website well without backlinks.
The only issue is every other aspect of SEO needs to be well done, and keyword research superb. If the audience is known, content can be better crafted around the keywords users are searching for. And not just any user, but the user in the correct funnel of intent, so they convert by calling, filling out a form or buying a product.
Backlink Terms Widely Used
Is a widely used form of creating / building backlinks, that isn’t really good for SEO, often it creates low quality links that often are seen as spam later on and need to be pruned or verified later on.
- Rel Attribute
This is the link attribute used to tell Google an other search engines, what a link’s purpose is for, almost like a link label. Currently there are 4 main attributes used.
- dofollow link
This is a rel attribute, that signals it’s ok to follow this link, this website trusts it.
- nofollow link
This is a rel attribute, that signals it’s not ok to follow this link, this website does not trust it.
- sponsored link
This is a rel attribute, that signals this is a paid or sponsored link, that money was involved in exchange for the link.
- ugc link
Stands for ” User Generate Content”. This is a rel attribute, that signals users created the content and isn’t apart of the website that content is on.
Importance Of Backlink Audits
It’s important to conduct a backlink audit monthly or bi-monthly to monitor for spammy backlinks or negative SEO. You can see your backlinks in Google Search Console, however, not all of them will be found, since it’s all about website indexing, if the searchbots don’t see it, it doesn’t exist to them. Third party websites have this issue too, it’s why you will see 99% of bigger websites indexed and about 60% to 70% of the smaller websites indexed, meaning, less webpages are seen, less often, so data you see is 60% to 70% complete. No matter what a website says, currently we don’t have the ability to index the entire internet, once we do, then websites can claim they can show 100% backlink profiles.
Don’t Build Backlinks, Attract Backlinks
Search engines needed another way to try and determine spammy websites from regular websites. However, backlinks are not immune to manipulation, and search engines have webspam teams to try and combat the issue. Backlinks are considered an off page SEO factor, since backlink optimization is limited to reaching out to websites, disavowing and legitimate guest posting, although Google doesn’t approve of many guest posting. The quality of a website will often determine the overall confidence in trust that is spread to the linked website. The lower a website’s trust the less a backlink from that website will be worth.
Bad Backlinks Are More About Frequency Than Quality
Many times algorithm updates will help manage backlinks via websites and will automatically will discount spammy websites when they link out, but this method is not 100% accurate. That’s where the webspam team takes manual action, since how they operate is not often made public, it’s widely speculated that even when spammy backlinks are working, data is being gathered behind the scenes to at some future date, enact an addition to their algorithms to penalty said websites. In the past algorithm update known as the ” penguin update ” was widely effective at reducing backlink spam and websites that were operating at less than legitimate levels.
When To Disavow A Backlink That Is Bad
Not all backlinks are created equal, many websites create spammy backlink profiles to their websites for a variety of reasons:
- some buy blackhat SEO backlink services
- some buy website ads on a website
- others just don’t know better and will sign up for everything online that claims to promote a website.
The methods above may not be whitehat SEO, however they have good intention and many times will help a website before it later hurts the website. There is another form of backlink building, that’s negative SEO, this is when someone will buy a blackhat SEO backlink service that instead of pointing backlinks that could help a website, the point backlinks that will hurt a website, from known websites, search engines don’t trust. This is why linkbuilding should be more of linkmanaging instead, since linkbuilding is also against google guidelines.
When either of the two situations happen, whether it’s negative SEO building bad backlinks to a website or someone using blackhat SEO tactics, disavowing backlinks will be needed at some point. As it’s the only way to tell search engines to ignore any backlinks you tell them to. Once you create and submit a disavow file, the backlinks submited, will be ignored and eventually the website will not be affected by the backlinks. The only problem with this is that in the industry of SEO, it’s always faster to see negative results than it is to see positive results.
SEO Success Takes Longer Than SEO Failure
What that means is, SEO damage to a website happens faster than SEO recoveries. A website can see the results from bad or outdated SEO much faster than they will see results from SEO that has been fixed or implemented for the 1st time. This is because search engines cache and index websites on timescales, and then at the time give websites a proprietary score and then compares and ranks accordingly.
When a website does something that is bad SEO, when the website is indexed again, they get a much lower score and the website drops in ranking. And when the website fixes the SEO issues, and gets reindexed with those fixes, the website doesn’t jump back to where it was, instead it has to work it’s way back up, against all the other websites is past on the way down. And if those other websites are doing better SEO than they were before, it might not be possible to achieve the previous ranking. This is why SEO is so important to get right the 1st time and never cut corners, blackhat SEO will almost always cost more time in the long run, despite any short lived success.