Backlinks. Where do I start? It is probably one of the most complicated parts of any SEO campaign. SEO is complex, but link building is complex on its own. So let’s break it down and take it step by step.
Initially, I’d like to start by clearing up some terminology basics as link building has its own set of terms and abbreviations. So, if you are new to this they can be damn confusing.
- Backlinks - The term backlink means a link from other website leading to your website.
Why bother with backlinks? It’s simple - When Google’s algorithm measures how credible your website is, part of the evidence used to gauge this is the links leading to your website from other websites. The higher quality links you have, the higher your website will rank.
- DA (Domain Authority) - is a metric we use to measure how strong Google thinks a domain is.
This usually applies to a domain that you’d link to your website from. This is important because strong domains can bring a lot of credibility to your website, while weak and so-called toxic domains can damage your ranking.
- Toxic score - This means how toxic a website is viewed by Google and it is a component of DA.
There are websites that are called link farms, just spammy websites that will let you put any link on for a price, these websites have a high toxic score. Websites with malware or viruses, or websites not indexed by Google are also considered toxic.
Sometimes you might find that a perfectly legitimate, organic link can be cast as toxic, it happened to my client. This can be due to the fact that no one is working on that website’s backlink profile, or they hired someone who linked them to toxic domains and therefore their toxic score went up.
- Non-follow links (and so-called do-follow links) - any link to your website can be either a usual link, without any extra tags, or one known as a non-follow link.
Non-follow links have a non-follow tag, telling bots not to follow it and ignore the link.
Normal links are often referred to as do-follow, even though they don’t contain a specific (do-follow) tag, but calling them do-follow links helps identify the difference.
Non-follow links look absolutely normal to you and me and do the job of redirecting a user to your website. But a non-follow link doesn’t contribute to your website rankings, DA or pass any authority from the other website.
A non-follow link is not really a backlink and if you build one you have done nothing to your backlink profile. Human traffic can still follow the link and interact with your website, but Google will ignore these links.
- Link Juice - this means the benefit you get from a link, including traffic, ranking, DA, everything that is passed down.
- Disavowed links - So once you are linked on any website it is often hard to get your links off. Google Search Console lets you disavow links, meaning you can tell Google to ignore the fact that those websites lead to yours as you are not recognising them and don’t want them linking to your site.
The link is still on the website, people (if any) can still follow and click through your website, and the Google bot can also see the link, but the bot will not cast the link in your backlink profile. It is important to disavow links that are toxic as they will have a negative impact on your website’s ranking.
- Anchor text - is the text that a hyperlink is linked to. It can be your website, your business name, or it can say ‘Click Here’, or ‘About’, but if it contains a keyword - the better the ranking.
If there’s only a link and no anchor text, you have a Naked Anchor.
Here’s an example: “Proven is a fully integrated marketing agency, providing everything from strategy to execution” - in this case, ‘fully integrated marketing agency’ is the anchor text and it’s a strong one, because it contains a highly searched keyword.
It could also say: “Proven is a fully integrated marketing agency, providing everything from strategy to execution Visit our website” - here the anchor text is ‘visit website’ meaning the anchor text is weak because it contains no keywords specific to your website.
Knowing the terms is one thing, but understanding and applying the knowledge to your website isn’t as easy.
The knowledge has to be applied to the backlink audit of your website as well as your link building strategy. Building links isn't easy and you can easily damage your website unless you know what you are doing. Hopefully, with the help of my SEO 101 you will be able to evaluate the good links from the toxic links. We’ll also help you evaluate the cost-efficiency of links as some websites can charge you for linking to your site.
This is only the very beginning of our Linkbuilding SEO 101, in our next blog we delve a little deeper into the complicated world that is linkbuilding. In the meantime, you can always drop us a line or message on our social channels if you have a question about link building and other aspects of SEO.