When considering backlinks, it is much easier for us in the real world of everyday life to consider a link from a website by the following guideline of this acronym; ART.
Keeping these in mind is important if in the real world you will ever have to take it upon yourself to build links for your own website. There is also the possibility that you may seek an outside SEO agency to assist you in online marketing or even perhaps your business will have their own team members performing search engine optimization on the company site.
Keeping those three words in mind will help you to become comfortable with the idea of deducing the value of backlinks. Let me give you a far fetched example:
Let’s pretend you have a friend that works at ESPN and you have a plumbing company in Tucson, AZ. Your friend decides he is going to help you out and in a blog post for ESPN.com he sneaks in a link to your website. (Yes, this is far fetched, but I wanted an extreme example)
Now Google will index this link and see that ESPN has a high authority and there is a lot of trust in that website, but the relevancy is fairly low. After all, you are a local plumber and they are the biggest sports news website in the world. Once it has indexed your website, it can see that they do not have a lot in common. Now, Google will definitely give you credit for the link, but there is no telling how much.
By the way, I would never turn down such a link, I am just using it as a teachable example. Now if the State of Arizona website linked to your website referencing an article you wrote on soldering tips, now that would be a link.
Let’s say on the other hand that your friend Ben down the road launches a website tomorrow and is completely focused on providing plumbing industry information for consumers and a list of the best plumbers in Tucson. Ben was kind enough to add your website to the list of 100. Now this would be nice of your friend, but in the short term, you probably wouldn’t get too much strength to your site from his.
It would meet the criteria of being relevant but since it just launched yesterday and probably doesn’t have any backlinks to his site, Google will not see his site as having much authority, and because of this would not have a lot of trust in it. Not to say that in the future his site won’t be authoritative, it’s just that it is not now.
NOT ALL LINKS ARE CREATED EQUAL
A backlink’s value doesn’t only come from the website authority itself. There are other factors to consider as well. You’ll sometimes times hear those in the industry refer to “dofollow” and “nofollow” links. This goes back to when I was telling you about issues years ago in the early days of SEO, people were getting as many links as possible from anywhere they could. This included the tactic of commenting on blogs and leaving a link. It was easy, and still can be, to go to a blog, create a profile and leave your comments. Early on, the search engines could not discern the value between a blog post and other content on the website.
This was just as bad for the managers of those blogging websites because then they had tidal waves of people posting comments that often times had nothing to do with their topic. Once programmers realized they could write scripts that could automate this process of posting, an entire industry was born and the problem got even worse.
An idea was born to create an attribute for these links. Since blogs still wanted people to comment and leave useful links, the developers automatically made the links of any post a “nofollow” link. The thinking was that if there were no SEO value for comment links, it would not be abused so much, and they have proven to be right to an extent.
Now what I am about to state is hotly contested in our industry. Google does in fact attribute relevancy to these links, just not as much as dofollow Links. In fact, a good mixture of dofollow and nofollow links is helpful to your SEO profile, so long as it is not overdone and abides by relevance, trust and authority.
IT’S WHAT’S IN A LINK THAT MATTERS
So you think that is all you would ever need to know about backlinks. But wait, let’s go back to the example I had given earlier with Moz. Now the actual link is to www.moz.com. The text “Moz” is what we refer to as the anchor text. Google indexes the anchor text and factors it differently as well.
Great SEO Articles
All of the examples above and more could be used as anchor text for the same backlink. Google will index each differently. Not only that, Google will even examine the few words before and after the anchor text as well as take into account all of the text on the page. It will also attribute value to which backlink was first in the page and diminish the value for each following link. Again, we have no idea by how much.
There are variations that go beyond these examples that blend together with the other 200+ ranking factors. Whether your internet marketing person realizes it or not, backlinks are an essential part of any solid SEO strategy.