Backlinking: A Guide

Press Release : January 19, 2010
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OK. Quick reminder. Websites that are well regarded and rank highly against effective search terms are the ones with the right key words, effective content and well constructed technology. That’s the on page optimisation.

Off page optimisation is the number and relevance of other web site links (inbound links) coming back to pages on your site. And yes, I know that it could be seen as misleading to call it off page, when technically it is still "on" the internet…

But why is this important and which sites should you get links from?

1. Relevant pages – Simple. Ask yourself whether the site you are getting links from is related to your business model, does it make sense to link up? Does the content on the sites relate to yours. The search engines will think in the same way and will think better of you if your links are relevant to your business. The closer the page you are linking on relates to your own content the better.

2. Indexed by Google – Focus on the sites that are already indexed. If it isn’t indexed, Google will not recognise it as a link to your page and so it will have no effect on your search position. Google will ban any sites it believes to be spam sites so be wary when adding your link to any site and ensure you check the site is in Google’s search results.

3. Varied sources – Don’t just submit to one type of source. For example Google will not look favorably on your links if they are only on blog posts. Use a varied mixture of business directories, blogs, PR sites, social media sites and any other source you can find.

4. PageRank(TM) (the debate continues) – Getting a link on a page with a PageRank(TM) of 0 will not do much for your SEO. It is best to have your link on a mixture of mid to high Page Ranked sites as it will look more natural to Google.

5. Older domains – old is beautiful – Google rewards sites which have been active for longer with more trust as these sites are more likely to be legitimate and also have had time to get their own links. This means getting listed on an older web page is better than a brand new site that has low trust with Google.

6. Is the page "nofollow" – A link that has the "nofollow" attribute means that individual link will not influence Google’s ranking of your site. It is mainly larger sites with millions of links on that uphold a "nofollow" policy. E.g. Twitter and Expedia. This doesn’t mean you should not be listed on these sites but there is no point if your sole purpose is SEO. For example, we find Twitter excellent for direct traffic to our site but we don’t contemplate SEO when using it.

7. Placement of link – The best place to be listed is in the content of the page itself. Google has worked hard to distinguish where a link is placed and those in the main body of the site are looked at more favorably than those in blog rolls or footers. It may look like having a link in the footer of every page of a site will be beneficial for SEO but Google understands these links are often paid and may punish both the sites that are being linked to and the site with the links on by lowering all their Page Ranks.

8. The no. of other links – The general rule is that the less links on a page the better. PageRank(TM) flows down the links on any given page so if there are 20 links on one page they will each get a small proportion of the PageRank(TM) where as if there are only 5 links on the page the proportion each linked page will receive will be much higher.

9. Assessing paid links – Yes some work (especially good directories), but engines are wary of paid links as theoretically any website can purchase them. But you do run the risk that if your link is identified as "paid" it may not get any value assigned, effectively the link would be a waste of money. Our rule of thumb is to stick to free links and only buy paid links from site’s Google recognises as legitimate like the Yahoo directory.

10. Take it slow – Building good backlinks is an art and is mostly based on effective relationships, natural backlinks take time to create. Don’t try and link build too quickly as Google will look at this suspiciously and may penalise you. Quality links made steadily over time will always work the best.

The key to think about is who do I want to be seen with. Which links will make sense and add value to my site. And, also, which sites would want to link to me!

Notes to editors

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