Teaching SEO to a 3 Week-Old Pt. 2

Backlinks

Yesterday I wrote about teaching my friend SEO from scratch. He’s a willing learner, but with so many things to go over, it’s a little daunting.

To make it as simple as possible, I decided to teach as if I’m explaining it to my 3 week-old baby.

The first thing that search engines really care about is content. Without this solid foundation, it’s hard to rank for a given keyword.

Backlinks

Some have argued that backlinks are even more important than content. The main reason that this comes up is that even with great content, it’s still hard to rank for anything. You really need backlinks!

Let’s go back to the “Boise Plumber” example.

We went over the content and decided that they have a lot of keywords related to plumbing. Purrfect.

Now let’s see if backlinks have anything to do with their high ranking.

The easiest way to analyze these is by popping the site into a backlink explorer like with Moz’s Opensite Explorer.

You can quickly see that they have lots of relevant backlinks to their site. The number of backlinks are important, but not nearly important as the quality of backlinks.

For example, you can go create comment links on 400 different blogs and get a backlinks from each of them. Yay! You now have 400 links. You should be outranking your competition, right?

The rule of thumb for backlinks is this:

The easier a link is to get, the less it is worth in Google’s eyes.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid getting these types of links, it means that you need to use them as part of your overall link strategy, not as your only weapon in the arsenal.

The easiest way to explain the importance of backlinks is that they are like votes. Each vote for your site helps it gain prominence. The more quality votes, the easier for Google to know that you’re legit.

The Anatomy of a Backlink

I’m not going to get into any coding here, because let’s be honest, SEO’s don’t have to know how to code. That’s what dev people do.

Anchor Text

The anchor text is simply the actual text that makes up the link. Usually it’s underlined or in a different color. It is “clickable”. That’s it.

The anchor text is important because it shows the keywords that relate to the page to which you are linking.

I’ll link to my company a few different ways-

https://morningdove.marketing = naked URL

Morningdove Marketing = Branded Anchor Text

Boise SEO Company = Keyword Rich Anchor Text

Click Here = Generic Anchor Text

Or use an image as a link ^^

Early on, it wasn’t uncommon to just make whatever term for which you wanted to rank, the anchor text. Google slapped SEO’s for doing this though because it became spammy.

It’s still important to have these types of keyword rich anchor texts, but in moderation. A healthy link profile will have a lot of different type of links and anchor texts. You probably shouldn’t use “exact match” anchor texts more than 5–20% of the time. Even 20% seems a little high to me.

All of this talk of percentages though is honestly sometimes a waste of time. Natural link-building doesn’t always allow you to pick your anchor text, and that’s a good thing.

Again, if every link was super easy to build, they wouldn’t matter as much.

Also, the words around the link also affects how search engines treat them. For example, a good way to do this is to create a safe anchor text, surrounded by rich keywords.

Visit Cloverdale Plumbing, a Boise Plumber that has 30 years experience.

Something like that.

Do-Follow vs. No-Follow

As you might notice when diving into SEO, Google is always trying to combat the spam. They have full-time employees dedicated to fighting spam. Because link were a major ranking signal, link spam was inevitable from SEO’s.

So Google came up with the “no-follow” attribute, meaning those links don’t pass any ranking value to the site linked to.

There is some discussion about the value of these links, but in general, just remember that “no-follow” links don’t help you rank.

Here’s what G itself says:

How does Google handle nofollowed links?
In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web. However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow, or if the URLs are submitted to Google in a Sitemap. Also, it's important to note that other search engines may handle nofollow in slightly different ways.

Reciprocal Links

This is when two sites link to each other. It’s very natural to see these when two sites or businesses have some kind of relationship. For example, if a company does pest control and plumbing, they might have two domains that link to each other.

Reciprocal links don’t have quite the value as other link types because you could easily get TONS of links just by offering a “link for a link”. It shows search engines that you are in cahoots, so to speak.

If a lot of your links are reciprocal links, this isn’t a good thing, but don’t worry too much if there are a few.

How to Build Links

Here are a few ways to get started building links to your site.

  • Find niche directories and fill out a profile and get a link.
  • Social Profiles- facebook, twitter, and most other major social sites allow you to put a link to your site.
  • Comment Links- use sparingly, but don’t hesitate to add relevant links to an article that adds value and furthers the conversation. These will probably be no-follow, but can still bring lots of traffic
  • Guest posts- these are probably the next thing that Google will try to crack down on, though it will be much tougher to do because of how “white hat” the process is. This is one of the safest ways to build great links from authority sites. Email a blog owner and ask if you can write a high quality article on their site! Include a relevant link to your site, boom. They may ask for some sort of compensation, so be ready for that.
  • Links from clients- if you design or do SEO for clients, most of the time they’ll let you put a small link in the footer or somewhere else on the site to your company. Make sure they’re ok with it.
  • Resource Links- if you wrote an awesome industry resource, reach out to other sites with a resource page on their site and ask for a link to it.

There are tons of things to talk about when trying to teach the impact of links, how to build them effectively, and how they affect rankings, but there’s not time enough in the day to get into all of them.

Hopefully my baby and my friend learned a little something something from this.

Tomorrow

Next thing to teach my baby, Local SEO. Stop by tomorrow and learn about how to rank local businesses.

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