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What is Backlink

Backlinks are links from outside domains that point to pages on your domain; essentially linking back from their domain to yours. To a larger degree, your backlink profile is made up of backlinks from external sites (also known as referring domains) that contribute to the overall strength, relevance and diversity of your domain’s backlink profile.

The total number of backlinks can often include many links from the same referring domain or multiple referring domains. It’s common for referring domains to link back to your content if it is relevant, authoritative or useful in some way to their own domain. In an ideal world, that’s how backlinks are accumulated; unique content that other websites want to be associated with.

Generally speaking, backlinks are considered to be a “vote” of confidence for the content that’s being linked to on your domain from outside sources.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are important for Search Engines and users alike.  From a user’s perspective, backlinks provide a way for people to find other sources of information on the same or related topics.

For example, if the consumer is visiting a page about the “best smart phones” he might find links out to other carriers, cell phone providers or user generated review pages. Links create a solid consumer experience because they transfer the user directly to additionally desirable information if needed.

For Search Engines, backlinks help to determine the page’s importance and value (i.e. authority). Historically, the quantity of backlinks was an indicator of a page’s popularity.  Today, due to the way backlinks are evaluated based on different industry-related ranking factors, it is less quantity focused and more about the quality of sites from which the links are coming.

Alternatively, too many backlinks from many unreliable domains can hinder the authoritative signals of your domain.

What does a good Backlink Profile look like?

A natural link profile has variety.  The links come from different domains and links will have different strengths.
To best understand your backlink profile, it makes sense to look at a few top level KPI’s such as the referring domains and IP’s, the country from where the backlink is coming from, and the Top-Level-Domain.

There are domains which are better to receive links from than others.  These are domains that are “trusted” sources and have higher domain authority.

For example, links from educational institutions (.edu) and government entities (.gov) tend to carry a lot of authority and indicate “trusted” content or sites to search engines.

Backlink Ranking Factors

Ranking Factors Description
Suite Area / Action
Backlink There is still a correlation between high rankings and the amount of backlinks, but this trend will continue to decrease moving forwards.
  • To track the backlink profile for your project domain, see Links > Overview.
  • To track the backlink profile of any domain, see Research > Backlinks.
Anchor Text The percentage of links with keyword continues to decline.
  • To see the Top Ten anchor texts for your project domain, see Links > Overview. Click on the hyperlink to take you to the list of backlinks using those anchor texts.
  • To see all the anchor texts for any domain, see Research > Backlinks > Anchor Texts.
News Domains Pages in the middle of the first SERP have the most links from news domains. An indication that current content ranks highly.
  • To see how many news domains (e.g., nytimes.com) are linking to your project domain, check Links > Overview.
New and Lost Links URLs ranked with positions 1-4 have significantly older links on average than in the previous year. The differences across all rankings have become greater.
  • Check how many new and lost backlinks any site is getting on a daily basis by going to Research > Backlinks > Backlinks > New and Lost Links.

 

How do backlinks help SEO?

Make sure your backlinks appear to be natural. Don’t ask webmasters to link back to your pages with a specific anchor text since this can haphazardly result in a pattern that may get noticed by search engines and cause you to get a linking penalty, a la Penguin. Also, don’t do anything shady or unnatural to create backlinks, like asking a site to put a link in the footer of every page on their site.

NEVER offer to pay someone for links! If you’re trying to build backlinks by pushing sponsored content, it has to explicitly say “Sponsored” on it. That’s an FCC regulation. Most publishers will mark these backlinks as “nofollow” but they still have link value and they can drive traffic to your site.

At one time, directories like DMOZ were a good place to add listings and get backlinks. However, these large web directories aren’t really relevant anymore. But, if you do find industry-relevant directories or niche communities online, it can be worth building a relationship with the webmasters to get a backlink from this type of site.

.GOV domains are quite valuable since they can’t be started by just anyone. So they inherently have more domain value.

What is Hummingbird and How It Works

Hummingbird

Launch date: August 22, 2013
Hazards: Keyword stuffing; low-quality content

How it works: Hummingbird helps Google better interpret search queries and provide results that match searcher intent (as opposed to the individual terms within the query). While keywords continue to be important, Hummingbird makes it possible for a page to rank for a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact words the searcher entered. This is achieved with the help of natural language processing that relies on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms and synonyms.

How to adjust: Expand your keyword research and focus on concepts, not keywords. Carefully research related searches, synonyms and co-occurring terms. Great sources of such ideas are Google Related Searches and Google Autocomplete. You’ll find all of them incorporated into Rank Tracker’s Keyword Research module.

Use these insights to understand your audience’s language better and diversify your content. By creating comprehensive content that satisfies searcher intent, you’ll win both in terms of engagement and SEO. We’ll look at comprehensiveness in more detail later in this post when we discuss RankBrain.

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