What are backlinks?
To expand more about backlinks and your website, think of a backlink as a citation in a research paper. Google wants to see that you are linking to authoritative and factual sources and that others are linking to you as well in each piece of content. Google uses these backlinks as part of its search engine ranking signal and high-quality backlinks can help to increase a site’s ranking position and visibility.
Where do they reside?
Backlinks or incoming links take place all across the interwebs and happens when Website “A” uses anchor text or keyword or mention your business, thus allowing for the incoming link back to your website. If this happens often enough and from authoritative, non-spammy, sites it will create a positive effect on a site’s search visibility and ranking. However, if you get a lot of poor backlinks it can have detrimental effects on your rankings.
Black Hat Links vs White Hat Links
Wikipedia says that the symbolism of white hats and black hats dates back to the Western genre between the 1920’s and 1940’s. The white hats were often the good guys whereas the black hats were the villains and that it was to help symbolize good and evil.
The same bodes true for backlinks. There are black hat links, white-hat links, and even some gray hat links. While for the purpose of this post I will not get into the gray hat, you can use your imagination for those.
A study in what not to do: J.C. Penney’s Black Hat Links
In later 2010 and early 2011 J.C. Penney ranked at the top of search results for a vast number of keywords. In the cut-throat retail market, they saw exceptional performance in search results over the Christmas shopping season. It was discovered that they had used black hat techniques that slipped under Google’s radar.
Ultimately, Google confirmed their actions went against their webmaster guidelines and that they had violated webmaster guidelines on three previous occasions. Google responded with a penalty win which they dropped nearly seventy positions. Now, the running joke is page two of Google is where you “hide the dead bodies,” page seven must be where archeologists go looking for clues to our historical past!
If you want to read more about some of the black hat techniques companies have used, HubSpot has a great post on it.
White Hat Link Strategies to Build Backlinks
Some examples are:
- Create your own quality content that answers questions
- Build your audience on social media and have links to your site on those profiles
- Improve on someone else’s content. With the proliferation of content these days things are often being said over and over just in different ways. What one person says may not resonate with your audience, but if you can say the same thing but in a different way, one in which it resonates with your them.
- Create list posts, “how-to” posts, “why” posts, infographics, or posts with embedded videos. These formats usually get more backlinks than standard posts.
- Write the ultimate guideposts. These are very long posts containing several thousand words and cover every angle of the topic.
- Write guest posts on other blogs and websites, essential earning backlinks with other web pages
There is one thing I would like for you to walk away with after reading this is that good authoritative and unique is crucial to increasing your ranking on the search engines and improving your search engine optimization strategy. With the ever-changing Google algorithm, one thing that has remained consistent is the value of links both incoming and outgoing.
If you find yourself being overwhelmed and in need of help with content marketing, feel free to contact us. We will be glad to help you better understand your content strategy and how backlinks can play a crucial role.