This month’s article will address how to build links to our website. This is one of the most critical aspects of search engine optimization and one of the most difficult to get right.
The first point is to address why link building (also called “backlinking” or “backlinks”) is so important. Google first launched in the late 1990s with the premise that websites having lots of links from other websites is an indicator of popularity — and, therefore, a website people should see when they’re looking for that very thing.
“Google first launched in the late 1990s with the premise that websites having lots of links from other websites is an indicator of popularity — and, therefore, a website people should see when they’re looking for that very thing.“
So, for example, if you have a website about dog training and it has millions of websites linking to it, Google believes your website is more popular than the other dog training websites that don’t have as many links. That said, your website would be more likely to be seen than your competitors’. This is how it used to be. Although backlinks are still an indicator of popularity and authority, there is much more to it than that now.
Here’s what I mean.
If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that Google gets gamed all the time. In other words, when people find out what Google wants, they often manipulate their websites to be more prominent in Google search results than their competitors. So when Google first said having a bunch of links meant your site was popular and it would get it seen more than not, people built artificial backlinks to their websites. Whoever had the most, all other things equal, meant their website is the most popular and therefore, the most seen.
Over time, Google got wise to people’s tricks (as it always does). Google continually changes the rules — i.e., changes its algorithm — as to what gets your website more findable. When it makes these changes, there is often a significant shift in the placement of websites in search results.
Google’s algorithm is a sophisticated software program that tracks virtually every website that exists and looks for backlinks, on-page optimization, and so on. It looks at all the aspects it is programmed to review and compares it to the other websites in the same category, more or less. So your dog training site would be compared to other dog training websites to see which is going to placed higher and lower in ranking. Whenever the algorithm is modified (also known as an “update”), then your website may lose rank or gain it depending on the parameters of the algorithm.
So sensitive is Google’s algorithm nowadays that a website at position one on page one could suddenly disappear overnight. This has happened to countless people. Many businesses have greatly suffered — or prospered — because of Google’s changes.
That said, you never want to try and game the system because you will likely get shot down like a wounded duck.
But what are the rules for backlinking? I’ll address them in this article.
Dos and Don’t for Backlinks
Let’s first start with anchor text, as it’s highly important. Anchor text is the wording that when clicked on, it goes to the website it is linking to. So if you’re a dentist and you have a link on another website, the wording might be “dentist Chicago”. Those two words link to your site from the website they’re on. The words “dentist Chicago” are the anchor text. Thus, any text that is a link back to a website is called the anchor text.
Long ago, if you have tons and tons of anchor text linking back to your website for your niche, it meant you were doing what Google wanted and if you had enough, your website would rank over your competitors – all things equal. Nowadays, having too much main keyword anchor text for you niche gets your website penalized. So what used to good, is now bad.
At the time of this writing, Google wants to see your anchor text in a range of percentages. I assume Google knows what sites are naturally getting good links and why they rank good. Here’s what I mean by percentages.
Let’s say you’re building 100 backlinks to a dentist website. If you have an anchor text percentage of 10 percent that is “dentist Chicago”, then 10 out of 100 of your backlinks (or 10 percent) are your main keyword. Remember, years ago 80 percent or more was better. Today, even 10 percent is too much. Astoundingly, our research shows that one percent or less is best. Isn’t that astonishing?
So, if your main keyword anchor text is to be such a low percentage, how will Google even know your website is about dentistry? It’s because of the on-page optimization I’ve addressed in past articles. Assuming your website is set up correctly, Google will know what you’re about. Nowadays, Google is very sophisticated.
Now here’s another piece to that crazy puzzle. Since your main keyword anchor text is now only 1 percent, that means you only want one main keyword anchor text to be “dentist Chicago”. Just one out of one hundred. Here’s a killer tip you should know. Make sure that main keyword anchor text backlink is coming from website that is about dentistry and has a high “PageRank,” which is how Google ranks websites.
The more authority a website has, typically the more PR it has. How does a website have authority? It’s based on several things. First, the older it is, the more trusted it is (according to Google) and that gives it authority. Second, the more content it has (and keeps getting, relative to other sites) the more authority it has. Those are the two keys for PR, even though there are more parameters.
That said, consider WEbMD.com.
WebMD is highly authoritative and, thus, has a high PageRank.
WebMD is well known, has lots of content, is respected, is an informational source for research, gets lots of traffic, and so on. As you can imagine, it has an enormous PageRank. If your dentist site got a link from that website to yours, Google would likely think your site is important. WebMD is not a dentist site, but it is health related, and Google knows that. WebMD is such a huge authority, Google would assume your website must be reliable and important, since WebMD linked to it.
Naturally, this is the type of backlinking you want your website to have. Unfortunately, it’s the hardest type to get. In a perfect world, you shoot for that kind of link but you’ll usually get by with more inferior links.