Backlinks – Part One

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Back links

What Are Links?

Links are hypertext connections between two web pages. A backlink is one that emanates from another website and points back to your site. A forward link is the reverse, pointing from your page outwards. An internal link connects two locations within your own website.

You recognize a link because:

  • The text is usually blue
  • The text is usually underlined
  • When you click on the text, your web-browser displays the page pointed to by the link

The text associated with a link is called the anchor text – we’ll have more to say about anchor text later on.

Links are Important

When a website covering a topic similar to yours links to your website, its readers are more likely to find your site, thus driving up traffic. This is called targeted traffic, and it is very valuable because it is more likely to spend time on your website, and perhaps buy something. This only works if the links are relevant — the two websites are tied together by related subject matter or theme.

Besides driving targeted traffic, backlinks help you improve your site’s search engine results. That’s because these links count as “votes”, and search engines tally these votes when it decides where to rank your website in its results pages. This method of building your natural, or organic, search rankings is probably the most valuable techniques you can employ to get closer to Page One of the search results.

Link Popularity is Good

Link popularity is a term used to sum up the number and quality of backlinks to your site. Link popularity has eclipsed content as the prime factor that decides whether or not your website will rank well in search results for specific keywords. Content and other forms (meta-tags, keyword density, etc.) of on-page criteria  — how a website interprets the words on a page, — are very important, but off-page criteria — information such as backlinks, not found on a website that is being ranked by a search engine – is decisive in determining how well your site ranks.

Google established its name by introducing the concept of Page Rank (PR): a number representing the quantity and quality of inbound links to a webpage. At the time, content was the prime determinant of search rankings. Page Ranks vary from zero to ten. In Google’s algorithm, a new website has a PR of zero; Google’s home page has a PR of ten. The pioneers at Google realized that ranking on content was problematic in that there was no outside verification of the website’s usefulness. So instead, Google analyzed the quantity and quality of incoming links to determine the popularity of a website. It also looked at the anchor text of the incoming links to help classify the site.

Sites with a high PR are called “authoritative” and tend to do well in search rankings. Next time, we’ll look at three PR factors.

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Copyright 2011 Eric Bank, Freelance Writer

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