Thursday, October 1, 2009

SEO: How Important Are Backlinks



By Jon Brown

If youve done any research into search engine optimisation you would have probably stumbled across the term backlink. Backlinks are hyperlinks that point to your website that are found on other peoples sites. Google and other search engines use these links to determine how important your website is. For example, consider the search term click here. On Google, if you perform this search youll find that Adobe Acrobat Readers website is ranked at the number 1 spot. How can this be?

If you examine the Adobe Reader website you’ll probably not find the phrase “click here” anywhere on it. The reason you won’t find it is because it’s not there… so why does Google think it’s the most relevant site for this keyword? Well, the answer is straightforward - millions and millions of websites link to this site with the anchor text of “click here” and because so many sites all do this, Google thinks that this site HAS to be the most relevant for this term.

What’s a good quality backlink?

So we have proven that search engines put a lot of weight behind keywords, but the quality of the backlinks are also checked. Backlinks that come from websites that have a high page rank (i.e. Google considers them good websites) are a lot more important than backlinks from pages with low page ranks. A backlink from the BBC website for example is worth a lot more than a backlink from a website that was created yesterday.

Google also considers the quantity of backlinks, although this may not be as important as quality. The truth is, nobody really knows the Google algorithm.

In addition to quality and quantity of backlinks, the website that a backlink comes from should be relevant to the website its pointing at. For example, if someone puts a backlink on a car auction website that points to a travel company, the two websites are not relevant to each other so Google will put less weight behind the link.

Getting backlinks

Backlinks can be generated by writing on forums and putting your website as your signature. Similarly, blogging or writing articles can generate backlinks. There are other services that allow you to buy backlinks or you could ask website owners to link to your website. If you seriously want to get in the top few results of certain keywords though you should not ignore backlinks.

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