Why are backlinks important for SEO?

A backlink is a search engine optimization (SEO) term used for links that point to your site. You may have also seen them called inbound links or incoming links. Regardless of how often a search engine’s algorithm changes, backlinks are almost always a necessary ingredient.

Why? Because backlinks are a good indicator of how popular or relevant your site is. Although outbound links have no impact on SEO, backlinks do. Always have, always will.

For example, if you create a sports car niche blog site and place links to the top sites in the world (i.e. Top 3 as of this post are www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, www.facebook.com), it would be pointless for SEO purposes. Otherwise, everyone would do it what I just did (by listing outbound links) on their blogs, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with the content. On the other hand, let’s say your sports car niche blog site, actually had quality posts. Now imagine if the top sports car sites reference your blog on a regular basis. Mostly, you have others in your niche community vouching for the content on your blog site. Shouldn’t that represent that your blog site has valuable content for that audience?

Remember, this is just part of the secret search engine formula that the public will never know. However, since we know that it’s essential and it’s somewhat easy to do, doesn’t it make sense to ensure we get some backlinks on our site? In my next post, although there are various tools and services you could use, I’ll describe a quick do-it-yourself method to guarantee backlinks for your site.

Six degrees of site separation

I’m sure you already know that having quality inbound links (i.e., backlinks) help boost your blog rankings. That means having links from trusted websites in your niche is a big deal. So if you have a sports-related blog, getting a backlink from espn.com would pretty much make your site royalty.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s pretty unrealistic. You’re probably right but did you know that you can also benefit from being two links away? Or three? Or four? Yes, your SEO might even get a boost from being six links away! OK, six is a little thick, but the point is you don’t always need a direct connection.

The truth is, no one except for Sergey, Larry and a few insiders know for sure how many degrees is beneficial in Google’s eyes. In general, you want as many relevant backlinks as possible, the more “trusted”, the better.

I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to think that looking at Google PR is your only guide. It’s perfectly fine to have a backlink from a PR1, especially if that PR1 has a friend who is PR7! Being a friend of a friend counts. Sure, you might not get link juice, but you’re still helping search engines separate you from the millions of spam pages out there while tying your site with your niche category.

You see, getting a backlink from espn.com (PR8) is pretty unrealistic for us. But getting a backlink from a blogger on their NFL blog might be possible. And if not, perhaps a blogger who is connected to one of those bloggers. And so on.

Below is one way you could improve your backlinks. (Warning: please read their terms of service and do not spam.)
  1. Learn who your niche leaders are and create a target list. Aim high!
  2. Look for blogs on your target list and leave comments when appropriate.
  3. Look for related blogs from the targeted list blog and leave comments when appropriate.
  4. Repeat until you can find someone to build a relationship with and then create reciprocal links.
  5. Look for sponsors on your target list. See if you can provide value on their sites.
  6. Look for blogs on the sponsors’ sites and leave comments when appropriate.
  7. Repeat until you can find someone to build a relationship with and then create reciprocal links.

So the ultimate goal isn’t to create a bunch of backlinks through your comments (although some DoFollow would be nice). Instead, you’re using comments to build relationships with others in the same community. Reciprocal links usually come first (e.g., blogroll) but this creates opportunities for guest posts, references to your posts, etc.…

So although you may not have celebrity status yet, knowing someone who knows someone who might get you in a few parties.

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