After a search of backlinks to the page one ranking sites for my main keyword ‘carpet cleaning Brisbane’ I noticed that the top spot at that time was a site with 29 backlinks to their main URL and 29 backlinks to their whole domain. The number 2 site at that time had 253 / 349 backlinks respectively and the number 3 site had 195 / 9873 backlinks respectively. How are we supposed to determine the best path for our own backlink strategy with such variation?
As you are probably aware, there are many things that can influence search rankings (Google has indicated that they take over 200 factors into account). Clearly some factors are more important than others, and it is generally accepted that backlinks (links to your site from 3rd party sites) are amongst the most important. In my opinion backlinks come in position 2 of ranking factors – right after good quality, keyword rich, unique content.
It is important to recognise that not all backlinks are equal, and it is not just the number of backlinks that you should be considering. In fact the “quality” of your backlinks is more important that the quantity – Some backlinks are much more likely to improve your rankings, and some can actually have a negative impact.
What makes a Good Backlink?
Some of the factors that influence how useful a particular backlink might be include :
- Site Authority – How “important” the site is generally (Page Rank is a rough guide to this) but also in terms of the keywords relevant to the niche
- Relevance – How relevant the linking site is to the linked site – a site about Carpet Care is clearly going to be of more benefit to you than a site about Acne
- Anchor Text – Does the text used in the link contain relevant keywords
- Neighbourhood – Are other sites linked to from the same page/site related, and trusted? If the site contains lost of links to unrelated sites – particularly if many of the links are spammy. The “neighbourhood” can extend to the server and other sites hosted from the same server
Backlinks are not going to be the ONLY factor that influence your competitors rankings – but they are likely to play a significant part. 10 Great backlinks are likely to be more effective than 100 good ones, or 1,000 OK ones, and 100 bad backlinks can have a negative impact on rankings.
What about “Bad” Backlinks?
I’ve had a very quick look at the backlinks to your site (URL provided), and you currently have over 8,000 backlinks – which on the surface might seem a good thing. Dig a little deeper though and we see that many of your backlinks come from sites about such topics as – weight loss, yeast infections, various other health issues, making money from home, weddings, iphone apps, and a host of other topics – in fact I was hard pressed to find any of your backlink sites even vaguely related to carpet cleaning. This is a very good example of “bad” link building and to the search engines is obviously not the result of natural links, and may very well cause ranking penalties (which could very well be the reason you are appearing well down page 2 of the search results).
Analysing which sites link to the top ranking sites in your niche is likely to provide you with a useful insight into the types of sites that you should be pursuing for your own link building strategies.
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)
If what you say is true, then you could penalize a competitor by simply using some automated low-relevant link building service to taint the link profile of your competitor. How can a site be penalized for something it has no control over?? It was my understanding that bad/irrelevant links would at worst be discounted and ignored, but penalized? – if that’s true that seems too easy to manipulate in order to hurt other sites SEO.
Great post!! Mark definitely is a good example of Bad Back Links – but your article will put him in good sted going forward. Like most things it comes down to quality not quantity – and basic common sense. After working in a SEO Department for over a year – this information is gospel!
Hi guys, not sure if this will help but I’ve recently written some free link building guides which can be found here – angelseo.co.uk/seo/link-building – hope they help!!!
Excellent post, and very relevant on how to go about a good backlink strategy, and some of the things to look out for to make sure you’re not following a bad backlink strategy. Definitely a bit of trial and error sometimes. LT
No mention by mark of the three sites page titles, domain name, KW density, anchor text, etc., etc.
The answer basically should of been: there’s not enough information to answer.
You know, good ole “E” on the multiple choice.
Thanks Jeff, perhaps “penalty” is too strong a term, and I agree that a few, or even a few hundred bad links are unlikely to have a significant impact (particularly as you say, if they could possibly have been initiated by a competitor), but in this case there are a number of thousand bad links, and I have no doubt that it is having a negative impact on the sites rankings.
A “penalty” doesn’t necessarily have to mean that a negative ranking is applied, but if Google has identified a dozen or so sites containing similar information, and one of them has several thousand suspicious backlinks, would you be surprised to see the other sites rank higher?
Backlinks: Top 10 backlink strategies
* URL directories
* Natural back-links
* Forums, guest books and comment boxes
* Article Marketing
* Creating free software
* Social bookmarks
* Google knol
* RSS marketing
* Video marketing back-links
The best way to get great backlinks is to have lots of useful content and people will give you natural links back if they find you useful.
I always advise clients to make sure that their focus lies on good quality links to their site. Links from places that are relevant to their site that are valuable to them. There are many great sources that will give you good quality links, the best way is through great content that is seen as valuable and is spread by your readers.
[…] Q and A: How do I choose a backlink strategy? This was a Q&A post I stumbled upon that gave some solid advice on good and bad links and what to choose when coming up with a strategy for link building. I found that some of the answers from posters were valuable as well. […]
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