SEO backlink building has always been the most powerful method for ranking websites quickly and attracting targeted traffic from Google.
That is truer today in 2020 than it has ever been before. But what is a high-quality backlink? What do search engines look for? What kind of linking practices will get you penalized in 2020?
1- What Is a Backlink?
A backlink is basically a vote of confidence in the site being linked to. But unlike political elections, when it comes to SEO, all votes are not equally valued. Some backlinks are more valuable than others, and some backlinks can be harmful, as you’ll see in a moment.
But if your website has the right kind of backlinks pointing to it from the right sources, you’re guaranteed to get better search rankings than sites without those links.
Simply put, backlinks are the most important ranking factor that Google and other search engines take into account when determining how to rank a website today in 2020.
There are many factors to consider, but backlinks are at the top of the SEO hierarchy. If your website doesn’t have high-quality backlinks, then you miss on targeted traffic, conversions, and earnings.
2- What Makes a Quality Backlink?
The most important factors Google looks at in a backlink are relevance and authority. Google wants to see natural backlinks, so anything that looks unnatural is likely to lead to a penalty.
So when attempting to build backlinks, you want links that come from sites that are relevant to your own site. If a website about car repair links to a website about pet care products, it would looks unnatural and make no impact.
Authority is also important. Links from websites that Google considers authoritative – such as major news sites or government websites – will push a lot of link juice to your own website, but links from low-quality sites like content mills and spam niche sites will bring little value or may even lead to penalties.
Contextual links embedded naturally within the body of the content carry more weight than backlinks tacked on at the bottom of the page as a footnote or as a blog comment.
Some links do have more impact than others, but that doesn’t make those other links worthless. You might even argue that the “worthless” links are necessary too.
3- Earning and giving backlinks
Earning backlinks is an essential component of off-site SEO. The process of obtaining these links is known as link earning or link building.
Some backlinks are inherently more valuable than others. Followed backlinks from trustworthy, popular, high-authority sites are considered the most desirable backlinks to earn.
Backlinks from low-authority, potentially spammy sites are typically at the other end of the spectrum.
Whether or not a link is followed (i.e., whether a site owner specifically instructs search engines to pass, or not pass, link equity) is certainly relevant but don’t entirely discount the value of no-follow links.
Even just being mentioned on high-quality websites can give your brand a boost.
Just as some backlinks you earn are more valuable than others, links you create to other sites also differ in value.
When linking out to an external site, the choices you make regarding the page from which you link (its page authority, content, search engine accessibility, and so on) the anchor text you use, whether you choose to follow or no-follow the link, and any other meta tags associated with the linking page can have a heavy impact on the value you confer.
4- The Importance of Backlink Diversity
You want your website’s backlink profile to look natural, and to accomplish you need a diversity of links out there on the web.
It’s natural for people to link to the great content on social media, in blog comments, in blog post content, and on forums.
For this reason, you want your backlink efforts to include all of these, but with an emphasis on getting those links from high-quality, relevant, and authoritative sources.
Going overboard on contextual links with unnatural anchored text will get you penalized. Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another.
In essence, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content.
5- The Potential Negative Impact of the Wrong Strategy
If you build the wrong links and use risky black hat tactics, you run the risk of having toxic links in your backlink profile that could negatively affect your rankings and organic traffic.
We have explored this in detail in our guide to running a backlink analysis and finding toxic backlinks, and this comes as highly recommended reading.
But you need to be aware that using the wrong tactics to build links can have disastrous consequences.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- If Google determines that you are building links that violate its Webmaster Guidelines, you could see your site impacted by either a manual action or an algorithmic filter (most likely Google Penguin), both of which can see your site drop rankings.
- It is not unusual for it to take months, or even years, to recover from such a negative impact.
- Time to recover is one thing to be aware of when balancing low effort, high-risk tactics with those that are lower risk but need a higher investment in effort.
The most successful strategies deliver sustained success, and you need to be using tactics that aren’t going to see your hard work impacted by a webspam filter or fall foul of a manual review.
So, earning these backlinks can positively on a site’s ranking position or search visibility.
Link Building Strategies You Need to Know in 2020
To build the right links that have a positive impact on your organic rankings and traffic, you need to make sure you are using the right strategy.
But first, you need to be clear on the difference between strategies and tactics and explore each of these.
- Strategy = what you are going to do.
- Tactics = how you are going to do it.
Applied to link building, different strategies typically balance different levels of effort and resource with the potential rewards and returns (i.e., the more difficult a tactic is to implement, the better results you will see as it is harder for competitors to do the same), as well as the level of risk surrounding either algorithmic or manual actions taken by Google.
6- What to Look for in an SEO Backlink Building Service?
With today’s economic climate and the growing strength of the Canadian dollar, Agencies can deliver great value to their clients and offer backlinking services that can catapult their clients’ websites up through the search rankings.
If you’re looking to hire an agency to do your SEO backlink building for you, those links must be built manually to ensure the quality of the links it kept high – that they are going onto relevant websites that carry authority in the eyes of the search engines rather than being blasted out using spam bot computer programs.
When it comes to backlink building, you need to employ the right strategy to prevent hurting your website rankings.
Some tactics can land you in a lot of trouble when it comes to backlink building, and in 2020 could even have your website penalized.
To ensure that you don’t land in a lot of trouble, it is always best to use safe and effective backlink building practices that promote a lot of good views and rankings for your website.
When it comes to dominating the world wide web, you must stay abreast of the latest algorithm updates that define the ranking system.
Backlink building is a big part of that, which is precisely why you should be careful about what type of tactics you use when it comes to backlink building.
If you go about it in the right way, you will be rewarded with exponential results.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 19, 2017, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.