Good morning to internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry with Simple Biz Support. Today is Internet Marketing Thursday and, as always, I have the beautiful and talented, Virginie Dorn, with Business Website Center down in Petaluma. Good morning, Virginie.
Virginie Dorn: Well, thank you, Ryan. Good morning to you too.
RP: Thank you. Today we’re going to jump right into it because we have a subject you could literally spend eight hours in a classroom learning about. But I think there’s still a lot of misconceptions and not really understanding around the topic of backlinks. So first of all, let’s explain to people, if you would, what exactly is a backlink in layman’s terms?
VD: Well, sure, fairly easy. A backlink is any incoming link onto your website. So they could come from other websites or even from emails. Anything that links back to your site is called a backlink. You have heard inbound links, inlinks, inward links, it’s all the same, they’re all backlinks to you.
RP: Alright, and I think that… And the one thing we want to clarify is, there’s also a thing called a “reciprocal link” and reciprocal linking is something that was used many, many, many years ago as an SEO tactic. And basically, I would go out to all my buddies with websites and go, “Hey John, Phil, Jane. If you put a link to my website, I’ll put a link to your website.” So now we’re reciprocating, and reciprocating links really don’t have the same value versus a link that’s coming from ABC website and linking directly to your website and that’s it, there’s no other link back to it.
VD: That is correct. It cancels out each other. Because what Google is looking is, like how many people link to you versus how many people you link to? So if your website is linking to 100,000 websites, so people have to leave your websites constantly, it is not great value. But if your website, a 100,000 other sites link to you then Google is like, “Hmm, that site must be of interest because there are so many other websites right now backlinking to that one”. So again, it’s a numbers game. You want more people linking to you than you want linking to them.
RP: Right, the way I break it down is that if you go back to the days of high school there’s the prom king and queen, and there’s only one king and there’s only one queen. And the reason why they are is because they got the votes, more people voted for them to be prom king and queen, therefore they rose to the top and they got that position. So if we think about that same analogy but with websites, I consider a backlink is like a vote for your website, I approve of your website. And from a social point of view, that’s something that’s really important for Google, from a algorithm point of view as, “Well, how far do we put this website up to the top?” The old rule of thumb was, whoever had the most backlinks or the most votes would automatically rise to the top. And obviously what Penguin and a number of other changes that have happened over the years, Google algorithm changes, that’s no longer the case because we had issues with link farms and link triangles and all kinds of schemes that are out there. So why don’t we talk a little bit about the quality of the backlink and how that can affect your ranking, either positively or negatively.
VD: Oh, absolutely. It’s all about the quality of the link, now. You’re better off having CNN and Fox News linked to your site than having some obscure donut shop down the street and have a Fasnacht donut shops. Having… And it’s also… The quality of the link, the quality of the website it comes from and how many visitors are those websites having and are they true visitors. So again, I’ll mention CNN and Fox news, huge traffic there. If they link to you, it’s definitely an indicator to Google then you are of importance since those big players are linking back to you. On the other side, if you have 100,000 backlinked to your site and they all come from China or Russia, or some pornographic website who knows what, you actually… No way does it bring no value to you, it’s like they’re going to penalize you. So it has the reverse effect. And now, instead of thinking, “Oh, I bought… I spent $29 on 100,000 backlinked, now I’m all good”, it’s the worse thing you could do. You’re actually going to be heavily penalized, it might disappear from the ranking altogether.
RP: Right, and those… And for people that don’t know, gosh, what’s it been? About a year ago, Google, maybe even longer now, Google started sending out emails to people who had links from what Google considered spammy websites from links from websites that were all on the same server that were known to just spam a lot, not create quality. And you would actually get a letter through your Webmaster Tools interface stating you need to clean this stuff up. Otherwise, you’re never going to be found on Google, you have too many poor links. And basically, from Google’s point of view, they’re going, “Hey, you’re trying to manipulate our algorithm, you’re trying to manipulate the system by generating all these backlinks”, and we used to be able to do that. Years and years ago that was basically what you have to do. Whoever had the most backlinks… Google trained us, whoever had the most backlinks won. And so, then it was a matter of, “Well, how can I get a 1000, 100,000, 1,000,000 backlinks and do it as inexpensively as possible?”
RP: And then, finally Google got smart enough to say, “Okay, enough’s enough. We really want to value backlinks”, and that’s where you mention CNN, Fox News, any of the big ones. It could be ESPN. That one link could have the same value as, say a 1000 other quality links, and when I say quality, they’re not from a link farm or link triangle, but they’re actually legitimate links but because they come from small websites that really don’t have a lot of credibility with Google, and typically that credibility is because they don’t have a lot of traffic, then those backlinks aren’t going to have as much value as something that’s on a major website. And the other thing you mentioned was, if you had a backlink from a donut shop, the other thing that Google’s looking for is relevancy. So, if you’re selling shoes and you’re getting backlinks from pet stores, Google doesn’t understand what’s the relevancy between shoes and pet supplies. So, when you’re trying to get backlinks, also understand your industry and try and get backlinks from other websites that are relevant to your industry.
VD: It’s very true. It has to be relevant to what it should do otherwise it doesn’t make sense. So, the algorithm has got so smart, it almost think like a human now. So, you compare the donut shop versus the shoes and versus the pet stores, and other type of backlink it should encourage having back to you, it would be from directories like Chamber of Commerce, networking organization you belong to, BNI, you name them. If they can backlink to you, they also have great value, even though they might not be industry specific to what you do, they’re still considered by Google and other search engines as quality incoming link. So, if you have multiple directories, you have members to own, make sure you optimize your profiles on each of those websites and enter your website if that’s a possibility. Not all they allow you to. But if they allow you to put your website on your profile, make sure you do. It’s a great tool to use.
RP: Right, and one of those is going to be if it’s an industry specific. So as an example, in the law industry, there’s a directory out there called Nolo, and with Nolo having that backlink because Nolo is a reputable viewed positively in Google’s eyes by having a backlink from Nolo, N-O-L-O, you are getting a quality backlink and it’s also industry specific, which is nice. But also like you said, having Chamber links, Better Business Bureau links, those are all reputable places, and therefore they’re quality backlinks.
VD: Yes. Even social media, Facebook, Yelp, you name them, Twitter. So that’s one thing. Twitter, for instance. There are different ways to think about it. We’re not here to talk about social media, but backlink from those social media platform are extremely important if they are done well. So, if you do a tweet mentioning new services you’re launching, make sure you put the URL there of that service specific page from your website. So Google will read the tweets, knows it’s about new shoes, and if you click on the link, it goes back to you. So, that’s also a backlink.
RP: Right. And a lot of people that I talk to, especially small business like, oh my gosh, there’s Twitter, there’s Google+, there’s Facebook, there’s this, there’s that. The reality is there’s hundreds of social media sites out there and a lot of times people feel overwhelmed that I don’t have enough time, energy, or desire to maintain all of these accounts. And from a linking point of view, that’s okay because we still want you to create that account even if you’re not going to use it on a regular basis because one of the things that Google is doing is they’re looking out on the internet and they’re trying to quantify or validate the fact that you’re a real business that actually has value. And by taking the time to create all those different social media accounts, putting your name in there, your phone number in there, your hours of operation if it makes sense, your address and a link back to your website, basically as Google is looking through and seeing that, it’s going, “Oh, Twitter, check, Facebook, check, Chamber of Commerce, check” and all it does, it just adds credibility that your website and your business is legit and therefore it’s going to help you with that ranking bringing you up to the top.
VD: Yes. So you have to use all those tools. And you mentioned people are overwhelmed, and I can see how people can be overwhelmed. It’s a lot to think about. Just, if you’re not sure, don’t do it. If you do want to do something that’s going to affect your website, make sure it’s the right thing to do, so you don’t get penalized and it’s too late. That farm linking scheme, and it was happening from the last two years, has really, we’ve heard about reverse effect on a lot of website that so we were so happy they jumped to page one, now they’re nowhere to be found and their domain name and sometimes the content of their website has been tagged.
RP: Basically, everything that they’ve built up has zero value now because they’ve been tagged by Google. I know both you and I have worked on an account that’s had that situation happen to them. Because we’re running out of time, the other thing I wanted to talk about was there was a Google algorithm change on the 25th. I forget what the name was, but it’s tied into Penguin and all that, and what they were targeting is blog, I’m going to call it the blog farm where basically you would sign up and become a member of this blog forum, if you will, and you would actually allow people to access your WordPress site and other people could leave blog posts on your website and it sounded like a great idea because other people are writing original content and then they are pushing that content out to other people’s websites which was supposed to be great. The problem was, most of the content that people were creating was garbage and therefore people were posting content on your website, that was duplicate content, that was spun, that really didn’t have any value and therefore it really just didn’t add any value to your website. And so I know there was an update on the 25th of last month where Google was targeting those types of content.
RP: Basically, to me, in a nutshell, if somebody’s offering a… It comes down to if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. They’re going to give you a 1000 backlinks. Even if they say their page ranked eight or better for a $100, the reality is you’re trying to game the system, it’s really not going to help you any. The best way to get backlinks is network in your community is through a local paper that needs somebody to write content about state planning if you’re state planning, if it’s about shoes, about how to protect your feet. And if they are… If they have a digital version of that newspaper, can I if I write an article, put a link back to my website? That is one of the best ways to get backlinks is really engage or work with other companies that have similar interests where you can go ahead and link back to your website. We got a minute left. What are your final thoughts here Virginie?
VD: Ditto. I agree with everything you said. Do it right, don’t go for the cheapy offer because you know it’s going to backfire. If it’s too good to be true it is certainly too good to be true.
RP: Yeah and unfortunately the problem is, it’s like when you, let’s say you buy a car or something and it works great for the first three years and you’re happy, you’re driving along and then all of a sudden it breaks. And the first thing that they go and they go see the mechanic is, “The car ran fine until… ” Well, the problem is when it comes to your website my ranking was fine until. And then until it’s going to be, well Google made an algorithm change to target people who are trying to cheat the system and I finally got caught and now my website has zero value. So, take the time and energy, especially if you plan on being in business for a long time. Take the time and energy to do it right because it will pay off in the long run for you.
RP: Alright, perfect. Well, it is 10:00 AM. That is everything you need to know about backlinks in 15 minutes. There’s plenty more that you do need to know but it would take more than 15 minutes, so we’re not going to talk about it. Virginie, as always I appreciate your time.
VD: Take care. Have a great week.
RP: You too, thank you. Bye.
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