Search Engine Optimization is a tough business. With everyone competing for those top ranking spots, opinions differ on the best way to get there. You’ve all seen those fiver gigs offering thousands (or tens of thousands) of backlinks, delivered in a matter of days. Such strategies could actually damage your rankings rather than improve them. The reality is, Google wants quality rather than quantity when ranking your website.
Sure, quantity can still be important. You’re not going to rank for a highly competitive term with only a handful of backlinks – but the various algorithms that search engines use tend to place more importance on where those links are coming from rather than the sheer number of them. If you’ve ever analyzed the top ten rankings for a keyword on Google, you’ll have seen sites with 10,000 backlinks sitting below those with only 500. This happens because Google looks at other things which help determine the authority of a site – and this can often be down to the quality of its backlinks.
Obviously, other factors still play a part – like the age of the site and other SEO parameters. But high quality backlinks can do the job where a scatter gun approach of thousands of cheap links cannot. Google actually penalizes sites if it thinks they’re getting backlinks in an unnatural way, like too fast or too many. That’s why a natural, organic backlinking program is best. Only the biggest viral sensations go from zero to ten thousand backlinks overnight. It’s just not realistic. Such penalizations can result in sites dropping considerably in the rankings after they’ve been flagged by Google. Some fiver backlinking gigs can work well, but many of them can be harmful.
What Page Rank means for your backlinking strategy
One of the most important things most search engines look at when evaluating the quality of backlinks is Page Rank or “PR”. It’s a ranking from zero to ten, with ten being highest. There aren’t many PR 10 sites out there, but Google and a handful of other famous names are amongst them. PR9 includes the likes of CNN.com, amongst others. Basically, these sites are considered to be very authoritative, and a backlink from one of them is like gold-dust.
The reality is that most lower-level SEO operators won’t be looking for backlinks from PR9 sites or even anything above PR5 very often. Most new sites will start with a PR of zero, but there are many small-scale blogs that have managed to achieve a PR of 4 or 5, which isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things. If you can get some good, relevant links on a number of PR3+ sites, you’ll be going about things the right way.
A proper backlinking program should take time, and that’s a positive rather than a negative. Google (and other search engines) wants to see your site grow naturally over a regular period of time. Results simply don’t happen overnight. A good system is to set yourself a goal of a few good quality, high PR backlinks each day, over a number of weeks. Doing it this way is much healthier and much more sustainable than suddenly getting a thousand PR0 links in a day.
So how do you get good quality backlinks?
Hopefully, you’ve seen how a good quality backlink can be worth more than a poor quality one. Much more. But how do you actually get these links? There are a number of ways. Firstly, although they would do your site a lot of good, you probably aren’t going to be looking for links from PR7 sites. However, there are a number of good quality blogs and sites that will link to you. It’s not impossible to get PR5 links if you know what you’re doing, but even PR2 links are better than PR0 and PR1.
Generally, the cut off point should be around PR2. That’s the minimum you should be looking for when attempting to build backlinks. If you’re wondering how to even see the rank of a site, there are a number of tools available. SEOQuake is a Firefox add-on that shows you the PR of any site, along with a number of other useful SEO metrics.
One of the most popular ways of getting high quality backlinks is with Guest Posting. Loads of blogs need content and will offer a link or two to your site in an author byline. All you need is a good quality article that’s somehow relevant to their site and yours. The general opinion is that Google likes guest posting, not least because the links are generally contextual and sit alongside quality content rather than just spammy link farms. It’s also great for blog owners because they can get quality content for free.
Generally, the better the blog post, the better (and higher PR) site you can get it on. There are loads of sites out there who offer guest posting, many with a PR of 3 or more. A simple search of guest posting blogs in your niche will throw up plenty of options.
The reality is that PR isn’t the only thing that makes a link “quality“. There are a number of other factors, such as if the links are from sites relevant to your niche and what keywords you use in the anchor text. However, a strong backlinking campaign should be taken seriously, and you shouldn’t look for too much, too soon.
About the Author: Peter Ellington knows that good quality writing is important whether you’re creating website content or completing an academic paper. When looking for expert help for his essays, he uses Essay Jedi.