While trying to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), one of the first words that you are likely to have come across is Backlink. So what is a Backlink? In simple words a Backlink is a link from another website directing in to your website. It is as if someone is telling visitors on his website to visit your website.
Let us start at the beginning. What is SEO?
When you search for a phrase, say ‘cruise to Alaska’ on Google (or some other search engine), it is likely to return 1000s of webpages that match your search. This makes the job of the search engine difficult. How to decide which pages to list near the top and to which page give lesser importance and list it towards the bottom. After all most people are not going to check out beyond first 10 – 15 results. And you as business owner want your website to show up in the top results.
There was a time when search engines gave heavy weightage to keyword density. How many times the key word – cruise to Alaska in the above example – is present on the webpage. More the number of times the phrase was present on your webpage higher your ranking.
Google decided that another important measure was relevance of your website to the search. In order to find relevance they started checking how many people are referring to your website. In other words how many backlinks are on your website / webpage?
This logic would imply that higher the number of links coming into your website, higher the ranking search engines should give your website. Backlinks are one of the important measures towards SEO.
PageRank is one of the important factors that determine the placing of your page in the search results.
This algorithm was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were at Stanford University. Though Google has exclusive right to use it, the patent to this algorithm is still owned by Stanford University.
How does PageRank Work?
PageRank considers backlinks on your webpage as a vote of confidence shown by owner of others to the content your webpage. It gives higher score if there are more backlinks on your page.
Just like keywords were artificially stuffed on a webpage, people started playing with backlinks. Webmasters started reciprocate favors with each other. Someone gives a link from his website to your website. In return you give one link from your website to his website.
Then came Link Farms. Websites created for sole purpose of providing backlinks. They had no other relevance of their own.
Once search engines caught on to these technique, they also turned smart. So now a search engine algorithm amongst many other things checks
- If the website that is providing a backlink to you is also about a subject similar to what your website is about? Say your website is about electronic games. And you get a backlink from a website about dieting. You might even get blacklisted.
- The weightage of the website that is providing a backlink to you also plays important role in your ranking. If the link comes from a website that itself is rated highly, then the link carries much more weightage than a link coming from a website on the same subject which itself has poor ranking.
So ultimately it is not only about how many backlinks you have. It is about how many GOOD QUALITY back links you have.
PageRank score is assigned to webpages and not to whole websites. You can use Google Toolbar to find the PageRank of a webpage. The ranking is from 1 to 10. With number of webpages increasing exponentially very few pages achieve a ranking of 10.
Why Are People Paying for Backlinks?
Simple thumb rule says that more the people visit your website, higher will your earnings be. It could be product or services you are selling. Perhaps all you want is people to click on advertisements on your webpage.
How do I get more people to my website? Best way is good content. The next best is to ensure that you are on top of search results. One of the things that are important in search engine algorithms is the number of backlinks. Higher numbers of backlinks improve chances of your being at the top of the search results.
Logic is simple.
More backlinks —–>>> your website/page is nearer to the top of search results —–>>> more people visiting your website —–>>> more earnings for you
This is why people ask for backlinks and are ready to pay for them.
How Are People Earning Selling Backlinks
Till Google became smarter, people used to trade backlinks. I put link to your website on my website and in return you provide link my webpages from your website.
With increase in competition everyone wanted more backlinks. And they often do not have time to build links naturally. In come link brokers and other services that could provide you links in bulk for monthly payouts. In such case you frankly do not know if the link to your travel website is coming from a book store or a plumber in the next city.
There are people who sell backlinks. A case you at least know who is providing you a backlink and from where. Often they have websites just for this purpose. They will provide you link on sidebar or footer. More like advertising.
A little better is bloggers providing you with links from their blogs. It could be by the way of review of your product or a simple mention of content on your webpage. As long as the person providing you backlink puts it on a relevant page, this can work. More popular the blog, higher the PageRank you are likely to achieve for your webpage. Of course better the quality of the link, higher will your payout be.
Is This Backlink Business Safe?
The outcome of your purchasing backlinks to some extent depends upon how much effort you put in it.
Google – and other search engines – do not like links which are bought just to improve your page rank. They have, in their algorithms, classified certain kind of links as ‘unnatural’ links. If they find too many such unnatural links pointing to your website, they are naturally suspicious. In extreme cases Google is known to have just dropped website with too many unnatural links from the search results.
The safest way as I have mentioned earlier is to allow time for natural, good quality of links to grow. In case you are facing tough competition where you feel that you need additional help in improving your PageRank score, please be diligent in choosing from where you are getting your backlinks. Do not accept links without ensuring that they are from relevant sites.
Is Link Brokering a Good Job?
Link building is a business need of people. If you are able to help them with improving their SEO ranking, you are doing a good job. There is a high demand for SEO practitioners
There are few major challenges with this job.
- There is a very fine line between what is ethical and what is unethical. Search engines have quite well defined guidelines as to what is right and what they find as unfair means of increasing website ranking. The trick is in overcoming temptation to make a quick buck through practices which are frowned upon. Things like providing links without substances are looked down upon.
- The other challenge is that the success of this work is greatly dependent upon the policies of search engines over which you do not have control.
How to Get GOOD QUALITY Backlinks
As you can see I have highlighted the Good Quality part. Getting backlink is not too much of a challenge. The challenge is good quality backlink.
If you are not bothered about quality you can get links by
- Trading links with others
- Put up your own multiple websites and give links from one to other
- Buy links from Link brokers. They will resist telling you from where the link is coming. It is better you demand that information before paying and ensure that you buy only good links.
- There are software and tools available which help you build up backlinks.
Of course best quality links are the ones which are developed naturally over a period. People liking what you are saying on your website and linking to you because they believe it brings value to them. This is time consuming.
You may give it a little push the way any business does. Network with like-minded people. They will give you links which will be from sites which are relevant to you. At a lower cost you are able to get better quality link. It is just that it is a little more work than buying links.
Even if you are planning to buy links from blogs and other websites, do your quality checks first. Ensure that they are on the same subject as what your website is about. There are tools you can use to check out their PageRank. Higher their score, more weightage it will give to the link from their website.
If you are looking for more information on SEO and Backlinks you may check out the following links and forums.