Before you can decide whether or not backlinks are worth it, you first need to understand what they are and how they have evolved. As the name implies, a backlink occurs when another site links back to your website. They’re like a vote of popularity and respect from other websites and pages and they can be extremely beneficial because Google considers them among the most important ranking factors. How many your site gets—and their quality—matter. Again, quality matters. As my mother always used to remind me, you’re judged by the company you keep. Google agrees.
Some SEO & Backlink History
Back in the early days of SEO, it wasn’t really that difficult to get your page to rank well in search. Search engines like Yahoo and Google sorted results based on the keywords users typed into a query. Marketers caught on pretty quickly that simply inserting those keywords a dozen times or so into a single post did the trick. Forget that it was horrible, boring, often nonsensical content. The words were stuffed in there, the post got ranked, the site got hits. The same more-is-better philosophy applied to backlinks. Quantity matter more than quality—and it worked. More links got you bumped up in search.
But then Google caught on. Before Google’s Larry Page created PageRank (how can you not love that his last name is Page and he created an algorithm for page rank?), Google kind of trusted that links equaled authority, no questions asked. Today, PageRank inspects a site’s entire link profile. What’s it looking for? Google doesn’t say directly, but it lets users know that rigging the system is a thing of the past. And although the search engine still acknowledges that backlinks are crucial to ranking, it also makes it harder than ever to attain them. You can’t buy them. You can’t trade them. Heaven forbid, but you actually have to earn them. And that’s not so easy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of companies out there claiming they can get you those coveted links at a bargain price. But buyer beware. They can’t! And if you enlist bad actors on false promises of backlink success, you won’t just throw away your marketing dollars; Google could penalize you, damaging your site, your reputation, and your rank—permanently.
Good Organic News
On the other hand, there are ways to earn backlinks organically. It’s not necessarily easy but it is intuitive. Create reliably good content that others will find of use and people will link to you. Yes, I said people. Sometimes in all our efforts to game the system and trick the algorithm and rank well for search engines and computers, we forget that Google is just trying to enhance the user experience, and that those users are actual people.
We’ve been able to do more than just produce quality backlinks for our ESM Digital clients. We’ve also had the gods at Google decide that our client’s content deserves number one rankings and spots as featured snippets. Want to learn how we do it? Contact us today and ask and we’ll show you some pretty impressive results.