What The Heck Is A Backlink And Why Should I Care
I was doing some SEO keyword research this morning and I found what could be a pretty good backlink opportunity for a local Martial Arts School. If you’re not sure the importance of backlinks on your website, then let me give you a very brief explanation.
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What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are links on other websites that link to your website. And in Google’s eyes, if you have backlinks from high quality websites that send visitors from their site to your site, that is a good sign that your site is a respected resource. Sites Google loves are know as high domain authority websites. Links from these sites are somewhat a way of the other website “vouching” for your websites content as being beneficial to web visitors. And backlinks are kind of like Googles Popularity Contest, and you want to be the most popular kid in school for your niche. And have the most “High Domain Authority” friends.
Nofollow And Dofollow, I Don’t Follow…
Now, there is nofollow and dofollow back links. Basically, a dofollow backlink means that the website that is linking to your site is allowing Google to track the fact that they are sending traffic away from their site to your site. Google considers that very powerful in it’s “Google Popularity Contest.” This is in effect what some people call “link juice.” Basically, the website is giving you a bit of their “juice,” or website traffic and letting Google know about it. This dofollow link is very helpful for your sites standing in the Google Popularity Contest. Your site’s value to the reader is improved, as another site says it is relevant. Google takes note and may move your site higher in the search results for keywords that apply to the content on both your website and the referring site. That’s a win!
There is also nofollow back links. Nofollow backlinks are links that are clearly visible to your website from another website, but the website linking to you tells Google NOT to index your link on their website ,so Google does not count that link as “passing link juice.” This means the backlink won’t necessarily help your search engine results. Are you now wondering why nofollow links matter? Let me tell you how I got to this topic in the first place, stick with me here!
To Be, Or Not To Be…..Specific
Many of you have karate and martial arts programs for children. So, while I was looking at one clients web page for his kids program, I decided to look at what keywords would most benefit him and that particular page on his site. Throughout his site his program is referred to as “kids martial arts.” And while this may correctly and directly reflect what the class is, I was curious if that was the best keyword opportunity for his site. After doing some research, I noticed that the keyword “kids martial arts” gets an estimated 1,000 local searches per month. So roughly 1,000 people a month search for that exact phrase and then peruse page 1 of Google and decide what link to click. However, a more specific keyword variation, “Karate for Kids” gets 3000 local searches per month.
So, if you were choosing which keyword would get you the most amount of website traffic and visitors would you rather be in front of 1,000 people a month or 3000? If you haven’t woken up in the past 10 minutes, you’ll probably say 3,000! And yes, some of you will say both, which is totally possible. But you may want to focus on the 3K keyword first, and then gobble up the 1K’s or lesser after.
Wait, What Happened To The Nofollow Links
So how did I go from backlinks to keywords? The relation is very simple! I plugged the 3K keyword “Karate for Kids” into my SEO software and looked at what results were on page 1. I want my client to be on page 1 so researching who is already there is very informative! Now, most of the sites on page 1 are incredibly high ranking websites. Directories, Magazine Websites and even YouTube. It would be incredibly hard to knock some of these websites off page 1 of Google. We can piggyback on the success of their websites traffic though. How? You guessed it! Getting a backlink on their site!
Now most of these sites are heavily trafficked websites and know that people want to get backlinks from them. So to keep themselves as the highest ranking websites for all the keywords they want, they do not allow link juice to pass from their site to others. They want to keep their SEO game as tight as possible. Many of them receive money from advertisers, so the better they rank, the more they make. This is why they allow people to comment on their content as it adds keywords to the content, but any links placed on their website are deemed as nofollow. They tell Google to ignore outbound links. Yup, there it is. The dreaded “worthless” nofollow link.
Nofollow links, huh, say it again! What are they good for?
Remember the 3K LOCAL monthly search volume for the keyword “Karate For Kids?” A certain percentage of those searchers are going to read the article on Parenting.Com about kids karate and then see the comments on the page including my clients comment and website link. I left a comment praising the article and also pointing out my clients location and services offered with the link to his Kids Martial Arts page on his website. Now, as it is a nofollow link this doesn’t directly help my clients SEO, but what it DOES do is give my client indirect page 1 exposure. Those searchers who decide to click my nofollow link will learn about my clients school and hopefully consider becoming a member! That is still valuable.
Placing this link does not guarantee any massive amount of traffic and I will not be checking our analytics tomorrow for referrals from parenting.com. But I will be looking back in 6 months! One tool I use has Parenting.Com having an estimated 3.7 million visitors in March 2017 with 85% of traffic coming from search! Wow! Between Google searchers and the sites general traffic numbers, I figured my client would be happy to get a small piece of that web traffic pie.
Friends With Benefits
While it may “read” like a lot of work, the above process took me about 3 minutes. And I now made internet friends for my client with Parenting.com. So, if I spent 10 hours repeating this process you can see how over time backlinking, whether dofollow or nofollow, can be beneficial to any website. But what is important is that you place backlinks on good websites, not bad ones.
Years ago people would pay $20 and have 10,000 backlinks created to their website. This technique used to work, but Google long ago wised up to this and now penalizes websites that have spammy backlinks. Spammy means automated backlinks on websites that are very poor at keeping traffic. Organic SEO takes more time, but does not get you penalized and helps you to get more traffic. You can see the process is not difficult, but it does take time and knowledge.
Some people still try cheap backlinking services and end up doing more harm than good to their website. I have turned down several clients because of their backlink profile. In most cases, I actually tell them they need a whole new domain and website and work from there. Having 50 quality backlinks is more valuable than having ten thousand bad ones. Quality over quantity.
This is why any SEO strategy can’t be measured in days or weeks. While some things can make sudden drastic traffic changes, most long-lasting efforts are more gradual and can be more beneficial in the long run. This technique is a cumulative process that will build stable and targeted traffic over time.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any further questions feel free to get in touch!