Understand that backlinks are only one of two hundred factors that make up your SEO. They are only a small part in what is otherwise a cryptic description of your website for a search engine to understand. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to rank up your website without any sort of backlinks which has lead people to believe they are very important.
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A link is another name for a hyperlink. It is a piece of code that you can use to navigate from one web page to another. You can put anchor text over the link so that people can read about the web page they are about to visit. Anchor text is also read by the search engines in order to figure out what the linked web page is all about.
An internal link points to other pages on your website, an outgoing link points to another domain/URL and a backlink comes from another website and points at your website.
Google has to guess what your website is all about. It has to use all of the clues it is given in order to guess the use and purpose of your website. It then matches that use and purpose to what it thinks the user wants when he or she enters text into the search engine.
The clues that the Google search engine uses to guess what you want are many. There are over two hundred, and this is why it is important to fill in things such as your Meta data on your web pages. One clue it uses are backlinks.
Google considers the origin of the backlink, the other backlinks on that same page, the content near the backlink, the content on the page, the theme of the whole website and finally the anchor text on the backlink. When it comes to your website they also consider what all the other backlinks and internal links say about your website. If all your other backlinks have anchor text indicating that yours is an online shoe shop, then anchor text on a backlink from one website that say you sell toys is going to harm your SEO.
Google use backlinks to guess what is on your website and it uses numerous factors to consider what your website is really all about.
Can They Be a Force for Good?
It is possible to help your search engine ranking quite nicely if you use backlinks and internal links correctly. Using them correctly should start by aiming them to attract the sort of people who would enjoy your website. They are the ones you want to target when creating backlinks. In an ideal world you would like them to click on the link and navigate to your website directly.
You need to play into the search engines hands, which means you need to consider the origin of your backlink, the other backlinks on that page, the content near your backlink, the content on the whole page, the theme of the whole website and the anchor text that is on the backlink. Match this sort of thing up to what you have said about your backlink on your internal links and you will find that you are creating very strong links. If you are in doubt just ask yourself if your target consumer is likely to click on your backlink. If not then it may be time to reconsider what you are doing.
Can They Be a Force for Bad?
All of the factors mentioned above may also be used in the wrong way. Things such as getting backlinks from websites that have nothing to do with your website is not a good idea. Adding anchor text that has nothing to do with your landing page is a bad idea. It is quite possible to mess up your back linking to the point where you make your SEO worse on your website.
Are My Competitors Using Them?
Yes, most of your competitors are going to have some sort of backlink profile. They are probably running their own backlink campaigns in order to get more backlinks. They are probably already aware of what makes for a bad backlink profile and what makes for a good one.
How Many Do My Competitors Have?
Consider copying how many they have. Build up your backlink numbers slowly and see if it is helping to raise your standing in the search engine results pages. If it isn’t then consider another tactic, if it is then proceed with caution.