The Importance of Good Backlinks
Every business website needs good backlinks, and we often tell our clients to work on getting backlinks. However, not everyone understands what a backlink is or what makes a good backlink. We'll provide an overview so that, by the end, you'll have a great understanding of the importance of backlinks for your website, and will even have some great sites to visit immediately to start building your backlinks.
Backlinks are simply any time another website links to your site. A link is when a graphic or piece of text is set as a hyperlink to your URL. For example, in our portfolio, whenever we discuss a specific client's website we provide a link to the Live site which allows our other clients to go see the site, but also gives that client a backlink.
Your website will get direct traffic from backlinks, particularly if the link is on a popular site or one with related content. More importantly, good backlinks can increase your search engine ranking.
Search engines like Google pay close attention to backlinks. The idea is, if you're willing to put a link to another site on your own website, you must think highliy of that other website. The link is considered a vote of confidence, so sites with higher numbers of links from other websites receive a higher rating.
This concept is further compicated by the fact that some links are better than others. Let's use Google as our example and talk for a moment about Google's ranking algorithm, PageRank. PageRank (PR) is the numeric score Google gives your website, from 0 to 10, with 10 being an extremely popular site like Google itself. Your PageRank is calculated based on a number of factors and algortithms including domain name age, website activity, keyword density and backlinks. When Google looks at your website's backlinks, it also looks at the PageRank of each linking site and gives your site more credit for having links from sites with a higher PageRank. In other words, a link from a site with PR4 is worth more than a link from a site with PR2.
One final aspect of backlinks that must be understood is NoFollow versus DoFollow. Anytime a link exists on a website, it can have an attribute of NoFollow assigned to it. When a search engine sees a link that is tagged NoFollow, it will not follow the link and will not count the link. Craigslist.org, for instance, automatically updates every link in every ad to be NoFollow so Craigslist users recieve no backlink credits from Craigslist. If you're not sure whether or not a site does this, simply use the View Source button in your browser to glance through the HTML code for the website. It may take a little effort to read through the HTML code to get to where your link is located on a page, but once you do, look at the "a href" tag in front of your website URL and see if there's a NoFollow attribute.
Now that you understand what a backlink is and why it's important, how do you get them? One way is to simply create great content on your website and wait for others to use it or mention it and link back to it. Another way is to actively seek out other websites and create profiles or comment on blogs or articles. Finally, some sites will allow you to request a link back. One thing to avoid is sites that all they do is list links to other sites. Different from directories, which typically have categorization and descriptions and search features, list sites are referred to as Link Farms and are simply page after page of links. Search engines like Google view these sites as having no value and will give no backlink credit for such links.
What follows is a list of some of the top social websites that are DoFollow websites. You should spend some time each week visiting some of these sites and looking for ways to create profiles or post comments that can have links back to your own website.
Thanks to Berie Pelser for compiling this list at http://hosting.ber-art.nl/dofollow-social-networking/