What are our recommendations for back linking?

First, we must remember that the most important thing for Google is not Google itself, but the customer.

Links are created to add value and to give information to other people. Any back link that doesn’t add value to the user has no value or worth. It goes without saying that the practise of plastering backlinks from any old site just doesn’t cut the mustard and is an outdated method.

Backlinks must be seen in the context of the domain that you’re linking from i.e. it must be relevant and YOUR link must be of relevance to the users of the website you’re linking from.

Have a good backlinking strategy for 2016? Brainstorm your ideas before diving in

Avoid this common mistake of backlinking

On some of our dummy sites, we make use of other self acclaimed SEO professionals to see what methods are being used and it’s quite shocking to see the reports that we get back.

For example, we run a blog on investment and finance which focuses on a niche sector.

Having asked an SEO professional to do some backlinking for us, we expected some degree of understanding on their part as to what our site is about. Even if they didn’t know, then they should at least ask us or have a discussion with us as to where they would place social bookmarks.

Instead, what we got was the following:

[ DA = Domain Authority, PA = Page Authority, Live? = is the link still live or not, Relevance = how relevant the site is to our site ]

We’ve only used the first 14 rows in the above image, but the spreadsheet report did toil on for a total of 70 or so social bookmark sites and the trend continued in that none of the sites that we had gotten links from had ANY relevance. Nothing, nada, not a zilch.

To compound this misery, more than 21% of the links had been lost since they’d been placed there three months prior. By the way, we haven’t discussed dofollow tags here as that isn’t the purpose of this post.

The inbound links we receive from the 70 or so sites from the example above have all come from places that are of no relevance, so the weighting given to the link from such domains will be low.

However, we can be balanced about this. It’s fair to say that the anchor text used to for the backlink was good (as we suggested the keyword) and yes, it cannot be denied that we have seen an upturn in the number of hits that we’re getting in this niche, so why the grumpy face? Well, it’s a short term relief over a longer term project. It really doesn’t help in the long term and it doesn’t add value.

Google and the other search engines are always one step ahead of the curve, so we can foresee the next Google update giving us a big slap on this dummy website that we used.

What’s the story of this sorry tale? If it’s “churn and burn” you’re looking for, then there are benefits to using the strategy of backlinking everywhere.

However, if it’s long term, healthy and relevant customers that you want to attract, then placing a ton of links across irrelevant sites isn’t healthy and will affect you negatively over the long term.

What Google says...

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So what are good backlinking techniques in 2016?

It must be stressed that, when it comes to Google, the whole backlinking strategy plays a much smaller part of an SEO strategy than it has done in the past.

That is not to say that backlinking doesn’t play a big role in the Google algorithm, as it still does but the key thing to stress is that it’s of much more importance that you apply a more refined backlinking strategy i.e. it should be done in a wholly organic and natural way to sites that are of high quality.

Google has shifted it’s emphasis on sites that provide more quality content; the social signals it gets from other sites; the amount of times your content is shared on social media; the loading time of your websites; attributes such as rich snippets and how engaged you are with wanting to improve your site.

The importance of domain authority and page authority

Following on from ensuring the relevance of the inbound link from the site that is sending you traffic, another factor which is just as important (as shown in the image 1 above), is the domain authority and page authority.

More weighting is applied to the domain authority, whilst page authority also plays an important ‘wholesome’ role.

As can be seen from image 1, while a lot of the domain authorities were high, given that they were social bookmarking sites, the page authority was almost non-existent. In the three month period since the backlink was placed on the domains, there hadn’t been a single upward movement on the page authority.

To Google, this would indicate that the page itself doesn’t have any meaningful authority and the net benefit from that particular link would be minimal.

So again, it’s important to stress that it’s the quality of the domain that you link from is of huge significance.

One internal discussion we had at Mentorithm is whether the page authority on sites such as facebook give linkjuice to outbound links which are generally nofollow. In effect, it is a “walled garden” with whatever events occurring inside the four walls having no bearing on the outside.

We don’t see it like that as most search engines now place a higher role to social signals and we do think anything that you do contribute to within the confines of facebook, twitter or other social media does have a contributory effect to your site that you’re trying to rank for.

For example, this post was written around the time that the legendary artist David Bowie passed away, so we thought we’d check out his facebook page which shows the following:

So Moz gives this a page authority score of 72, which is really high. Compare this page of a random artist in the US which has a poor page authority score:


Whilst not a major component, the key point here is to understand that on top of domain authority and page authority, it should be appreciated that social signals with higher page authority will be having an effect on your SEO, so it is something that you should really take into account in your back linking strategies. Again, where possible, try and make sure the outbound link is from a relevant page whereby Google can see demonstrable evidence that value is being added.

Doing backlinking or infographics or adding social media to a site to purely backlink is a complete waste of time for everybody and doesn’t create value. The most important to backlinking in order of importance is:

  • Relevance of the backlink to your site
  • The site or place that you backlink from itself i.e. the domain authority and page authority

In essence, by having links to the site you will demonstrate how relevant your are to the users of the site that the links came from.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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