Understanding & Building Your SEO Backlink Profile
If you’ve been in the digital marketing world for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard of backlinks and how they relate to SEO. However, many companies find themselves frustrated when they are obtaining backlinks according to plan, but failing to get traction in search results.
All too often, these companies are neglecting the big picture of their backlinking strategies, and their backlink profiles suffer for it. So, the intent of this article is to negate any ill effects on your website’s ranking by equipping you with a well-rounded understanding of your SEO backlink profile.
Quality of a Backlink
In 1998, SEO was all about quantity and keyword optimization. They used to put white text on a white background and stuff that text with keywords. Users couldn’t see it, but the search engines could. Other similar levels of shady digital marketing existed with backlinks, such as a site going from zero backlinks to 100,000 virtually overnight.
Since that time, Google and other search engines have become much more sophisticated in detecting various spam links and tactics. These days, if someone wants to rank well on Google, the currency is quality content, quality backlinks, quality website code, and a spam free environment for Google to send their user base.
Today, backlink quality means a few different things, but in short, it means that you are linking from good neighborhoods that are trusted by Google and its users. One metric for this is called “Trust Flow.”
What is Trust Flow?
If you have an acquaintance who has a tendency to tell you a lie every once in a while, every time that person gives you information, you will tend to take it less seriously, correct? Google views various websites in the same manner and the “language” these websites speak is “backlink.”
If Website-A links to Website-B, then Website-A is vouching for Website-B and telling Google that this website is an authority on a given subject. Google’s goal is to not be gullible – quite the opposite. To achieve this, Google tends to not believe too many people except Google web users.
Google looks at which websites people visit the most, interact with the best, and shared the most on social. Then, these sites become trusted. If Website-A is a trusted site, then Website-B will receive a boost in status.
When seeking a backlink from a website, make certain that you will be getting a trusted link to your website.
What is Backlink Velocity?
Now that you understand trust flow, it’s time to look at link velocity. This is another area that can get you into SEO trouble pretty quickly. In essence, link velocity is how fast you are gaining links to your website.
Some spam methods involve sending hundreds or thousands of links to a website in a day or over the course of a week. This method is not only likely to get your website penalized, but you could be de-indexed for using such a technique.
While we don’t recommend sending thousands of links to your site in a short period of time, link building can be faster or slower depending on your traffic and the rate that you have historically gained links.
For instance, if you are averaging 10 site visitors per week, yet received 10 backlinks in a given week, Google might flag your site. Google does this because the backlink pace does not seem natural. However, if you are getting 250 visitors per week, Google might not think anything about you getting 10 links in the same week, especially if your content is good and visitors are typically on your site long enough to read the content.
Backlink velocity is shrouded in mystery – no one really knows exactly how Google weighs it, but my “SEOsophy” is that it is better to grow backlinks slowly than to get penalized.
Another way to keep your backlink velocity at a good pace is to find quality links. Quality links are more difficult to obtain, so it usually takes a bit longer.
Anchor Text Ratios?
Another thing that Google analyzes is called “anchor text.” If you are unfamiliar, this is the text that is highlighted and links to another website. Anchor text can be a relevancy signal to Google.
For instance, “click here” doesn’t tell Google what a page is about, but if the page is about insurance and I link the term “insurance”, then Google better understands what is on the other side of the link. Additionally, the page being linked to will have another website vouching for it being a relevant page on insurance.
So, if using the keyword “insurance” to link to your website will tell Google that you are about insurance, you should use that on every link to your website, right? Nope, because this is viewed as spamming.
Now we are getting to the heart of anchor text ratios. If your link profile has 100% of its inbound links set as keyword anchor text, you might have a problem. Your link profile for any given page on your website should have about 5-10% exact keyword anchor text and no more than 20% for similar keywords.
Everything else should be a mixture of “click here”, “read more”, and “[Your Company Name].” My advice is that you make about 50% of your anchor text your company name. There is nothing wrong with a little branding; Google likes branding.
Building a link portfolio is only one part of a successful SEO strategy. There are many different aspects. However, do not underestimate the power of this one principle, because it is arguably the most important aspect of search engine optimization.