August 30, 2012

Use links and backlinks for blog value and SEO

This is fourth post in the five-part series on SEO. The first one talked about SEO tips available on the web and their desirability and the second one listed desirable and undesirable SEO practices as discussed by Google in their discussion pages. The third post was on the importance of naming and keywords in search optimization and this one talks of links and backlinks. The next post will conclude the series with help on some technical matters relating to SEO.

 

Links


One very important tool for improving navigation and enriching content by way of cross-referencing of related content is linking. When you link some expression with other content within the same blog, it is internal linking and when you link it with other websites, we call it external linking.
 
The text that when clicked would open the linked content is called ‘anchor text’. We need to choose the anchor text for every link carefully. Look at these links placed in a sample post dealing with search engine optimisation:
 
In this chapter, we are dealing with some aspects of SEO. We should not indulge in SEO mindlessly as we have described in the earlier post on ITB. Before reading further, do visit the post on the pitfalls of aggressive SEO.
  • First and second links: SEO. The reader is not sure where this link would direct him. Even if we linked this word to the previous post on ITB – which is indeed on SEO - we won’t do justice to the reader as he would be expecting a general article on SEO or the definition of this word rather than do's and don'ts. Of course, from search engine’s point of view, we score a bit with this anchor text as we have used a relevant keyword; in that respect too, this is a very broad keyword and we have also used the same keyword twice too closely. 
  • Third link: earlier post on ITB. This is fine as far as guiding the reader, but it does not make a good sense to search engines because the expressions in the anchor text does not relate to its subject. Yet, it is better than the first two links: it is ethical and natural.
  • Fourth link: pitfalls of aggressive SEO. This link is excellent on many counts: it guides the reader about what he can expect exactly in the link; it has the correct keyword; it looks natural.
Check links for the anchor text, not only in posts but elsewhere too. Do not give links in quick succession except in lists. Take care that links are fully relevant. Also see that the anchor text is in a slightly different font size / color / format, but the variation should not be so much that it spoils reading.

Even when you need to provide link to the same external or internal content, try to give different expressions. Remember, we advised this in the case of keywords also. For example, for a directory, you can use the words 'directory', 'list', 'listing' and 'index' if they are convey the sense in that context.
 
Do not provide links to websites that are of poor quality:  websites that spam; sites with poor content; pornographic sites and sites with other objectionable content; sites with poor reputation because of trying wrong SEO tricks; link farms; sites that circulate virus and Trojans. If you need to give link to such a content [e.g. to give example of a bad site], use rel=“nofollow” attribute  to the link [We’ll discuss ‘rel’ in the next post].
 
Do not provide unrelated links. Have you seen some blog posts in which many words have links to either unrelated content or to pages selling something /seeking donation? We understand that major search engines constantly sanitize their search pages / directories of websites that follow such undesirable practices. From the reader's perspective also, too many – and unrelated – links in posts irritate the reader. In addition, these generate ill-will when a visitor clicks on them and he is directed to websites selling Viagra or online friendship.

 

Backlinks


Backlinks are the links that other websites give to your blog. So, a mention of your blog on Indian Top Blogs website is a backlink from ITB to your blog.
 
Backlinks are very important because these act like certificates from other websites. Therefore, backlinks from websites with good Google PageRank [i.e. more than 2] are very valuable. By the same logic, a backlink from a PR3 site is much more important than that from a PR1 site, and one from PR9 site is many times more valuable than that from a PR3 site.

Allow us to indulge in a bit of bragging here. Please!
If you happen to be a bogger whose blog has been listed in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs or Indian Blog Ranks or Blog Showcase, have you noticed three things?: One, a visible rise in your PageRank if it was very poor [na / 0 / 1] before that. Even if it has PR of more than 4, ITB backlink will given it value that would be reflected in future. Two, traffic coming to your blog from ITB, even if only a few visits a week. [You can see it through an analytic programme. If you are not sure about it, we'd help you in one of our posts sometime ater.] Three, your acquanintances - online and real-life freinds - talking more about your blog and considering it of high worth.
 
Generally speaking, you do not have much control over link-backs from other websites, especially high value sites. But you can ethically improve chances of backlinks if you care for –
  • Posting good content on the blog, not only in posts but through other elements too, so that your blog is seen by other websites as a valuable  source for material on your subject. If other websites just mention about your blog without giving a backlink, even then you are a gainer, isn’t it?
  • Submitting your blog to high-quality directories such as DMOZ and Technorati.
  • Participating in discussion on good sites by way of commenting. Even when you comment on a good Google PR site and do not directly promote your blog there, it is likely that you leave a trace of yours there [when registering, logging in, giving your identity…] and if your comment is good, people might get interested in visiting your blog.
  • Linking your blog and its posts / pages with your social networking account i.e. on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Writing for other websites as a guest blogger or article writer, and getting a link from there to your blog.
Let’s conclude this discussion with a list of common tricks that are either innocently tried by bloggers or knowingly done by unscrupulous SEO masters and are considered undesirable for getting backlinks.
  • Using services of ‘link farms’. Such sites promise mutual linking, links from high PR sites and thousands of links within a span of days. These links are not natural links and are therefore frowned upon by search engines.
  • Creating sites for the purpose of cross linking. If you open a number of blogs and profusely link each other with the sole purpose of getting backlinks, this move is likely to backfire in the long run.
  • Commenting just to get backlinks. If you comment on a highly valuable site and get a backlink from there, people will not visit your blog if the comment is not of much value. Worse, if your blog is not related to the subject of the post where you posted the comment, visitors will feel cheated. Look at a few recent posts of ITB and you will find a number of comments that we have removed. [We have not yet fully removed them, so that they serve as illustrations for this post. After some time, we intend to not only wipe them out but also report against them to top search engines.]  These are spurious links from travel agents, link-building websites, ‘black-hat’ SEO companies and so on. If you engage an SEO expert who places such comments on your behalf, beware!

Articles in this series:

Blogging tips on ethical SEO

What search engines love and what they hate

Use strong name n keywords to guide visitors, search engines to your blog

Use links and backlinks for blog value and SEO (present one)

Search engine optimisation for blogs: html tweaking needed?