backlinksOne of the most important aspects of online marketing commonly unclear to new users are backlinks. If you are not sure what a backlink is, here is a short explanation that should make sense to you, even if you have no idea about Internet marketing terms:

A backlink is a hyperlink pointed to your website from another site, or it can also be a link you give yourself from any pages within your site. Backlinks are the bread& butter of online marketing for die-hard webmasters, and the key to ranking high in the search engines.

Why are backlinks important?

The answer is simple. Backlinks are important because they are seen as a type of credit given to you from other webmasters. Search engines give you more status for quality backlinks, especially if they are from other sites within your niche. The more status a site has, the higher it will rank (this is especially true in competitive niches).

If for example your site is geared for travelers, a backlink from a cruise site will give you great “bonus” points in the eyes of Google – especially if that site has a strong PR.

When you receive a link from another site administrator it is like a token of appreciation that they appreciate your content. The more of these links you get, the higher your website will rank. If those links contain proper anchor text, featuring the keyword(s) you want to rank for it is even better for you.

Can you rank a site without many backlinks?

You bet you can! However, if you manage to rank a site with only a few backlinks it usually is because:

  • there isn’t much competition to start with, or
  • the daily search terms for the keyword you rank for is very poor

So while it might feel great to see your site pop up on the first spot in Google, it means nothing for your bottom line if no one is looking for the information in the first place (no/low searches).

Is it possible to compete with established authority sites?

Yes and no. Ultimately, given enough backlinks AND quality content you can beat just about any ranking site in the search engines with a few exceptions. But to do so takes time and patience. Plus you need to know a thing or two about SEO and how to “tweak” your content with white hat optimization methods.

Most people experience problems when they try to game the search engines. They go off in search of work-today, get rich quick solutions and bomb their site with backlinks from dodgy places and then wonder when Google slaps them at the next PR update (or sooner).

All the auto-publishing features for blogs and websites will eventually come to haunt you because logically they can simply not function long-term. Neither can black hat marketing methods or any other weird and not-so-wonderful marketing practices. More than ever quality content is key. Google has been doing some heavy weeding out in recent months and I suspect they will continue to do so in order to get rid of all those crappy autoblogs you see pop up everywhere you look.

Patience is key

Whether you like it or not, Google will favor webmasters who practice patience. These are the marketers who publish top quality content and build links “naturally” over time. Since it is hardly possible to build links naturally (meaning, you wait for others to link to you at will), most webmasters do some form of link building.

This is fine, as long as you build links bit by bit and not buy 10,000 links today (for a brand new blog) and then nothing for the next year. Google’s algorithm is sure to pick up on that and your site will be branded negatively by bots you don’t even know exist.

What about costs?

If you are actively learning about online marketing you would have already found a lot of services that offer backlink promotion for your site. Many of them come at a healthy cost. Here is the thing, you will always pay a price:

  • You could pay the price of being lazy
  • You could pay the price of having no discpline
  • You could pay the price of not knowing
  • Or you could end up paying the price of stupidity by choosing the wrong provider

There are two types of marketers online; the first group is the person with no money, but with a resonable amount of time at their disposal; the second group is the established marketer with plenty of money but little time.

Type one would be best advised to do most of the link building themselves to save money, gain knowledge and increase their website’s ranking over time, whereas type two is probably best served by hiring a capable SEO professional to do the link building for them.

You will know what’s best for you, based on your current situation. However you look at link building, you really ought to make it one of your regular activities if you want to see results from your online marketing efforts.