Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Backlinks

What is a backlink?


If a link exists, somewhere on the Internet, directing visitors to your site, or to one of your pages - this is a "backlink". It is the opposite of an outgoing link, or a "forward" link, that takes visitors away from your site. We all know about having a link page on our site. These are "forwarding" links. If a site other than your own, had a links page, and there existed a link on it, to your page, that would be a "forward" link for the site owner, and a "backlink" for you.

Why are these links, then, so important? Specifically, if these links contain keywords within the anchor text (the actual text within the hyperlink) - and they link to your site - they are very valuable to your campaign. Hypothetically, let's examine three different links. Suppose these links existed on a web page somewhere online. Hypothetically, we will assume you are "Margie" the owner of the website - www.margiesshop.com. Let's also assume your main product online for sale is woven baskets. So then, let's compare three styles of backlinks, assuming the following examples are the actual backlinks that exist somewhere online. In the examples below, I have bolded the text that would be the anchor text, or "clickable text".


Ex. 1
Margies Shop
Margie specializes in woven baskets from around the world! With hundreds of different styles available, Margie brings together baskets for sale from dozens of different countries, all on one site. Compare and shop for baskets from Asia, South America, and add to your collection, unique baskets from around the world!


Ex. 2
Margie's Woven Baskets
Margie specializes in woven baskets from around the world! With hundreds of different styles available, Margie brings together baskets for sale from dozens of different countries, all on one site. Compare and shop for baskets from Asia, South America, and add to your collection, unique baskets from around the world!


Ex. 3
Woven Baskets - Margies Shop
Margie specializes in woven baskets from around the world! With hundreds of different styles available, Margie brings together baskets for sale from dozens of different countries, all on one site. Compare and shop for baskets from Asia, South America, and add to your collection, unique baskets from around the world!

The main thing to notice is the difference between the three styles of links, specifically, the anchor text - the actual text within the hyperlink you click on (shown as bolded, in the above examples). Notice in Ex. 1, the anchor text is the name of the shop. In Ex. 2, the keywords follow "Margie's". In Ex. 3, the keywords are first, in the most prominent position, and they are followed by the site name "Margies Shop".

From an SEO point of view, the third style is most desirable. Placing our keywords prominent in a hyperlink, creates an association - that is our keywords are associated to our domain, or .com name. When building backlinks, this is exactly what we want to do! The power of creating this "hyperlink association" is incredible. Perhaps the most famous example, and proof of this power, is the Google search for the term "miserable failure". Try this search and see what happens!

Now that you understand backlinks, here is how to use the various search engines to determine how many you already have, to your site, at this time, and where they exist online.



Use this search style at the Google search box:

domain.com -site:www.domain.com -site:domain.com

(Use your site name, not "domain.com".)

This searches for pages linking to domain.com, but subtracts the "internal" links - those links that actually exist on domain.com itself, pointing back to itself. An example of an "internal" link would be a link back to your home page, on page two of your website. By stipulating -site:www.domain.com, we effectively subtract all of our own links, from the count, and results. By using both the www.domain.com and domain.com designations, we subtract all possible forms of internal backlinks, limiting the search to backlinks from external domains. Note: Google results lie! They only show a portion of our actual backlinks online. Better to use Yahoo.com



Use this search style at the Yahoo search box:

linkdomain:www.domain.com -site:www.domain.com -site:domain.com

Again, this search subtracts internal links from the count. Use your website name, not "domain.com".

At this time, the number of backlinks your website has, is a very important factor in determining your position at the search engines. The theme and content of the pages where they exist, also plays a big factor. Remember always to try and get your keywords fisrt, or prominent in the anchor text of the link, whenever possible. Repeat your keywords/phrases sensibly, in the description below the link. This increases the "on-page" content, or theme - of the page where your link resides.

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