Rethinking Backlinks

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The way we look at Backlinks, their value in SEO and how to get them is having to change thanks to the Panda updates on Google. Like many people I am watching how the current issues regarding how backlinks are evolving and changing and this is a summary of what I think is currently happening.

First of all I want to say I am NOT setting myself up as an authority on Backlinks. All I can do is tell you how I work, what I have found works for me and what people who ARE regarded as authorities are saying about backlinks.

There’s just so many factors that contribute to a successful page and some of it is to do with having the right mindset. Yes, the current consensus seems to be to write about what you like, so you can write authoritatively and convincingly, but if you want sales then you also need to make sure that not only do you write about what you like – you need to be writing about what other people are looking for.

Also, as far as publishing on pages at Squidoo, Wizzley and Hubpages is concerned, I have found that, although I am English and resident in England, I need to be writing about what the American market is looking for not the British. Most of my sales come via and other US affiliates.

So as far as backlinks, traffic and sales are concerned, for the purpose of this article I am going to assume that you have a niche and that within that niche there’s real potential for traffic and sales.

I am also going to assume that you know about keyword reseach and that you write properly keyword optimized content.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, with regard to Keyword Research, then check out these articles:

Introduction to Keyword Research
How to do Keyword Research
Where to use your Keywords

But first, let’s just be clear about what are Backlinks exactly? Let’s look at defining backlinks just so we are all thinking the same way about what they are and why they are useful.

Backlinks are HTML links on other sites that point to your content. It is as simple as that. Any link, anywhere that points from one website to another is a backlink. The three links I have added to my articles about Keyword Research are Backlinks – they are pointing to 3 pages I have published on Wizzley.

But are all backlinks equal? No, not really.

Because when Google is assessing your page to see how good it is, it is looking for several things:

  • Unique content
  • Useful content
  • And something to convince its spiders that you really DO know what you are talking about

Since I started writing online, nearly 4 years ago, I have seen so much discussion about how many backlinks a page needs in order to rank high on Google. But these days it is generally accepted that it is not the quantity, but the quality that matters.

Google wants to know if you are an authority on your topic. So say you have a page about Bullying, then the theory is that ideally Google wants to see links from other bullying or family or child orientated websites that are pointing to your page. Websites that are pointing to your page BECAUSE IT THINKS YOUR PAGE IS A GOOD PAGE TO SEND ITS READERS TO.

However, although we have known for quite some time that Google is looking for quality backlinks, there’s been a huge number of people who have not listened. In the crusade to rank high on Google they have set about mustering as many backlinks as they possibly can.

And of course this takes time, which is why backlink creation services and blog networks have sprung up. Sites like BuildMyRank, Linxboss, BacklinksNinja. All blog networks offering a link building service – some even came recommended by quite a few names that you would probably recognise, including: Andrew Hansen.

Affilorama explains participating in Blog Networks very simply: you pay in some way to be part of this Blog Network, either through a monthly subscription or you add your own sites to the network and allow other people’s links to be added to your sites, giving them backlinks.

Basically what happens is that if your niche is SEO, then you could write and article: The 5 Best Online Marketing Secrets. This article would be spun and then autosubmitted to sites registered in the network that publish on “marketing”, “SEO” “linkbuilding” – any topics that have similar keywords.

The problem with these Blog Networks is that you would submit the spun articles to the Blog Network, so that there’s multiple versions of the same info and the articles would then be auto-submitted to a large number of sites in the Network. The problem is that although the content is not duplicate, it is not unique either, just the words moved around to say exactly the same thing. And it is this that Google is penalising by deindexing the Blog Networks.

On one forum I saw someone say they had 700 sites de-indexed just a couple of weeks ago – ouch! Because if a site gets de-indexed, then all the backlinks on that site are rendered invisible, therefore, useless.

So not only does the site that has been de-indexed suffer, then the knock on effect is losing the backlinks to other sites, which could then also be adversely affected.

Andrew Hansen is now recommending that if you subscribe to any of these services, stop now if you have not done so already and that if you are spinning your own stuff that you manually submit to sites or use automated software, then you should stop that too. Others are recommending wait and see.

At this point I want to emphasise that it is not your normal WordPress or Blogger blogs that will be affected, just these blog networks that were built to automate the backlinking services they offered. And if you don’t pay for backlinks and you don’t spin, then you need not be worried.

So it seems because of all the gaming that has been going on, that backlinks are losing their relevance and that it is keywords, content and personal recommendation that are going to gradually count for more.

Ed Dale has an entertaining blog post if you are a fan of Game of Thrones and he has kicked off a series of intended blog posts about how things are going to change called Winter is Coming and if you want to keep an eye open for more posts in this series it would be worthwhile subscribing.

In this post Ed Dale is suggesting that in the future Google +, Twitter, Facebook Likes and yes, Pins on Pinterest will count for a lot more than the traditional backlink, because this is all based on personal recommendations.

And I am already seeing that it is possible to get indexed, traffic and sales within 24 hours on Squidoo lenses that have no backlinks whatsoever. They were written using very thorough keyword research but the traffic and sales started arriving before I had done any backlinking.

I am still backlinking, but nowhere near as much as I used to. I am following Erica Stone’s advice from a Blog Talk Radio broadcast from a few weeks back, just establish 10 backlinks, leave it awhile, then check to see if you have made it to the first page of Google for your main keyword. If you HAVE made it to the first page, then you dont need to do anything, but if you have not, then get yourself some more backlinks. Try another 10.

And all we can do is watch and see how things develop, but I know Ron Passfield, another online write for whom I have great respect, predicted quite some time ago that Google+ is a site people should get involved with and it is something I keep saying I am going to do, but keep putting it off. I also need to get in the habit of liking stuff links on Facebook. Whether you will ever get me on Pinterest is another matter though :)

This is a summary of a broadcast I did on Giant Squid Open Mike on Blog Talk Radio on Tuesday April 03, 2012


  1. Profile photo of Paula Atwell says

    I think backlinks will continue to be a factor, but instead of the manufactured backlinks, you will see the guest blog posts, and related backlinks to become what is needed to add influence. This is not anything new, but the real meaning of a backlink.

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