Do you still need to work for backlinks in 2020? Are they still relevant? And does it really matter what kind of backlinks you collect? The answer to all three questions is: YES. But let us start with the very basics, so that every small business owner reading this article understands the term.
What Are Backlinks?
A backlink is simply an internet link pointing from one website to another. For example, when you are writing a blog about a new development in your field of activity, you include a link to a reputable news source so that your readers can verify the information. This is a backlink to the news site.
But let us say that another blog uses yours as a source for an article. Then, they will include a link to your blog in their article. This is a backlink to your website and this is what you want to get from as many reputable websites as possible.
How Relevant are Backlinks in 2020?
Ad you know, it becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to promote your business. Facebook ads and Google AdWords ads cost you more year by year. This is the result of growing competition. Digital marketing has almost no recent and underutilized areas you can explore and use at an affordable cost.
Even new and unlikely social media platforms, like TikTok, already have a large numbers of advertisers. Thus, every free method you can use to build a successful search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is welcome.
In this context, there is a huge relevance to backlinks in 2020. They help your website get found by potential customers and grow its page rank calculated by the Google algorithm. While several factors are taken into consideration, backlinks are among the top three ranking criteria (and here is a nice example of a backlink).
Useful Information about Backlinks in 2020
Now, we will try to cover some of the most relevant things you need to know about backlinks in 2020. They will help you understand how important they are and how to create an effective link building strategy.
1. Placement of the Backlinks Matters
The most valuable types of backlinks are those that appear organically in the content (as in our case above). Google considers them more relevant than standalone links included in the footer of a web page or article.
So, if you are writing a guest post for another blog, make sure that they allow you to include a backlink to your website within the article itself, not at the very end, in the author bio section.
2. Find Websites with High Page Rank for Link Building Purposes
Which one would you trust more as a source of information: the official website of a state authority or an obscure personal blog? This is exactly how Google treats websites in terms of ranking. Reputable websites have a high page rank and the backlinks they have to other websites help the latter gain a higher page rank, in turn.
Thus, always favour quality over quantity when it comes to building backlinks in 2020. One backlink from a high authority website is more useful than 50 backlinks from sites with a low page rank.
3. Use Long Anchor Text for Backlinks
As you can see above, the backlink we included in this article uses four words. This is because the longer the anchor text, the easier it is for Google to create a context for the backlink and evaluate its relevance.
Plus, it is easier for a reader, either on a computer or on a smartphone, to click/tap on a longer anchor text than on a small one. So the good old “click here” used as anchor text must definitely disappear from your list of best practices in link building.
4. Earn Links, Don’t Buy Them
Sponsored links made a lot of irrelevant websites appear. Their content was not even intelligible because all they did was to point back to other sites which paid for those backlinks.
This is why Google started penalising such practices and has a zero tolerance policy for websites that serve only as a place for sponsored links. Apart from being white listed, earned backlinks are more valuable because there is actual context in the connection between one page and another.
5. Get Backlinks from Relevant Websites
A lot of small business owners are reaching out to non-competitors to build backlinks between their websites. That is absolutely fine, as long as the fields of activity are related. For example, if you are selling kitchenware, you can partner with a healthy food brand or a kitchen furniture store for backlinks.
But if you have backlinks from a kindergarten or a clothes shop, Google will treat them as spam. Instead of helping your site, they will demote its page rank.
6. Always Check that Backlinks Are Still Working
It’s not enough to earn backlinks in 2020. You must also make sure that they still work. That is, when someone clicks on the anchor text, they reach to the actual web page, not a 404 Page Not Found page.
The problem is that when a website is reorganised and its link structure changes, all the backlinks need to be updated. There is a huge difference between www.mysite.com/article and www.mysite.com/blog/article. Thus, one of the ongoing SEO tasks you must perform on a regular basis is checking if your backlinks still work and (as far as possible) contacting the other site’s webmaster to update them.
7. Understand the Importance of Dofollow and Nofollow Links
All backlinks are not created equal. When you set a backlink with the dofollow attribute, then Google will transfer your page reputation to the website you are linking back to. This kind of link is valuable for SEO purposes.
However, if you set a nofollow attribute, there is nothing to gain from the SEO point of view, as the link equity is not transferred to the site you are linking to. Thus, when you get backlinks from other website, make sure that they are of the “dofollow” type – you can check this by opening the Page Source on your browser.
Also, keep in mind that nofollow links have their use, especially when you want to link back to a source that you do not want to endorse, for instance a competitor who comes up with an innovation or discovery worth sharing with your readers.
8. Use a Different Anchor Text from the Page Title for Backlinks
Let’s say you are writing a guest post on the topic of healthy lifestyle. In this article, you are allowed a backlink to your website and you want to use the page with the title “10 Quick and Healthy Recipes for Breakfast”.
The simplest thing is to copy this exact title and use it as anchor text. While not necessarily bad, it is also not a very good idea. As we stated several times in this article, Google sets store on relevance. The AI that runs their algorithm wants to find a logical connection between the anchor text and the link, not a duplicate text. To solve this issue, you can simply rephrase the page title as “prepare a healthy breakfast in just a few minutes”.
9. Avoid Websites that Cover Sensitive Topics as Sources of Backlinks in 2020
Apart from high page rank, daily traffic is another ranking factor for the quality of backlinks. However, not all pages with high traffic are suitable as backlink sources. For example, sites with adult language and/or content and gambling platforms should not be used at all.
They are on Google’s black list when it comes to SEO and page ranking, as the internet giant aims to promote pages that do not hurt anyone’s sensibilities.