What Are Backlinks? An SEO History Lesson & We Ask
– Do Backlinks Still Work?
Welcome to MMOZ! Today we are asking the question: Do backlinks still work in the world of internet marketing and search engine optimization? As usual if you have an opinion or would like to join in the conversation, I highly encourage you to read this article and join in by posting your comments in the section at the bottom of this post. Lets get started…
If you are new to the world of internet marketing, making money online, website building and SEO, then things can get a bit confusing when we get down to the art of ranking our content within the search engines. If you are not familiar with the term SEO, it stands for “search engine optimization” and to this day it’s still an essential component for any online venture. No matter if you are trying to build a website from scratch, posting content to article directories or writing on a free blogging platform, the general aim is to get your content seen by the public and SEO plays its part.
Do backlinks still work? Confused?
The confusion for many people starts when they begin researching ways of getting their content seen by the masses and ranked in the search engines. Google currently dominates the majority of online searches and uses an algorithm designed to provide the most relevant and valuable content to its viewers. It is this search algorithm that many people believe they can manipulate in order to gain faster, higher search rankings, usually by adopting a technique known as “backlinking” or external link building. Backlinking methods have been the basis for many SEO techniques over the years, but do backlinks still work? Can they help us climb the ranks of Google? And should we be using backlinks as part of our ongoing marketing efforts?
So What Are Backlinks? And How Will They Help Me?
A backlink or inbound link is a hyper-link that comes from one website to another. Links are what creates the internet as we know it. Imagine the internet as a huge spider web, connecting millions of websites. The connections are known as links or hyperlinks and when one site creates a link to another site this is known as a backlink. For many years search engines have monitored backlinks along with a host of other criteria in order to determine how popular and valuable a website is to its audience.
Search engines use something called “spiders” that crawl the internet looking for new websites and new information that they can index within their search results. The search spiders follow the links to your site and make an assessment of how valuable they deem it to be. For as long as search engines have excited there are those people that believe that the search results can be manipulated to their own gain.
Who To Trust In The World Of SEO & Link Building?
In order to gain a better understanding of what to trust online and more importantly what not to trust, we must first understand a little about the history of SEO and why the major search engines like Google and Bing do not stand still for long. The algorithm that Google uses to produce its search results is changing all the time, its evolving and becoming smarter at delivering results all the time. But even the smallest of changes within the search algorithm can have a huge impact on your website, especially if you happen to be using black hat techniques. Google as clever as it is, still has one slight flaw within its search results algorithm when it comes to delivering information that is both current and accurate.
Do backlinks still work – Outdated information
Due to the amount of data that Google and the other search engines hold within their search results, its practically impossible for them to provide information that is guaranteed to be both relevant and accurate, after all this information is generally written by humans and might have been written years ago and therefore out of date. This is a problem for lots of people when it comes to understanding what to do in order to get their website ranked online, they read lots of information about lots of techniques and software that can supposedly get great result, most of which will be useless.
SEO techniques that were used just a couple of years ago can now have a severe negative effect on your website, especially if its a new site.If you want to know the right way to get your site ranked and seen by lots of people its important to learn a little about the history of search engine optimization and why the old way is definitely the wrong way now! Back in 2010 things were very different in the world of SEO and ranking a website in the NO.1 spot in Google was easy if you had the right information.
Backlinking – The old way
The technique was very simple… You simply build a website, not too big, just two or three pages would do, the content of the website isn’t important, you can write any old rubbish on there so long as it contains a way to get paid (usually an affiliate link). You would then blast your website with as many backlinks as possible, using as many different methods as possible!
Back in 2010 the No.1 spot on Google could be accomplished regardless of what was on the site so long as it had more backlinks pointing to it than its competitors! Affiliate marketing quickly became very popular as the trend caught on and lots of people started cashing in on this simple Google loophole! Unfortunately, as out dated as this technique sounds to today’s online marketing community, this basic method in many forms is still rehashed and sold as a working technique today, when in actual fact it couldn’t be further from the truth.
So Do Backlinks Still Work? Or Should I Avoid Backlinking Completely?
Today backlinks still have a place in the world of search engine optimization, after all as we have already said, links are the very fabric of the internet. They are what connect us to others and allow us to find new and relevant information. But in truth, Google never wanted you to go out and build hundreds of links from various other sites just to get your site ranked higher.
The search algorithm was designed to be just one of the things used to measure how popular your site was, the link served as a vote from one site to another. Google states clearly how it feels about non organic link building within its webmaster guidelines and as a result of this has toughened up on those that still attempt to manipulate their search results.
The Panda, Penguin And Hummingbird Updates That Changed Everything
Famously the Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird search engine algorithm changes completely altered the way that we build quality websites today. Google Panda hit the internet in 2011 and effected a massive 12% of websites within the search index, taking out the bulk of those sites that attempted to manipulate search results for profit.
The Panda update concentrated on removing sites with poorly written, thin content and websites that had more adverts than valuable content for its readers! Google Panda didn’t stop there and was updated on a regular basis, in order to fine tune its effectiveness. In April 2012 Google then launched another update, this time named “The Penguin Update”.
Penguin targeted people trying to manipulate the search engines in the form of over optimizing their website by use of “keyword stuffing” for gaining higher search results. The keyword stuffing technique was one used by black hat SEO’s, used to rank for multiple keywords at the same time. Penguin effected around 3% of its indexed sites.
The Google Hummingbird update launched August 2013, designed to create a better user experience whilst searching online. Being “fast and precise” is the reason according to Google that this update was named ‘Hummingbird’ and served to deliver quick, relevant search results from its index of millions of sites.
Black-Hat Techniques That Could Damage Your Website
Today, despite what we now know about the way that Google and many of the other search engines look at our content, the internet is still full of people who claim that they can manipulate the search results safely. The internet is still full of eBooks, online training and software claiming that they have the latest and greatest methods of fooling Google into giving them the top spots.
The sad truth of the matter is that sometimes these people are right, and sometimes there is a quick way to get fast rankings, even today. However, a piece of software or link building method that works now and produces immediate results, more than likely won’t produce results in the long term.
Googles search algorithm is evolving all the time, looking for anything that isn’t natural or organic. The penalties for trying to manipulate the search results could see your website drop dramatically in rank or even removed altogether from the listings.
Link Building Software
As Google becomes more and more advanced, new ways to stay ahead in the search engines are created on a regular basis with software creators cashing in on the latest trends. These link building software applications, no matter how you look at it completely go against Google webmaster guidelines.
The software creators will often provide a method of very quickly creating hundreds of websites and articles using what is called “spun content”. The resulting pages created by the software are often poor and often unreadable to a human viewer, there purpose simply being to provide rehashed content for the search spiders with backlinks pointing to your site.
Do Backlinks Still Work In 2016?
So the question still remains, do backlinks still work in 2016 and should we be building links as part of our effort to reach the higher search engine rankings? Well, the simple answer is yes, backlinks still work today and they still contribute to the way that all websites are ranked within the search engines. However, things are very different to the way they were back in 2010 and they will continue to change and evolve as time goes on. In 2016, Google looks at so many factors when ranking your webpages, its an amazing piece of technology that you shouldn’t attempt to manipulate if you want long term results.
What’s The Best Way To Build Links For SEO?
Despite what you may see online, link building is extremely time consuming and it can take just as long to build links to your content as it does to actually create the content in the first place. Link building software providers, eBook writers and “online guru’s” will claim to offer a fast fix to help you in your link building strategies but I believe Googles method is best. Google doesn’t want to see fake backlinks that you have created yourself, so there is a simple solution, don’t do it!
Instead of spending time searching for the latest method or strategy for increasing your rankings and then spending hours putting those methods into practice, perhaps you should consider creating more quality content that Google actually rewards you for! There are a few things that will help you rank higher in the search engines, good quality content being just one aspect of many.
Whist there is no real clear cut way to build a website that will get guaranteed high rankings and there is no A-Z guide for top rankings on Google, that is part of what Google is looking for. Google want us to express ourselves in whatever way we feel necessary to communicate our content, they want us to be original, they want us to be individuals.
You have two choices, build a site to be proud of with quality content that will be read and enjoyed by the masses or build what the guru’s say will make you money. Who knows what updates Google will unleash in 2016, but I do know that I for one won’t be wasting my time building backlinks!
Please post comments and ask questions in the comments section below!