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  • Writer's pictureHermit Group

Backlink Basics: What they are and Why they Matter for Small Business

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

One of the backbones of Search Engine Optimization are backlinks. If your not using them you are falling behind. If you don't know what they are, you are losing money. The experts at Hermit Group can both help you understand how to navigate your own backlinks, or we can generate them for you. Either way take a few minutes and brush up on the Backlink Basics. We cover what backlinks are, and why they matter for your small business.

In the past, digital marketers would create complex plans to gather a large number of backlinks. Domain after Domain, and backlink after backlink, you would get as many as you could. The story doesn't end there either, you have to consider the quality of the link as well. Overtime, the ability of modern search algorithms to understand user intent allows Google to rank websites using criteria other than just backlinks. Link building is still important, even though search engine rankings no longer dependent on them.

The fundamentals of backlinks

Backlinks aren’t complicated: they’re hyperlinks that take users from one web page to another. Before we get into the details of how backlinks work though, let's brush up on some terms.



Internal Backlink

Any link from one page on your website to another page on your website

Lost Backlink

When a backlink that linked to you previously no longer does

Broken Backlinks

Links that point to a non existent source

Link Bait

Creating content designed to attract backlinks

Anchor Text

The clickable words used to link one web page to another

Alt Tags

The written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage

Bots/ Spiders/ Crawlers

Programs that retrieve information from websites

Domain Authority

Predictor of how well websites will rank on search engines

Domain Rating

Shows the strength of a website's backlink profile on a scale of 1 to 100

Inbound Links

Another websites link back to your site

Link Juice/ Link Equity

The value a backlink possesses relative to another backlink

Toxic Links

A link that has the potential to harm your website's ability to rank

Not all Backlinks were made equal

Earlier we mentioned the quality of a backlink. The most important elements in creating a strong backlink profile are the referring domains and pages' quality and relevancy. When your page has relevant backlinks from reliable sources, Google will take notice. SEO professionals may refer to this related equity as link juice or link equity. Some links are better than others, and others are toxic for your site health.

For example, you could very easily out rank your competitors with fewer more relevant links. Especially from trusted sources. Imagine if you had to go see a movie and you had two options. Movie A is highly recommended to you by your two best friends in the world. Now there's Movie B. Movie B was referred to you by 4 associates of yours. Which movie are you going to see? Of course you would watch movie A. Although you were referred the other option by twice as many people, the value of the 2 trusted sources means far more. Makes sense right?

The effects of link juice can be seen here:

How and why backlinks benefit small business

Backlinks undoubtedly keep the internet running, but what exactly do they accomplish? Why does it appear like almost every significant competitor is prepared to invest in a link development strategy? These are a few explanations for why marketing teams value link building, but ultimately it EFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINE:

  1. More organic traffic: Backlinks continue to be one of the most important elements in search engine rankings. A page with relevant, authoritative backlinks is more likely to rank on page one of Google for its target queries, all other things being equal.

  2. Increased referral traffic: When you link to popular websites and pages, more people will click over to your website.

  3. Credibility with readers: Readers are more likely to trust and believe pages that have links from websites that are well-known in their field.

  4. Quicker indexing: When you publish a page that contains internal links to previously indexed pages, Google will find and crawl the new page more quickly.

  5. Google trustworthiness: Google evaluates a site's content quality based on signals that reflect knowledge, authority, and reliability (E-A-T). Backlinks are evidence that your page is credible and knows what it is talking about.

Website factors that influence link quality

Earlier we learned about not all links being created equal and how link juice is transferred. Lets look at a few factors that would influence the quality of the backlinks you acquire:

  1. Site quality: Referring domains with excellent E-A-T, site architecture, and user experience are often viewed more positively by Google. Backlinks from these domains are preferred to those from comparable websites lacking those features.

  2. Site relevancy: A referring domain's or page's proximity and relevance to the website's target page has a significant impact on the quality of backlinks. Although it need not be accurate, it must be close. For instance, links between websites from two separate digital marketing disciplines are more likely to be valued favorably by Google than links between a website about marketing and a website about pet adoption.

  3. Anchor text: Google analyses anchor text to learn more about the subject of a website and the intent behind a certain link. The more background Google needs to properly rank the anchor text for pertinent queries, the more directly and pertinently it relates to the topic it links to.

  4. Link type: Follow links instruct Google's spiders to visit the target page after "following" the link. These are the best kind of backlinks for conveying link equity, and they're usually set to the default value (although some brands and publishers do elect to nofollow all external links). While UGC (user-generated content) and sponsored tags inform Google that a link is either not under the control of a site or was purchased, nofollow links employ a special tag to remove link juice.

Websites that rank #1 on Google have 3.8x more backlinks than the rest of the top 10 sites. -Thrive

How you can get backlinks for your small business

Although link building is difficult, it is one of the most important aspects of an effective SEO strategy for small business. While every company and website should make the best strategic decisions for their unique objectives, there are some best practices that can be used by everyone to get and maintain the finest backlinks.

Develop connections with the leading companies and creators in your sector.

Treating people with respect is one of the simplest methods to win links steadily over time. This strategy is also one of the most effective. Take a sincere interest in what they do, offer more assistance than you receive, and even personalize your relationship with them.

Cold emails are still one of the tried and true methods for acquiring backlinks for small businesses. Although cold email outreach is a successful strategy for gaining backlinks, not everyone has tremendous results from it. Only 8.5% of cold emails result in a response. The numbers decrease considerably more from receiving the initial response to actually closing the deal. This is why it is imperative you have a well laid out copyright for your emails. If you are unsure of the best method, contact Hermit Group.

Track and Fix Broken Backlinks

Once you receive a backlink, it is not secure permanently. Referring domains alter, sites become out-of-date, and even their subjects may take a radical turn. While keeping an eye on these links, it's also important to check that the pages they go to are live and usable.

Track Competitor Backlinks

You must find every site linking to your competition. If there are broken links of theirs, and rest assured there will be, you can reach out to the sites and have them link to your content. If you are unsure how to find your competitors links, reach out to Hermit Group and we can give you more information on backlink basics. We will inform you more on what backlinks are and why backlinks matter for small business

Explore niche sites

A website that targets a narrow subset of a larger market with the intention of monetizing its visits is known as a niche site. Niche websites typically make money through advertising, affiliate marketing, or digital products like eBooks, online courses, and exclusive communities like the fitness industry, in finance, or luxury fashion. Take advantage of niche sites where there are low authority sites ranking and then move on to the more difficult ones.

Closing Remarks

Backlinks are a major component of Google's algorithm when ranking content. By now you understand that you will need some of your very own. You'll need to earn high quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative sites to build your website's profile.

Now that you are more knowledgeable on Backlink Basics. You are familiar with what they are and why they matter for small business, and know you are prepared to begin creating a great portfolio of backlinks for your website. Keep an eye out for what your rivals are doing and seize any new opportunities as soon as they arise. Give the professionals at Hermit Group a call for a free consultation as well.

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