Treading the Backlinks Path

Cropped image of the Wikipedia welcome page.

Cropped image of the Wikipedia welcome page.

Search engines have their own individual proprietary search algorithms. That is a purposely redundant statement. Regular internet users take search for granted, but internet marketers shake, mutter and ejaculate expletives with every news in search algorithm revisions. This on top of all the debatable things which marketers do.

Among the go-to tools in an internet marketers grab-bag is what’s called the backlinks.

As an activity, backlinking has been hovering between white-hat (organic backlinks) and blackhat (massive backlinking). Simply put, backlinking is the creation of links on other websites which point back to the promoted site. It can be done organically, through blog sharing and article mentions. It can also be done as a separate activity by creating profiles on sites which allow for member registration, as well as in blog commenting, and forum posts. For an effective backlink, the link should be a do-follow, where clicking on the text link would open the promoted URL on a new page.

There was a time when backlinks were in vogue. The idea was that search engines would index websites and count links to other websites. These links would be indexed and those with more backlinks would rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). The thinking was that a page with more backlinks would have more credibility because there are more sites which mention it. However, because internet marketers made too much use of this strategy, effectively they were spamming sites with backlinks. This resulted in SERPs which showed those sites which had the most backlinks. Internet users were then forced to skip the first page or two of the SERPs, in order to get to the more relevant web pages.

As an aside, I once had a client who wanted to have his website appear on the second page.

Google has since revised their algorithm to take into account backlink spamming. If a website suddenly has a spike in backlinks, then it is supposedly penalized. It seems that the backlinks weight is no longer included in computing for the page rank.

There are still a lot of openly available backlink pages which assure product credibility. One of which is Wikipedia. If you can get your product listed in Wikipedia, with their strict standards, and multiple references, then you have a solid product with a solidly credible backlink. This, to me, is the Mt. Everest of backlinks.

If a lot of the above statements seem conjectural, it’s because it is. Internet marketers can only deduce the direction of Google search algorithms. They don’t know what the code does, and they can only surmise what Google wants to happen. The only way for anyone to understand the algorithms is with the SERPs. A lot of internet marketing websites are affected everytime Google changes their algorithm. It then becomes an exercise in trial-and-error, in trying to find a strategy which works. This results in different opinions about different strategies.

Nowadays, the thinking is that backlinks work, but only if it is done slowly. Making a massive number of backlinks would spook off Google and penalize the website. However, if the backlinks are built up slowly, Google would not notice and think the backlinks are all created organically. There is, however, no consensus as to what the magic number is.

In addition, there are some instances where massive backlinking matters, simply because everyone in the market niche is doing it, or because the internet marketers don’t care if they are not mentioned or indexed on Google.

For SEO campaigns where ranking on SERPs is the goal, this is very important. Backlinks still matter.

For pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, there is the opinion that backlinks don’t matter. Those employees tasked with PPC campaigns sometimes believe that SEO campaigns are outdated. Backlinkers (those employees tasked to do backlinks) have no answer to that accusation. Personally, I believe that PPC will not get anywhere unless there is some form of organic SEO and social media or social networking campaign in the background.

A typical PPC campaign would show an ad on the SERP, which is related to the keyword. My point is that if an ad appears on the top of the page, and tagged as an ad, and yet there is no link to it in the SERP, there is no credibility for the ad.

A case in point, if an ad appears stating that it is the best selling skin whitening soap, and yet I don’t see it in the first page of the SERP, I would have to question the credibility of the blurb.