Every SEO is aware of this. SEO professionals, sometimes pushed by Clients, will fight with all their might, capabilities and intelligence to achieve top rankings in search engines: this is an incredibly complex and challenging line of work.
Another thing SEOs know is how difficult it can be to achieve a top 5 position. The amount of effort to achieve top rankings grows exponentially as you approach top organic placement. Backlinks become an essential part of your SEO strategy; link building is a must.
The benefits of quality backlinks are well known to SEO professionals.
First of all, let's look at the benefits. You will hear much talk about backlinks and link building in SEO forums and online in general. Be prepared for all kinds of narrations and stories from SEOs. You'll find contradicting stories on SEO. An SEO is often exposed to bizarre situations never seen or heard of before. But that's part of Search Engine Optimisation: more an art than a science.
Now back to the benefits of backlinks. The two most important benefits are:
- an increase in authority;
- better traffic from the backlink (so-called referral traffic - that is traffic coming from another website).
Backlinks can increase your authority
There's a saying that goes: "It's amazing how one word from the right person can make you feel better in a second." Well, backlinks work in a very similar way. The right backlinks can change the destiny of a website and the organisation behind it. Unfortunately, website owners, corporate management and similar professionals who are not familiar with SEO and SEO strategies, fail to understand this crucial, yet basic concept. It's not a matter of HOW MANY backlinks you can acquire but WHICH backlinks you gain to establish a competitive advantage. Quality backlinks and link building will make a difference: Quality has nothing to do with quantity.
How do you measure the quality of a backlink?
We measure the quality of backlinks with a metric called Trust Flow, a trademark of Majestic. This metric is a score based a logarithmic scale with values ranging from 0 to 100.
Majestic collated many trusted seed sites based on a manual review of the web. Sites closely linked to a trusted seed site can see higher scores, whereas websites that may have some questionable links would see a much lower score. In practice, a website with a high value of Trust Flow is a clear signal of authority. The analogy with what happens to us every day is direct. For example, a doctor is an authority in medicine.
We will take a physician's word any day when it comes to our physical fitness. We carefully listen to his advice when it comes to our well-being. Similarly, we'll listen to a trusted SEO with experience in organic placement if we're seeking opportunities to improve our search engine rankings.
Trust embodies the intrinsic value of influence, both offline and online.
Authority is a direct consequence of context
Context is a crucial factor in determining authority. Context is the capability to influence a discussion or rankings in the search engines. The right backlinks, in a specific context, will have more or less impact depending on how relevant they are on a specific topic.
Going back to the previous example, our physician will have a strong influence on our behaviour when it comes to our health but is far less influential when it comes to football. Similarly, search engines will evaluate your backlinks to understand just how relevant they are in the context of your business or activity.
Because context is such a critical factor in evaluating the quality of backlinks, Majestic have also created Topical Trust Flow, another proprietary trademark providing website categorisation. This metric allows users to see in which industry or market segment a website is influential and is also a score, based on a log-based scale between 0-100. For example, these are the top-level categories of the relative influence of the BBC website:
The closer Topical Trust Flow of a backlink is to the website, the stronger the relationship and affinity between sites. In other words, the intrinsic value of a backlink increases when the backlink is coming from a website which is also relevant for similar topics.
Effective link building strategies will identify backlinks coming from an authoritative website with similar topical characterisation.
In summary, we measure the quality of backlinks with Trust Flow. Backlinks can be even more valuable if there is an affinity in Topical Trust Flow, that is having a similar topical characterisation. Link building, capable of sourcing high-quality backlinks, will increase trust and consequently website authority. The right link building will source backlinks capable of boosting significantly organic rankings in the search engines.
Quality backlinks will attract the best referral traffic
A backlink at the right place at the right time will generate conversions and sales. A backlink can be an authentic piece of digital art. Contextual backlinks are not only powerful because they boost your authority but also because they can generate some of the best referral traffic the Internet has to offer.
How many times did you find yourself engaged in reading an article and found a contextual backlink leading you to a website that left you in utter delight? Unfortunately, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's a win-win situation:
- The website granting the backlink is winning your trust by introducing you to another resource offering relevant content and information;
- The website receiving the backlink will enjoy the benefits of a new extremely engaged user with an on-topic focus. This scenario is what we all wish for when a user lands on any of our digital properties. Signing up for a newsletter, requesting information and ultimately purchasing products is what most websites are all about!
This is the power of quality link building and why quality contextual backlinks will attract the best referral traffic.
Editorial links enjoy high click-through rates and engagement, with higher-than-average content consumption as well as higher conversion rates.
In most cases, a quality editorial backlink by itself can justify the effort involved in the link building process because of this win-win situation we just described. Editorial links are the most rewarding and the most challenging SEO strategy you can employ to increase your search engine rankings.
Summarizing the benefits of backlinks
In short, we have identified the benefits of building quality backlinks - they are:
- Quality backlinks will increase the authority of a website. Authority plays a central role in ranking organically on any search engine.
- Authority is always topical: we all have a limited amount of knowledge and so do websites. A backlink connecting two websites with the same theme focus is the most valuable.
- An editorial backlink is the most powerful.
- The most effective links are between websites with a similar Topical Trust Flow.