Google’s Most Important Ranking Factors – Part 1: Backlinks

Google's most important ranking factors

Confused by Google’s ranking algorithm? You’re not alone!

Hundreds of factors influence Google’s algorithm, so just trying to wrap your head around it can feel incredibly overwhelming.

Luckily, not all ranking factors hold the same weight. You only need to focus on a select few to boost your search visibility.

In this three-part series, we’ll cover the most significant ranking factors – the ones that can make or break your SEO strategy. Read on to learn what they are and how to optimize your site for each.

Google Ranking Factors: Link Building Strategies

Google’s algorithm is complex and ever-changing. But one thing we know for sure? Your backlink profile is arguably the most important factor that influences your ranking.

Why are links such an important factor when it comes to SEO? In a nutshell, it comes down to authority and trust.

Quality backlinks act as a mechanism for Google to gauge a website’s credibility. And more credibility translates into stronger organic rankings.

Without backlinks, you don’t stand a real chance of rising above your competitors in the SERPs.

The bottom line is: if you want more search engine traffic, link building is a must.

How to build quality backlinks

What are backlinks?

Simply put, backlinks are incoming links to a website. They’re created whenever an external website links to your website.

Why are backlinks important in SEO?

Search engines use backlinks to evaluate a website’s authority and ultimately determine its SERP position.

Think of each individual backlink like a vote of confidence. Every time someone links to your site, they’re essentially vouching for your site and letting Google know it contains useful or valuable content.

As you accumulate backlinks, your site will be awarded greater domain authority and higher search visibility.

So the more links you obtain the better, right? Not exactly.

Google looks at more than just how many links are pointing to your site – it also looks at the quality of those links. And when it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity.  

Google's top ranking factors in 2018

High-quality links vs. low-quality links

High-quality backlinks will improve your domain authority and ultimately boost your rankings.

Low-quality links, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.

This is why it’s crucial to understand the difference between the two and avoid low-quality backlinks whenever possible.

The best indicator of link quality is the source of the link. As a general rule, the higher the quality of the site, the higher the quality of the link.

Sources of high-quality links include credible and reputable websites like government sites, education sites, or well-known news publications.

Low-quality backlinks are usually from spammy sites, sites that have been penalized by Google, or sites that are completely unrelated to your website.

A healthy backlink profile will contain a variety of links from various websites with natural SEO activity (meaning a diverse range of links that people embedded because they love your content).

Google ranking factors SEO checklist

How backlinks influence page rankings

To discover how backlinks influence a website’s ranking, SEMrush analyzed 600,000 search queries.

The results confirmed the following notion: a strong backlink portfolio is crucial for website rankings.

Here are a few key takeaways from their research:

– The higher the domain’s position on the SERP, the more referring domains it has.

– Every domain that ranks for a high-volume keyword has on average four times more referring domains than the domain from the low-volume group on the same position.

– The more backlinks a domain has, the higher is its position on the SERP.

– Top pages have more referring IPs.

“All the metrics of the backlink portfolio are interconnected and a blind manipulation of only one of them will not increase your rankings, unless you also work on the other metrics. Focus on your natural backlink profile, and try various link-building strategies.

The high search volume niche is extremely competitive and the first positions are occupied by the giants with the richest backlink portfolios.

The competition is lighter in the low-volume SERPs, so extra link-building efforts will make all the difference for the page/domain rankings.”

SEMRush Ranking Factors Study 2.0

Why backlinks are important in SEO

Link building strategies

Now that we’ve established the importance of your backlink profile, let’s dive into how you can start earning links and ultimately boost your rankings.

While there are plenty of tactics you can start implementing, there’s no quick way to build high-quality backlinks. You must be willing to put in the time and effort in order to see results in the long run.

That said, here are a few ways to earn natural, relevant links and help improve your search visibility

1. Guest posts

Guest posting is one of the best ways to make your site more visible to search engines.

By contributing free content to another website or blog, you’ll receive a backlink and gain exposure in front of a new audience. Just be sure to reach out to reputable sites in your industry!

Google ranking factors 2018

2. Create shareable content

According to this Buzzsumo study, certain types of content tend to generate more backlinks. Specifically, quizzes, how-to posts, infographics, and videos are highly effective when it comes to attracting links from other sites.

So, don’t just focus on copy-based content – be sure to include these shareable content formats into your marketing strategy.

3. Public relations and press links

If a media outlet writes about your business, you’ll likely receive a link that points back to your website. Whether you pay for a press release or do something unique to garner media attention, press links can result in high-value links to your site.

4. Use HARO

HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a free platform that connects you with journalists and content producers looking for sources.

Simply sign up to HARO as a source and then you’ll start receiving daily emails with a list of reporters looking for sources.

If you see a HARO request that matches with your area of expertise or skills, you can reply to the email and reach out to the reporter. If they’re interested in what you have to say, they’ll cite you as a source and include a link to your website.

Google ranking factors SEO

5. Links from local business partners

Partnering with other business owners is a great way to increase brand awareness and get high-quality backlinks.

Reach out to local businesses that offer similar services and ask if they can include a relevant link to your site on their blog or website.

Any partner is a potential source for a link, so be sure to offer to link to their website as well.

6. Post skyscraper content

Popularized by Brian Dean of Backlinko, this tactic involves finding a popular piece of content in your niche and then creating something that’s 5-10x better.

For example, if you want to create content around ‘email marketing tips,’ do a Google search with those keywords and check out the first page results.

Out of those results, choose a skyscraper candidate and think of how you can make that post 5-10x better. Ask yourself what questions were left unanswered, and how you can add more value to the post.

Last but not least, promote your skyscraper content relentlessly!

How to get high-quality backlinks

Managing your backlink profile

Keeping a healthy link profile is just as important as building backlinks.

Tools like Monitor Backlinks, Ahrefs, and Majestic enable you to better understand your backlink profile.

They’re packed with tons of useful features so you can easily track your links, pinpoint and disavow spammy links, and keep an eye on your competitors.

The wrap

When it comes to getting backlinks, there’s no magic formula. Building a healthy backlink profile requires a great deal of time and effort, and it may take months before you start seeing results.

One thing you can start doing right now? Start producing amazing, valuable content that people love.

If you need help creating an SEO strategy for your business, we’ll work with you to create a data-driven approach that yields results.

Contact us now to get a quote for services, or to have a quick chat about what we can do for you and your digital presence.

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Ashley Nitransky

Ashley is a Copywriter and Editor at VPDM. She is responsible for writing creative content to drive search marketing performance and ROI for a range of clients. With experience in copywriting and SEO, her biggest strength is the ability to craft engaging and informative copy to support wider marketing campaigns and increase brand visibility. She loves the creative aspect of her job, and seeing tangible results from her efforts.
This entry was posted in Digital Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO).