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FREE online SEO course: Backlink Management Course with Greg Gifford 

Backlink management basics

7 lessons


Hey, I'm Greg Gifford. In this lesson, the first in the Backlink Management course, we're going to be talking about backlink management and link building and why they're an important piece of the SEO puzzle.

Google's spiders use links to discover pages on the web. The spiders crawl websites, following links to other pages – and when a new page is found, it's added to Google's index.

Inbound links, which are links pointing from another website to your website, have always been the most weighted element in Google's ranking algorithm. Google uses links to measure authority, based on the idea that the most worthy sites will have more links pointed to them from other sites. In other words, links are like popularity votes – the more popular sites get the most votes.

Since the beginning of SEO, we've known that Google places immense value on links. In fact, the decision to use links as a measure of authority is what set Google apart from the other search engines and led to its eventual dominance in search.

Backlink management quickly became one of the cornerstones of search engine optimization. In fact, some SEO practitioners and even some agencies specialize in link management and do nothing else.

In the early days, backlinks were a numbers game – whichever site had the most inbound links typically ranked at the top of search results. Marketers quickly learned it was easy to game the system and simply buy links, so, in 2012, Google released the first version of its Penguin algorithm.

After the update, it became important to acquire links from relevant sites, and link management became much more difficult. Through the years, Google has continued to refine the algorithm, and today, link management is a vital part of any SEO campaign.

If you want a site to gain more visibility in searches, you've got to know how to analyze the site's backlink profile and then use various tactics to acquire new inbound links. If your site gets penalized by Google, you need to know how to analyze the backlinks, diagnose the problems, and fix them if you want to recover from the penalty.

Links aren't just important for SEO – they're a valuable source of referral traffic. If you're building the right kind of backlinks, they're coming from relevant sites with high traffic, so the users of the other sites are likely to click through to your website.

Links also help with brand building. As you acquire links on other sites, the users of those sites are exposed to your brand. Those links help you get discovered by new users and help you become more well known as an authority in your particular area.

Keep in mind, it's incredibly difficult to acquire links in a vacuum. No one's going to link to you if you don't have amazing content, and many times you'll have to do outreach to expose other sites to your content. There are several moving pieces, but at the simplest level, it's helpful to have the right mindset.

You need to earn links, not build them. Again, let's go back to the idea that links are votes of popularity. Think back to high school – no one will give you popularity votes if you're boring and you sit by yourself off in the corner at lunch every day.

Successful link building depends on having an awesome site, with great content, and a solid SEO strategy as a foundation.

So that's it for lesson 1 of the Backlink Management course, we hope you learned something awesome. If you've got any questions, feel free to tweet them to me directly at @greggifford or the awesome team of pros over at the SEMrush Academy at @semrushacademy.

Don't forget to check out the next lesson, and when you think you're ready, head over to the SEMrush Academy page and take the test for this course so you can get officially SEMrush certified.