Backlinks* = Better Ranking
Let’s examine the second most important factor that will generate a torrent of free search engine traffic to your company website: This is your intro to backlinking.
Besides great content, backlinks are the single most important ranking factor in Search Engine Optimization. (They are more important than good page and site optimization.)
Backlinks? Yes, that’s an SEO buzzword. It means links embedded in other websites that, when clicked, send the person to a page on your company website.
Google and Bing track and count these links. Each of these backlinks are seen as a vote of confidence for your website. What a link signals to a search engine is that the page it is pointing to is important.
Yes, the Web is a Popularity Contest
If you are thinking…What? The Web is a popularity contest? Yep, one engineered by geeks. But think about it. Evaluating a web page’s importance using backlinks is a great strategy. It’s like a restaurant recommendation from a friend. It says: “Go there, it’s great! I’ve been there and I loved it. You should go too.”
However not all backlinks are created equal. Google and Bing first evaluate the origin of the link. The authority and topic of a web site that places the link is considered.
No one except Google and Bing are party to exactly how they score backlinks. The formula is not published. However, the SEO community has been smart enough to it figure it out.
Here is what we know:
(I am going to refer to Google here, because it provides lion’s share of organic traffic, but Bing does this too.)
Every website is assigned an authority score by Google. It assigns an authority for for every web page too. Google called this “Page Rank”. A score between 0 and 10. You’ll see it referenced on the web as PR0 (weak page) through PR10 (amazing page). See a PR checker here.
However, Google stopped publishing its Page Rank, and in response, several companies in the SEO industry invented their own page and site ranking systems.
Why Page and Domain Authority Matter
The one that has become the go-to was created by the SEO website MOZ.com. (Although I prefer the one Ahrefs.com uses – for reasons I will get into in later emails.) Moz’s page authority scoring system is split into two numbers: PA or Page Authority and DA or Domain Authority. You can see the Moz PA and DA score checker here.
The PA and DA score is a direct correlation to the authority a page’s URL or a website has. It is impacted by backlinks. The more of a backlink profile a page or site has, the higher it’s DA and PA scores.
Our agency site for example at http://cyberwalker.com has a DA score of 36 on scale from 1 to 100. Pretty good. Notice two other metrics on the Moz PA/DA page. There are 52 root domains linking to the site. That means 52 unique sites have links to Cyberwalker.com. There are 1.5K links in total including external, internal, follow, and no follow links. (SEO definitions here). These factors make up the site’s authority scores.
One final tip on this …if you could get 1000 third party pages to link to a page on your company web site but they all had a PA score of under 10…or you could get 10 third party pages to link to your web site that all had a PA score of 50 or more which would be better? If you voted for the 2nd option you’d be right.
Pages with a high PA score and sites with a high DA score have very high authority. Check this out:
- nytimes.com: DA 100/ PA 96
- cnn.com: DA 98 / PA 96
- msnbc.com: DA 93 / PA 94
- sfgate.com: DA 92 / PA 93
- chicagosuntimes.com: DA 88 / PA 85
Media outlets tend to have very high authority, so media mentions for your site will really help improve your DA and PA scores. It’s worth putting out a press release for SEO purposes. Press release sites have high authority. Here’s a few examples:
- PRnewswire.com: DA 91 / PA 93
- Businesswire.com: DA 92 / PA 94
- Cisionwire: DA 77 / PA 79
Here is another tactic to bear in mind. If your company makes, say, knitting products, then a link from a knitting blog has more authority value than a link from a cat lover’s blog. If you make kitty litter, the cat lover’s blog link would be more valuable to your site. Google tracks these topic correlations too.
Lots of low authority links or a few high authority links
I’ve told you that high authority backlinks provide a website with a wealth of “Google juice” – that is transmitted authority. So is it better to pursue 10 backlinks that have authority of more than 30? versus 100 that have authority under 10. The answer is: yes. Pursue both. Mix it up. Think about how a popular website gets it is links virally. A bunch of people think it’s cool and link it on their blog. And share it on social media. And drop it into an email to share it with a friend. Maybe a newspaper (high PA and DA) mentions it and links it from its website. So you will want to mimic this process as best as you can. You can guarantee that Google has modelled what a viral page looks like.
Expert SEO tip:
By the way if you want an easy way to track PA and DA authority, install Moz’s toolbar and sign-up for a community account. They require that you either pay for their SEO tool or contribute to their community to use their Open Site Explorer tool for free. More info on the Moz Toolbar here.