A backlink is simply a hyper-linked image or piece of text on one website that leads to another website when it is clicked.
Historically Google, and other search engines, used the exact text in a hyperlink to determine what the site being linked to was about.
Usually the site with the most amount of links using a specific term in its hyperlink would rank number 1 in Google for that search term.
Since April 2012, with the release of the Penguin update, things have changed considerably but the basic premise still remains the same.
Although Google is working very hard to update their algorithm to a point where it is less reliant on backlinks the simple truth is that Google relies heavily on backlinks to determine how popular a site is and exactly what the site is about.
The Purpose of Backlinks in SEO
Obviously if Google still uses backlinks to determine where in their search results they place a site it is necessary to procure backlinks to your site.
Regardless of What Matt Cutts or anyone else at Google tells you backlinks are a vital necessity if you want to show up in the Google search results!
Only as recently as 2012 it was very easy to rank in Google. All you had to do was build a ton of links all using anchor text that contained the exact phrase you wanted to rank for.
Because it was so easy many cheap seo companies sprang up and ranked a variety of sites using less than desirable backlink types.
Low Quality Links
Unfortunately, many great sites, that offer fantastic user experience and valuable information to their users, have been adversely and irreversibly effected by Penguin. Due to poor quality seo work, performed by low quality seo companies many fantastic sites and businesses are now nowhere to be seen on the Internet.
What is termed as “link spam” was prevalent prior to 2012 and although true seo professionals rarely engaged in such activities link spam was, and still is, prevalent among cheaper seo agencies – simply because they cannot build links any other way.
Link spam can now hurt a site very badly and engaging the services of an seo company without doing your due diligence into their seo tactics is a game of roulette that you are playing with your website’s rankings or p[potential rankings.
Google’s Attempt At Reducing Link Spam
Link spam includes empty forum profiles that contain only a link to a site, blog comment spam, forum spam, guest book spam and a host of other low quality links all designed for only one purpose – to manipulate the search engines.
In an attempt to reduce link spam Google have taken several steps the most notable of which is Penguin.
From a search optimization viewpoint we need not be concerned with the business or marketing reasons behind some of these changes. All we need to be aware of is how to work with these changes and avoid triggering any penalties due to tripping a Google filter such as Penguin.
By far Penguin is the biggest filter you need to be aware of and avoid at all costs. Data suggests that unless you are a big brand name (such as BMW) you have no chance of recovering from a Penguin slap.
So, before you begin any link building campaign or allow any seo company to begin a link building campaign for you, you need to be aware of the correct use of anchor text and anchor text ratios.