Backlinks and SEO Services

Backlinks SEO Services

Backlinks (Photo credit: ivanpw)

We often hear about back links in terms of SEO services and how important they are in achieving good rankings in search engines. But what is a backlink? This article is written for the average man or woman on the street and I will try not use jargon that is too complicated in an effort for you to understand what it is and how it can assist in achieving higher rankings in the search engines.

A backlink is basically a link from another website to yours. It means that someone found your website or content valuable and thought it would be of value to their web site if they linked from their site to yours. They probably thought their visitors would find value in their site if they linked to other sites of similar quality content. So how does it help in achieving higher search engine results? Well Google, or any other search engine, trust the general public to do the assessments for him, or her. You see Google is a computer, a bot, or a fully automated system. All Google can do is count the words on your site, see how many there are that are the same and then index your site in a certain category, or more, and decide that your site is more about shoes, than socks, because it contains the word shoes more often than socks. It cannot, and probably never will be able to, decide if what you have written is good, bad or ugly. Google relies on users or readers of your content to decide if it is valuable or not. So in a perfect world, if you find someone’s site valuable you will place a link from your site to theirs.

These links can take many forms. They can either be a direct link placed on the site to yours, or they can be a link from a social web site to yours. So you may read an article on a site that you found entertaining, enlightening or educational and wish to share it with your Facebook followers. So you click the link at the bottom of the article to do so and walla, a link is created on Facebook’s site, under your profile, to that content that you shared. Likewise you may make use of one of the many bookmarking sites to bookmark that site you found valuable so that you could go back there easily by logging into your profile on the bookmarking site and finding your bookmark. In doing so you create a backlink from that bookmarking site to the site you found valuable. Walla, another backlink to the site has been created. The author of the original piece of content may also write another article that is similar to the original, or makes reference to the original, and in his or her second piece of content links it to the original. Walla another backlink is created. The author may also be a guest blogger on someone else’s site and in return for quality content he may be allowed to link that article to his site.

Now there are two broad types of backlinks. Do follow and no follow backlinks. A webmaster can decide that a link placed on the site they control can either be a no follow or do follow. Simply put a do follow link will tell Google, when he is crawling that site, that that link should be considered, whereas a no follow link tells Google that that link should not be considered for SEO purposes. The former of course will transfer value to the site that it is linked too, but the latter will not. So it stands to reason that the more links you have pointing to your site, the better. But be careful because Google also looks to see how valuable the site is that is linking to yours and weights your value based on that too. So it is pointless having millions of low value links pointing to your site as opposed to fewer more valuable sites pointing to yours. Also Google looks for natural patterns. So if all the links pointing to your site are do follow links, then it is not natural because in the natural world you will of course get at least one no follow link. So mix it up in your SEO efforts.

The subject is a lot more involved than I have outlined here, but hopefully you have grasped the basic idea of a backlink. Further through this blog you will find more detailed articles on backlinks and how they can help in achieving higher rankings.


SEO Services South Africa – White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO Techniques

White Hat vs Black Hat

White Hat (Photo credit: britl)

You may have heard about White Hat and Black Hat techniques in terms of SEO Services in South Africa, and the rest of the world for that matter, for getting a web site to rank higher in search engines. In this article I will shed some light on the differences between the two and highlight the dangers of employing Black Hat techniques. Again this article has been written in layman’s terms so that the average person can understand it and grasp the concept.

Purely White Hat techniques would be to create a web site, activate all the social sharing buttons and upload some quality content and then sit back and wait for people to find it, like it, share it, tweet it and link to it. By doing so search engines will place a higher value on it and rank it higher in the search engines. Easy hey??? Well good luck, because people are by nature complacent and how many times have you visited a site that you thought was awesome and found huge value in it but were either in a hurry or were feeling very complacent and didn’t hit the like button or place a link on your site to that awesome content? So there is no guarantee that people will hit the like button if they actually do like your site.

Black Hat techniques on the other hand are techniques that are used to falsely boost ones web site with manufactured likes, tweets and backlinks in an effort to manipulate the search engines to rank your site higher. Black Hat techniques also include activities such as cloaking and other very devious methods of manipulating search engine results. So for instance one might include a lot of text on the page that is keyword rich but has no real meaning to humans, sometimes referred to as keyword stuffing. In order to make it more readable to humans, the webmaster will make the font the same colour as the background. This way humans won’t see it but search engines will and will find it more important than the other site that isn’t as keyword rich. Be careful of such activities because search engines nowadays have a way of detecting this and will penalise you and possibly de-index your site so that it does not appear in the search engine result pages at all.

As mentioned above it is near impossible to get the quantity and quality of likes and backlinks required to rank highly in search engines completely naturally because you are competing with people who are employing techniques that are not 100% white hat. They may be using automated software to submit articles to thousands of article submission sites, thereby creating a backlink. This as opposed to submitting them manually to each site which is possible but would consume ALL of your time. Search engines don’t like anything that is automated as they view it as manipulating the SERPS.

And this is where Grey Hat techniques come into play. Grey Hat techniques are those techniques which are not 100% White Hat but do not cross over the very dark Black Hat line of keyword stuffing and cloaking. Most web masters will employ some sort of Grey Hat techniques, unless of course you are Wikipedia where you will naturally gain backlinks and social media buzz. The act of simply liking your own article could be considered Grey Hat because of course you will like it, you wrote it. But Google doesn’t want to know that the author likes it, he wants to know that someone else likes it. By getting your friends and family to like it also does not reflect a true like because they may think it is terrible but out of their love for you and their wish for you to succeed they will like it. That Grey Hat That.
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What is a blog?

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What is a blog?

I am sure that question still gets asked many times and not that long ago I too was wondering what a blog was. This article will briefly outline, for the novice, what a blog is. It is written in layman’s terms so that it can be understood by those who want to learn this basic concept of blogging.

The definition from Wikipedia can be found here

In a nutshell a blog is a web site or a discussion forum where articles are posted or published, written by one or more authors normally on a specific topic. So you may be in the shoe industry and you will write articles on shoes and post them to your blog. These articles can carry pictures, text, videos, all of which are referred to as content. A blog will normally allow you to categorise each article for future easy reference, similar to the contents section of a book. The blog will also allow you to assign tags to each article and this acts in a similar way to the index of a book. So for an article on shoes one might tag it with tags such as; shoes, soles, leather as well as other tags such as the region in which you are marketing them, New York, London, Johannesburg etc.

There are a few popular blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger to name a few and most of them work in a very similar way. They are normally free to use and they host your blog on their servers, assigning a certain amount of storage space to you. Advanced features such as your own domain name may come at a fee. Most blogging platforms provide themes, normally designed by third parties that can change the appearance and layout of your blog. These are sometimes free and sometimes you need to pay for them.
There are also then a host of other features that blogs include such as allowing you to insert Facebook Like buttons and other social media buttons so as to allow the readers of your blog to share your articles or content with their networks if they find it interesting and worth sharing. Readers can follow your blog so that each time you post an article they get notified via e-mail.

Normally a blog will allow readers to make comments of their own on your articles so as to start a discussion on the topic and others can read these comments and make their own comment. You can set your blog up so that you as the blog owner, or someone else you appoint can moderate comments so as to avoid spam comments and unwanted comments.

One can invite users to the blog either as followers, contributors or administrators, assigning different levels of access and control to each category of user. This will of course allow many authors to contribute to the same blog and will increase the number of articles posted or published which will in turn probably increase the number of followers or readers and result in more discussion on the topic.
Links can be placed on a blog article to re-direct the reader to a web site or another blog and blogs are often used as platforms by companies writing articles on their niche industry in an attempt to educate their customers and hopefully drive traffic to the main web site for the purpose of converting that traffic to customers.

Search engines love blogs because they normally contain lots of juicy content which is what search engines need to satisfy their users. They are also normally structured in such a way that search engines can crawl them easily and therefore index them quickly and easily so that they appear in search engine results pages.