The anatomy of a backlink and the value to your website

Human Pelvis from Grays AnatomyThe hip bone’s connected to the back bone

I’ve been preaching on backlinks and their value to your website for a few weeks now. And, you’re not getting a reprieve this week. I want you to understand how important backlinks are to your search marketing success.

One of the items I have yet to talk about though, is an optimal backlink and what you should be asking for and hoping to get.

So I present to you, the anatomy of a backlink.

What a link looks like to webmasters

A web link to the average web visitor, looks like this- link (note: this is not a real link).

But to your friendly neighborhood webmaster, it might look something like this:

<a href="https://www.nrvliving.com">NRVLiving</a>

While that is all well and good and will create a link, there are certain areas you can optimize for search. When I build a link, here is how I do it. (The color coding will be explained below the example.)

<a href="https://www.nrvliving.com/properties" title="Blacksburg homes for sale">Homes for sale in Blacksburg, VA</a>

To the average web visitor, this link looks like: Homes for sale in Blacksburg, VA and it still works just like the link before it, but now it incorporates all the colored elements.  Try hovering over that link, you should see the green text pop up in what’s called a tool tip.  And if you click it, you will be sent to the internal page on that website.

Okay, so an explanation of each color section:

  • Purple (/properties) : This is what some folks in SEO refer to as a deep link.  It’s really not that deep technically, but what you want to do is NOT have every single incoming link point to your home page.  Spread that incoming authority around your important pages that you would like to show up in the search results.  If your internal/deep pages have enough authority, you can get a result in Google, etc. where you have more than one link show up in the results.
  • Green (title=) : This is the title attribute of the HTML anchor element.  What it does is create a tool tip when you hover over the link providing further details of what the linked to page is about.  The side benefit is that the search engines also pay attention to how other websites link to you and use this title attribute as another element in their algorithm arsenal.
  • Red : Again, the search engines use the actual link text as an element in their arsenal to figure out what that link is pointing to.  You want it to be normal sounding yet have a keyword or two in there.  Don’t be spammy though!

The hip bone’s connected to the back bone

All of these links act like connections and endorsements across the web and form a picture in the (artificial) mind of Google’s data crunching mainframes of what the pages within your site are about.

So take my advice.  Vary up your back link profile.  Don’t use the same words and phrases.  Think like a client.  Heck, ask your clients.  “If you were searching for a home in __________ right now, what would you search for?”  You can also check out a site like Google Trends to see what people are actually searching for.

Human Spine from Grays Anatomy

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Jeremy Hart

    May 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    The website you’ve highlighted is amazing, Marty!

    I’m kidding – well, kind of. Anyway, wanted to thank you for your recent posts here. So much of this back-end stuff is just confusing as hell to me, but I appreciate you taking the time to break it down. Is there a need to go through every link on a site and change it up, or should I be focusing on making one or two changes each page?

    • Marty Martin

      May 13, 2010 at 8:53 am

      Hey Jeremy,

      Thanks for the kind compliment; I’m glad you’re finding them useful.

      As for your question, I would just gradually shake things up over time. Give the search engine crawlers something new to chew on each time they visit your site. Do you use Google Webmaster Tools? You can check crawl frequency there and adjust your updates accordingly. There’s also talk among some search experts that too many updates at once can cause Google to sandbox you for a while, but I’ve personally not seen that happen.

      I’d definitely start with the links to your pages you want the most traffic to though.

  2. Phil Boren

    May 16, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Marty: I get so focused on generating backlinks, that I sometimes forget to spread it around beyond the home page! Thanks for the info and, BTW, for the mention/link in one of your recent posts.

    • Marty Martin

      May 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      HI Phil.

      First, you’re welcome, thanks for the inspiration!

      And I never ever ask for a link to my home page. Always ask for a deep link, you’ll get enough home page links otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top