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October 28, 2010

posted by: Carissa Drohan-Jennings

What Landlords Need To Know About Backlinks

Backlinks are important

Apartment websites have grown in popularity over the last few years, and now many landlords have their buildings featured online.  With owning a website however, comes the responsibility of maintaining it’s rankings within the search engines and to do that you need to focus on your search engine optimization (SEO). 

Although it used to be easy to maintain a website’s position in the engines by just tweaking a few elements of a page’s structure, it now requires a bit more effort to achieve those rankings.  Keep in mind when reading this article that with a little patience and the right information, any landlord can achieve good results.  Now, let’s explore backlinks.

 

What Are Backlinks?

A backlink is simply any incoming link to your website.  They are important to SEO because they are one of the key ways that the search engines measure and calculate your website’s ranking and placement within the indexes. 

These backlinks are similar to a voting system where the link acts as a vote for the value of your website’s content.  These votes essentially tell the search engines that the content that the link points to is valuable and relevant to the readers of the initial page.  The search engines then evaluate the content of the page, the link and the landing page to determine their relevance to certain keyword terms. 

So, simplified, the more votes you receive, the higher your site is valued and ranked.  However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

 

Quality of Backlinks

Be careful because your goal is to get a large quantity of quality links, not just random links. So what qualifies as a quality backlink? 

It really comes down to three things:

  • Anchor Text
  • Website Relevance
  • Landing Page Relevance

 

Anchor Text

Make sure the anchor text of your link contains the keywords that you’re targeting.

Anchor text refers to the actual text that the user sees as the link.  It is the text that appears underlined on the page.  For example, a landlord in Toronto might want to use “apartments for rent in Toronto” as their anchor text because it contains their desired keywords.

The search engines look at the anchor text to determine the links relevance to certain keyword terms.  If the keywords are there then the link is a quality one.  

 

Website Relevance

You also need to make sure that the page the link appears on is relevant to the keywords.

For example, a link like “apartments for rent in Toronto” should be placed on a web page that talks about apartments and housing in Toronto.  This would create a quality link because the actual page is discussing a topic relevant to the keywords being used in the link.

 

Landing Page Relevance

The last thing to consider is where the link is pointing.  Much like search engines take into account the relevance of the content on the linked page, they also judge the relevance of the content on the landing page.  You need to make sure that the landing page contains keyword relevant content.

Using our example of the linked keywords “apartments for rent in Toronto”, we’d want to point the link to a page that deals with Toronto apartments. That way the search engines will see that the landing page content is relevant to the keywords, and will reward that page with a higher page rank.

So, now that we know that backlinks are important, how do we generate them? 

 

Ways To Gain Backlinks

Directories

Dmoz.org is the largest open-source, human edited directory in the world and it powers the directories on AltaVista, Google, AOL, MSN and Lycos.  Submitting your URL to this directory is easy, but it usually takes some time to show up in the listings because each submission is human edited.  Although this link will not generate a lot of traffic to your website, it will deliver you a valuable backlink.  Remember what I said about the search engines placing more weight on what others say about you?  Well, because these directories are human edited and categorized by humans, the search engines give those links weight – resulting in a great backlink.

Another directory that provides great backlink value is Yahoo.  The one downside however is that the directory charges a $399 yearly fee to place a link.  If you can afford to spend the money, you’ll find it’s money well spent.

 

Purchasing Links

You can often purchase links from many websites by either requesting a link or by doing banner advertising with them.  Just be sure to confirm that the link or ad is not a “nofollow” link.  Nofollow is a value that can be assigned to an element that instructs the search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine index.  Basically speaking, it stops the voting power of the link.

 

Commenting In Forums or Blogs

Participating in blogs and forums are a great way to generate backlinks.  Simply put your URL into your profile or into some of your posts to receive some links.  Just be aware that some blogs do not allow links and the monitor may remove them.

 

News Announcements and Press Releases

You should always be asking for backlinks when you are featured in an article or press release.  Many online magazines, newspapers and association websites provide landlords with backlinks to their websites. 

 

How To Find Out How Many Backlinks You Have

If you’re interested to see how many backlinks you currently have you can visit the following websites:

  1. http://www.bluebacklinks.com
  2. http://www.getrank.org/backlink-checker/
  3. http://www.searchbliss.com/seo-tools/google-backlinks.asp

These are just some of the things you can do to increase your backlinks.  Depending on your time and financial commitment you may want to be moderately aggressive with these suggestions or highly aggressive.  One thing is for certain, backlinks help you rank with the search engines and, when done properly, the rewards are worth the time that it takes to set them up.