Kate Swanson wrote her first novel at 15, created her first blog in 2006 and has been writing for profit and creating websites ever since.
If you're trying to make money online with your Hubs, one of the first things you'll read about is the importance of backlinks. Backlinks are simply links TO your Hub FROM other places on the internet.
Backlinks are essential for two reasons. One is that real people may click on them and arrive at your Hub. Bingo! You've gained a reader. However the more significant reason is that Google judges your Hub's value by the number of backlinks it has. Get enough backlinks and Google will place your Hub on page 1 of the search results - and bingo! you've gained not one, but thousands of readers!
So you need backlinks. And it won't take you much Googling to find all kinds of helpful people, eager to offer advice on how to get them, or even to arrange them for you (usually for a price...). But before you plunge in, there's something you need to know:
Google has declared war on "unnatural" backlinks
The result is that many of the backlinking advice and services currently available are outdated. They're not only ineffective, they can actually do you harm!
Why Does Google Hate Unnatural Backlinks?
Google's attitude is understandable really. The best way to explain it is with a simple analogy.
Say you're a candidate in an election. On election day, the people vote for the candidate they think is best for the job. The guy with the most votes wins.
Now say you're a crooked candidate. You pay lots of people to vote for you, and you vote several times yourself using fake ID's. The guy with the most votes - you - wins. But this time, it's not because the people thought you were the best. It's because you rigged the election.
Google sees backlinks as "votes", and the sites with the most votes win the "election" - i.e. get to the top of the search results. So naturally, they want the election to be free and fair. But webmasters discovered, long ago, that Google couldn't tell the difference between genuine votes and fake votes. So began a huge industry in ways to "rig the Google election" - by creating your own votes (backlinks).
The History of Backlinks - Directories and Social Bookmarking
The first way to create backlinks was in directories. These were just lists of websites, arranged in categories. Their original purpose was to help readers find blogs on subjects that interested them - but as search engines got better, few people used them. They became link farms - long lists of websites, submitted by webmasters to get a backlink. Eventually, Google realized that fact, and either de-indexed the directories (removed them from search results) or devalued the links. Directories went out of fashion as a backlinking source.
The "next big thing" was social bookmarking sites. The original purpose of these sites was as a place for readers to save and share links to outstanding web pages. The idea was that members wouldn't have to trawl through the search engines - they could find the cream of the internet on their social bookmarking site.
Before long, most of these sites were over-run with webmasters, bookmarking their own sites. The result today is that social bookmarking sites are no longer places to find "the cream of the internet" - few people join bookmarking sites today just for fun. And Google is well aware social bookmarking sites are primarily a place to self-promote these days, so they have now devalued the links. They're not totally worthless - but they're probably not worth the time it takes to create them.
Blog Networks and Social Networks
With social bookmarking losing its value, webmasters searched for another place to backlink. Google now placed more value on "contextual links" which are links in the middle of text, using a keyword. So for instance, using a link like Belly Dance Australia had more value than just using the website URL. So came the rise of the blog networks.
You would join the network (usually for a monthly fee) and then you could submit guest posts to all or any of the blogs on the network, and include a backlink to your website. That sounds like a fair and reasonable thing to do - like a press release, right? Not quite. For one thing, most of the blogs weren't real blogs - they were created purely to take promotional articles. As for the members, writing hundreds of articles was hard work - so they would either outsource to cheap writers, use software to create them, or steal them from other sites. Blog networks became stuffed with "splogs" (spam blogs). They contained nothing of interest to real readers, existing just to serve backlinks to please Google.
Alongside the blog networks came the rise of social networks. Google realized people weren't sharing links on bookmarking sites any more - they were sharing on Facebook and Twitter. So Google started giving more value to links on those sites (and launched their own Google+). In no time, people were offering to sell or trade Facebook Likes or +1's.
The Google Empire Strikes Back
Unfortunately, Google has to rely on robots to check web pages, and they can't read. So even though these 'splogs' were full of garbage, the robots couldn't tell, and the backlinks worked for a long time.
Until early 2012. Google finally worked out a way to find the blogs on the big blog networks and de-index them. Overnight, webmasters lost hundreds of backlinks as the blogs disappeared, which meant their websites lost their position on the search engine results. It's a manual process, and Google is still working to identify more blog networks and take them down. Any network that advertises for members is a target - if you can find them, Google can find them. Only the few private networks, which recruit only by networking, run real blogs (not splogs) and set high content standards, are likely to survive.
You'll see many paid backlinking services still advertising - but to get value from a backlink, it needs to be there for the long haul. Why would you pay money to get backlinks that may last only a few months, until Google catches up with them?
But worse was to come: the Penguin update. Google had also worked out a way to identify if a website was creating "unnatural" (self-created) backlinks. The Penguin update removed the value of those links (which naturally reduced the ranking of the website they linked to). On top of that, sites which used such links heavily, were given a penalty.
So far, it appears that Facebook, Google+ and Twitter links aren't affected. Presumably Google hasn't yet worked out how to tell the difference between real and manufactured links. However, the practice is so blatantly advertised around the internet that Google must be aware of it - so how long will it be before they do find a way to differentiate?
Links created by other people are called "natural" or "organic" links.
Google calls links created by yourself, "manufactured" links. To identify and penalize those, Google looks for patterns of linking which could be "unnatural'.
What Are Unnatural Links?
The following have been classified as "unnatural" by Google:
Links on unrelated pages
If a real blogger is going to recommend your Hub, or use it as a reference, it's going to be on a page about the same topic. You wouldn't expect someone writing about dog washing to refer to a Hub about feather dusters, for instance. So if Google finds a link on a page that has no relevance to yours, it suspects the link was arranged artificially.
Contextual Links (anchor text)
Conventional SEO wisdom says that when you write a Hub, you should work out what keywords you're targeting and make sure you use them in headings, sub-headings etc. Then when you write articles, comments, Tweet etc to promote it, you use the same keywords.
Google has realized that if real people are recommending your Hub, there's no way every single person would use exactly the same word or phrase to describe it. In fact, they're more likely to say, "To read more about this aspect of ballet, click here."
So if Google find lots of links to your Hub, all using nicely chosen "anchor text" - and especially if it's the same every time - they'll suspect you made them.
So far, it appears that Google won't penalize you for having a few unnatural links. There's an interesting analysis in this article by Microsite Masters, showing that you're only likely to be in trouble if more than half your links fall into these categories.
So How Do I Get Effective Backlinks?
The lesson from the history of backlinking is that an excess of anything never works. Inevitably, someone will spy a loophole in Google's new algorithms and that will become "the next big thing". History tells us that "the next big thing" is the next thing Google will target, so it won't last long. You could try riding the wave while it lasts - but with Google not just devaluing links but actively penalizing websites which have used them, that may backfire.
Unfortunately, if you don't create some backlinks yourself, your Hubs risk sinking into oblivion. And there are still some opportunities, they just take more work.
Two simple and effective options are Pinterest, forums and other blogs on your topic.
When I talk about Pinterest, I don't mean pinning your own photos on Pinterest. If you have a specialist topic and can create a fascinating Pinterest board full of photos from your own Hub plus heaps of photos from elsewhere, then you can create a following - but it's a lot of effort, and if you don't have a specialist subject, the return is definitely not worth the time.
What you can do is create Made for Pinterest images for your Hubs - which will make it more likely that other people will pin your images.
Again, this strategy is effective only if you have a specialist subject. Joining lots of different forums and building enough of a reputation simply takes too long to be worth doing for just a few Hubs.
When you join a forum, get to know people and participate helpfully before you start sharing your Hubs. You may be able to add a link to your Hub or website in a forum signature, which is ideal - it means that every time you post, you get an automatic backlink. And there may be times when you can refer to a Hub in a forum post, if it's genuinely relevant (just don't overdo it and certainly don't do it until you're a well-known community member).
Forum links may sometimes be "no follow", which means they won't count with Google - but you're getting your link in front of readers who are interested in your topic, so they're likely to visit your Hub or blog. And if you've written good quality content, they may Facebook Like it, Tweet it or Pin it - all natural links which Google will like.
Search for other blogs on your topic and leave comments. Don't try to leave a link IN your comment - it will just get deleted as spam. Instead, look for blogs where you're asked to fill in your name and website when you comment - your name will become a link to your site when the comment appears. Again, these may be no follow, but you're getting into a discussion with people who are interested in your subject.
The most valuable backlinks are links in articles you contribute to other people's blogs (called guest posting).
Finding guest posting opportunities can be tough, but the backlinks are so valuable, it's worth the effort. Look for good quality blogs on your topic, write to the blog owner and offer to contribute a post. Suggest one or two intriguing titles to whet their appetite, and give some information on your credentials. Explain that all you want in return is a link to your own Hub or blog, either in the text of the guest post or in an author bio section.
Google used to value guest blogging links very highly. They don't now - but what you are doing is exposing your name to a new group of readers interested in your topic, and that's worthwhile.
If you notice someone has linked to your Hub or blog from an article on their website, write and thank them. You never know what other opportunities you may discover by networking with related sites.
Sometimes you'll hear from a blogger who'd like to "swap links". If you accept, your link will be placed on their sidebar or on a Links page. Google recognizes these links as webmasters promoting each other, and doesn't give them much value. Any blogger who is link swapping may be following other strategies Google doesn't like - so on balance, I would politely decline.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your Hubs or blogs on social bookmarking or social networking sites. It doesn't really matter which one you choose, so long as you join to genuinely use the service, and not just to self-promote (which might look unnatural).
For those who are ready to get a bit more sophisticated, I recommend this article.
Janisa from Earth on July 09, 2018:
Thanks for the tips
Reginald Thomas from Connecticut on May 29, 2018:
Great information in your article. Thank you. I will use it help my articles.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 16, 2018:
Jean, that's exactly why I don't suggest it in this article.
Jean Harris on January 16, 2018:
A note about sharing your stuff on other social sites. There may be an immediate benefit as the mentions on other sites are very fresh but as those mentions fade and become unreachable their value diminishes.
When you share something on social media you would ideally like what you share to be re-shared as much as possible but the lasting benefit comes when the page being shared is also discussed, linked to or otherwise made important on others site off the social network.
You can't make this happen if you automate the sharing process to a social media profile that has no real viewers or has zero chance of being relayed off that social network.
Great article Marisa!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 14, 2017:
I think that could very well be successful, Ken
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 10, 2017:
(Hope that you are tucked in safely from Irma).
I had one question:
I am thinking seriously about writing a few "do it yourself" things in hub form such as "Easy Ways to Build Birdhouses," etc.
I need your honest opinion as to would this type of hub help me generate money and help people with this hobby?
Thanks in advance, Marisa.
Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on September 09, 2017:
Thank you for the info. Will try to implement it.
Tamara Moore on September 07, 2017:
Wow, thank you; I just learned a lot!
Noa Keshet from Israel on June 09, 2017:
Thank you for a very helpful hub! It finally helped me make sense of the concept of Backlinks.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 15, 2017:
I think posting your Hubs on facebook would be a very bad idea, frankly. You can certainly share links to your Hubs on Facebook.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on February 12, 2017:
I am here refreshing myself on your great tips on getting readers for hubs and I wondered what you think about my decision to start
posting my hubs on Facebook as well as HP.
Is this a plus or a negative move?
Thanks in advance.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 12, 2017:
I'm definitely not a self-promoter either, which is the main reason I gave up on the idea of making a living online! I find that articles on the niche sites get fairly good traffic without much promotion so that's the main thing to aim for.
Frances Metcalfe from The Limousin, France on February 12, 2017:
Another useful hub Marisa! Looking at forums now to join. I must say I find the marketing rather exhausting, I'm not a natural at self promotion. I'd like to earn a little if I can - we'll see....
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 29, 2016:
Thanks Ken, I hope it helped.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 28, 2016:
Very organized; To-the-point; No wasted phrases and no flowery words which were my editor's touchy points.
Great information. Well-written.
And the lay-out was superb. Nothing to confuse my viewing of the text.
These are honest comments.
Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on July 26, 2016:
Thanks for the info Marisa. Will start some backlinks.
Robert Morgan on August 14, 2015:
Marisa, thank you, great hub and helpful information. I'm just getting started on Hubpages, and this type of advice is helping me to be a better hubber. This is one article I'll be back to and refer to periodically. I will definitely read your related articles on this topic! Thanks a million. Bobby
Dianemae on July 11, 2015:
Great info now I need to figure out how to use it.
Colin Garrow from Inverbervie, Scotland on June 14, 2015:
It all sounds like a bit of a backlink minefield to me, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Great Hub, voted up.
Jacobb9205 on April 19, 2015:
I try to create as many backlinks as possible whether it be on forums or social networking websites I try to get the most.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on February 02, 2015:
Complete and easy to understand even if it is a bit disheartening. I have a blog and I will write a post on that blog on the same topic as my hub and then link to the hub (or vice versa). Is that a valid backlink? Does google automatically discount if the owner of the domains is the same?
There is so much to learn. Thank you for helping.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 28, 2015:
great tips, i get my readers from tsu, and other social medias that i shared with. In addition, I leave comments in other articles which get back more viewers
Elaine Davenport from USA on December 14, 2014:
Marisa, thank-you for this helpful information. I'm just getting started on Hubpages, and this type of advice will certainly come in handy. A good article to go back and refer to periodically. I will definitely read your related articles on this topic!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 07, 2014:
great hub. I never expect that backlinks were essential until i started to use them. Yeah, it did bring traffic, just a handful but better than never
toknowinfo on October 16, 2014:
Thanks for a well done hub and for validating some of the things I am doing. This was well put together and is full of great info.
Anne Harrison from Australia on October 15, 2014:
Thank you - I am slowly getting my head around this, but know I will refer back to this and other of your hubs as I try to establish myself. Thank you for the much needed help!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 15, 2014:
Another excellent hub. Backlinks have always been a puzzle to me but you've made it very clear now. What Google wants is what will satisfy its customers, the ones who searches. I want to see articles that are worth reading and not those that just went up because they got a game going. I noticed before that my pages in my site got better ranked when I removed all the links to Squidoo so now I am cleaning up affiliate links as well to limit the number in each page. Is 2 to a page fine?
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 25, 2014:
I can see why they don't. As I point out in the article, creating your own links is artificial - Google really wants genuine backlinks.
DREAM ON on September 25, 2014:
Your hub cleared up some confusion about back linking.I don't understand why Hubpages and other places don't make it easier. Just a click of button and it's done. It's almost like they don't want you to succeed.Have a great day.
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on September 08, 2014:
Very interesting information about backlinks and its history, what not to do and what you can do. Thank you very much! This is the clearest information about backlinks that I have ever read so far.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 01, 2014:
Bubblews is not a scam - there have been payment difficulties but not everyone has had trouble. I wouldn't recommend it as a long term strategy, but what it IS good for as a way to earn money from articles which won't get Google traffic (such as your opinion pieces), because it doesn't rely on Google. I'll PM you with an explanation of how you could make it work for you.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 01, 2014:
Hmmmm..interesting. Although, most of my miscellaneous blog is more opinion essays, not snippets--like 'how to fix the government,' and are too long for what I understand about Bubblews... about which, by the way, I've heard very mixed reviews, and a charge by one author here on HP that it's an outright scam, accusing that you only get paid the first time, and that they then find a myriad of excuses to deny/delay further payments. **shrug**
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 01, 2014:
Sorry MsLizzy, I thought you were using the HubPages widget. Yes, if it's showing only animals it should be OK. As for your miscellaneous blog - your "neglect" has NOTHING to do with its lack of traffic! A miscellaneous blog will never do well and isn't even worth the effort to write. If you have small snippets which you feel driven to share, put them on Bubblews - it won't earn much but it will do better than on your blog.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 01, 2014:
The utility on Blogspot that allows the sidebar also lets you select the type/category of post, so on my Cat's blog, I've selected for any of my articles about animals to be shown, and not others.
That should be okay, right?
(And you're right--my miscellaneous blog attracts very little attention, partly because it's been rather neglected in favor of putting my efforts here. Everyone says "diversify," but I can't spread myself that thin. I have too much else on my plate with hubby's health issues.)
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 01, 2014:
MsLizzy, it's not a good idea on your Cats blog because you're showing links to unrelated Hubs, which Google won't like. On your miscellaneous blog, it won't hurt - but I'm guessing your miscellaneous blog doesn't get many visitors anyway, because they generally do very badly, so it hardly matters. Your Tweetburner is fine, you're definitely not being spamacious (I like it!)
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 31, 2014:
Interesting--and a bit convoluted and perplexing of a process, I must say!
So, is this to say that on my miscellaneous blog and on my "cat's" blog, I should NOT have a sidebar promoting my latest HP articles (It's auto-feed, and the blogs are on Google's Blogspot...)
I also use the automatic "Tweetburner" which auto-posts all my new articles to both FB and Twitter, searching, I believe, at 1-hour intervals...But since I don't write new articles daily, there's unlikely to be a "spamacious" amount... (how do you like my new word??) LOL
Diana Grant from London on August 24, 2014:
This is the first time I've read an article about backlinks which I have actually understood - you have written a very clear explanation, thanks.
Kamal Mohta from Guangzhou on August 22, 2014:
Great article on backlinks. Your hub is still relevant even after 2 years, which is like a lifetime in the internet world.
So much has changed as google diminished the value of anchor text, guest posts, blog post, forum comments and other methods for gaining backlinks. In my opinion, SEO has reduced to producing useful content and making website that is easy for robots to crawl and index.
Once again, thanks for compiling, writing and sharing this hub which would serve as a guide for those who seek to learn about promoting their articles.
John from New Brunswick, Canada on August 12, 2014:
Helpful information. I've bookmarked this temporarily so I can make use of your advice.
Jasmeet Kaur from India on August 01, 2014:
Voted up!! Really very interesting and helpful as I am still looking for how to get real backlinks...
Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on June 22, 2014:
Great work Marisa, this article really tells a lot about backlinking. I am now clearer about this subject.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on May 10, 2014:
Yes I know! If you want to make a living by writing online, it's about 10% writing and 90% "other stuff", unfortunately.
Lisa René LeClair from the ATL on May 10, 2014:
I have so much to learn... *Sigh* I wish it could be as simple as writing & running! Between HubPages, Bubblews, my website and social media, it just seems like there's not enough time in the day ––probably because there isn't! ;-)
Kevin W from Texas on April 29, 2014:
Marisa this was a very helpful & informative hub. There was a lot I was still unaware of. I was using stumble upon but stopped. Voted up on your hub.
Sharon from Perth on April 13, 2014:
Thanks for a great helpful hub, They sure have made it harder now without the old backlinks
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 20, 2014:
Yes, Stumbleupon is basically an artificial link site. It can generate traffic spikes but those visitors rarely click on ads and don't stay long, which can make your bounce rate look bad.
Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on February 19, 2014:
Marisa, thanks for this helpful information. I'd be interested to know how StumbleUpon fits into this picture. It's beginning to sound like one of the artificial back link sites. Great hub. Thanks for the help.
Dan Reed on February 16, 2014:
Thank you for sharing this and helping me down the path I'm on.
Martin VK from Copenhagen, Denmark on January 09, 2014:
Thanks for this great advice. You're explaining some complicated stuff in a simple way. Keep it up!
Earl Noah Bernsby on December 09, 2013:
This certainly clarifies a lot, Marisa Wright! It's interesting to read up on the eternal struggle between webmasters and Google programmers!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on November 16, 2013:
Yes you did, Jess, and I'm sure that Hubber will be most grateful!
Jess Brazeau from Canada on November 14, 2013:
Holy Moly! This was so informational and helpful! Well done! I honestly had no idea there was sooo much to how Google chooses to place people I their search engine results.. It's kind of mind boggling when you really stop and think about it.
It's funny because I actually 'back linked' another hubber just today, without even realizing that's what I was doing. lol. Someone made a comment on one of my hubs, which naturally lead me to check out their profile and found that they had posted a few really great hubs on a subject relevant to a hub I just posted.. I left him a comment and asked if he wouldn't mind if I referenced his profile/hubs.. I thought it would be a great way to give my readers a chance to get more information about a particular topic (first aid)... I guess that means I provided a back link for another Hubber? ... A natural back link? lol... I'm still trying to grasp the Google lingo.
Very very helpful hub! Fantastic job!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on November 05, 2013:
@Suzanne, I don't write much these days so I don't backlink much either. However, people who do this for a living tell me that backlinks can still make a huge difference (unfortunately), so if you have an article that's doing well without links, it would be doing even better with them!
Most of my backlinks are the type which attract real readers - e.g. I'm active on some forums where I'm known as someone who offers good advice, and those people come and read my Hubs and blog posts and recommend them to others. Which I think is what you're talking about, basically.
Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on November 05, 2013:
Hi Marisa, great article and I liked the history of the backlinking issues. I liked someone's idea about writing groups of hubs in a niche area, and to some degree, have been following that and it does seem to help. I have given up on backlinking myself due to too much work for too little return, preferring instead just to write more articles and have fun!
I do think that choosing a useful topic for readers is the right way to go, and I believe that whatever is trendy for backlinks will be outdated soon enough, so why bother working for nothing? Conversely, some of my "random" articles where I just put some stuff out there without any thought to keywords or backlinks in the past has done pretty well for itself. The key was obviously quality and reader engagement.
I know if I read an outstanding hub, I'd want to comment and link with it, even if it was the 10th one on Google's search results. But I will never engage with articles that look terrible or are hard to read. Therefore going forward I suggest that it might be wise to rewrite or check anything which doesn't engage readers if you want to improve traffic (over time). It's better to have one convinced and outspoken reader who'll want to make it viral than 10 people who land on the page and leave without looking at it at all. Google will eliminate all these eventually anyway.
PS - can't wait for the day when Google will fix the copying of hubs by identifying the original owner with either a date stamp or patent gateway for online scribblings...
Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 08, 2013:
Congratulations on winning "Most Helpful Hubber Award." I believe it's hubs like this one that inspired so many to vote for you.
Michelle Orelup from Las Vegas, NV on September 10, 2013:
I wish there was a way to 'Favorite' hubs. This would definitely be included! Well done, and thank you for breaking this information into a non-technical format. Voted up!
Kerry43 on July 25, 2013:
Hi Marisa, just cruising a few more of your hubs. I have been away for several months, and it doesn't take long to miss out on valuable information, or simply forget how things need to be done. I do need to get that domain name too, now that I am back on blogger -in reference to a response you made to my earlier comment on your other hub. Thanks for the prompt.
Say g'day to good old Sydney for me, I spent so much time there as a child and have fond memories.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 24, 2013:
Good to hear from someone who finds interlinking works. I think it's a great opportunity for Hubbers who have unFeatured Hubs to move them to other rev-sharing sites and interlink them.
Bobby from U.K on July 23, 2013:
This is a really useful article and I learned some new aspects of backlinking that I hadn't even thought about before. I love linking my articles together across the different platforms that I use and I have found that it's a great way to get my readers to my other articles where they can get related information. Voted up and thanks again :-)
Sukhdev Shukla from Dehra Dun, India on July 07, 2013:
marisawright, thanks for posting such a valuable information specially for newbies. I agree with you that back linking done in a natural way will be more paying rather than using unfair/outdated means. Voted up.
Barbara Badder from USA on July 07, 2013:
You've got a lot of good advice here. To be honest, I am ready to forget about Google. It brings a lot of traffic, but you can't totally rely on it. I'm going to start working on other avenues, which may help my Google traffic too. Thanks for all of your advice.
Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on July 07, 2013:
Great explanation on back links. Your analogy of "votes" in your explanation is the best I have ever heard! It's nice to know "the rules of the game" that we have to play with Google. I know Google is doing things for the benefit of their readers, but it is confusing to know how to promote our hubs with things changing all the time. I really found this very useful. Voted up, useful, interesting and sharing. Thank you!
Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on June 30, 2013:
This was good clarification on backlinks, how Google treats them, and why Google de-values some. Also, good information on how to get valuable backlinks.
Jennifer Suchey on May 31, 2013:
Great article with in depth insight and advice. I wouldn't expect anything less from you. In regard to back links with "real articles", I actually like that a writer has to "write quality content" to back link and promote their sites. After all, we are "writers" right?! ;)
Beth37 on April 16, 2013:
Good info, thanks Marissa. :)
Kenneth Claude from Ohio on April 13, 2013:
Thanks for the awesome hub. I learned a lot more about backlinks. I actually was tempted to look into the people advertising to give me "likes". I'll do the work myself and natural.
Ceres Schwarz on April 13, 2013:
Thanks for such an informative hub on backlinking that's easy to understand. You've really explained things well. Backlinking can be such a confusing topic. But you've managed to explain a lot of things about it, including its history and what not to do regarding backlinks.
Joseph Muendo from Nairobi, Kenya on April 04, 2013:
Thanks for the informative hub. voted up.
ceejay1980 on March 11, 2013:
Very informative. I think the best way to get traffic is to write 'naturally', without stuffing keywords left, right, and center! I initially fell for the trap of 'automatic back-linking' through software programs, but I now know better! Thanks for this well-researched article.
travelingmum on March 08, 2013:
Great backlink tips! Thanks!
Thelma Alberts from Germany on February 10, 2013:
Great hub with a lot of informations. Thanks for sharing them to us. It´s a great help for me. Voted up and more.
Felipe717 from Philadelphia, PA on February 05, 2013:
Great Hub Marisa! I love how you put examples of backlinks directly in your Hub.
Missy Mac from Illinois on January 31, 2013:
Wonderful! I was wondering about back links and social network connections. Thanks for the great tips! I have learned much about Google changes. I started writing as the changes started.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 31, 2013:
@Chris, I don't think authority is worth worrying about. You can waste a lot of time trying to get high-ranking sites to accept your post. They don't need your help so they're less likely to be responsive.
It can be easier to get guest posts accepted by sites that are new and not ranking so well. While your posts may not get in front of as many real readers, they still count as backlinks - and as those sites rise in the rankings, their value will improve.
Anna Sternfeldt from Svenljunga, Sweden on January 31, 2013:
Marisa and Everyday Miracles - you are just great!! Thank you so much for sharing all this experienced knowledge. It is so helpful.
chrisinhawaii on January 30, 2013:
Great article Marisa. Relevance is the key to creating effective backlinks.
But I was expecting you to mention not only the relevance, but also the authority of those link sources as well. Do you find that if makes much difference -- whether the links you get are from established sites on page 1 of Google search -- as compared to newer sites that don't rank as well?
I apologize if you've already addressed that in the comments above. I didn't read them all yet.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 30, 2013:
Hi, EverydayMiracles, long time no see! Great comment, can't add a thing to it.
greencha from UK on January 30, 2013:
That's very interesting .thankyou.
Becki Rizzuti from Indiana, USA on January 30, 2013:
Anna, one thing to think about is the fact that when you're writing, you should be working on building a niche (or niches -- plural) about which you write multiple articles. Obviously there are some people who follow trends, but this is easy enough to do when you're working on creating "evergreen" content. As an example, I have multiple articles about the topics The Hunger Games and The Sims 3, plus I write book reviews and write about reviewing books.
These are all topics about which it is very easy for me to build an overall niche, writing on Hubpages, Squidoo, Zujava, Wizzley and my own personal blogs (of which there are several). Careful linking from one page to another (on a different platform) guides users through the different pages, where they can buy a product that they're interested in or learn more about the thing I'm writing about.
As far as I've discovered, this is the single easiest way to create back links. There are other methods, but they are trickier, considering how easy it is for bloggers to delete inappropriate comments (link-dropping) or for forums to delete users who use the forums as a means to spam their links. In this way, you're totally in control of your own link content, and it works not only for the search engines, but also for guiding readers through your content.
Hubpages is good, and I make more money here than I do on any other site, but by itself it's not enough to do everything that I want to accomplish as a writer (author, and book reviewer).
Plus I've noticed that some topics do better on one platform than on another. I sell more books through Hubpages than through Squidoo (which is a platform people go to specifically to purchase things!), but find that longer, more interactive pieces do better on Squidoo or Wizzley than on Hubpages and Zujava. If I want feedback and to be conversational with readers, I go to my blog.
The important thing is to know your audience, know what does well on what platform(s) and then write, cross linking from one page to another without link-loading. For example, Hubpages allows two links per domain. I tend to only use one of them, then spread things out from there. Link a hub to a lens and both back to my blog, which links out to everything, since the blog is my own personal Internet real-estate.
Not sure if that made any sense, but that's how I do it.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 30, 2013:
Anna, most people don't spread their articles - but they should, for several reasons.
One is for backlinking - you need backlinks, and although links between articles on the same site is good, they're not backlinks. You will get more Google traffic with articles interlinked on different sites, than from articles interlinked on the same site.
Two - It's dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, unless you own the basket. I've seen several writing sites fold, or change for the worst. Today.com was sold to people who didn't want the content, only the name, so they closed it down and all members lost their work overnight without notification. Excerptz was a victim of spammers. Factoidz defrauded its writers. There have been others.
There's no advantage to putting all your work on one revenue-sharing site, because readers visiting sites like HubPages rarely notice who wrote the article. They're far, far more likely to read articles by other members on the same topic, than to visit your profile and read your other work. If you want to build your image as a writer, you need a blog - but remember a generalist blog doesn't work.
Anna Sternfeldt from Svenljunga, Sweden on January 30, 2013:
I have been pondering on the content here for a while and I have a question that may not be completely relevant for the "link" subject discussed here, but I ask and see what you say. Marisa, you write that we could refer to articles we have on other writing sites, like Zuvaja, Wissley and Infobarre, but as a newbie on Hubpages I wonder if people usually "spread" their articles and why? Well, I can I understand the purpose getting a wider audience, but couldn't it also be a point with having your work in one place, and instead trying to spread your hubs and your profile link to forums and others in the way you describe here? But maybe that depends on how much you write and how many different subjects you cover. Would be glad to hear some short feedback on my wonders on this... You need to ask stupid questions to learn :-)
greencha from UK on January 30, 2013:
Anna Sternfeldt from Svenljunga, Sweden on January 30, 2013:
Great stuff! I have learned a lot by reading this hub and I am sure it will be of huge help for a lot of people, including me :-)
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 30, 2013:
Glad to help Greencha. Not that genius - remember I've been doing this for over 5 years, and there used to be a heap of real geniuses here on HubPages, who taught me everything I know!
By "mixing up keywords", I mean thinking of all the different words or phrases people might use to find your article, and using them all rather than repeating the same keyword all the time.
greencha from UK on January 29, 2013:
Marisa, Your a genious ,(non-patronising here). Gosh sound like Google could do with you on their board! Very helpful-- but will have to re-read. Could you kindly clarify what you mean when you mix up the key words? Thanks Ms genious.
David from Birmingham, UK on January 07, 2013:
This is the clearest, most useful article on backlinking I have ever read. Thanks for clarifying this whole thing so well. Also good to know I don't need to worry about social bookmarking sites too.
Rebecca E. from Canada on January 07, 2013:
marisa-- sorry I didn't get around to reading this earlier- but it has helped me understand a lot more about what works, and what doesn't work these days when it comes to backlinks-- and you are correct getting a reader (a real reader) is hard work!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 31, 2012:
Glad my Hubbing Hubs were helpful - it is a big learning curve when you first start online!
Agnes on December 31, 2012:
I can honestly say this is by far THE BEST article I could find on backlinks! Finally somebody explained it the right way - simple and easy to understand. Thanks a lot!!
Sophia Angelique on December 27, 2012:
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 27, 2012:
Shai, unfortunately you're part right and part wrong. Some kinds of "cheating" are still very effective, which is why you see spammy sites at the top of search engine results! However, Google does eventually catch up to the latest scam and close down the loophole, and those site owners have to start all over again. So in the long run, it's a whole lot easier to do the right thing!
H Lax on December 27, 2012:
Marisa, Thank you for clarifying backlinks for me. It seems that all my hubs automatically get one backlink but I have no clue how to figure out who is linking to them. Other than that I don't get any other backlinks and it's probably because I need to do many of the things you suggested. I will definitely look into what you have said and hopefully I can figure it out. Thanks for sharing. Voted +++
Chen on December 26, 2012:
That is complex but it makes sense. Seems it just doesn't pay to find a loophole or "cheat" because it's just going to keep bringing changes. Good advice, thanks! VU & Useful
toknowinfo on December 26, 2012:
Thank you for this excellent and clear cut explanation about back links. I learned a lot and appreciate your knowledge on this subject.
Gina145 from South Africa on November 17, 2012:
Thanks. This has cleared up some things I'd heard of but never really understood.
Annette R. Smith from Ocala, Florida on September 20, 2012:
Thank you for this useful hub, Marisa. I'm trying to develop an effective backlinking strategy, and your advice gives me a lot to think about regarding safe and effective backlinks after the Google changes.
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on August 22, 2012:
I stop trying to do the back link thing. After Penguin I had to remove all my outgoing links even the amazon capsules and redo them. I just post to FB, Twitter and Google+ nothing more. I don't even trust Redgage and certainly not SocialMonkee anymore. This is very informative, really appreciate the info.
ken blair on August 04, 2012:
This is hub really very timely as a lot of us have been affected with Google updates. Thanks for explaining things well here.
Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on July 23, 2012:
useful hub, thanks
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 19, 2012:
Sounds like a good book, Rock! Until very recently, the advice was to pick one or two keywords and use them as anchor text all the time - and you will still see that advice on many sites and in many older books. Google is now on the lookout for that pattern, so mixing it up is the new way to go.