May 15, 2024

Cracking Googles Enigma: The True Value of Backlinks

Cracking Googles Enigma: The True Value of Backlinks

If you know anything about Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), there is a strong probability that you have an established opinion on the topic of backlinks.

If you’re new to the SEO space, you likely have no clue what I am talking about when I mentioned “backlinks”. For those who might fall into this category, don’t worry. We have taken the liberty of detailing some of the basics for you in this article.

via YARN

I don’t care if you are a self-proclaimed “SEO Guru” or just someone hoping to educate themselves on the world of backlinks, no one knows exactly how Google assigns value to backlinks.

So, as Google and the other search engines continue to gatekeep “How” they assign value to backlinks, we are forced to turn to what we do know.

Luckily for us, regular old Joe’s, Google's reasons for “Why” they value backlinks are quite clear.

Video gif. Montage of a man, maybe a preacher, wearing a suit and tie. He stands behind a podium and looks ahead, mouthing the word, "Why."

So, even though Google and other search engines refuse to tell us the “how”, we can leverage the “whys” and monitor certain backlinks' performance to make some pretty accurate presumptions about the “hows”.

Now, to keep the horse in front of the cart, we’ll dive into WHY backlinks are one of Google's most valuable assets.

“WHY” Google values backlinks

To best understand where the value lies within backlinks on the internet, let’s make a real-world comparison. Pizza. 

Who doesn’t love pizza? Good pizza, that is… and that is where the battle begins. How do you find a good local pizza parlor?

Check your local food critic blog? 

Sure, they likely tested out some local shops and have a good grasp on the local pizza scene.

Check out the opinion of a national pizza magazine? 

There’s a good chance they still picked a decent pizza shop, but they may have easily missed a small shop that the local critic wouldn’t have missed.

How about your cousin who lives 6 states away and runs a roofing blog?
Absolutely not! What does he know about pizza in my area?

Now, lets talk about how Google uses the same concept to offer the best possible results based on the search query.

Google’s best indicator of what should be the top result for a certain search, similar to how you decide on which pizza parlor to go to, is who they have backlinks from, or “links back” to them.

Without backlinks, there would be no “references” and Google would have nothing but on-site content to judge every website on the internet. This removes the concept of publicity and reputation, leaving only what the pizza parlors have to say about themselves without any input or signals of trust (backlinks) from other websites.


So, let's start with how Google would rank your local pizza shops for some searching “Pizza near me”. 

A backlink from that local food critic blog? 

Probably the best backlink you can get, depending on how old the blog is and how many pizza shops they recommend.

The national food and pizza publication? 

Also a strong backlink, but there is a good chance they recommend a lot of pizza shops, watering down the perceived value of the backlink.

Your cousin’s roofing blog? 

Yep, still useless.

Come On Biden GIF by GIPHY News


Now, change the narrative and turn your focus on a different search query: “Best Frozen Pizzas”. 

Food critic blog?

Good chance they haven’t even covered frozen pizza on their blog, but the website still carries relevance to the pizza space in general, so a backlink here will still help if it makes sense.

National Pizza Magazine?

That large food and pizza publication with the frozen pizza series will undoubtedly be the best backlink to get to rank for “Best Frozen Pizza”, as they have established expertise in the space.

Your cousin's blog?
You guessed it, still useless.

So, the point is that, while two queries can both be related to one topic, even the slightest variation in local vs. frozen, for example, can completely change whose recommendations you consider reliable. 

In the same breath, Google knows if you are a local or national, frozen or fresh, pizza or roofing, it doesn’t matter. Google will be able to determine if you are being talked about in the right circles.

Google knows. Google watches. Google rewards. Google penalizes (sometimes).

On our next iteration of Cracking Googles Enigma, we will dive into "How" Google reads backlinks, and "How" they assign value vs. remove value. So make sure to tune in next month for the next part of this 3-piece series!

Tonight Sheff G GIF by Winners Circle

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