Here are the slides from a short talk on the value of backlinks and basic SEO for startups that I gave in 2013 to a group of entrepreneurs at Innovation Birmingham. Notes on each slide are available below in text format.
The Value of Backlinks
This presentation will look at the topics listed:
What is SEO?
Why is SEO important for startups?
What are backlinks?
Links passing attributes.
Competitor analysis through backlinks.
What is SEO
SEO is the act or practice of making your site more visible to search engines to better facilitate users or clients finding your site. Search engines generally look at three groups of factors to rank sites, on page factors, off page factors and user intent. Links are an off page factor we’ll discuss in greater detail in this presentation.
Importance of SEO for startups
Startups may lack name recognition in the market, are often still establishing a client base, may lack budgets for traditional marketing and are usually looking to break into an exsiting market. Basic, low cost SEO for startups could let them increase discovery without incurring higher costs.
Backlinks are an off page factor that most search engines use as part of their ranking algorithms. The act as a vote of confidence from the referring domain, indicating to search engines that the referring domain found value in the linked content. Backlinks can pass along indications of trust, value or may pass along negative attributes.
Measuring link value
Most search engines don’t have a publicly available, transparent algorithm for how they rank sites or value backlinks, so webmasters are left to use their best judgement and available best practices and guidelines. Without having solid data from the search engines, may turn to third party metrics to judge the value of their links. I’ll be looking at two metrics from Majestic SEO
Trust flow is a metric designed to show how well connected a site is to the trusted parts of the internet which may reflect the relative quality of the site’s links.
Citation flow is a metric designed to measure the volume of power that a site’s links bring to it.
Both Trust and Citation flow are scores out of 100. As these metrics cover the entire range of the web, it’s rare to see numbers in the 80+ range outside of giant, internationally recognized sites. Ideally, you’ll want to see Trust flow roughly equal to or higher than Citation flow. Seeing significantly higher Citation flow than Trust flow could indicate a spammy link profile.
Good Link Profile
This image shows each of the referring domains for a large site mapped out on an X Y axis showing Trust and Citation flow. We’re seeing a strong peak and the mass of referring domains following the center line. This is an unusually strong link profile, with a significant amount of Trust.
Bad Link Profile
This image shows the same data, for a site with a much less impressive link profile. This site has significantly higher Citation flow than Trust flow, suggesting that the links may look spammy or unnatural and that this site my be at a higher risk of penalties. The Citation flow for this site is dramatically higher than the Trust.
Backlinks can be about more than just SEO for startups. Links can also be used to discover valuable insights about competitors. Their link profiles can be used to gauge their relative strength both in search and the market, may allow you to discover keyword they’ve optimized for through their anchor text, can help you identify their clients, users and fans and may lend insight into their marketing strategy.
Have questions about SEO for startups? Ask in the comments below or find me on Twitter.