Being a blogger, one of the things that so many of us get confused about, or maybe I should say ‘misled’ about is the value of a backlink. The value of YOUR backlink. I’m going to tell you the truth about how backlinks work, what your link is worth to you, and how bloggers are being taken advantage of!
DISCLAIMER: All information in this post is based on my self-taught opinion, after being scammed too many times, being taken advantage of too many times, and being too naive to even realise it.
What is backlinking?
Backlinking is basically a form of currency on the internet.
P.S. it’s called ‘link juice’ but that term sounds gross to me!
For the purposes of this post, I am ONLY referring to a do-follow link. There are two types of links, the do-follow and the no-follow, but no-follow links basically block the link juice. This post is only about Do-Follow links.
Once you become aware of what a backlink is, almost every blogger in the world has typed into google backlink, or googled, “how to build backlinks”, or even, how to get backlinks. We all want to do a bit of backlink building. Because a backlink is worth something!
Basically, a backlink is a link from one blog or website to another. It is your url … either to your website home page, or a specific blog or page post.
Websites like Amazon, or any major news channel, or even Facebook, are the ‘big hitters’. So if 100 people link to each of their site per
day hour (for example), then they are benefitting from 100 links.
Now to them, those 100 links are cool, but they are so big that they don’t “need” it. However, if they were to pick up a post of mine and link it to a post on their website, that’s like hitting an invisible jackpot for me.
This is where Domain Authority comes into play.
Why Domain Authority Matters
At the time of writing this, my blog’s Domain Authority is 30.
To put that into perspective, Sky News website has a DA of 91 whilst Amazon has a DA of 94. That is NOT likely for a blogger. Unless you’re ridiculously successful. They are few and far between.
- Your DA of 5 is an average new blog’s DA.
- A DA of 20 is good, you’re getting there.
- DA of 30 is like a milestone that is worthy of being noticed. (I’m not just saying that. mine’s been 30 for months. I have definitely stagnated.)
- A DA of 40 is really good.
- But a DA of 50 and over is like the holy grail. You’re a pro. You can hang your coat up.
It all comes down to credibility.
So if I link to an article I see published on a news channel, it’s cool for them – they notice, but it happens so often that it’s not worth thanking me for or anything. However, if they link to me it’s epic! For me!
If a big site links to you, it gives you huge credibility.
If 100 small sites link to you, same thing.
How Does This Translate For Bloggers & Brands?
If you have a DA of 20 and you link to a site that has a DA of 40, you are giving them your credibility and your ‘link juice’ but it’s not doing YOU any favours – positive or negative. It’s all about them.
How To Build Backlinks
That’s one of the main reasons people do guest posts, although there are at least three different ways to build up backlinks for a website if not more.
There are three different types of Guest Posts:
- Writing a post for another blogger/website with the expectation that they will link back to your website (backlink), and share the post to their social media crediting your blog/brand on social media too.
- Having someone guest post for you which includes a backlink OUT of your site to another site.
- Sponsored content – but I’m not going to discuss that in this post
There are a number of other ways to build backlinks. Contact me if you need more advice.
What’s a Guest Post between bloggers?
If I write a post on another blogger’s site who has a DA of 40, and she says “written by Carly of Mom Of Two Little Girls” and includes a link back to my blog then I get THEIR credibility. Even if no one bothers to click through to my site THAT LINK is what I want. And I will also get exposure to her audience, double win.
When good/nice/professional bloggers do this, they usually tag the guest blogger on their social media channels too when promoting the post. It’s the right thing to do. It’s honest and respectful.
This type of Guest Posting is a legitimate way of creating Backlinks for your blog. It’s a fair exchange for work, for content. Always remember, YOU are writing content for another website [how many hours did you put into that post?], and they are linking back to you to say thank you, exposing you to a wider audience. Win Win!
It works both ways too. If you are accepting guest posts from other bloggers, the linking and crediting should be returned. [Don’t be a dick!]
Speaking of manners, it’s also bad form to remove the backlink you gave to your guest poster from your blog post after a set amount of time. Seriously, in that instance, you are being a dick and technically you should delete the entire post (and stats too!). But we all know the answer to that one!
The Blogger’s Backlink Problem
Unfortunately, the world seems to have gone a little bit
batshit backlink crazy. There are now entire companies out there whose sole purpose is to build backlinks for their clients. They are a backlink generator! They are literally paid to find websites/blogs that will give them backlinks to their sites.
Read that again … THEY ARE PAID TO FIND BLOGGERS WHO WILL INCLUDE A BACKLINK FOR THEIR CLIENT! Again … PAID!
As bloggers we get email offers from these type companies mentioned above (backlinking agencies) on a very regular basis, sometimes multiple times a day! It’s insane. Usually, it will come from some random Gmail email address or some other personal email address. (FIRST RED FLAG)
Most of them offer to provide you with a ‘well-written post that will appeal to your audience.
Initially, you think that’s cool. Free, fairly well-written content, great for SEO. However, there will NO DOUBT be a backlink in there to their client’s website. They will NOT disclose that unless you ask. (SECOND RED FLAG). Always ask!
If you are okay with that, then fine, that’s your call. But I would ALWAYS check who the actual client/website you’re linking to is. You don’t want to naively link back to a brand or organisation that your brand is not aligned with. For example, amongst others, I personally don’t want to ever promote debt, or loans, or credit cards or loans on my website. So I will make 100% sure that any links that I publish on my site DO NOT go to those sorts of websites.
Other ones to avoid would be gambling, porn, and anything dodgy. Just check, please?!
Is It Worth It For You??
The other problem is that these backlinking companies usually ‘don’t have a budget’, or they offer you something pathetic like $15. Seriously. Like I said above, THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO THIS! Like a middleman!
Now I’m not scoffing at $15, but with a DA of 30 that’s not a good enough rate for my backlink. I can and should charge significantly more because my DA is good for them. And a link from my site with a DA of 30 is more valuable to them than a link from a blog/website with a DA of 5.
I hope you’re still with me. Are you following?
At this point, I would strongly suggest you check what your DA is, and maybe do a bit of research within your niche to see what others are charging for backlinks. For some reason, some of this is a huge big secret. There are a number of different websites you can check. One of the leading experts on this is MOZ.
When and Why You Should Be Standing Up For Your Blog!
There is another issue that I need to address when it comes to the value of your backlink and that is the issue of the websites that take advantage of bloggers content without properly crediting them back!
Example A: Initiated by [naive] me!
I am a blogger. I’m trying to grow my brand. I want to expand the exposure to my writing, my work. I want to get my writing read.
Then I hear that x website and y website are accepting blog posts by bloggers in my niche. I get super excited. I apply to have my work published on their platform.
It’s accepted and I am ecstatic. I am incredibly proud to be able to say that I was published on that website. Therefore, they must really love my writing. Right?
Most of these types even accept content that you have already published on your site! Awesome! Ticking all the boxes here!
NOT!!! FYI Google penalises duplicated content! Do not do it. If you are going to go down this road, then at least write an original piece!
Example B: They Reach Out To You
Sometimes a well-respected website will approach you. They will ask you if you could please sign up to be one of their Content Creators and in return, you will have an Author Profile on their website, with a high-quality backlink that links back to your blog and you get the DA benefit of that.
They really sell the whole ‘it’s good for your SEO’ etc.
You are incredibly honoured and somehow feel validated! You are super proud and you tell all your family and friends.
When the post is published on the big website you go and share it all over your blog/brand’s social media. And then you probably share it to your personal social media too. It’s your work. You’re super proud.
It’s important to remember that every time that post is read, that click is going through to their website. Your writing, but their click, their website. Not yours.
Over the next few days or weeks you repeatedly refresh the stats screen on your website, anxiously waiting to see the referral traffic come through. Is this it? Your big break? Only to find that you might get a couple of hits but nothing much.
Then, by chance, you see that your post was published on their social media only to see what they say, ‘Written by Carly Crawford’.
Ummm …. What?
What’s wrong with that?
Where do I start? So much!!
- By creating an author page for you on their site, and linking back to your main blog URL … in my case that would be https://momoftwolittlegirls.com/ – they will give you ONE link. ONE. Every time they publish one of your posts, they link it to your author page that they already have and it just pulls the same ONE link through. It’s not a new link every time. It’s one.
- By crediting you in your personal capacity they are effectively cutting out your brand. The right thing to do would be to tag your brand, link to your brand, credit your brand. Carly Crawford doesn’t need ‘link juice’, Mom Of Two Little Girls does! There is far more chance of their readers clicking off their page and on to the actual author of the post, so that’s why they don’t do it!
Basically they are being selfish! Here’s How:
- They are not crediting you.
- You have probably not been paid!
- They are not giving you their link juice.
- You are providing FREE content FOR THEM!
Know Your Backlink Worth!
The whole intention of this post is to inform the blogger about how the system works. It has taken years for me to figure this all out, how it all works. I am simply trying to educate and inform other bloggers on how it works. We all need to know how much our backlink is worth. Giving them out for free is what brings the whole industry down, and really ‘lowers the tone’ of blogging as a whole.
Bloggers are becoming a far more common but credible force to be reckoned with. I heard last year that there are 10,000 mummy bloggers in the UK. That’s last year. It’s growing all the time. Blogging as a whole is a huge industry. Some hate the term ‘influencer’, but the way I see it is that if I go somewhere and write about it, and that encourages my readers to go there, then I have influenced them in their decision.
Top Tips For Knowing Your Backlink Worth
If I choose to advertise a company or service or experience of my own free will, because I genuinely like it, then that’s MY choice. It’s MY blog.
If I am paid to visit somewhere and I write a review, that company value my opinion, my audience’s trust in me, and my reach. I should be paid fairly for that.
Content creation takes hours. Writing, editing, photography, building a social media audience, industry knowledge, SEO, my DA. These are a few of the things that go into ‘writing a blog post’.
That said, it’s not always about money when you’re a creative. Here are the two basic checks to ask yourself next time you enter into a backlink situation:
- How much time will it take to create the post?
- Will I be fairly credited?
That’s it. Know your own backlink worth.
UPDATE: Two days after I wrote this post, MOZ updated the way the record DA and whilst many many bloggers found their DA dropped significantly, I’m proud to say that mine went from 30 to 32.
One of the best things I have done since I started blogging is using the knowledge I have gained, to start my own freelance business helping other bloggers and small businesses. One of the services I offer (which is actually my favourite product) is blog post editing including SEO. Basically, my clients send me their draft blog post, and I edit it to be in a blog ready, readable format and optimised for SEO too.
If you like this post, please share it … and credit me. Thanks.