Due to a fair deal of secrecy, ambiguity, and frequent Google updates, interpreting SEO factors has become more of an art than a science. Few things have remained unchanged in the past 20 or so years, and new factors are added annually. If you would like to take a glance at a handful of them you can check them out here. The current number of ranking factors for Google is at least 200, and probably more. Backlink ranking is specific amongst those factors for a few reasons.
The History of Backlinks
The first one is that it is the oldest one. Googles first ranking system relied almost entirely on backlinks. In its first iteration, it functioned on a simple, yet effective premise. The more backlinks to your page exist, the more the search engine should prefer it. This was a straightforward approach found also, for example, in academia. Your research paper is valued on its merit, too, but the main qualifier is the number of citations by other authors.
The algorithm, however, began encountering problems soon enough. A simple, straightforward algorithm is easy to trick. Does it count the backlinks? Well, create a dozen spam sites with a thousand backlinks, easy. Recognizing this, Google changed its evaluation system.
What this means for your businesses and seo today is that quantity is much less valuable. Itâs not completely irrelevant, to be sure, but it counts for less. Instead, the value of backlinks has branched off into several new criteria. Letâs go through them.
Authority is one of those fantastic Google criteria that tell you little to nothing. Whether you call it Page Authority (PA) or Domain Authority (DA) it remains fairly ambiguous. What we do know for certain is that backlinks from pages or domains with high authority count more towards ranking.
The exact metrics on how to qualify for the title of authority are unclear. Most SEO professionals, however, agree on a common-sense approach. The more quality content a page, website or domain produces, the more that content is reliable and well-sourced, the more authority they have.
So, backlinks originating on reputable webpages will count more towards your website ranking.
2. Number of Referring Domains
The number of domains takes second place in terms of importance. A diverse set of domains linking back to your content results in higher ranking. This seems to be a leftover from the original ranking algorithm. That is, counting backlinks as vouchers or votes.
Previously this system worked on the level of pages or individual backlinks, now it is just on the level of domains. The logic behind it is sound. If another domain links to your content, they see it as credible. Therefore it makes sense to rank your content higher.
3. Number of Backlinks
The raw number of backlinks is now considerably less important. The reasoning is clear here. Creating a large number of backlinks from spam-sites or the like is easy. Therefore, it is no longer considered as important as before.
4. Number of Referring IPs
This factor is the most interesting one. It will likely become more important as time goes on. In short, it looks at the specific IP addresses of the domains that link back to you. There could be a lot of more intricate factors to it. For example, the algorithm could look into geographic diversity as well a ranking internationally popular sites higher.
Backlinking remains one of the most important factors in SEO. Although it has undergone considerable changes from its conception, some fundamental rules still apply. The innovations that have been introduced are made specifically to combat unscrupulous practices. The first step to getting your content to the first page of Google results is still high-quality content.