In the age of the Internet that we are living in, one of the most important things that can determine the success or failure of an online business is the effectiveness of their SEO. It goes without saying that the higher a website ranks in the search results of Google and other search engines, the more traffic that website will get. The algorithms that these search engines use will search for different things. Knowing what they look for and how they go about looking for it can be a huge benefit to a website. This article is going to take a look at backlinks and brand mentions, otherwise known as citations. What makes them so important in terms of SEO? Is one better than the other? Learning the answers to these questions can allow you to better craft the content on your site for SEO purposes.
If you have dealt with SEO for any length of time, you have most likely come across the term “backlink” every now and then. Backlinks have become so critical in the realm of SEO that they are now regularly used as some of the primary building blocks that effective SEO is based on. Before we talk about why back links are so important for SEO purposes, it is important that you know what they are.
Backlinks are links that will take people to your website. They are also sometimes referred to as Inbound links (IBL’s). The more backlinks that a site has, the more important and popular it is. The main reason that backlinks are critical in terms of SEO is because more credit is given by Google and other search engines to sites that contain a nice amount of quality backlinks. This causes the search engines to treat those sites as being more relevant regarding their rankings in various searches.
In order for a search engine to determine how relevant a particular website is to a given keyword, it takes into consideration the amount of quality inbound links that go to that site. The word quality is very important to this equation. Inbound links by themselves are not enough to push a website over the top. The quality of the inbound links is essential.
Search engines will take into account the content of the sites that the links are for. By doing this, the search engine can then figure out a link’s quality. For example, when there are inbound links to your website that come from different sites, these inbound links are considered by a search engine to be more relevant to your site if they contain content that is directly related to your site. They are considered to be not as relevant if the content of these inbound link sites contain content that is not related to your site. The higher that an inbound link’s relevancy is, the more quality that it has in the eyes of search engines.
One of the reasons that search engines take backlinks into account in their algorithms is because it is difficult to influence the rankings based on the external backlinks from various websites. The goal of search engines is to create a level playing field for all sites. Recently, the quality inbound link criteria that search engines look for has become more complex.
There are a large amount of webmasters who operate multiple sites. Occasionally, these sites are related to one another. Other times, they are not. A webmaster must be careful if he or she is interlinking several sites on the identical IP. If a person owns several sites, a single link to all of the sites could potentially do some damage. This is because the search engine may believe that the webmaster is up to some sort of underhanded activity. This has been a frequent ploy by webmasters who are attempting to manipulate backlinks. When a webmaster attempts to link too many sites with the identical IP, it is known as backlink bombing.
Brand mentions (Citations)
Brand mentions refer to when a brand name is referenced or alluded to in any manner. However, search engines will only take brand mention information into account from certain websites. The reason for this is the fact that many companies around the world have the same name. This is especially true for companies that are primarily identified by a series of letters. In these cases, there could literally be dozens or even hundreds of companies with identical names. To prevent companies with identical names from being confused with one another, brand mention information is only taken from sites that also have a link, address, phone number and any other information to go along with the company name. This additional data will enable a search bot to figure out the exact company that is being mentioned.
Some examples of local brand mentions include any mention on the website of a local company or school, being mentioned as part of an online directory or being mentioned in a phone book. So why are brand mentions such a good thing when it comes to SEO? Brand mentions work well on several levels. First of all, when a brand is mentioned in a positive manner online, it will certainly be an asset in improving the overall perception of a company with the general public. Also, Google uses brand mentions on a local level as part of the algorithm they use to figure out how popular a particular brand is. Therefore, brand mentions can help a brand’s website to achieve higher rankings in Google’s search results.
Additionally, brand mentions on local websites tell the search engine that the website is popular within a specific region. This enables it to figure out where the company has the largest amount of geographic activity and give it the correct ranking for those specific areas. This method of ranking enables small local businesses to rank higher than large national businesses within the search results that are local. Brand mentions on a national level are able to be utilized in order to figure out both the broad niche that a company is in, as well as ones that are more specific. There is the possibility that in the future, sites can have their amounts of brand mentions and customer service levels calculated by semantics. The sites would then be ranked based on this criteria for users searching for a certain item.
Which is better?
When comparing backlinks to brand mentions, neither one is clearly superior to the other in terms of SEO. Google seems to be paying an equal amount of attention to each one, making a point to enhance the way that their algorithm searches for both of them. On the surface, it would appear at the moment that brand mentions have more of a potential to change the way that SEO functions. However, that could change very quickly, based on the advances that Google makes in the coming years.
Which of these two eventually ends up being the most effective SEO tool will be determined by the moves that Google makes. If their algorithm starts to lean toward either one, then that will definitely sway the balance. However, as of right now, there is no indication that Google is favoring either one.