What is the Value of a Backlink
To avoid confusion from many other publications online that discuss this topic, I will briefly talk about how backlinks worked a few years back. Search Engine Optimization relied heavily upon backlinks in its early days. The more links that you got from other websites, the authoritative your website became. Since there was not enough information for them to determine quality, they focused mostly on quantity. This lead to many Black Hat practitioners to set up cheap servers often times in foreign countries with thousands of duplicated websites created for the sole purpose of linking to websites that they wanted to rank for different terms.
In doing so, they created a nightmare for Google because they were able to subvert the guidelines set out by search engines and give low quality results to users. Hence, that is why when you sometimes searched for a local Trane dealer, you would sometimes end up on a page for Viagra.
Over the years, Google has placed emphasis on the quality of these backlinks and even penalized many sites for these practices. Now that those in the industry have, for the most part, given up on this black hat tactic, it is not as much of an issue as it was just two years ago.
Links from other websites are now evaluated in a number of different ways. The relevancy of the website that has linked to yours. Is it related to your industry (keywords), what is the authority of the site, is it localized, what is the text that links the page to yours (this is called the anchor text)?
A link from Sports Illustrated would be nice. it has high authority but a link from the Carrier corporate website with anchor text of “Authorized Carrier Service Company” would be far more relevant. You can make statements like that all day long on your own website, but a link coming from an industry related, authoritative website like that would definitely reinforce and help with rankings.
Do Follow and No Follow Links
Once again, we should get technical. Going back those same years, many SEO professionals decided to find ways to get backlinks on websites any way they could. Filling out as many directory website listings as possible, creating social media profiles and even commenting on any and all websites that they could find. Again, these practices got out of hand.
The search engines decided to let webmasters know about an HTML tag that would be factored into their algorithms. It’s called a No Follow tag. By adding this to certain links on their site, it helped to ease the number of practitioners trying to add links to their sites because the link would carry virtually no value. This allowed for people that wanted to contribute to their websites to be able to continue to do so, while making it a waste of time for spammers to practice their trade.
As you are looking at links to your website, know that only the Follow links pass on value and the No Follow may bring traffic from people that visit that website, but that there are no SEO benefits associated to it. A link from your Pinterest board, even though the site is high authority, is of low value because so many others can easily get it and it is a No Follow.
What Citations are Right for HVAC SEO
Since you have set up a Google My Business profile it is important to understand what strengthens and optimizes this listing in the search results. Where content and backlinks strengthen your Heating and Air website, the algorithm approaches the 3 Pack and maps a little differently.
Since the profile relies upon validation and consistency, it is constantly trying to match your profile information to other online resources. Most importantly is the NAP listing. (Your business Name, Address and Phone number). Google is always on the lookout for mention of your business name and matching the NAP details from your profile to these online resources.
In doing so it is confirming that this business still open and that the address is still the same. The last thing Google wants is to have someone call the business and realize it is closed. This would cause you, the user, to have less confidence in Google. So having plenty of Citations (NAP listings) online that are all listed the same is the strongest way to strengthen the optimization of this SEO.
Citations can be:
Hundreds of listing sites you’ve never heard of
Similar to backlinks, you want these to be from high authority domains, industry related or a combination of both. Hotfrog.com is a very good business profile website since so many companies list there. If a web directory looks like it will take anyone, you may want to skip it.
Signs from Directory Sites You Might Want to Avoid
Reciprocal Links: If a site asks for reciprocal links, this is a dead giveaway. And you may not see this request till you have almost completed the submission. Basically they are offering a link to your website if you will link to theirs. This type of link building practice is strictly against Google’s Guidelines and is not a good idea.
Paid links: Again, this is against the guidelines. Getting a whole bunch of links because you had to pay other sites to get listed is not showing the search engines that your online profile has value. There are some exceptions for the value of having your site listed on a very HVAC industry related website such as ASHRAE. They are a legitimate organization and the listing is provided in addition to the membership. Keep in mind, you may end up paying for a few that are high quality, but if that is all that you are doing, you will not see the benefit from your efforts and could even get penalized.