For plumbing websites to to dominate competitors, their reach must transcend on-page optimization. While SEO is a relative methodology, meaning websites only have to be incrementally superior to the next most formidable competitor, to rank #1, competition is becoming more fierce. With greater access to information than ever before, plumbers are finding ways to improve their websites’ ranking potential, and solidify themselves on top of search engine results. Aside from on-page SEO, the most impactful website attribute is inbound links from authoritative websites. Such links are known in the digital marketing industry as “backlinks”
What is a Backlink for Plumbers?
A backlink is a link from an external domain, leading to your website. Google and other search engines use backlinks to gauge your website’s credibility. This evaluation can work for and against your website, depending on the quality of the linking domain. For instance, an inbound link from a nationally renowned website will improve your own site’s credibility. Conversely, an incoming link from a spammy forum post will have the opposite impact.
How Google Measures Link Quality
The examples cited above are exaggerated illustrations of linking domains. In reality, most domains are not as clear-cut in terms of their quality, or lack thereof. So how does Google measure link quality? Only they know for sure. But 3rd party metrics like MOZ’s Domain Authority give accurate estimations of a given website’s quality, and how highly Google regards it. MOZ cites the following factors in calculating DA score:
- Linking Root Domains: Amount of unique domains pointing to the site
- Total Links: Total number of links pointing to the site
- Other Factors: Unknown, or safeguarded criteria
The DA scale is 1-100, with nationally renowned websites like Google and Reddit ranking near 100. Because DA is a relative score, it’s hard to identify a number, or range of numbers, as good or bad. Websites for local plumbing companies are less likely to earn higher scores because there’s little reason for nationally distinguished domains to link back to them. Still, the goal for websites like these is to have better DA’s than their competitors. If Website A has a DA of 25, Website B should work to earn a DA of 26 or higher.
Follow vs NoFollow Links
When plumbing contractors learn about inbound links, their first inclination is to use directory listings, social media, and similar channels to improve their link profile. Not so fast. While it’s good to link back to your website on directories and social networks for macro-level optimization purposes, it will not improve your Domain Authority. Why? Because Google implemented a system to separate organic links from those added manually. This systematic regulation discourages what amounts to digital anarchy.
Before NoFollow tags were made default on platforms like Blogger and Wikipedia, it became a rat race between websites to build links in any way possible. That meant shameless self promotion on blog comments, forum posts, and spam websites known as link farms. Google’s introduction of the NoFollow tag curtailed these troubling behaviors, and restored link formation to a more appropriate volume. While link spam still exists, it no longer floods the internet like it once did.
Qualities of a Strong Backlink
Now that we’ve detailed what a backlink is, and how it influences search rankings, it’s time to delve into the factors that determine a quality backlink for plumbers. We noted that MOZ’s Domain Authority cites “other factors” in their ranking algorithm, and based on industry research, and the opinions of professionals with extensive knowledge of search engines, we will share our conclusions. Qualities of a strong backlink for plumbers include:
The portion of the text that is linked is known as anchor text. Research indicates that keyword-rich anchor text has more influence over search rankings. For instance, if an external domain links back to your site from the anchor text “plumbing company in City, ST” it will count more towards your ranking position than if the anchor text were “local services” or something similar. Let’s take use a local plumbing website in Chicago, IL as an example:
- Good Anchor Text: Chicago Plumbing Company
- Mediocre Anchor Text: Click Here
- Bad Anchor Text: Tires On Sale
If you plan to link back to your own website, be careful with the anchor text. Google’s Penguin update cracked down on spam-links which are manipulative in nature. It’s best to produce content worth linking to, and then allowing it to earn keyword-rich anchor text on its own merits. Keep in mind that when linking a blog post or service page from your Facebook or Twitter profile, it will be automatically tagged as a NoFollow link and will not directly influence ranking. You should still link to your content for other reasons, but you should understand what it will and will not do.
We mentioned that MOZ’s Domain Authority metric was a strong indicator of a website’s ranking potential, and that’s why it is included on this list. Authoritative backlinks hold more weight, a consensus assertion in the industry. And the best metric we have to measure authority is MOZ’s DA. There’s no way to directly influence your own DA, but receiving inbound links from other websites with higher DA’s will certainly help your cause. Google views naturally-built links as associations, and a quality domain linking to your site indicates a vote of confidence from the perspective of search engines. Let’s say your link profile consists of 3 domains:
- Domain A: 15 DA
- Domain B: 13 DA
- Domain C: 45 DA
With other factors being equal, Domain C will have a far greater influence over your website’s ranking position than Domain A or B. Because search engines consider Domain C more authoritative than the other 2 domains, it’s association holds greater value, and reflects more favorably on your own website. The goal is to continue to earn inbound links from authoritative domains which when done consistently, will start to boost your own site’s DA. Be careful of manually building links to your website however, as any manipulative tactics will be policed by Google.
While anchor text and DA are important, their value is somewhat conditional. In order for either of those qualities to be considered legitimate by Google, the inbound link must originate from a topically relevant website. As a plumber, receiving a link from an e-commerce jewelry store won’t help much — even when the link has appropriate anchor text and a high DA. This stipulation allows Google to more appropriately gauge the legitimacy of a link, and how helpful it will be to visitors of the linking domain. As a local plumbing company, consider the examples below:
- Relevant Domains: Local Niche Magazine, Supplies Company, Cross-Industry Referrals (Roofers, HVAC, etc.)
- Ambiguous Domains: General Blogs, General Magazines, Local Restaurants
- Irrelevant Domains: Event Page for Yoga Summit, Food Blogs, Non-Local Auto Shops,
Companies can’t always control where their inbound links originate. In fact, there are instances in which competitors will deliberately plant links from irrelevent websites in order to hinder your ranking potential. The good news is that unless these links come from very low-quality and spam-heavy domains, they won’t negatively influence your site. Furthermore, Google provides a disavow backlinks tool for webmasters to distance themselves from spammy links. Again, creating valuable and unique content is the best way to earn relevant backlinks.
Link Management Services for Plumbers
Plumbing Webmasters is an internet marketing company that works with contractors throughout the United States. Our goal is to improve our clients’ respective internet presences, and our service includes link management. We are able to review plumbers’ link profiles and evaluate areas of weakness as well as potential opportunities. We make use of Google’s link disavow tool to distance clients from spam links and deploy professional content marketing to produce link-worthy pages. Because local plumbing websites generally have lower DA’s, overtaking competitors within your service area is an achievable goal, and one we’ll help you reach ethically.
In an effort to empower the consumer, we give clients a choice between one of two basic internet marketing plans. PPL plans require payment only once an exclusive lead is generated on your company’s behalf. MTM plans require a fixed payment at the conclusion of each month. Each plan comes with link management services, along with; content marketing, directory listings, SEO, and website design. As an extension of either plan, clients can invest in add-on services, which include; Facebook advertising, PPC management, virtual office space, and website-reviews integration. Call 877.388.9884 to sign up today.