What Are Backlinks and Why Link Building is Important for SEO

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks (also known as “inbound links”, “incoming links” or “external backlinks”) are links from other websites to your site.

If a website links to your site, then you have a backlink from them. If you link to another website, then they have a backlink from you.

Why Are Backlinks So Important?

There are there main reasons why backlinks are so important to your website.

1.      Ranking – Google

Getting quality links to your blog is important for you to rank. Google considers backlinks as votes for your websites and content, which shows that the quality of your blog and your content is good.

While there are more than 200 ranking factors embedded in Google’s algorithm, backlinks stand tall at the top of the SEO pecking order.  Earning backlinks from other related websites can significantly affect your site’s search visibility or ranking position.

2.      Referral Traffic

Links from news aggregators, third-party reviews and other online sources can boost your site traffic significantly. This happens when an online user reading a post on another site and clicks on the link that leads to your web page.

3.      Improved Site Authority

Backlinks from authority sites can boost your online reputation. Inbound links serve as a vote of confidence not only from other websites but also from online users.

What Are High-Quality Backlinks?

The debate of backlink quantity versus quality has been around for a while.

According to Google’s John Mueller, the number of backlinks that’s pointing to a specific website is irrelevant to the search engine.

He said, “We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all.”

Then, we may focus on the quality of backlinks. However, what quality backlinks are and how you define them?

First of all, let’s see how does Google evaluate links.

Number of Links

This was the first factor Google adopted. It formed the basis of PageRank – the more links a site received, the more relevant it was considered. The number of links to a page demonstrated its popularity on the web.

However, there’s no point in receiving numerous links from sites that are not relevant and reliable. It is necessary to match quantity with the factors that we will see below.

Domain Authority

Google’s search algorithm is designed to provide the most authoritative and relevant search results to user queries. As a site owner, you need to ensure you’re securing links from high-authority websites. Doing so sends signals to Google that your content is valuable to readers.

Diversity of Links

Link diversity is also included in the evaluation. For Google, a site reveals stronger authority when it receives links from several different domains. That’s because the more websites that speak well of you, the more recognition you have in the internet.

Diversity of Links

Link Context

Google can also understand the context around the link to gauge if it’s truly relevant. In addition to the words, Google also evaluates other links that are nearby. If they are also links to quality sites, the page gains more relevance and transmits more link juice.

The Position of Links

If the link is part of the main content on the page, there’s a great chance of being inserted with editorial intention, achieving greater value as a result, especially at the beginning of a text.

But, when found in the header or footer, it’s more likely to serve the role of simply generating a backlink and is therefore valued less.

Anchor Text

The anchor text – the clickable text of the link – also says a lot about the linked page.

It usually provides a keyword or short description of what the user will find on the page when clicking on the link. Therefore, Google uses this factor to index pages.

Using an exact keyword match in a backlink anchor text is one way to reinforce the authority for that term.

However, when used repeatedly in all backlinks, Google will see this unnatural use as employing black hat techniques.

The Rel Link Attribute

By default, all links are dofollow and transmit link juice. However, when website owners don’t want to transmit authority through a link, they can insert a rel attribute in the link.

These include the ‘sponsored’ rel attribute, the ‘ugc’ (user-generated content) rel attribute, and the ‘nofollow’ rel attribute.

In summary, a good quality backlink may have following characteristics.

  1. They come from authoritative websites
  2. They include a relevant and keyword-rich anchor text
  3. The source domain should be related to your site
  4. Backlinks should be a do-follow link
  5. Backlinks should come from a unique referring domain

What Are Bad Backlinks?

A bad backlink occurs when the backlink comes from a low-authority or suspicious website. It can potentially be harmful if the page linking to you is completely irrelevant to your site’s content.

Let’s check what are bad backlinks from Google:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank.
  • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking.
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site.
  • Requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of qualifying the outbound link, should they wish.
  • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links.
  • Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
  • Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites.
  • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature.

You can check if your website has bad backlinks. If Yes, you should disavow them.

Final Thoughts

High-quality backlinks are very important if you want to rank high in Google. Yes, Google’s algorithm on the evaluation of links evolved in recent years which focused on quality links, not quantity.

It is quite a challenging process to gain high quality backlinks within your SEO strategy. However, they deserve your time and patience.

Don’t tend to use bad backlinks to manipulate search engine, otherwise you will be punished quickly.

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