In SEO, one term that consistently surfaces is ‘backlinks.’ But what are backlinks in SEO exactly? And why are they considered the Holy Grail of SEO? If you’re working to improve your website’s rankings, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what SEO backlinks are, diving into their importance and how they can greatly transform your online presence. Buckle up because, by the end of this guide, you’ll have the know-how to make backlinks work wonders for your website’s search engine rankings.
Table of Contents
What Are Backlinks and How Do They Work?
Backlinks are hyperlinks on one website that direct users to another website using a specific anchor text. They act like votes from one page to another, signaling relevance, quality, and authority to search engines like Google. Pages with many relevant backlinks usually rank higher in organic search results.
Why Are Backlinks Important for SEO?
Backlinks are crucial for SEO for several reasons.
- They can boost your website’s position in search results, increasing its visibility to potential visitors.
- Backlinks boost your website’s credibility in the eyes of search engines and users alike.
- They also assist search engines like Google in discovering new pages on your site, leading to better indexing and ranking.
Backlinks can send valuable traffic to your website from trusted sources.
Now, let’s explore different types of Backlinks.
Different Types of Backlinks
Diverse SEO backlinks exist, each with its unique attributes. Familiarizing yourself with these variations is essential for formulating an effective link-building strategy.
1. Follow Links
Follow links, also known as standard hyperlinks, signal Google to transfer trust and authority to the linked site. Links are naturally “dofollow” unless specified otherwise with an attribute.
2. Nofollow Links
When you link to a site, you vouch for it, usually giving it authority. But sometimes, you might not want to do that. For instance, you can use nofollow links with the “rel=nofollow” attribute when linking to a competitor or for illustrative purposes. This tells search engines not to pass authority.
3. Sponsored or Paid Links
Whenever you receive compensation like money, a product, or service in return for a link, including the “rel=’sponsored'” link attribute is essential.
4. UGC Links
User-generated content (UGC) links signal to Google which links were made by users or customers, allowing webmasters to disclaim editorial endorsement of certain links, such as those in forum posts and blog comments.
5. Editorially Placed Links
Editorially placed links are those you get without asking for them. For instance, if a website links to your blog post because they find it valuable, that’s an editorial link. Google likes these links because they improve user experience, not manipulate search results.
6. Link Schemes
Link schemes, like paying for links or link exchanges, aim to manipulate Google Search rankings. Engaging in them can lead to Google penalties and harm your rankings.
7. Backlinks from Guest Blogging
When you send guest articles to well-known websites, consider including a link to your site in the content. Guest blogging is crucial for SEO, so look for top-quality sites to collaborate with.
8. Backlinks in Business Profiles
Creating digital profiles on business listing sites, social networks, directories, and review platforms usually lets you link to your website. Search engines consider these links as indicators of your website’s longevity.
9. Backlinks from Webinars
When you host webinars, other sites may link to your company and describe your offerings. To acquire these backlinks, employ tactics similar to blog promotion. Your webinar can become a resource for websites you target for guest blogging opportunities.
10. Free-Tool Backlinks
Offering a valuable tool for free is a smart strategy to grab attention and earn powerful backlinks, boosting your SEO. This could involve creating a useful item, like a cost calculator relevant to your industry, or providing a free version of a paid app.
11. Acknowledgment Backlinks
Companies often receive acknowledgments when they support events or have speakers at industry gatherings. By identifying these acknowledgment backlinks, you can uncover your competitor’s sources and develop a strategy to gain recognition for your website.
12. Guest Post Bio Links
If you can’t include backlinks within the article, you can usually add them to your author’s bio. Even though these bio links aren’t in the main content, they still impact SEO because guest bloggers often link to sites with more readership, as they know where people go for blogs, articles, and recipes.
13. Badge Backlinks
Creating a badge to recognize other companies can help you get backlinks. When they proudly display it on their websites, you’ll get a link back. Use SEO tools to find similar websites for your badge program.
14. Comment Backlinks
Commenting on blog articles often allows you to include a link to your website. But beware of spammers who misuse this. When done authentically on valuable blogs, leaving comments with links can increase your website traffic and enhance brand visibility.
What are Valuable Backlinks?
Not all backlinks are the same. To boost your search engine rankings, prioritize quality backlinks. In essence, one high-quality backlink can outweigh a thousand low-quality ones.
Valuable backlinks tend to share common traits:
1. Trusted and Authoritative Sources
Backlinks from authoritative sites like Harvard carry more weight. Google measures this as “Domain Authority,” where sites with authority pass it to your site through links.
2. Relevant Anchor Text
Anchor text is the text you can see in a link. For better rankings, use anchor text with your target keyword. But avoid excessive use to stay within Google’s guidelines.
3. Related Content
Links from sites in your niche matter most. Google values links from sites sharing topics similar to yours, like fitness for a marathon article.
4. “Dofollow” Links
Most web links are “dofollow,” benefiting SEO. “Nofollow” links, common in blog comments, press releases, and ads, don’t affect SEO significantly.
5. Fresh Domains
Receiving multiple links from the same site diminishes their impact. New domains linking to you are more valuable than repeat ones.
Why Does Google Care About Backlinks and Link Building?
In the early Internet days, search engines were simpler, mainly relying on keywords. Quality and relevance didn’t matter. If your page had a keyword someone searched, it showed up, even if it didn’t help find what you needed.
This led to “keyword stuffing,” overusing keywords. Some made pages full of keywords and ads for profit, hurting search engines’ reputation and internet marketing’s effectiveness.
How do Backlinks Help SEO?
To enhance your SEO through backlinks:
- Keep things natural.
- Avoid requesting specific anchor text, which could trigger search engine penalties.
- Steer clear of shady tactics like footer links.
Never pay for links! Sponsored content should be clearly labeled, following FCC rules. While many are marked “nofollow,” they still hold value and drive traffic.
How to Build Backlinks
Learn the art of crafting quality backlinks to boost your website’s authority and search engine rankings. Here are some strategies:
1. Create Valuable Content
To earn website links, you must offer something worth linking to. This could be a great blog post, video, software, quiz, or survey—anything people find valuable and want to link to.
2. Securing Links from Roundup Posts
Link roundups are blog posts that regularly highlight excellent content. Find relevant ones via Google search, suggest your content, and you may earn a quality link and social media shares if it fits their roundup.
3. The Art of Broken Link Building
To identify and repair these broken links, concentrate on resource pages within your niche. For instance, use search strings like “fitness” + “resource page” in the fitness niche in Google. While you can email site owners for links, it’s often less effective than other methods.
4. Leveraging Visual Content like Infographics
Are infographics as effective as before? Not quite, but they still work for building links. They rank high in generating links. Use the “Guestographics” strategy alongside your infographic creation for successful promotion.
5. Sharing Your Endorsements and Testimonials
Companies, regardless of their size, appreciate showcasing customer testimonials. If you’re a fan of a product or service, consider sending them a testimonial. They’ll often include a link to your website without your request.
6. Gaining Recognition Through Blogger Reviews
Whether it’s software, a physical product, a consulting service, or anything valuable you offer, you can effortlessly transform it into numerous high-quality backlinks.
7. Reclaiming Lost Links
It involves identifying and reclaiming lost or broken backlinks pointing to your website, ensuring that your site retains valuable link equity. You must maintain and improve your site’s SEO performance by recovering lost link value.
8. Sticking with Link-Generating Content Formats
You must stick to content formats proven to generate links consistently. Focus on creating content that naturally attracts and earns valuable backlinks from other websites in your niche.
9. Crafting Exceptional Content
A top way to get backlinks is by making content people naturally want to link to. It can be informative, entertaining, or helpful. For instance, if you share a useful case study or a how-to blog post, others in your field might reference it.
10. Utilizing HARO to Address Journalists’ Needs
HARO links journalists with sources. If they use your content, they might link to you. Sign up for free or choose a paid plan with extra perks. You’ll get emails thrice daily, Monday to Friday.
11. Conducting Research and Pitching It to the Media
This step is like the previous one, but now you’ll pitch your content to the media. It’s called digital PR. If you want to pitch a specific press piece, we suggest using a PR tool like Prowly instead of waiting for requests in HARO.
12. Exploring Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles
You can also get backlinks from your competitors. If you make better content than them, you can ask website owners to link to your site instead of your competitor’s.
13. News Article backlinks
National and local news sites are great sources of valuable information. Writers often use expert quotes in their articles, which can lead to backlinks and an improved industry reputation. Even without backlinks, you can link to these news articles to enhance your credibility with Google and customers.
Wondering how to get quoted in news articles? Companies like BrandLume can share your content with news websites and facilitate article placement, connecting you with relevant journalists.
14. Local Citation Building and Business directory website backlinks
Your local business directory listings on Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn serve as backlinks. These listings increase your backlinks and provide information about your business. While there are many places to list your business, it can be time-consuming.
Start with Google and then move on to other prominent websites. Periodically, create new citation profiles on reputable business listing sites. Alternatively, you can opt for citation-building services to handle this for you.
15. SEO Link Building Through Press Releases Services
Press release services are valuable for promoting your business. They are like news articles about your company and get published in news outlets. Quality matters, so use reputable services like PR Newswire or Business Wire. While they can be pricey, the investment can pay off.
Press releases provide backlinks to showcase your business and build credibility when featured in publications. This boosts your marketing efforts.
Donating to schools, organizations, and charities can help those in need and boost backlinks. Many charities list their donors, providing a valuable backlink opportunity. It’s even better if they showcase donors on their homepage.
17. Paid Ad Links
The ad links we’re discussing here aren’t the ones on platforms like Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, or Google. These are links placed on websites in exchange for a fee. While these backlinks may or may not be marked as paid ads, some view them as dubious tactics, and Google penalizes them as “link schemes.”
However, when done transparently on reputable sites, paid ad links can be effective, often requiring clear labeling as paid advertisements.
18. Permanent Homepage Backlinks
Homepage backlinks are a type of link building where your website’s link is placed on another related website’s homepage. They’re tough to obtain because they’re permanent and often only accessible through specialized providers.
19. Social Media Backlink signals
Social media can sometimes provide backlinks, but often, they offer limited SEO value. Major platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook use “nofollow” links, meaning they don’t boost your SEO.
So, relying heavily on social media for backlinks is not advisable, as they mainly serve as signals of activity to Google.
How Google Is Different
Sergey Brin and Larry Page noticed search engines had issues and wanted to create a better one. They realized that measuring a website’s popularity could improve search results. In 1998, they introduced “PageRank” in paper, highlighting problems with keyword stuffing in existing search engines.
They even joked that these search engines couldn’t find themselves when searched for. PageRank had two key ideas. First, it was likely good if many websites linked to a page. Second, authoritative sites would link to good pages.
So, if CNBC or other reputable sites linked to yours, it meant your site was good. PageRank made websites with more quality backlinks rank higher in search results.
How to Check Any Website’s Backlinks
Learn how to check a website’s backlinks, a valuable link-building skill and competitor analysis skill. Here’s a simple guide:
- Using Google Search Console (GSC):
- Go to GSC, log in, and find “Links” in the left sidebar.
- You’ll see reports for:
- Top linked pages: Your pages with the most backlinks.
- Top linking sites: Websites that link to your site the most.
- Top linking text: Common link anchor text in your backlinks.
- Click “More” under any of these to see the full report.
- Analyzing Backlinks with Semrush:
- Semrush’s Backlink Analytics helps with your site’s and competitors’ backlinks.
- Enter the website or URL you want to review in the search bar and click “Analyze.”
- Key metrics include:
- Authority Score: Overall domain quality measure.
- Referring domains: Total domains linking to your site.
- Backlinks: Total backlinks pointing to your site.
- Monthly visits: Unique visits to a root domain in the last month.
- Keywords: Keywords bringing users to a root domain.
- Outbound domains: Total domains linked to by the analyzed domain or URL. Click the blue number for the full report.
Using these tools, you can acquire valuable insights into the backlinks of any website.
How Can I Check My Backlinks?
You can check your website’s backlinks using tools like Google Search Console, SEMrush, or Ahrefs.
Monitoring your backlinks is crucial because Google’s guidelines require removing toxic links. If you don’t, your website could face penalties, and your search ranking may drop.
Here are the key questions to answer:
- Where can I find all my backlinks?
- How can I identify toxic ones?
- How do I contact toxic backlink site owners?
The good news is that the right tools can make this easy. While Google Search Console offers some insights, it’s time-consuming and limited.
On the other hand, tools like SEMrush can quickly answer these questions and more. SEMrush offers Backlink Analytics for competitor analysis and a Backlink Audit feature for managing your backlinks effectively.
Link vs Backlink: What’s the Difference?
Links connect web documents and are crucial for the web. There are two types:
- Internal Links: These connect pages on the same website and help users navigate.
- External Links: They link to pages on other websites and serve various purposes:
- Provide context to readers.
- Support claims in the content.
- Cite sources.
- Make recommendations.
- Add credibility.
When a link points out from one webpage, it’s incoming to the linked page, making it a backlink for that page. Search engines value backlinks and reward the linked page, seeing them as intentional and endorsed by the linking site.
What’s Backlink Authority and How Is It Determined?
Backlink authority is a measure of a website’s credibility in the eyes of search engines. It’s determined by an algorithm called “PageRank,” which Google introduced in 1998.
PageRank doesn’t just count the number of links a webpage gets; it also assesses the quality of those links. In simple terms, not all backlinks are equal.
For example, let’s say your webpage has two backlinks from different websites:
- Page A has 200 backlinks.
- Page B has 20 backlinks.
If both pages are about the same topic, Page A would likely rank higher because it’s more authoritative due to having ten times as many links. In this scenario, the backlink from Page A is more valuable because it comes from a more authoritative source.
Understanding PageRank in a Simple Link Network
PageRank is an algorithm that needs multiple rounds of computation to work. This is because the authority of web pages in a network depends on each other.
Let’s take a simple network of 4 pages as an example:
- Page A links to Pages B and C and gets a backlink from Page B.
- Page B links to Pages A and D and gets backlinks from Pages A and C.
- Page C links to Pages B and D and gets a backlink from Page A.
- Page D doesn’t link to other pages but gets backlinks from pages B and C.
To determine the authority of Page D, you need to know first the authority of Page B and Page C. However, Page B’s authority depends on Page A and Page C, and Page A’s authority depends on Page B. It can get quite complex even in this simple network.
To solve it, we have to repeat these calculations many times. While the math isn’t too hard, dealing with the vast number of internet links and the required computation makes it a big task.
Balancing Quantity and Quality of Backlinks
In the world of backlinks, remember that quantity and quality are key. Here’s the scoop:
- Get as many backlinks as possible.
- Focus on getting links from trusted websites.
- Trust your gut to spot authoritative sites.
- More backlinks mean better website impact.
So, aim for both quality and quantity in your backlinks.
Transform Your Website’s Rankings with the Power of Backlinks Today
Understanding what backlinks are and how to harness their power can propel your website to new heights in search engine rankings. At BrandLume, we specialize in helping businesses achieve their online goals. Our High-quality In-Content SEO Link-Building Services can take your digital presence to the next level. Start your journey to digital excellence with BrandLume today.
Frequently Asked Questions about Backlinks
1. What is an example of a backlink?
If you find an article or blog that links to another source or website, that’s a backlink. They’re all over the internet, especially on popular blogs linking to relevant content.
2. How do backlinks help SEO?
Backlinks boost your website’s authority and help it rank higher in search results. Quality matters more than quantity, so get links from reputable sites.
3. Getting backlinks from high-authority sites?
Create quality content like blogs, infographics, and videos. High-authority sites often link to good sources. You can also link to them in your content to improve visibility.