Find yourself wondering: What is a backlink? What are backlinks? Why do I need backlinks?

Don’t worry – You’re not alone when it comes to the world of backlink profiles and their importance. Let’s discuss web page backlinks, the part they play in Google PageRank algorithm, and how you can improve SEO using backlinks on your website.

Read on, because the truth is – If you want to harness the incredible power of SEO, you’ll need backlinks on your side. 

What are Backlinks?

If you want to maximize your SEO efforts to the fullest extent, we’ve got one word for you: backlinks.

Also referred to as “inbound links” or “incoming links”, backlinks are created when one website links to another. The website that is “linked to”, receives the backlink. The reason backlinks are also known as inbound links, is due to the fact that they represent traffic coming to your website from somewhere else.

For example: If website #1 embeds an external link to website #2, than website #2 now has a backlink from website #1.

Importance of Backlinks for SEO

Think of it this way: When a website embeds a backlink to your site, it’s their way of saying that you have their “vote of confidence”. In other words, backlinks to your site provide search engines with verification that others vouch for your quality content. 

When search engines such as Google and Bing crawl your website, they’re able to see the quality and quantity of your backlinks. Backlinks are considered to be an indicator of how popular your site is among users – Google will rank a page highly if it knows that users find the content on that page to be valuable. 

In addition to a site being considered ‘valuable’, Google rates web pages based on a specialized scoring framework. Known as an “E-A-T score”, web pages are rated based upon their expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 

Now you know that a backlink is an external link on someone else’s website that sends their readers over to your site. So, if an influencer or someone else from within your industry is referring people to your page, you can give yourself a big pat on the back – they must think your content is pretty fantastic. 

Link Building – How to Earn Backlinks

As we mentioned before, link building is a vital component of off-site SEO. Link building, or link earning, is defined as the process of obtaining these backlinks. 

Since Google looks at both the quantity and quality of backlinks to determine the importance of a website, people will often go to great lengths in an effort to get more backlinks for their site. However, there are both good and bad ways of going about this. 

The fact of the matter is: It takes some serious time and effort to build quality backlinks. Ongoing dedication is also required if you want the results of your backlink profile to pay off. 

You must also keep in mind that not all backlinks are created equal, as in some backlinks are more valuable than others. Followed backlinks from popular, trustworthy, high-ranked websites with high domain authority are considered to be the most beneficial backlinks to earn. On the other end of the spectrum, backlinks from low-authority (potentially spam?) websites can actually be a bad thing. 

Oh, and while there may be a value difference between followed links and a nofollow link, don’t entirely discount the value of the latter. Simply being mentioned on a high-authority website can boost your brand awareness.      

Here are some prime examples of proven backlink building methods:

  • Guest Posts
  • Contribute Quotes for News Articles involving topics within your industry (most journalists will include/offer backlinks to their sources’ websites)
  • Local Citations (Business Address Listings)
  • Press Releases (Remember – these only work with high-quality publishers, but the backlink payoff is totally worth the price)
  • Donating & Volunteering (these organizations often have web pages where they promote, or “shout out” sponsors and donors – clever way to get backlinks!)
  • Paid Ad Links 
  • Directories
  • Link Swapping / Reciprocal Links
  • Social Media
  • Blog & Forum Comments

Competitive Backlink Research

Let’s get real – When it comes to link building, it can be difficult to determine exactly where to start.

That’s where the process of competitive backlink research comes in to play. Examine the backlink profile of your top competitor who is already ranking highly for your targeted keywords, and use the insight you gain to come up with strategies for your own link building plan. For some extra assistance (or to simply speed up the process a bit), check out our list of the top free SEO tools.