What are SEO Backlinks? – A Beginners Guide to Links
What are backlinks?
A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is a link from another website that points to your website. When someone links to your site, they’re vouching for the quality of your content and saying, “I think this is worth reading.”
Besides referral traffic, backlinks are also crucial for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google considers the number and quality of backlinks when ranking websites in search engine results pages (SERPs). The more high-quality links you have pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank.
High-quality backlinks come in many shapes and sizes, but all are valuable in their own way. Here are some common types of backlinks:
• Editorial Backlinks: These are editorial links from authority sites like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal. They carry much weight with Google because they’re seen as a stamp of approval from a respected source.
• Social Shares: Links from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can help drive referral traffic and boost your SEO efforts.
• .edu & .gov Links: Links from educational or government institutions lend credibility to your site and can help improve your search engine rankings.
• Niche links: Links from blogs or websites specific to your niche that link to your website in their content is extremely valuable.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are vital because they let search engines know your website is popular. When another website links back to your content, it’s a vote of confidence that your information is valuable and worth sharing. Backlinks can also help with visibility, ranking, and SEO authority.
In search engine results pages (SERPs), backlinks mean more votes of confidence from other websites, which helps your website rank higher. Additionally, having high-quality backlinks from reputable sources can give your website an SEO boost by increasing its authority signals. In short, earning high-quality backlinks is one of the best ways to improve your site’s visibility, ranking potential, and overall SEO performance.
How Are Backlinks Earned?
There are two main link-building tactics: Building them naturally or manually.
Creating high-quality content can help you attract natural links while earning them manually is more complicated.
One way to get manual links is by requesting them from other websites. An excellent way to do this is by guest blogging for relevant websites.
However, self-created links may appear to be the easiest way to get backlinks. Still, many of these tactics fall into black hat SEO, negatively impacting your search engine reputation.
Are All Backlinks Valuable?
Follow vs. no follow backlinks
There’s a lot of confusion about follow and no follow backlinks. So, let’s start by clearing that up:
A “follow” link is simply a link that passes trust and authority from one page to another. When you create a follow link, you’re telling Google and other search engines that you trust the link’s destination.
A “no follow” link doesn’t pass trust or authority. Instead, it tells Google and other search engines not to count the link when determining a site’s ranking in search results.
So, why would you want to use nofollow links? You’ll mainly use it if you don’t think the link’s destination is high-quality or relevant to your audience.
For example, if you’re linking to a company website that provided terrible service, you would want to use the nofollow attribute to not pass any authority or good ranking signals to them. Alternatively, suppose you’re linking to a credible source that will benefit your readers. In that case, you should include the dofollow attribute to ensure that some valuable link juice is sent their way.
Authority of linking domains
Domain authority is a measure of the mini-network of links on your site. The higher the domain authority, the more valuable the backlink from that website will be. Big brand websites have more domain authority than small niche websites, but this doesn’t mean all backlinks obtained from these sites are valuable. Authority is determined by the size and quality of a website. The greater the number of high-quality websites linking to yours, the higher your site’s authority will be.
The authority of a link from one website to another depends on the relationship between these two websites. Linking from high-authority websites will improve your site’s ranking much faster than links from low-authority sites. However, getting links from any credible and relevant website is better than no links at all! That’s what we’ll discuss next, backlink relevance.
Irrelevant links don’t pass as much link juice as links from sites with higher relevancy. Getting links from high authority sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, or .edu/.gov sites is always okay. However, focusing on getting links from relevant websites is more important.
Links from websites that are relevant to your business can be extremely valuable. For example, if you own a website that sells dog products, getting links from dog blogs and dog training websites will be super relevant. This is because those websites have content explicitly related to your niche.
For local websites, relevance has an added dimension. Niche relevant links are still important. However, geo-relevant links are equally important as in a local business directory focused on your city.
Google assigns a lot of value to the link type and placement on the page. For example, links in the main content area are considered more valuable than those in the sidebar. In addition, links from high-quality websites are seen as more valuable than links from low-quality websites.
The best backlinks for your SEO are contextual backlinks. Contextual backlinks are links that appear within an article or piece of content that is about your niche. These links provide value to the reader and help boost your SEO because they are associated with high-quality content.
Regarding links, quantity isn’t always the best indicator of quality. When there are dozens of links on a single page, a backlink listed among them may not be as valuable as one listed among fewer links.
The reason is that when a site has many links, it becomes difficult for search engine crawlers to determine the most important ones. This is why a backlink referenced among fewer other links is likely more valuable as it is easier for crawlers to assess its importance.
Relevancy is critical when it comes to anchor text. The more relevant the text used as a hyperlink, the more valuable it will be for search engines. This means businesses should focus on creating quality content and building relationships with other websites to acquire links with relevant anchor text.
However, anchor texts are not always under your control when building backlinks through outreach. In most cases, the site you’re reaching out to will insert your brand name as the anchor text for the link.
Anchor text can influence rankings, but not as much as other factors.
How to Get Backlinks
Find Unlinked Brand Mentions
Mentions of your brand online can be a great way to get backlinks, but only if those mentions include a link back to your site. Unfortunately, not all mentions include links; some sites may even use your brand name without linking to you.
Tools like Google Alerts can help you find these unlinked mentions so that you can reach out to the author and ask for a link.
Get featured on a “Best” list
Getting mentioned on a list of “the best” anything is an easy way to generate backlinks. If you can get your product or website listed on one of these high-traffic pages, you’ll see a surge in web traffic and links from other websites.
One great place to find lists of the best products is on industry-specific review sites. For example, if you sell pet supplies, you could look for lists of the best dog food, the best cat toys, or the best bird cages. You can also search for general review sites that cover multiple industries.
To get your business featured on one of these lists, reach out to the site’s editors and offer their readers a free sample or discount coupon. Often, all it takes is a well-crafted email to get your company included in an article or roundup post.
High-Quality, Informative Content
One way to get backlinks is to become a source for other publishers. This can be done by providing trusted content that is of high quality and relevant to your field.
You can share your expert insights with many platforms, including HARO (Help A Reporter Out). It’s a free service that connects expert sources with journalists and bloggers. When you sign up for HARO, you’ll receive daily emails with queries from reporters looking for references on specific topics.
Speed is essential when responding to HARO queries in order to be seen and selected for the final piece of content you produce. Journalists or bloggers will send an email when their article is published, so it’s important to check your inbox regularly. If they don’t find a response from an expert within 48 hours, they’ll move on to another source.
It can take up to four weeks for the article to get published after you submit your response, so be patient!
Develop free tools and host them on your website
One of the best ways to get backlinks is to build free tools. People who find your free tool useful will likely link to it from their website.
To find keyword ideas, start with “templates,” “tools,” or “generators” and see what comes up in the Top 10 search results. This will give you a good idea of what people are looking for online and how you can create a tool that meets their needs.
Create Ultimate Guides
One of the best ways to attract inbound links is to publish “Ultimate Guides.” These are pieces of content designed to be the best, most comprehensive resource on a given topic. As such, they naturally attract attention from bloggers and journalists looking for a good reference point when discussing a concept. So how do you go about creating an Ultimate Guide? Here are some tips:
Research your topic inside and out.
Make sure your guide is up-to-date with the latest trends and information.
Design your guide in an easy-to-read format.
Include lots of helpful images and screenshots.
Make sure your sources are reputable and cited correctly.
Promote your guide through social media and other channels.
Attract Backlinks By Creating High-Quality Images
Images are a powerful way to get backlinks and mentions. They can be used on websites, social media, and email marketing campaigns.
Some practical ways to use images include:
– Creating infographics that summarize data or complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way.
– Uploading high-quality photographs of your products or team members.
– Sharing charts and graphs with original data.
– Creating diagrams that explain complex topics visually.
Get Listed in Popular Directories
There are a lot of online directories that your business can be listed on. Here are a few:
Google My Business: This is the most important one, as it’s owned by Google.
Yelp: A popular review site that can help you get exposure to your target market.
TripAdvisor: Another excellent resource for travelers looking for information about businesses like yours.
Other local directories: City-specific or niche directories can be helpful if you want to focus your marketing efforts on a specific region or demographic.
How to check backlinks
Checking backlinks in Google Search Console
Google’s Search Console is free for all website owners to use. The “External links” number in Google Search Console shows the total number of backlinks from outside sources.
The most linked pages on your website are listed on the page, with a link to the specific page itself. If you click on that link, you can see even more detailed information about that particular backlink, such as:
-The source of the backlink (e.g., a website, an article, or another document)
-How likely is it that someone will click through to your site from that source
-What type of content the backlink is (textual or graphical)
-When the link was last updated
The Top linked pages report is the first step to checking backlinks. It tells you which pages have been most often linked to from other websites. However, it doesn’t tell you anything about those other websites’ backlink profiles. Tools like Google Search Console can give insights into your site’s backlink profile. However, you’ll need additional tools to get information about other websites’ backlink profiles. Luckily, there are some tools and services available that can help with that!
Checking backlinks using a third-party backlink checker
There are many third-party backlink checkers available, such as Ahrefs and Moz. These tools make it easy to find backlinks to any website.
You can get information about each backlink, including the referring page, domain rating and URL rating, traffic estimate, and anchor and backlink details. This can give you an idea of what kind of anchor text and links your content receives.
Backlinks help your site rank
Backlinks are one of the most critical factors in ranking a website. They’re used by search engines to determine how trustworthy your site is, and they help give it credibility. In order for your site to rank well, you need plenty of high-quality backlinks. But how do you get them? It is possible to increase your website’s visibility and ranking by creating helpful content and linking to it from other reputable sites.