It’s safe to stay that one of the most common questions we get asked as an agency by our clients is: WHAT ARE BACKLINKS & WHY DO I NEED THEM?
Well, we understand that..backlinks can sometimes be somewhat of a difficult concept to grasp as a newbie, so that’s why we wrote this blog to simplify it!
If you are trying to improve your site’s SEO, you might have come across the term “backlinks” or “backlinking.” What are backlinks and how can they boost your SEO?
Backlinks are a fundamental part of any SEO strategy. While choosing the right keywords, fixing technical issues, writing great content, they all play their part in your overall SEO effort, but backlinks should never be ignored. In fact, Google revealed that link building is one of the top three factors when it comes to search rankings.
Essentially, the aim of backlinks is to boost your site’s authority by reaching out to other similar websites to refer back to yours.
Are you ready to make that change and boost your website? Then keep reading!
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are, at their most basic level, when one website refers back to your website – think of it like virtual word of mouth. These incoming links can come from a variety of other websites. They could be guest posts on other blogs, mentions in news stories, or a link to shareable content on your website.
In the not-too-distant past, the number of backlinks that a website had was the most important factor in determining where your page ranked in SERPs, but once Google launched the Penguin update in 2012 that forever changed. Today, they aren’t the single determining factor as they once were but they’re still vital.
When a website links to your page, it passes something called link juice. Link juice is the value that one site gives to yours when they link back to you.
Across the internet, websites are given a domain authority score, which ranges between 1-100 (100 being the highest). This score is calculated based on multiple factors, one of them being how strong your backlink profile is. Therefore, when acquiring backlinks, a backlink from the Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, is going to pass on more link juice than getting one from a friend of yours’ blog, with all its 10 regular readers.
An easy and quick to check a website’s Domain Authority score is by downloading the MozBar free chrome extension.
It’s also important to understand that not all backlinks benefit your website. Backlinks from spam sites can damage your website’s SEO and credibility considerably. Quality is far better than quantity when it comes to backlinks.
Tip: Once you filter out a list of your spammy/toxic backlinks, it’s highly recommended that you use Google’s disavow backlink tool. Once you submit this list, this will inform Google that your website does not ‘associate’ with these spammy links.
Good and Bad Backlinks
Unfortunately, not everything is created equally, and the same goes for backlinks. There are good backlinks and bad backlinks. An example of a bad backlink would be, for instance, spamming your website’s URL onto a forum. It’s low authority and will not result in good SEO for your site. It’s also unethical.
A good backlink could be a link to your webpage on the Google My Business page for your site or on your business’ Facebook page. The aforementioned namecheck in a national newspaper would also be a superb backlink.
How to Build Backlinks to Your Website
Now that we’ve answered the most prominent question of “what are backlinks”, we should take a look at putting backlinks into practice. What are the best strategies for building backlinks for your site? Let’s take a look at some common ones.
Be Worthy of a Link
The value of backlinks is well known by webmasters and SEO professionals. They’re not handed out to everyone: you need to earn a quality backlink.
You need to have something ‘ worthy’ on your website that is worth for another website to link to. More known as ‘linkable assets’. These could be products, services, interesting statistics, quality blog posts, or relatable and shareable content. If you’re an established business, it’s likely that you already do have linkable content on your site, but if you’re a new website start getting creative and create ‘linkable assets’!
Now, to the next step.
Using Pre-Existing Relationships
Are you already in a partnership with another business? If you are, getting a backlink from them is a good starting point.
Do you sell other companies’ products? Maybe ask if you can get a listing on their website as a supplier.
Find Where People Have Mentioned Your Company
If people are mentioning your business in a positive light but haven’t given you a backlink, this is an easy fix. Reach out to the website that’s mentioned you and ask them to make your mention into a link. Not all with agree, but some will be happy to oblige and that’s another backlink built!
You can keep an eye on mentions with a Google Alert set up for your company’s name.
Different Types of Backlinks
As previously mentioned, not all links are identical and hold the same weight when or if acquired. There are different types of backlinks and the value they pass to your website differ. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most prominent types of backlink.
These are the most valuable types of links as they generate that link juice that we mentioned earlier. These links boost your website tremendously.
These are the default kind of link that you picture when you think of links. If you’re in WordPress or another CMS and you highlight a passage and create a hyperlink, that will be a dofollow backlink. These are the best kind of links that you can get for your website.
A nofollow backlink is one that barely passes link juice on to your site from the referring site, definitely not as much as a dofollow would. This means that search engines like Google will see that link but probably won’t pass on that ‘link juice’ you want.
UGC stands for user-generated content, which lets Google know that the link is within user-generated content, such as a user comment or forum post. It shows that the webmaster does not necessarily endorse the content of the link and is a way to protect their website’s authority if linking to sites that, without their knowledge, contain spam, etc. It’s in raw format, it would look like the below.
A sponsored link contains an attribute telling Google the link is explicitly advertising. It’s in raw format, it would look like the below.
Benefits of Backlinks
What are backlinks good for and how can they help your website rank better?
Backlinks Help Search Engines Find You
Like we mentioned earlier, backlinks act like word of mouth (except their virtual) for your website. The more backlinks you can get from quality domains to refer back to your website the better.
In essence, this is how Google finds your website on the internet amongst the other billion websites that exist out there. Therefore, it’s very important that building your backlink profile is part of your overall SEO strategy. If your site has no backlinks, getting found, indexed, and appearing in results pages will take longer.
Backlinks Improve Your Domain Authority and Reputation
Google wants to know that a site it puts on the first page of its results is of high quality and authoritative. One way it determines this is by how many backlinks you have. You’re probably wondering, well, how many backlinks do I need to get on the first page?
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking: More backlinks = higher rankings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s about quality backlinks over quantity, so focus your efforts on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trustworthy websites.
Backlinks Get More Eyes on Your Site
A bigger audience is always better. Getting more referral traffic to your site from others means that more people will see your products and services and will be more likely to employ your business.
This is the most basic of backlinking’s benefits, but it’s one of the most important too.
The Relationship Between SEO and Backlinks
Other elements of SEO are focussed on changes that you can make to your site. For instance, you could target certain keywords, create amazing title tags and meta descriptions, or make your site faster with image compression etc.
Backlinks are not separate from SEO: they’re a crucial part of it but they’re not directly in your control.
You can, however, make other elements of SEO work in concert with backlinking. One example of this comes with crafting the right anchor text, AKA, the clickable text that the hyperlink is on. It needs to be relevant and interesting enough that users will click on it.
How We Can Help You
When you began this article, you had one question “what are backlinks and how can I use them?”
If you want to take a step further into the world of SEO, we can help you. We pride ourselves on offering our clients quality backlinks that your website needs – no B.S., no spam, just good-old quality backlinks.
For more information about our services, please feel free to get in contact with us. We would be more than happy to find out how we can help you.