What is backlinking and why is it so important?

Apr 5, 2023 | Web, Search Engine Optimization, Strategy

Backlinking will help your webpage be recognized as reputable, relevant, and useful. Getting trustworthy high-ranking pages to link to your content is like a vote of confidence that will boost your own ranking and have long-term benefits.

Quality backlinks are an important aspect for SEO that act as a “vote of confidence” between websites. They are also called ‘inbound links’ or ‘incoming links.’ You want reputable websites within your niche ‘voting’ for you, and one way to do this is by earning quality backlinks. Understanding backlinks is one key to mastering off-site SEO and continues to be a major factor in website ranking.

Types of Backlinks

If your content is being continuously linked, it means it’s probably useful and should be shared more widely. This could result in you surfacing higher on a SERP and ranking closer to #1. Google’s basically throwing you a biscuit – good job! When done strategically, a backlink building strategy will contribute to SEO optimization for your website. However, there are many factors that influence whether you have a quality backlink or a suspicious one that is hurting your ranking. Let’s first begin with the main types of backlinks and how they are earned:

  • Natural Links: These are earned without any effort on your part, such as a blogger writing about their favourite brands – without receiving any benefits in return – and linking the websites for readers.
  • Manually Built Links: These are earned through direct action. For example, asking an influencer to share your content on their own website or social media platform.
  • Self-Created Links: These are earned through specific methods – one example is adding your link to an online directory with an anchor text. Be careful not to take shortcuts and tread into ‘black hat SEO,’ as you will be heavily penalized by Google.

What Determines Quality Backlinks?

There are several aspects that influence the value of backlinks, and quality backlinks tend to follow similar trends. Strive for backlink qualities such as:

  • Located on a trusted website: If you earn a backlink from a source with a high domain authority, you will, in a sense, absorb some of that authority as well. It makes sense that you’ll get more clicks and traffic from a website that is already recognized as reputable by search engines. Backlinks from aged domains (those that have been around for at least a couple years) may carry more value as well. Give and you shall receive. Avoid links from lower quality, spammy or suspicious websites as this will negatively affect your search result position.
  • Located on a website within your niche: We use logic here again. A backlink is more useful if it is placed on a page that contains related content. This is called ‘link relevancy’. For example, if you create content on the topic of vitamins, a search engine will rank backlinks more highly if they appear within this niche. Backlinks earned on external sports, beauty, or health-related sites makes sense here.
  • Located on various domains: It is more advantageous to have fewer backlinks on a wide range of related domains, compared to numerous backlinks on only a few websites. If a website links you once, that is awesome. But the same website linking you 100 times will set you back. The number of backlinks isn’t as important as the number of sites linking you.
  • Includes a keyword-rich anchor text: These are hyperlinked words or phrases that usually appear underlined and coloured. This link represents the anchor text for an outbound link. An anchor such as “this link” is less desirable compared to a more descriptive one such as “how to improve backlink quality.” An anchor text containing your target keywords is optimal.
  • Includes a “do-follow” tag: The presence of these tags help search engines find and rank you. Essentially, search engines look at do-follow links and see who is linking who. The opposite is a ‘no-follow’ tag – which Google claims not to pay attention to. This tag was created to combat spam content such as comments, forums, and press releases.

Examining Backlink Profiles

Now that you have learned about the characteristics of quality backlinks, use this information to examine your own backlink profile. This will allow you to see the types of pages and domains linking to your website and will help you see any red flags. If you’ve succumbed to Black Hat SEO link building – a practice where shortcuts are used to cheat search engines – the impacts can be more harmful than beneficial. If you are suspicious of keyword stuffing, link buying, spamming blog comments, or other Black Hat SEO practices, then use this tactic to monitor where your links are showing up so you can avoid them. There are many free and paid backlink profile checkers available online.

It is equally important to examine your top competitor’s backlink profile. Why? Earning backlinks from ground zero is difficult. Competitive backlink research will help you see how a high-ranking page has targeted similar keywords in its link building strategy. This high-ranking site is likely following proper ‘White Hat’ SEO strategies and thus being rewarded by Google. There are a variety of backlink analysis tools online that will help you understand your own backlink profile as well as your competitors’.

Earning quality backlinks from the ground up takes time and research. There are no short-cuts or ways to get around Google’s search engine algorithms. Ranking highly will occur when you have built a strong backlink profile thanks to relevant and helpful content that has become reputable in your niche. You must give in order to receive. 

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