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What Are Backlinks and Why Do You Need Them for Your SEO?

If you're new to SEO, you're probably wondering about backlinks.

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If you’re new to SEO or are just thinking about starting your very own website, you probably have hundreds of questions. One of the most pressing probably relates to backlinks.

If you are going to lead a successful website, you simply need to understand what backlinks are. Thankfully, it is not overly complicated.

What are backlinks?

Let’s start from the very beginning. Backlinks are some of the essential components of a webpage. To put it simply, whenever one website links to another website, that generates a backlink for the linked website. Backlinks are crucial since they are considered something like a vote of confidence by the Google Search algorithm. Also, the more prestigious and higher rated the website that links to your own is, the stronger the backlink.

Related: 6 SEO Tips to Benefit Any Business

Why should you care for backlinks?

Backlinks are important for SEO, and that’s why you should always aim to have as many backlinks from reputable sources as possible — having many backlinks signals to Google that various websites consider you a respectable partner. That, in turn, means that you have a high chance of scoring a better position in Google Search results, which of course, means more people will be able to notice and visit your site.

Different types of backlinks

There are three types of backlinks worth your attention.

First of all, there are natural backlinks. Another website gives them out without any action on your part. Simply put, the other website links to yours just because the owner or the author of a given article believes your content is worth following. How do you generate natural backlinks? The solution is simple: You just have to strive to produce the highest quality website and content you can.

Next, there are also manual backlinks, and you can achieve them thanks to various activities. You can, for example, guest blog on another website and use this occasion to promote your web page with a backlink — as long as you have the owner’s permission.

Finally, there are also the self-created links. As the name suggests, the only person responsible for their creation is you. Of course, this means that creating them will be no problem and will only take a few moments. Remember, however, that overusing this method might worsen your SEO reputation, which means your website will slide down in the web search rankings.

Do all backlinks matter?

At the basic level, the more backlinks you generate, the better. However, as mentioned, not all types of backlinks are of the same value. The self-created backlinks are obviously of lower significance than the ones you gain naturally, but this is not the only way we classify backlinks. There are several other issues you should take into account.

Dofollow vs no-follow backlinks

If you run any kind of website, you can choose if your backlinks pass through so-called equity, also known as “link juice". A typical no-follow link doesn’t pass equity, while a standard dofollow link does. On paper, the following links are much more desirable. However, that much depends on the quality of the linking website. If it is relatively high, even the no-follow links will provide you with high-quality benefits.

Linking domain authority

The higher the quality of the website you obtain backlinks from is, the higher your website will be rated by the Google Search algorithms. Links from websites considered spammy may, however, drastically lower your ranking.

Link relevancy

Google has its ways of judging whether a given backlink is relevant to your website’s subject, and hands out appropriate ratings. For example, let’s say we are a candy factory, and our backlink comes from a candy store — then it will be rated as excellent. However, if the backlink comes from a mortar factory, it would be rated as very bad. The more relevant the two websites are, the higher the link relevancy rating and the bigger chance for a better position in the Google Search ranking.

Location of the link 

The term “location” in this case doesn’t describe an actual, physical place. So, what does “link location” mean? This rating measures how “optimal” or “relevant” the place where we placed the backlink on our webpage is. Generally, the more visible a backlink would be to a random user, the better the score. For example, a backlink placed within a paragraph of any given article would receive a higher ranking than a link placed at the very bottom of the webpage.

Link number 

Backlinks are undoubtedly helpful and extremely important, but we should pay attention to how many we include on a given webpage. As it turns out, “more” doesn’t always mean “better”. In fact, for the vast majority of cases, having a limited amount of well-thought-out links will do way better than just having tons of backlinks on a given webpage. Quality over quantity is the golden rule.

Anchor text 

Finally, anchor text is also definitely worth discussing. Anchor text is simply formed by the words that display the hyperlink within a given content. It may be used with any given link type, like inbound links and outbound links. The key to receiving a high anchor text ranking is composing it with major attention to SEO standards. In case not every anchor word fits well; then it’s good to use the suggested synonyms. Generally, high-quality anchor text should be non-generic and relevant to the topic.

Related: How to Get More Backlinks for Your Small Business Website

How should you NOT get backlinks?

We shared the essential tips on what you should do to achieve high-quality SEO backlinks, so let’s tackle all the stuff you should avoid.

First of all, do not randomly purchase a big pack of backlinks! Contrary to what the sellers say, this is not a good idea. You must steadily grow your website and, with time, gain the attention of more trustworthy partners.  That is the only way to achieve success. 

You should also never forget that backlinks are probably the most crucial aspect of website rankings done by Google. Do not lower their quality just because it would make the website look visually more attractive. 

Finally, remember that Google can easily recognize any attempts on your part to “rig the system”. If they deem the issue as severe enough, they can even ban your website from showing up in Google Search altogether!

Backlinks are precious for improving your SEO and getting the upper hand in the SERPs, but only if you commit to the task of obtaining them in the right way. There’s no need to rush; focus on creating top-quality and meaningful content and establishing relationships with relevant authorities in your niche, and you’ll slowly but surely grow your backlinks and SEO. 

Related: 4 Dumb SEO Tactics That Will Get Your Site Penalized

Nick Chernets

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Nick Chernets is the founder and CEO of DataForSEO, the leading provider of marketing data. While he's passionate about data analysis and SEO, he also enjoys sharing the experience from the business side of the industry.