Backlinks 101: What are backlinks?

Backlinks are an essential component of search engine optimisation (SEO) and play a crucial role in determining a website’s visibility and authority on the internet.

Also known as inbound links or incoming links, backlinks can help a company achieve greater long-term success. 

Before hiring a company to create a backlink strategy, it is important to learn about backlinks and discover what they are, why they matter, and how they influence a website’s ranking in search engine results.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are links from one website to another. They are essentially references or citations in the form of hyperlinks that connect web pages. When one website links to another, it’s seen as a vote of confidence or an endorsement. Search engines like Google view these links as a signal that the linked content is valuable and authoritative.

“Acquiring backlinks to your site is a critical component of a successful SEO strategy,” Melissa Healy at Marketing Labs, says about backlinks. “With digital PR, you can attract links organically by having your story picked up or being quoted directly in the press.”

Types of backlinks

There are several types of backlinks, and they can be broadly categorised into three main groups:

  • Natural backlinks: These are earned organically when other websites link to your content because they find it valuable. Natural backlinks are highly coveted because they genuinely endorse your content.
  • Manual or outreach backlinks: These are acquired through deliberate efforts, such as reaching out to other websites, guest posting, or submitting content to online directories. Manual backlinks are obtained through proactive link-building strategies.
  • Self-created backlinks: These are links that a website owner creates on their own, often in the form of forum comments, blog comments, or directory submissions. However, self-created backlinks are generally considered low-quality and may carry less SEO value.

Why do backlinks matter?

Backlinks are crucial for several reasons:

  • Search engine ranking: Search engines, notably Google, use backlinks as a major factor in determining a website’s authority and ranking in search results. Websites with a higher number of high-quality backlinks tend to rank higher.
  • Trust and authority: Backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites can help establish your website as a trustworthy source of information. This, in turn, can boost your credibility in the eyes of both search engines and users.
  • Referral traffic: Backlinks can drive direct traffic to your website when users click on them. These visitors are often more engaged and more likely to convert because they are interested enough to click through.
  • Indexing and crawling: Search engines use backlinks to discover and index new web pages. When your website is linked from other established sites, it is more likely to be crawled and indexed quickly.

Quality versus quantity

It is essential to note that not all backlinks are created equal. The quality of backlinks matters more than the quantity. High-quality backlinks come from authoritative, trustworthy websites that are relevant to your content. These links carry more SEO weight and have a more significant impact on your rankings. In contrast, low-quality or spammy backlinks can harm your site’s SEO and reputation.

Backlinks are a fundamental aspect of SEO that can significantly impact your website’s visibility, authority, and ranking in search engine results. Building a strong backlink profile requires a combination of high-quality content creation, outreach, and link-building efforts. 

Remember that the goal is not just to accumulate as many backlinks as possible but to acquire authoritative, relevant links that enhance your website’s credibility and online presence. Understanding the importance of backlinks and employing effective strategies can help your website climb the search engine rankings and achieve greater online success.