What Are Backlinks in SEO and How They Work?

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Internet marketers and SEO professionals are all keen to build backlinks as they are convinced that it helps in achieving better ranks on Google. A high rank on Google can make a huge difference for the website. 

It can be deciding factor on whether the website will be a success or failure. This is why backlinks to a website are so important. But what are backlinks in SEO? Let us take a closer look.

What are backlinks?

A backlink is a link from one website to another. Also called an “incoming link” or an “inbound link”, it can point to the Home page or any other page of the destination website.

What are backlinks

The source website may publish the link from an image, or more commonly from the text (website copy). These are typically one-way links because you are not going to reciprocate the action by linking back to the publishing website.

A backlink from an image may not help you that much. For maximum SEO gain, get backlinks with anchor texts with key keywords. It needs to appear as a hyperlink with a descriptive copy, which is called the “anchor text”.

It will appear differently to the end user. The person will know that there is more information available by clicking the link.

Backlinks are considered very important for SEO or Search Engine Optimization because it is believed that Google considers them as a ranking factor. This is why they are sometimes also called SEO links.

It has been observed again and again that the web pages that receive more incoming links tend to achieve better search engine ranking.

However, while doing link building, the website owner or webmaster must ensure that all Google Webmaster Guidelines are followed.

Why are backlinks important for SEO?

SEO linkbuilding is important for three reasons. 

Why are backlinks important for SEO
  • Firstly, it improves the rank of the website in the search engine.
  • Secondly, it helps people find new websites as they can click on the link to navigate.
  • Thirdly, it can increase the traffic to your website manifold, especially when you have these links published in many places.

Backlinks are very important for SEO. Google considers a backlink as a “vote” for your website because when a website is linking to you, that website must believe you are offering something of value.

Your website must be good because another website is endorsing you. Google believes that your website is authoritative. It must be relevant to the topic and thus, you will achieve a higher rank for the keyword. This is the importance of backlinks for SEO.

So, you are going to get more votes if there are many pages linking to your website. And the more the number of votes, the better will be your chance for a page #1 rank on Google for the keyword.

Your website will then have better link juice. Quantity has been an important factor for many years. However, increasingly, the quality of the SEO backlinks has also become very important.

This means Google is now also considering the quality of the page that is linking to you. This is why it is now important to get inbound links from good websites.

Backlinks are good for the end users too as they connect them with relevant information on the web.

  • They can improve rankings – Google considers more than 200 factors to decide whether a website should get a good rank. Backlink is one of the most important factors. An external link is a vote to your website. But tons of referring domains that are of low quality may not help you. Links from the content of only a few good authoritative websites may be enough to take you high on the search results.
  • Google finds new pages through links – Backlinks help Google too. Firstly, it helps them decide which websites to rank. It also helps them find new websites. Google robots are always crawling through the web. These robots can find links, move through them to visit other websites, and evaluate them to decide.
  • They send referral traffic to your page – Referral traffic means traffic from other websites to yours. If your SEO links are published on popular websites that get many visitors, then you can be sure that many of them will click on the links to visit your website. You can then introduce your business to a wider audience and build brand identity. It gives you the opportunity to do more business.
  • Backlinks are digital recommendations – They are like digital recommendations for what your website is offering. The website must believe that your content is good and you are offering something of value to their visitors and thus your website is worth linking to.

Types of backlinks

You should know that there are many types of backlinks. Some of them are very good like the links on Reddit, for example.

Types of backlinks
  • Follow links – These are hyperlinks where there are no additional attributes. It tells Google that you are an authority website and should thus receive SEO link juice. They are also called dofollow backlinks. A follow link to the website looks like this in the HTML code.

<a href="https://www.website-xyz.com/">this is a follow link</a>

  • Nofollow links – This is a link with the “nofollow” HTML tag in it, which tells Google that it should not follow the link. It will not count as a vote for you and won’t help you achieve better search engine ranks. A competitor website may link to you for context but will naturally not like to pass any authority. These links look like this - 

<a href="https://www.website-xyz.com/" rel="nofollow">this is a nofollow link</a>

  • Nofollow links are also important for SEO. In your SEO link-building strategy, if you only have follow links pointing to your website, then Google may believe that you are trying to spam the ranking algorithm. So, when you generate backlinks, try to keep it natural. Make sure that you have a good mix of both follow and nofollow links.
  • Sponsored or paid links –These are links received in exchange for money or a service. It will clearly have the word “sponsored” mentioned in the link. It is important to mention this because Google views paid links negatively. This is black-hat SEO. Here is a good way of doing this – 

<a href="https://www.website-xyz.com/" rel="sponsored"> 

  • UGC links – These are User-Generated or UGC links, which tell Google that they were created by customers or users. Google will know that the webmaster may not necessarily endorse the receiving website. You will find these types of links in the comments section of blog posts and also in the forums. Here is an example – 

<a href="https://www.website-xyz.com/" rel="ugc">

  • Editorially placed links – These links are placed by the editors without you asking for them. You have earned them because the person believes that you are a good resource. Google will always value them highly.
  • Link schemes – This refers to link farms that are in the business of selling or trading links where the two websites will link to each other to rank high on Google. There are some automated programs that find websites you can approach for a backlink. Google values all such efforts negatively. Your website can be removed from the Google index if you trade or buy SEO backlinks.

Which backlinks are best?

Good backlinks can make a huge difference in Google search. A high rank can give you a lot of organic traffic. So, it is very important that you get good quality SEO backlinks.

Usually, the best backlinks to your website are the dofollow links from reputed websites that get a lot of web traffic. The link should appear in the content with an anchor text. For best results, the link must be from a similar website to your niche.

Manipulating backlinks

Many webmasters and internet marketers make the mistake of trying to influence the search engine algorithm by manipulating their backlinks strategy.

Manipulating backlinks

They work with link farms and exchange links. Google usually finds out in the end and penalizes both websites. This is a dangerous approach that can harm your web business.

How to remove bad backlinks?

Use a tool to identify such links that are pointing to the website. Now, reach out to the webmaster and ask for the removal. You should also create a “disavow” file and submit it to Google.

How do you build backlinks?

The hardest way to build backlinks is to find authoritative websites and websites with quality content. Links from such places will always help you. You can expect some of this authority to come to you as well. Also, try to get links from web pages that already have high-quality inbound links.

You can get the link from a blog or online article. But make sure that your link is posted as high as possible in the link.

It should also have an anchor tag with the keyword you are targeting. You can write a guest post with the link and tag and ask the webmaster of the blog to simply publish it.

Generate backlinks honestly. Follow white hat SEO guidelines and you will surely be able to make your website get good Google ranks.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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