A backlink is simply a hyperlink from one website to another one. Backlinks are very important in SEO because they can increase your search engine ranking position if you have a good volume of the correct ones.
In the rest of the article, we are going to explore why backlinks are important, the process of gaining backlinks, and how to do backlink research.
Backlinks are one of the oldest metrics that search engines like Google use to determine how highly they should rank your website when people search for the relevant keywords.
Search engines consider backlinks as a form of vote from webmasters and users of the internet that the page and website that they are linking to holds valuable information and is held in high regard.
Google rewards the targets of these backlinks with greater visibility. Although the number of backlinks a domain or page has is no longer the only major factor in ranking, it continues to be one of the biggest factors in differentiating the search engine ranking positions of pages competing for the same keyword.
In theory, the number of backlinks your website has would represent the organic votes for it from users, but in practice, the internet is so big, that you will struggle to gain backlinks without already ranking in search results. For this reason, building backlinks needs to be a foundational part of your off-site SEO strategy.
In the early days of the internet, volume used to be the essential factor for how much value a domain or page’s backlink profile conferred to it. These days, the algorithm is much more complex. Not only are not all backlinks created and considered equal but having the wrong kinds of backlinks can even hurt your ranking in Google and other search engines.
When building or seeking to earn backlinks, it is important to try to get them from sites that have a high authority. They will be sites and pages that are already ranking well in search engines, indicating that those search engines consider them to be trustworthy.
It is also desirable to earn backlinks that are followed – meaning that they do not carry the “nofollow” tag. These followed links, sometimes called “dofollow,” transfer the greatest amount of authority. Links that are “nofollow” have, in spite of the name, also been found to have an effect on the linked pages, especially if the source site is of very high quality.
Giving out backlinks is bound by the same set of metrics in the algorithm. The content of the linking page on your end, what kind of anchor text it is linked with, and whether the link is followed all have an effect on the value.
Building backlinks is an incredibly time-consuming process. No webmaster wants to spend lots of time and potentially money on building a set of backlinks only to find out that they are not having the desired effect on their ranking position in search engines.
Researching which are the best backlinks to build is a good way to make the process ultimately worthwhile. The most direct way to do this is to look at which of your competitors are already ranking on the first page of Google for your target keywords and examine their backlink profiles.
There are a number of tools on the internet for showing you which pages link to a given page, and these usually come with a number of other metrics, like the linking page’s authority. These can be used to determine where to focus your link building efforts for the best outcome.