What Are Backlinks and Why Are They Important?

One of the first things you’ll learn from researching about search engine optimization (SEO) is link building. It is arguably the most vital ranking factor that will rank your web pages on top of search engines for your target keywords.

Knowing this fact about backlinks is one thing, but understanding how they work and the value they play in your SEO efforts is another.

This post pulls back the curtain to reveal to you what backlinks are and why they’re important. We’ll also discuss the type of backlink you must build for your site to help your site move up search engine rankings much faster.

The Definition of Backlinks

Backlinks refer to the clickable elements on a page that points to a page from a different site.

Normally, backlinks are underlined and blue text to separate themselves from the regular text so visitors can click on them. The clickable text that links to a different page is called anchor text.

Here’s how a regular backlink looks like in HTML code:

<a href="https://example.com">This is a backlink</a>

Whereas “https://example.com” is the link and “this is a backlink” is the anchor text.

Backlinks also come in the form of images that visitors can click on. Here’s how an image link looks like in HTML:

<a href="https://example.com"><img src="/image.jpg" alt="This is an alt text"></a>

As smart as Google and other search engines are, it can’t interpret the contents of an image file. Instead, it refers to its alt text, which also serves as the link’s anchor text, to understand what the image is about.

Why are Backlinks Important?

Backlinks don’t seem that special at face value from the definition above. However, there are immense benefits in backlinks among search engines and even users. The number of guest post packages offered online is proof of this.

Below are why they’re valuable and the principles behind how backlinks work.

#1 – They Help Improve Search Engine Accessibility

People have believed that backlinks are the most crucial ranking factors through the years. The most recent survey conducted by SparkToro confirmed this belief as it placed the quality of backlinks as the second most important behind good content.

Google Ranking Factors Opinions from 1,584 SEO Survey Participants, August 2019

Image Source

Backlinks allow link juice or link equity to pass from one website to another. The authority passed down to a site helps improve Google’s perception of that site.

So, the more high-quality backlinks you can secure for your website, the higher your rankings and search visibility will be.

#2 – They Work as Referral Traffic Backlinks

The backlinks above are examples of dofollow backlinks. On the flip side, some links don’t pass authority back to websites, referred to as nofollow links.

They are similar to dofollow backlinks, but they have the nofollow attribute in the HTML code like so:

<a href="https://example.com" rel="nofollow">This link does not pass authority</a>

So, even if you secured a link from an authoritative website, you won’t receive link juice from it. This means you won’t get to improve your Google rankings and organic traffic.

However, this doesn’t mean nofollow backlinks don’t have any SEO value. First, Google has considered nofollow links as “hints” since 2019. The search engine can decide whether a nofollow link influences a website’s ranking on organic search results.

More importantly, backlinks can serve as referral traffic. If the page where your backlink is located receives lots of traffic, you can get a few clicks from the page to yours.

This still allows you to get in touch with your target audience without relying solely on search engines for traffic.

#3 – Achieve Relevance in the Eyes of Search Engines

The two link types you can get from websites show you that not all backlinks are the same. Some incoming links can ensure the SEO success of your campaign, while other inbound links are great for referral traffic.

At the same time, building backlinks is not to acquire dofollow links for mainly improving your domain authority and search rankings. The true purpose of launching your own link building campaigns is to generate natural links pointing to your website.

Google penalizes sites that engage in link schemes. And one way that Google can detect this is if most of the backlinks built by a website are dofollow backlinks.

Here’s the truth: websites that rank on top of the most lucrative keywords have a healthy mix of dofollow and nofollow backlinks.

So, while you want to get dofollow links to help boost your organic search rankings, you also need nofollow links to attract referral traffic and fill out your link profile.

By building a natural-looking backlink profile, you can optimize the link juice you can get from your dofollow links while still keeping in line with Google’s guidelines.

How to Find and Secure High-Quality Backlinks

Now that you have a clear understanding of the value backlinks bring to your SEO efforts, it’s time to find out how you can secure them. Below is a short step-by-step process of finding the type of backlinks your site needs:

  • Identify your top competitors – Find sites that are ranking for the same keywords as you. Using Ahrefs simplifies this step—type in your URL on the Site Explorer and go to Organic traffic > Competing domains.
  • Check out the backlinks they have that you don’t – Once you have a list of domains that are your competitors, use Ahrefs’ Link intersect feature to see referring domains other websites have that you don’t.
  • Implement the right tactics – From the referring domains, check how they secured the backlink from the site and replicate it in your SEO campaign. Examples of link building tactics you’ll see from competitors include broken link building, blog comments, guest blogging, and more.
  • Launch an outreach campaign – Most of the tactics you’ll implement in your link building initiative requires you to reach out to site owners, asking them for a link. Using tools like Hunter to find emails of site owners and Mailshike to automate the outreach process allow you to send emails in bulk and scale your efforts.
  • Monitor the results – Find out your email conversion rates and those who placed a link to your site upon your request. Based on this data, determine which worked and didn’t work in your initial strategy. Then replicate the ones that worked on your upcoming campaigns to achieve better results.

This time-consuming but rewarding process will help get your website on top of search results for your target keywords over time.

Now, if you don’t have the time to launch this initiative from start to finish, it’s best to hand off the reins to someone who knows how to build the right links for your website.

We at Linkplicity offer guest post services to improve your search visibility and generate more organic traffic. By allowing us to do the link building for your website, you can focus on other aspects of your online business and grow it even more!

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