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What are BACKLINKS and Why Are They Important?

Updated: Feb 29


In the past, backlinks were the building blocks for growing organic traffic. Today's search algorithms, which are more adept at understanding user intent, enable Google (and other search engines) to rank sites using various factors other than referrals. However while not the sole determining factor, backlinks remain valuable for website ranking.

 

What are backlinks?

 

In SEO, backlinks are web page links that direct users from one web page to another, creating an incredible referral network in online search.

 

Not all backlinks are made alike.

 

When aiming for a strong backlink profile, the key factors to consider are the relevance and quality of the domains and pages linking to your content. This means relevant backlinks from authoritative sites signal to Google that your page is worth the attention. SEO experts term this linked value as "link juice."

 

To enjoy optimal results from the link juice you’ve earned, prioritize quality rather than quantity.


According to Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, a single high-quality link from a website holds significant value and can make a page rank. This suggests that having even one really good link signifies the website's relevance and importance to Google.

How many backlinks should I have for my website

 

 

How do backlinks boost your website?

 

Backlinks play an essential role, but what exactly is their impact?


Here are reasons why marketing teams invest in link building.

 

1. More organic traffic: Backlinks are a leading ranking factor in searches. If all else is equal, a page with authoritative and relevant backlinks is more likely to rank on the first page of Google for its targeted searches.

 

2. Boost in referral traffic: Links from high-traffic sites and pages can enhance your website's traffic by encouraging clicks from those referring pages.

 

4. Credibility with Google: Google evaluates a site's content quality through signals indicating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Backlinks indicate that your page is trustworthy and knows what it’s talking about.

 

5. Credibility with readers: Pages linked by websites respected in their industry are more likely to be reliable and convincing to your target audience.

 

6. Faster indexing time: When you include internal backlinks from pages already indexed, Google quickly discovers and crawls the new page, leading to faster indexing.



Why are backlinks important to SEO?

When are backlinks particularly valuable?

 

There's no situation where the right backlinks are unfavorable to search rank and quality. Investing in link building is generally a good idea if your site is well-structured and optimized for search. Certain situations make this investment especially worthwhile.

 

1. You have a truly unique content: If your content is one-of-a-kind, like expert interviews or exclusive research, it's harder to replicate. This uniqueness makes it an ideal target for successful link building.


2. Your target keywords are specific: If your blog post focuses on unique keywords, like "top 10 plant-based lipstick brands," rather than generic ones like "best lipstick colors," you'll find it easier to build backlinks. Generic topics not only face more backlink competition but also encounter heightened competition in search results.

 

3. You’re writing for search phrases with no data: Some keywords have low monthly searches or lack sufficient search history data. Many businesses overlook the opportunities these keywords offer, such as attracting high-intent customers or dominating search results. Creating content for these keywords can help you gain more traffic and earn relevant backlinks, signaling to Google and your readers that you're the new authority on the subject.

 


Attributes Affecting Link Quality of Referring Domains

 

In any job search, a recommendation from a respected industry expert can give you an edge. Similarly, aligning with websites in good standing with Google can speed up the ranking process for your online content. Here are some factors that determine if a referral is more valuable than others:

 

1. Site Quality: Google prefers referring domains with strong E-A-T, user experience, and site structure. Backlinks from such sites are more favorable than those from similar websites that don’t have these qualities.

 

2. Site Relevance: The relevance and proximity of a referring domain/page to your target page significantly impact backlink quality. It doesn't need to be an exact match but should be close. For instance, Google is likely to value links more if they connect sites from two related digital marketing disciplines, rather than linking a marketing site to one that’s about pet adoption.

 

3. Anchor Text: Google checks anchor text to understand a page's content better and what a link is conveying. The more relevant and straightforward the anchor text is to the linked topic, the more information Google must appropriately rank it for relevant searches.

 

4. Types of Links: Follow links instruct Google's crawlers to "follow" the link and explore the target page, making them the most valuable for passing link equity. They are usually the default setting, but some brands may choose to nofollow all external links. Nofollow links use a specific tag to limit link juice (although Google treats this as a hint, it’s not a strict directive). UGC (user-generated content) and sponsored tags indicate to Google that a link is either outside a site's control or paid for.

 


Three Under-used But Effective Strategies for Boosting Your Backlink Profile

 

Building links is challenging but integral to a successful SEO strategy. While customized choices are essential for specific objectives, there are certain best practices everyone can observe in acquiring and maintaining excellent backlinks.

 

1. Cultivate Relationships with Industry Leading Brands and Top Creators

 

To consistently earn quality links, adopt a sales approach by treating people with genuine interest. Establish connections by offering help, giving more than taking, and adding a personal touch into your interactions. While cold emails might work occasionally, having a relationship makes it easier to make appropriate backlink requests.

 

However, exercise caution to preserve these relationships, as they take time to build but can very easily be undone. Avoid these behaviors:

 

- Requesting backlinks too frequently or in multiples

- Proposing links to sites or pages without mutual relevance

- Making it their obligation to find or suggest anchor text

 

By following these relationship-building strategies, you increase your chances of securing valuable backlinks.


2. Watch Out for and Fix Broken Backlinks

 

Securing a backlink doesn't guarantee that it’s permanent. Pages become outdated, referring domains change, and the content they cover may shift. It's crucial to monitor these links and ensure that the linked pages remain accessible and active.

 

Continual backlink monitoring is an integral aspect of SEO, extending beyond the winning of the initial link. Some commonly used tools by SEO practitioners include:

 

- Google Search Console, a forever free tool

- SEO Spider from Screaming Frog, which is free for up to 500 URLs

- Semrush, offering a seven-day free trial with full access

- SEO Spyglass, available for a free trial with in-depth backlink insights

 

3. Explore Niche Websites

 

Have you ever seen a blog solely dedicated to recipes from the southern US or a website guiding Dungeons and Dragons beginners in creating their first characters? These are examples of specialized or niche websites.

 

Niche sites focus on a specific topic and audience, often being among the few competing for a sizable portion of traffic. If these sites align with your website's content, they provide an opportunity to establish a connection that brings a consistent supply of backlinks.

 

In addition to niche sites, there are other opportunities to get various types of backlinks (note: many are nofollow links, which are more beneficial for traffic than authority). These opportunities include:

 

- Social media profiles and bios, including those of key company personnel at a company

- Directory sites like G2, Capterra, Yelp, and similar aggregators with editable profiles

- Community platforms such as Reddit, Quora, and forums specific to topics or niches

 


Backlink FAQ

 

How many backlinks do I need for my website?

 

There is no specific minimum number of backlinks required for a website to rank, as confirmed by Google. In the past, link quantity was crucial for SEO success, particularly with Google's PageRank algorithm. Although current ranking algorithms are more intricate, outdated practices still influence the emphasis on backlink count.


For those prioritizing traffic, emphasize quality --with a single relevant referring domain potentially yielding more traffic than numerous backlinks from less relevant, lower-quality sites.

 

What should I do with backlinks I don’t want?


Unwanted backlinks are common for all websites, ranging from irrelevant to inappropriate or spammy sources. Other undesirable backlinks also include adult websites and low-quality content aggregators.


Google suggests ignoring such links, but if facing a manual action for unnatural backlinks, you can make use of Google's disavow feature in Search Console to address the issue.

 

 

Is merely building backlinks sufficient for ranking?

 

Unfortunately, not. The quality of content is more important. However, when comparing two similarly high-quality pages on the same topic, the one with more quality backlinks is highly likely to achieve a higher rank.


As Google's exact criteria for determining content quality are unknown, a successful SEO strategy should prioritize both content and backlinks.


If I don't want to invest time in building links, can I buy them instead?

 

This falls into a gray area in SEO. Google's Search Central documentation warns against links intended to manipulate PageRank or search results, counting them as violation of guidelines. While it's preferable to organically build links, some websites choose to buy links for a paid link building strategy, often without facing penalties.


If you decide to try a strategy that goes against Google's rules, understand that it could lead to penalties affecting your website's ranking or even getting completely removed from search results.


The key to a successful link building strategy


Recognize that link building alone won't guarantee success in SEO. Some reasons for the failure of link building, or for businesses giving up too soon, include:

- Expecting immediate results

- Having content that lacks originality or quality

- Ignoring internal linking

- Having a weak website structure and user experience

- Lacking cohesion between organic and paid content


Every website faces initial challenges in its link-building journey, requiring one to work hard. However, backlinks illustrate the Snowball Effect in marketing, where initial slow momentum transforms into compounding benefits that demand less effort.

 

By consistently publishing high-quality content and earning relevant backlinks, more people will discover your pages organically through referrals and searches. This, in turn, leads to additional pages linking to your content without much effort –also known as passive link building.

 

Effective link building relies on consistent, day-to-day efforts rather than flashy tactics. It involves getting the basics right day after day, week after week, and year after year. Successful SEO is an ongoing marathon without a definitive destination, which can be either highly rewarding or potentially costly.

 

Note: While this article references Google as the default search engine due to its market share and advanced language processing capabilities, the principles discussed here are applicable to other search engines as well.


Beach Websites backlinking program involves the following white hat areas:


OUR BACKLINKING PROGRAM:

 

  • Social bookmarking

  • Profile creations

  • Image sharing

  • Directory submissions

  • Blog submissions

  • Quora submissions

 

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