Backlinking 101: What Are Backlinks and Why Are They Essential to SEO?

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When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, it’s important to understand the process and importance of quality backlinking. Given the collective goal of SEO is to increase website visibility and search ranking, understanding the different technical strategies to make improvements is integral.   

So what is a Backlink? 

In the simplest of terms, a Backlink is a link from a page on one website that links you to another. If someone links to your website, then you have a backlink from them. If you link to another website, they receive a backlink from you.

Backlinks are often classified as ‘inbound links’ or ‘incoming links’, depending on the direction and attribution of the link. No matter the classification, backlinks work to accomplish the same purpose of improving search engine traffic. 

Why are Backlinks Important? 

You might ask how giving and receiving a handful of links can help grow your online presence and search engine visibility? Since the early days of SEO, Google’s algorithm has relied on a website’s backlink profile and domain rating as an indicator of SEO health. Since then, marketers and SEO specialists have pointed to quality backlinks as one of the most important factors in a high-ranking SEO score. 

While backlinking is far from an overnight process, the ability to draw users into your website is vital to growing your voice. In essence, a backlink is another website vouching for you, therefore allowing Google to trust the credibility of your site based on the idea that the content you publish is worth attracting more traffic to. 

More specifically, backlinks help improve: 

Rankings: Since backlinks are seen as votes of confidence from other websites, the more backlinks you have the more likely you are to rank for relevant search queries. 

Discoverability: Search engines revisit pages they already trust for relevant content. The more popular the website backlink you receive the quicker your content is discovered. 

Referral traffic: Backlinks exist to direct users to useful resources. Because these links are embedded and clickable, the more referral traffic you receive from them. 

What makes a Good Backlink?  

Not all backlinks are created equal. The following factors influence the quality and utility backlinks.

Relevance: A backlink needs to relevant in its purpose and subject so that people are more likely to click on it. Someone combing a website for new bathroom trends and improvements is much more likely to click on the top 5 vanity installments of 2021 over a link on how to care for house pets. Google places value on relevancy because it’s a real factor in capturing the most optimal audience.

Authority: The strongest and most useful backlinks come from websites with high authority or established backlink profiles. There is a real connection between page-level authority and the amount of organic that comes from these quality links. 

Traffic: It’s easy to understand that backlinks from high-traffic pages will usually send you more referral traffic than those from low-traffic pages. This means that the sheer amount of backlinks is important, but traffic is an essential factor in determining their actual worth to you and your website. 

Placement: Sometimes overlooked, the placement of backlinks is integral in the lead generation process. Embedding links in relevant content and landing pages ensures that users see how one link leads to another. Using fonts, colors, underlining, and placing a link where people are likely to click are all important aspects of backlinking. 

How to measure the strength of backlinks? 

Now that you understand what backlinks are and how they can improve your online ranking, understanding how to check the quality of these links will help determine where and how to concentrate your SEO efforts. 

With the help of analytical tools and integrations on platforms like Ahrefs, filtering your backlink profile by the following three factors will help determine the value of each link: 

  • Domain Authority (DA) – This measurement determines how likely the linking domain is to rank high. Backlinks from a website with a Domain Authority of 40+ is an optimal baseline.
  • Page Authority (PA) – Similar to the DA, Page Authority gives insights into how likely the linking page is to rank high. Aim to receive backlinks from pages with a PA score of 30+.
  • Spam Score – Used to determine how spam-related the linking website is (should be a score of 3 or less.)

Building a high-quality backlink profile with relevant and trustworthy links takes time and demands continual effort, however brings rewarding strength to your domain and page authority. 

So what are the most effective Backlinking strategies? 

When it comes down to it, backlinks can either be earned, created, and built. 

Earning backlinks: Earning backlinks means that people organically discover and choose to link to your page from search engines, social media, or word of mouth. Organic backlinks are considered earned. As a result, the most effective way to earn backlinks is to publish useful content that people naturally want to link to. 

Creating backlinks: This is when you manually add links to your site from others via business directories, blog comments, and replying to forum threads.

Building backlinks: Having a clear value proposition is essential to reaching out and working with other site owners and editors to link to your page. Some of the most effective and tried collaborative methods include guest blogging, broken link building, and finding unlinked mentions to make linkable. Writing a one-off post, finding dead links to replace with live ones, and creating content that goes above and beyond what's available is foundational to building a solid backlink profile.

Final Thoughts

Although SEO and Backlinking are far from rocket science, finding your niche and allocating optimization efforts to the right places come with practice and industry expertise. To better understand your current SEO position and your potential for growth, explore our suite of customizable digital marketing services that include SEO. At Drive Digital, our core focus is on our clients, transparency, and campaigns that drive results. For more information, contact us today.