SEO Backlinks: What Exactly is a Backlink and Why They Are Important.
Updated: Jan 26
Commonly referred to as links or inbound links, backlinks are a vital part of digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). A backlink is any link on the internet that points to your website (or blog). Backlinks help your website rank higher in search results on Google, Bing etc and can be considered an endorsement of your website or brand from other websites in your industry. Your website needs backlinks if you want to have high search rankings and get more visitors to your website.
Why Backlinks Are Important
Backlinks are very important for your website because they effectively tell Google that other websites, businesses or databases find your content valuable enough to link to it. These websites are telling their customers, subscribers and fans that they trust you and your content to the extent that they have advertised you for free.
You can see why Google would find this information invaluable. After all, they describe their mission as: “... to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. That's why Search makes it easy to discover a broad range of information from a wide variety of sources.”
So to help sites like Google and enable them to categorise the information online in a way that is “universally accessible and useful”, they rank websites based on a number of factors, backlinks from reputable sources being just one.
Technically speaking, if you had two identical websites, offering the same service, with exactly the same copy, user experience, ease of use and branding etc, but one has backlinks and the other does not, well then Google will rank the one with backlinks higher than the other. Put simply, the links from other online sources to your website improve the quality and authority of your site in Google’s eyes.
Google will then start to rank your website higher in search results and push traffic to your website. And in their most basic terms, that alone is the value of backlinks to your website - more visitors and traffic.
Types of Backlinks
Backlinks fall under two categories, dofollow and nofollow. Sounds strange to you? Don’t worry, they are easily understood.
Dofollow links are more valuable in terms of SEO as they pass authority (sometimes referred to as link juice) of the origin website to the destination website. They are like customer referrals, and any sales person can tell you how important it is to get referrals. Good dofollow links are gold for your website, increasing your website authority and rating, which has the knock on effect of improving where your website is listed in search results.
It is very important to ensure that the dofollow links which you are getting or are from reputable sources, as they can harm your site just as much as help it. You do not want links appearing from websites which have been flagged as harmful, suspicious or dangerous by search engines like Google. For example a link from RTE.ie would be powerful, but a link from an unknown, untrusted website would be harmful.
Nofollow backlinks are links which do not pass on credit to the website they are linked to, therefore not passing any link authority. So these types of links are generally not good for SEO as they do not help your Google rankings. That said, this doesn’t mean that they are harmful or bad links. That’s why, when it comes to link building, dofollow links are more valuable and need to be prioritised.
How to Get Backlinks
Now, you’re probably wondering how to obtain links. Having a backlink building strategy as part of your digital marketing plan is essential, and it is a critical part of SEO. Below are our two main tips that will help you obtain quality backlinks for your website.
Content is King!
One of the best ways to attract backlinks is to create quality content. This can mean really putting thought into the content on your website - do your research, find out what your target audience cares about and then create content online about those topics. Content can be anything from shareable ebooks, infographics and instructional pdf’s, and blog posts. It is important that the content is industry and target audience specific, relevant to your website, and something that you yourself would find helpful if you visited the website as a customer.
The other benefit of writing a blog, and adding content to your website, is that Google looks more favourably on websites with more content on it and rank them higher. But again, it needs to be relevant to your industry and customer.
Client testimonials are a great way to obtain backlinks, build relationships with other businesses and also build confidence in your business in the eyes of potential customers and Google.
Depending on your industry and line of work, you will probably be hired to work on projects by and with other businesses and vice versa. Assuming all went well, ensure that you reach out and offer a testimonial for their service or product, and ask for one in return.
Building backlinks is also a very time consuming process and typically it will take you far more time and effort than an SEO agency or link building specialist will take on the job. Within the SEO and digital marketing industry, there are link building SEO specialists who do nothing but build links for 8 hours plus a day. If you would like some help building your backlink and content strategy, get in contact with us here at Solid Consulting.