The importance of backlinks

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Backlinks are essential aspects of SEO. They help build your page authorities and site's domain, which contribute to search result rankings. However, the significance of backlinks goes beyond these benefits.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is simply a link from a page on a website to another. A backlink is also known as "incoming links" or "inbound link" and is very valuable for SEO. 

 With search engine algorithms becoming more complex each day, the significance of backlinks has continued to diminish— though they still contribute to the strength and authority of your site. This is because page authorities and domain are key indicators of how authoritative search engines see your website. The more authoritative it is, the higher it will be ranked for the targeted keywords you picked during keyword research. Not to mention that backlinks offer an avenue for visitors to find your site.  

For example, when a visitor is reading an informative blog and sees a link linking back to your website and finds the topic to be appropriate for their research, they could hit the link and be directed to your site. This is called referral traffic and can contribute to your site's online reputation. There are two different types of backlinks; follow and nofollow.

  • Follow backlinks: these contribute directly to your site's domain and page authorities and pass on website strength.
  • Nofollow backlinks: do not pass on-site strength; however, still valuable as they can help visitors find your site easier.

Bonus! Where you place your backlink matters a lot. Backlinks placed in the middle of sentences (contextual backlinks) are valuable in SEOs because the contents are subjected to having them linked. They are valuable because they are directly related to topics and keywords on web pages.

Are backlinks still valuable for SEO?

Yes, there are. They help your website rank better, and there is no sign of them stopping to be a significant focus of every SEO campaign. They are essential for SEO because they represent a "vote of confidence" from one website to another. Above all, it is often said that they are the most crucial aspect of excellent SEO ratings. 

 Basically, more backlinks to your website help search engines see that other vouch for your content. That is something good because when search engines see this, they will start to rank your site higher in the SERPs. In other words, backlinks are good for your search visibility and ranking.

Advantages of backlinks

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Improves organic ranking

Once search engines start to see your website as an authority, they will start to rank your website higher in the SERP. Keep in mind that Google prioritizes websites that users visit often about topics they search for regularly. That means if you have multiple quality backlinks, Google assumes your site is a credible and valuable source of information around that specific topic. 

Tip! Note that quality backlinks are built up gradually. So, don't be tricked into using deceptive means to gain more and more backlinks. Such backlinks may get you the traffic you need, but, eventually, you will realize your low your pages are indexed and ranked in search engines.

Raises brand awareness

When websites link to you, it reveals that they feel their readers will gain from what your website offers. Getting quality backlinks also means that people on reliable websites are recommending your site and brand to their readers, which leads fascinated visitors to your website. Once they land on your website, you can use a 'Related Content' widget at the end of your blog to link them to other content they may be interested in. This allows them to read more content on your website and spend more time on your website, which Google considers when ranking your website.

Boosts referral traffic

Backlinks also contribute greatly in boosting referral traffic. If a visitor gets to your website through a backlink, then Google Analytics tracks that click as a referral visit to your website. In essence, referral traffic is more targeted and relevant and results in a lower bounce rate than other types of traffic.

Positions your business as an authority

When more websites link back to you, they position your business as an authority on a particular service, topic, subject, etc. Remember that Google uses backlinks as one factor to 'learn' what your website is all about. So, the more backlinks you get, the easier it will be for Google to know more about your business.

Backlink factors to consider for SEO

  • Total referring domains: The more high-quality domains that link to your website, the better.
  • Total referring IPs: The number of referring IPs is essential, though not as important as total referring domains. For keywords that are less popular the number of referring IPs doesn't seem to be as critical.
  • Total backlinks: This differs from total referring domains because a website might have multiple backlinks from the same domain, so the number of backlinks matter (even if they're from the same domain).
  • Total follow backlinks: Total follow links count towards your Google ranking factor – the more of these kinds of links, the better. "No Follow" links don't count and are qualified by a snippet of HTML code in the link tag. See the example below:

<a href=”http://www.example..com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>

  • Total number of anchors: Website anchor tags are invisible positioning markers that direct users to precise areas of your website. Anchors make it smooth and fast to navigate to a certain section of the page. Below is an anchor tag embedded in a link – notice a hashtag precedes the anchor text:

<a href=" #more info">More Info</a>

  • Presence of keyword in the anchor: Including the targeted keyword in the anchor tag is a good best practice but has minimal influence on domain rankings — except with very popular keywords.

Earning and giving backlinks

Earning backlinks (which is commonly known as link building or link earning) is an essential component of off-site SEO. Followed backlinks from high-authority, popular websites are more valuable and worth earning. Those from low-authority, potentially spammy websites are not desired. Whether or not a link is followed is definitely relevant. That means nofollow links are valuable too. 

Even just being mentioned on high-quality sites can give your brand a boost. When linking out to other websites, the choices you make regarding the page from which you link also impact the value you confer. This has to do with the page's authority, search engine accessibility, content, the anchor text you use, etc. In essence, if getting valuable backlinks, you should also reciprocate that when giving, although sometimes that is not the case, especially if your website is new.

How many backlinks per day is safe?

This largely depends upon the person doing SEO. Earning more than 10 backlinks a day is very impressive and valuable for your website traffic.

Competitive backlink research

Earning backlinks is not as easy as it sounds. It is time-consuming, and new sites or those expanding their keyword footprint are likely to have a hard time figuring out where to start. That is where competitive backlink research comes in. It helps you see and gain insight into what your rivals are doing that many have helped them.