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Backlinks: What are they and why are they important for SEO?

We were talking with a prospective client who wanted to increase web traffic using content. Like some people (especially those not familiar with SEO), they seemed to think all you need to do is upload content to your website… And voila! You’ll soon make it to page #1 of Google!

Sadly though, uploading good content is essential, but it’s only the first step! There are so many other factors that go into how Google ranks your website. And that’s how we started talking about the importance of backlinks.

Did you know that multiple studies reveal that more than 60% of pages on the web do not have a single backlink?!1 Yes, you read that right.

Since backlinks have been on my mind for a few days now, here are some simple clarifications that might help.

Common questions about backlinks

  1. How can some other site’s link help my website?
  2. Is it dangerous to ask other sites/brands/companies to link to my website?
  3. What if they end up stealing my business?
  4. How do I know what is a good backlink and a bad backlink?

What are backlinks?

Like the name suggests, a backlink is created when an external website includes a link to your website on any of their pages. They may refer to you in a blog (the most common way) or list you on one of their pages as a client, or a vendor… you get the gist. This connection simply links back to your site. Hence the name.

What are inbound links?

They’re nothing but backlinks. In the above example, when someone visits the other website and clicks on that backlink, they will be directed to your website. So, it brings in traffic to your website from another source. That’s why backlinks like this are also called ‘inbound links’.

Why are backlinks so important for SEO?

Backlinks are one of the most important factors for your website or page’s Google search results ranking. In fact, Backlinko found that the #1 result for any search query has nearly four times as many backlinks as the results ranking #2 to #10.2

To explain why these are so important, think of your website as a person. Backlinks are that person’s references – the number of other people who are willing to vouch for this person. The more number of trusted people you meet who tell you, ‘Yes, this person is good at what they do!’ – the more your belief in that person grows.

In website terms, this is called domain authority – how trusted and important Google considers your site to be. The more good-quality backlinks your site has, the more Google thinks your site is worth. Thus, the higher your ranking will be. It’s that simple.

How can I tell a good backlink from a bad one?

The same way you differentiate between a trusted authority who gives you advice versus some random person on the street whom you have never met before.

There are a lot of junk sites on the web – and there are also sneaky and underhanded ways to get backlinks. These are sometimes called ‘black hat’ methods. These will get you backlinks, yes – but Google can immediately see that these sites have nothing to do with your website or product, thus defining them as a bad backlink. Not only will this not help you rise in the rankings, it may actually demote your site further.

So, always make sure each backlink is from a trusted source – if you are a tourism company but your website has a backlink from a site that seems to sell electronic items, it’s a complete mismatch. But a link from a popular travel blogger? That’s spot on!

This is our simple explanation of what backlinks are and why they are important in SEO.

Interested in more tips and tricks to get good-quality backlinks? Make sure to regularly read our blog, because we’ll be talking more about this topic very soon!

1. Ahrefs, Search Traffic Study

2. Backlinko, Search Engine Ranking

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