How do Backlinks Work?
Although backlinks are a critical element of any successful website build, they are often overlooked by people when setting up their websites.
What is a backlink?
A backlink is super simple to understand and is just the term used to describe the process when one website is linked to another. You will often hear them referred to as “inbound links” or even “incoming links” or “referring domains,” and they’re vitally important to the SEO of your site.
Why are backlinks important?
Fundamentally, backlinks are so important because they contribute to the overall validity and relevance of your domain’s profile. Within SEO, backlinks act as a vote of confidence from an external site to yours and essentially improve your website’s ranking.
If you consider how search platforms work, backlinks are validation to search engines that your content is worthwhile and will help you rank higher when people search for content relevant to your site. Backlinks are vital if you aspire to rank highly on a search engine and increase your website’s overall visibility within your niche.
From a user’s perspective, backlinks enable website visitors to find relevant information on associated topics, products, or services to the site they are currently visiting.
For example, if you’re reading a blog post that is introducing you to the finest quality coffee beans from South America, you might find backlinks to websites that sell these beans, or maybe to sites that sell coffee brewing or roasting equipment.
In this respect, backlinks improve a user’s experience, as they can directly link to relevant information that can help them make a purchase or access further information about a topic that they’re particularly interested in.
How should I use backlinks?
Using backlinks is vital if you want your website to grow in popularity. In SEO terms, the process of using backlinks is known as “link earning” or “link building,” and it is a process that requires some thought and planning.
While backlinks used to be measured on quantity, more emphasis is now placed on the quality of the links. If you saturate your website with low-quality, low-relevance backlinks, you won’t rate highly on search engines. Conversely, if your backlinks direct visitors to high performing sites, the opposite is true.
When adding backlinks to your website, avoid the temptation of including sites with high spam content, and plan your backlink strategy around quality.
How should I begin building my backlink profile?
Externally linking to websites that are likely to add value to your visitor’s experience is an excellent way to begin building your backlink profile.
You should also conduct comprehensive competitive backlink research when developing your strategy. As with many things on the Internet, an excellent place to begin is by looking at your competitors’ backlink profiles and ascertaining which keywords and links helped them build a successful profile.
When you’re starting out, you might find value in utilizing a helpful backlink tool such as Link Explorer, which can help you identify links that are likely to be useful in your own link building strategy.
When conducting your initial research, it helps to look at things like referring domains and the country from which the backlink is coming, as this helps inform your strategy and help you understand what to look for.
What should my backlink profile look like?
While every backlink profile differs, and different things work for different websites, one commonality across the board is that variety is an important element of a healthy backlink profile.
It would help if you also tried to establish backlinks that carry a significant amount of trust with search engines and users alike. Links from educational institutions (.edu) or government departments (.gov) are widely trusted and will help you rank higher on search engines.
When it comes to the user experience, the same is true, as backlinks from trusted sources are much more likely to inspire confidence in your site visitors than those from less reputable sites.
How can I build backlinks organically?
The best way to build backlinks organically is to reach out to websites that you think will add value to your site’s user experience. Don’t be tempted to spam webmasters from popular sites within your niche, as the chances of this working for you are low.
Success with backlinks is also about reciprocity. It would be best if you thought about how you can contribute to the website you hope to link to. If you reach out with a personalized message to a website you hope to link to and tell them how it will benefit both sites, they are likely to agree with you.
Contacting people through LinkedIn is an excellent way to reach out to people in your niche and build upon your backlink strategy.
Is there anything I should avoid?
Avoid spamming webmasters for backlinks, as has already been discussed. You should also avoid accumulating backlinks from sources that you aren’t able to verify. Domains from Brazil and Russia have a reputation of being origins of spam, so avoid as many of these as you can. To maintain the health of your site, you can report these links to the Google Search Console to avoid encountering problems further down the line.
It is best practice to avoid unnatural practice when building backlinks, such as asking to feature in the headers and footers of popular websites. Also, asking webmasters to link to your pages with an anchor text is likely to get you flagged by search engines, which is something you want to avoid.
While it can be tempting, please don’t ever offer to pay someone to include backlinks in your site, as doing so and not stipulating that it’s a sponsored link is against FCC regulations.
Backlinks are super important if you aspire to build a professional, SEO optimized website that will be ranked highly by search engines and appreciated by your website visitors. It’s important to remember, though, that not all backlinks are good, so developing links organically is a much better approach than spamming webmasters for inclusion on their sites.