What are SEO Backlinks?

What are SEO Backlinks?

The world of digital marketing has never been more exciting! Search engines, such as Google and Bing, frequently update their algorithms to reward websites following best practices while weeding out those they view as spammy. With these changes comes a never-ending sea of information, keeping digital marketers on their toes, or else they risk being left behind. Despite these perpetual updates, one thing has remained consistent for decades: the importance of backlinks!  But what exactly are backlinks, and why are they so important to your digital marketing strategy? 


Three Different Types of Links But Only One is Considered a Backlink


A link is a connection between two pieces of information – an indication that one item follows the other. In digital marketing, the term link refers to a “hyperlink” and is used for web visitors to jump from one page to another. A hyperlink can be categorized into three types (detailed below), each having varying degrees of SEO value. However, inbound links, also known as backlinks, hold the most SEO value. 


Internal Link – a hyperlink on a website pointing to another page on the same website. Essentially, internal links never take you off of the website you currently are on. Internal links are beneficial for SEO because they help increase time on site and pages per session


Outbound Link – a hyperlink on your website pointing to a page on a different site. Outbound links hold no SEO value. They are beneficial only to cite credible sources. 


Inbound Link – a hyperlink from a different website pointing to a page on your website. Inbound links hold tremendous SEO value and are the only category of links considered a backlink. 


Why Are Backlinks So Important?


It’s no secret that backlinks are essential in improving SEO rankings, but just how important are they? There are dozens of ranking factors, from page loading speed to meta information to alt-image text, etc. The dilemma is search engines do not explicitly emphasize the importance of each, so it’s hard to know which to prioritize. However, regarding backlinks, all SEO experts agree they are near the top of the list. In fact, an article recently published by AHREFs, one of the most prominent SEO software companies in the world, states backlinks are perhaps the most significant ranking factor for PageRank – a mathematical formula used by Google to grade the importance of a website page. 


Since backlinks are so vital to SEO rankings, the question is, why? The simple answer is they are hard to acquire. When building a successful digital marketing campaign, there are certain things you can control while others you cannot. You have control over on-page SEO, meaning things on your own website, such as content, meta information, H-Tags, etc. On the other hand, you cannot control what people do on their websites and the links they choose to include in their content. Thus, when someone decides you are important enough to link to, search engines take notice and generally view it as a good thing. 


Quantity versus Quality?


When searching a specific query, such as pizza near me, Google will deliver ten results on the first page. If each of the ten ranking websites has practically equal on-site SEO, how does Google determine who to rank highest? Often the answer lies in their backlink profile. 


Think of backlinks as a popularity contest. Generally, the more backlinks you have, the more trusted you are by Google, and the higher you will rank for keywords. But buyer beware because quantity is not everything. In fact, quantity can hurt your website if your backlink profile appears spammy or purchased, which is considered black hat SEO. This is why link quality is equally as important. Typically, the higher a referring website’s domain authority (DA), the more SEO benefit or link-juice you will gain if they link to your site. So, when obtaining backlinks, of course, you want as many as possible, but they need to come from high-quality websites. This is a critical point you should take note of! Many tools are available to evaluate the domain authority of inbound linking sites, such as Moz Bar, a free browser extension. 


How to Gain Backlinks?


Now that we’ve established backlinks are both essential and hard to acquire, the question is, how do you get them? We’ve already ruled out the possibility of purchasing backlinks unless you want to be blacklisted from search engines altogether. However, several link-building strategies have proven to work for companies wishing to improve their domain authority and SEO footprint, including the following:


  1. Create high-quality, informative content and publish it frequently. People will naturally link to you if they find the content relevant and important for their web visitors.
  2.  Go on as many directory websites as possible! Most directories are free to register and will include a link back to your website. Sure, the link probably is a no-follow, meaning you won’t get credit for it. However, it’s still worth registering to as many as possible because some allow dofollow links, so it’s low-hanging fruit. Here is an article on how to check if a link is a nofollow or dofollow
  3. Join a blogging network! Guest blogging is a great way to get your name out there and start building links. Plus, they often result in long-term relationships with potentially more extensive opportunities, like social partnerships. At Mondo, we have an established blogging network with websites across dozens of industries. We only work with American companies, and we vet each one before accepting new clients, ensuring our network is follows SEO best practices. 


How to Analyze Your Backlinks


A backlink checker is a tool used to determine how many inbound links point to a given website. When evaluating your backlink portfolio, a backlink checker helps show the number of backlinks to each correlating page on your site. It also will reveal other essential information, such as the anchor text and domain authority score of the referring website. Just as helpful, a good backlink checker will expose which links are spammy, so you can disavow them in Google Search Console – a necessary step to keeping your backlink profile clean. We recommend keeping track of all healthy backlinks for each page on your website. That way, it’s easy to see the correlation between links and rankings, helping to make your SEO strategy more clear and precise.