What are Backlinks in SEO? Why Are They Important?

What are Backlinks in SEO? Why Are They Important?

If you have ever browsed around information about search engine optimization (SEO), you have likely read a bit about backlinks. Backlinks – also called inbound links or incoming links – are links on other websites back to your website. For example, if a doctor is quoted in a news story, there will likely be a link to his bio on his website. That is a backlink for the doctor’s website.

Search engines like Google view backlinks as a type of “vote” or a clue that the website has some trustworthiness and authority. After all, why would a reputable news source link back to a doctor’s website if he didn’t have the expertise and credentials to support his statements?

Are Backlinks Important?

Using the idea that backlinks are votes, each vote from another website back to yours tells search engines that your website and content is valuable, useful, and credible. The more votes your website has, the higher you will rank in search engine results, including Google.

Backlinks have been important for SEO purposes for many years. In fact, they were one of the original foundations of Google’s original algorithm (PageRank). Over the years (as we all know) Google has made various algorithm changes, but backlinks have remained a pivotal part of rankings and SEO. In 2016, Google stated that backlinks were one of the three most important factors for ranking in search engines.

Finding Valuable Backlinks

While backlinks are important to your SEO strategy, you should know that not all backlinks are created equal. The key to using backlinks to improve your ranking in search engine results is finding quality backlinks. One solitary high-quality backlink can be as powerful as 1,000 lower-quality links. So what makes a backlink valuable?

1. They come from trusted or authoritative websites.

Think about it this way – who would you trust more for information about Tesla? Elon Musk’s official website, or a random person who blogs about cars? Of course, Elon Musk. Google operates in a very similar way when they determine the value of a backlink. If a website is authoritative and has a high domain rating, it passes on link value to you when it links to your site.

However, if the site is a personal blog with a low domain rating and no apparent value or quality, then Google can view that backlink as being low quality. In some cases, they can even be viewed as being spammy or unnatural, which can actually hurt your domain rating and ranking.

2. The link includes your target keyword in the anchor text.

Anchor text is the text that has a hyperlink inserted. Often, the anchor text is underlined or in a different color from the text of the webpage. Generally, you want the anchor text that links back to your site to include one of your target keywords. This is simple enough if you have a list of keywords you are targeting.

You should use some caution, however, when pursuing backlinks. Too many branded or keyword-rich anchors can signal to Google that the links aren’t natural, which can hurt your SEO strategy. Google installed a filter during the Penguin update that filters websites using “black hat link building” methods.

3. The linking site should be topically related to your website.

In order for search engines (especially Google) to view your backlink as valuable and high quality, the sites linking back to your website should be topically related. That means, if your business is an online fashion retailer, you should have links from websites that are similar or that feature fashion information. A website that sells automotive parts linking to your fashion website would be unnatural, and likely would be flagged by Google.

4. Make sure the link is a “dofollow” link.

There are two types of backlinks that can be inserted into content – dofollow and nofollow. Dofollow links are the links that pass SEO “juice” or value to your website. Nofollow links do not count toward your ranking and are ignored by search engine algorithms. In short, they have no backlink value for your site and SEO strategy.

Putting it in Practice

Now that you know how important backlinks are and where the value is, your next step is putting together an effective backlink strategy. Unfortunately, many website owners are unsure of how to do this, or how to tell whether their backlinks are providing value.

That’s where EraBright comes in. At EraBright, we have SEO experts who have years of experience building effective backlinks for clients. Contact us to find out more about our SEO services and how we can help you increase your website’s ranking and traffic through backlinks.