What Are Backlinks? And How Do They Work?
5 min read | Posted Aug 1, 2022 | Updated 4 months ago
When you’re new to the world of SEO, the terminology can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this “Backlinks for Dummies”. A backlink, in simplest terms, is an online source that links to your website. This source can be a blog, forum, or even a social media post. While backlinking is certainly not the only tactic to help you rank on Google, and most professionals agree it’s not the most important SEO tactic either, it is an impactful part of Google’s 2022 algorithm.
How Backlinks Work:
To learn more about how backlinks work and why they’re important, first you need to understand (at least a little bit) how Google works. If you’ve ever wondered how Google can know enough about every page’s content to choose the top 10 websites, prepare to know the secret. Google has the equivalent of an internet spider called a crawler. These crawlers crawl (go figure) through websites and index data. If you’re lost on how we went from backlinks to coded spiders, we’re about to tie them together. These crawlers don’t just crawl one site, leave that page and then randomly crawl another; they crawl from site to site through linking. If a crawler comes across a link to your website on someone else’s, it indexes that and crawls to yours.
But Why Do Backlinks Matter?
Google’s algorithm cares a lot about relevance and authority. If a page has relevant information and is held in high regard in its niche, it’s more likely to end up on top. Google knows that the information is authoritative, accurate and helpful because other people writing about the topic are linking to your page and using you as a source. This tells Google that the information on your page is credible, especially if your links are coming from other high authority websites. That means that not all backlinks are created equal.
What is a Good Backlink?
While your immediate reaction to the knowledge of backlinking may be to quickly acquire as many as possible, from anyone and everyone you can, that may do more harm than good. The number of backlinks in your backlink profile does affect your ranking but the quality of those links is important too. There are good and bad backlinks, and knowing the difference can either push you to the top spot on Google or put you in Google jail.
- Come from High Authority domains within your niche.
- The source of the link is older and therefore more credible.
- Has appropriate keyword(s) in the link’s text.
- Has similar keywords and other links in the content where you’re linked from.
- Come from a relevant page or article.
Having Backlinks with one or more of these qualities will ensure you build a natural and strong backlink profile, which will assist in creating higher rankings.
- Come from “Bad Neighborhoods”.
- Blatant Reciprocal Links (Offering to link to someone if they link to you too or buying links).
- Poor quality content on the page linking to you.
- Links from uncredible forums and blogs
These backlinks may barely boost your website, and in some cases can even have your site penalized by Google, resulting in lost rankings.
Your backlink profile is like a spider web made by Google’s crawlers, the more quality strands it has, the stronger it is.
How To Build a Strong Backlink Profile
There is a right way and a wrong way to build backlinks. The right way will build credibility in your niche and create a natural backlink profile. The wrong way can decrease your credibility and even have you penalized by Google. These right and wrong ways directly correlate with building good vs bad backlinks.
Building Backlinks the Right Way:
- Create quality and informative content that people want to link to. If you provide good information, people will use you as a source in their articles, or share the article with friends by posting it on social media or a forum.
- Create business listings with your core business information on sites such as Google, Yelp, and other directory websites.
- Ask to guest post for other blogs and websites, oftentimes they will allow you to link to your own website in these posts.
- Become an informational hub. The more relevant content in your niche you produce, the more content you have to link to. This will also help build credibility within your niche.
Building Backlinks the Wrong Way:
- Blindly buying backlinks is an easy way to be penalized by Google, and trust us, Google knows the difference.
- Spamming links to your blog in irrelevant places is not only low quality and looked down upon by Google’s algorithm, it’s also just annoying, don’t be that guy.
- Link Farming: this is a site that exists only to provide backlinks, and if Google catches you using these, you might want to give up then and there.
Remember that a high-quality backlink profile, unlike a spider’s web, cannot appear overnight. It takes time to build quality authoritative backlinks. If you decide to take the cheaty way and buy your backlinks, your foundation for your backlink profile is going to be weak. Spend the extra time to have a quality profile and then watch as your website ranks. If you’re still lost, or want help creating a quality backlink profile, reach out to the people who do it every day.