Backlinks are inbound links or incoming links to your website from another website. When another site links to your site, it’s essentially giving your site a “vote of confidence”. The more quality backlinks your site has, the higher it will rank in search engines like Google.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks act as votes because they show search engines that other sites find your content valuable, credible, and useful. The more sites linking to you, the more authority and trust your own site has. These are formed on the basis of Google’s original search algorithm, PageRank, and they remain one of Google’s top 3 ranking factors today.
Not all backlinks hold the same weight, however. The most valuable backlinks typically share a few key characteristics:
- They come from authoritative, trusted sites. A link from an authoritative site like Harvard passes on more credibility than a link from a random unknown site. The concept that measures a site’s authority is called Domain Authority.
- They use your target keyword in the anchor text. Anchor text is the visible, clickable text part of a link. Including your target keyword in anchor text signals search engines about the topic of the linked page. But don’t over-optimize anchor text or you may get hit with a Google Penguin penalty.
- They come from sites topically related to yours. When a health and fitness site links to another health site, it carries more weight than if an unrelated site about cars is linked to the health site.
- They are do-follow links. Most links are do-follow, meaning search engines will count them. Nofollow links are ignored.
- They come from sites that haven’t linked to you before. Unique linking domains matter more than a few sites linking repeatedly.
The best way to build quality backlinks is by creating truly useful, remarkable content worth linking to, such as comprehensive guides, actionable resources, data-rich studies, and ranking factors posts. You can also guest post on authority sites in your niche, build links through visual assets like infographics, or use other white hat tactics like broken link building and HARO.
Focus on building backlinks slowly over time from quality sites, using a variety of trusted link-building tactics. Just a handful of authoritative backlinks can make a bigger difference than thousands of low-quality links. If you build your backlink profile responsibly, over time your rankings and traffic will improve.