What Are Backlinks and Why Do You Need Them?

If you have a website or a blog, you’ve likely heard of the term “backlinks.”

Backlinks are an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) and are highly coveted by website owners for one main reason: strong backlinks can help you rank higher in search engine results.

Google does not reveal its algorithm, but Google Webmasters acknowledge that backlinks are an important part of it.

Chances are, you’re now wondering, “What are backlinks — and why do I need them?” This article will answer that question for you.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are links from one website to another. The link to Google’s YouTube channel used in the paragraph above is a backlink.

When another blog or website links to one of your blog posts, they’ve created a backlink from their site to yours.

Backlinks are also called “inbound links.”

Why do you need backlinks?

Backlinks can help you to rank higher in search engine results, as they lend your site authority. It’s as though the website linking to yours is saying, “This is a trustworthy website with good content.”

Because Google doesn’t reveal its specific algorithm, nobody knows just how important backlinks are. But, data from the marketing company, Backlinko, suggests that backlinks may be the most important ranking factor of all.

If you own a furniture business in Oregon and you want to show up on the first page of search results when people use the term “custom-made furniture in Portland,” you should have other furniture-focused websites linking to your pages and content.

The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more likely you’ll show up on the first page of results.

The best types of backlinks

You don’t just want any backlink; you only want high-quality ones. These are relevant links from authoritative websites in your industry.

Authoritative websites are established, feature good content, and are linked to by other sites as well. If a new website links to you, it probably won’t give you much of a boost (but don’t worry — it won’t hurt you, either).

If a spam website links to you, it can have a negative effect.

Relevant websites are websites in the same or similar industries as your own. If an irrelevant website links to you, it won’t hurt you, but won’t have as much of an effect on your SEO.

How to get backlinks

The most popular strategy for getting backlinks is creating “linkable assets.” A linkable asset is a great piece of content that other websites want to link to. Many website owners do this by producing content such as:

  • Articles

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

The key to creating a linkable asset is ensuring that it’s truly a great piece of content.

Another backlink-building strategy is guest authoring a blog post on a popular site. While most websites don’t allow you to overload guest posts with backlinks, one or two is usually acceptable.

You can also reach out to websites in your space, asking them to include a backlink to your website or content. This doesn’t have the highest response rate, but it’s the quickest way to build links.

Monetary exchange for backlinks is against Google Webmaster guidelines. Offering compensation for linking to your website can lead to a penalty.

Backlinks are an important part of SEO, and as your website ages and you continue to post quality content, you’ll naturally attract them. So, while it’s worthwhile to know what backlinks are and how they impact your appearance in search results, rapid backlink building is unnecessary and pulls you away from more important things that require your attention.

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