What are backlinks in SEO, and how do they work?
Although link building as an SEO strategy has changed in recent years, your website’s link profile influences its domain authority and is a significant ranking factor. I’m sure you know that having a high rank in search results can effectively help you increase website traffic. The increase in website traffic is one of your SEO goals. Today we introduce backlinks in detail.
What are backlinks (inbound links)?
As the name suggests, backlinks are hyperlinks that point to your website from external sources, such as other websites, posts, comments, blogs, articles, profiles or social media. That is why the term is also called external backlinks or inbound links. Technically, backlinks are connections from one website to another. Valuable backlinks are essentially incoming from reputable websites that publish content on topics similar to your niche and include links to your content.
When someone starts searching, search engines’ main goal is to help them find the information they need and show the most accurate results. Search engines are not designed to provide spam. When the search engines index websites and finds hyperlinks to your content, they will also consider your website high-quality and valuable users. I give you an example:
Gordon Ramsey is a world-famous chef and celebrity. He runs his restaurants and culinary programs. He also has a website that is visited by thousands of people. When they find something interesting there, they want to share it with others. Their posts or blog articles will refer to the content (e.g. a recipe) that they previously found by adding a hyperlink to his website. This gives Gordon Ramsey’s website high domain authority and trust.
Imagine now, you are running a small restaurant. Somehow Gordon Ramsey visited your place, and he liked the food. He decided to improve the recipe and post it on his website. Mr Ramsey agreed to add information about the place that inspired him to develop a new recipe. He can then add a link to your restaurant’s website. You have just received a very valuable backlink. Of course, Google robots don’t know who Gordon Ramsey is. The algorithm knows, however, that the website of a well-known chef has high authority and trust. According to the system set by Google, it partially passes these values to your domain. The above example is entirely hypothetical, and backlink building often deviates from it. However, this is what it is all about.
Types of backlinks
We usually divide links into two types: dofollow and nofollow. It is worth mentioning this division can also consists of natural backlinks and not-natural.
The ordinary Internet user is not able to see the difference. Dofollow hyperlinks and nofollow look the same on the website. However, nofollow links contain a small code rel=” nofollow” invisible in the browser in normal mode. That directive means nothing for ordinary users but lots for bots.
What is a dofollow link?
“Do-follow” is the default attribute of the link that influences the website’s domain authority and trust flow factor where the link goes. In other words, any link without the “no” attribute is called the “follow” link. In general, when another website has a hyperlink with the standard dofollow attribute to your website, it directly impacts your domain strength. It means the website’s dofollow link is one of SEO’s essential factors and should be included in every SEO strategy.
What is a nofollow link?
A no-follow link connects one website to another, but the rel= “no-follow” tag is applied to the hyperlink in HTML code. Because “no-follow” links do not “transfer” domain authority, they will not influence your website.
Ordinary internet users will not see whether a link is a follow or no-follow. The link function for web visitors is the same. Still, the bots will not follow the hyperlink during the crawling and indexing process.
How to check link attribute?
The way to check a type of link is straightforward. Open the page source code of the web page and look for the HTML code. You are interested in the “rel” parameter, representing the relationship between the page where is the link and the linked page. You can also click the right mouse button, then “inspect element”, and see the source code. Then check if the link has an attribute assigned to it.
If there is no “rel” attribute, link status is dofollow by default. If a parameter of rel= “nofollow”, the link is no-follow and has no direct impact on the linking website. This tiny piece of code tells search engine robots not to follow a specific link. Generally, hyperlinks with the nofollow attribute have no meaning for domain strength. However, those hyperlinks also have great value. They can generate traffic on your website, and traffic is also crucial for your website’s rank.
Also, you can use extension tools on your browsers, such as SeoQuake or Search Status, to check the link status.
Nowadays, more and more blogs, forums, and other platforms use the “no-follow” attribute as default in the comment or posts. That is happening to prevent expanding spam. Blog comments or forum posts are places on the internet where the most spam links appear. Reddit and others can punish you for leaving links if you do not have a profile account with a long and good history. A similar policy operates on Facebook, Quora, Twitter, and others. The purpose of using no-follow links is to control group comments or messages to increase the website’s weight. This attribute suppresses spam on blogs, posts, and forums.
Natural backlinks are the most valuable pearls of SEO. They are highly beneficial links created without the website’s admin or owner interference. When someone considers your website’s content to be expert and valuable, then places a link to your website on his website or another external website.
That could, for example, be a cross-referenced quote. If your website is rich in exciting and substantive content, you can count on the fact that you will get hyperlinks this way sooner or later.
SEO specialists recommend acquiring natural backlinks to improve your website’s domain authority, website rank and drive quality traffic.
These are links that may negatively impact your website’s position in the search engine and your reputation. Such links are most often obtained by commenting forums with no relation to your niche. They are often purchased on the internet from pseudo SEO experts for 30 euros in numbers of 50. Remember that getting a valuable link apart from a professional SEO service can cost up to 300 euros. Links from guest posts, although increasingly paid, also look natural and are usually considered natural links. Although in fact, they are not.
Artificial link acquisition is quite risky, as search engine mechanisms still improve and detect unnatural links.
How do backlinks help your website rank high?
Establishing a solid backlink background helps build websites’ authority in search engines and increase their visibility through websites other than their own. It is an essential strategy, and you need to consider creating high-quality content in a specific area to gain the trust of search engines.
Backlinks can help you improve your search rankings to attract more natural search traffic and attract more high-quality, sufficient traffic. Since visitors will come to your website from a website related to your niche, they will be more interested in your content.
Building backlinks strategy
Building high-quality links can be a difficult task and cannot be done without the right strategy. I recommend you outsource this type of work to an SEO agency because they have the facilities, capabilities, and resources to build sufficiently strong links that will support positioning.
Creating backlinks is as important as maintaining them. You need to be sure the links you acquired will not be deleted, and they should be permanent. Professionals build link profiles on domains with a high popularity factor. They are updated continuously to do not lose the published content’s visibility. Depending on the previously agreed strategy, they look for niche domains targeted at a specific recipient.
Link building is a process that must take a long time and must not be interrupted. Flooding the site with a massive amount of links in a short time will also be initially recognized by the algorithm as unnatural. Of course, it may happen that a great article or content suddenly creates millions of links, but such cases are considered individually.
Therefore, it is worth ensuring that your strategy of activities is systematic, timed, consistent, and safe. The actions presented below will surely bring results. If we decide to create backlinks ourselves, it is worth keep reading.
The strategy of backlink implementation
When creating a link-building strategy, it’s important to consider everything carefully and consider what to push where and why it will bring value to us and third-party sites. There are many techniques for establishing links, but any of them can provide an additional advantage over your competitors’ search rankings when done correctly. Blogs, guest posts, sharing other people’s content, and friendship links are all good ways to start building backlinks. It is worth remembering to conduct a backlinks audit before every link building.
Steps to implement a backlink strategy
1. Check the quality of your existing links unless you have a new website and you are starting with a blank card
Check the quality of your existing links unless you have a new website and you are starting with a blank card
There are many tools available to help you view the information about the backlinks to your website. This test will list all the websites that have been linked to yours and where they are linking from.
Google Search Console can obtain general backlinks details and view the status of the link on the website. But if you want to get more information, you can use paid tools such as AHRFS, MOZ, Ubersuggest or Majestic (that would be around 99 plus euros per month).
They feature a straightforward interface. However, they need at least basic knowledge of the subject to use them fully. It can be divided into a free version and a paid version according to different functions. The paid version provides a social platform in addition to general web links. The link report helps you quickly grasp the link status of the webpage.
Although Ahrefs’ Site Explore must be paid to use it, it provides a complete link query function. It lists the source of backlinks, real-time status of backlinks, and other information. As well as viewing backlinks, quality and marking the links out of function are indispensable tools for SEO.
With SEO tools, you can view the forward or reverse links to your website, the pages they link to, and even help you discover which websites provide opportunities for more content. Finding unnatural or undesirable links and the opportunity to establish links are two things that need to be focused on when testing. You can understand the specific reasons and factors of the website’s ranking in the search results to integrate SEO strategies more wisely through accurate analysis.
2. Determine the list of the websites you can acquire links
Many online tools help you create websites related to your niche and with similar audiences, such as Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. After generating the list, analyze your role and determine that the site contains content that best describes its sore pain points and interests. The link’s goal should be mutually beneficial, and both your audience and business can benefit from the content/link exchange.
3. Content creation and internal links
Once you have a list of target websites, you can start the challenging part – content creation. It must be attractive, unique, and valuable! It can be instruction, guide, article, or interesting post. After that, you can build an inbound link network from existing related articles on the website. You can even redistribute the content in your website, break it down into smaller, easier-to-understand pieces, and then use it to promote articles. Remember to avoid content duplications.
4. Opportunities for building partnerships chains, guest posts and blogs
When you are ready to share content on other sites, it is time to publish it on the websites from the list you determined in step two. Determine whether the websites on the list allow users to post content by themselves and then apply or register as users. Please remember that blog sites (such as Tumblr Blog, etc.) usually enable users to submit articles with links. However, blogs websites also need to be shared and their website reputation must grow. A long-term, mutually beneficial friendship chain relationship can bring excellent SEO value to both parties, and the same is true for long-term blogs.
The solution to attract traffic and increase backlinks is not always to create more and more content but to use high-quality content. Remember, you create content for people, not for robots but make search engines appreciate its value! How? Good content attracts significant traffic. On the other hand, search engines believe that it is equivalent to casting a vote for your site when a website links to your site. Your site’s importance increases as a result, which is beneficial to increase the website’s value and improve the SEO ranking.
By linking to your content from popular websites, you can build a strong backlinks profile. A strong link profile contributes to high domain authority and trust, translating into a higher rank in organic search results. This will help internet users find your website faster. By linking to your website from other websites, you will gain significant referral traffic.
It is worth commissioning a specialist or waiting several months to write tons of valuable content that someone may eventually notice or not.
From the ranking point of view, links with the nofollow attribute are of little importance. However, they are still beneficial because they provide traffic on the website. Unnatural links are of low significance; they can harm them and avoid them as much as possible. They hurt the rank achieved in search engines. The best are natural “dofollow” links of natural origin from high authority websites.
On the other hand, links of any type can increase the traffic on your website, so it is worth considering all kinds of connections, of course excluding the automatically generated unnatural links. When planning your link acquisition strategy, remember that the most important thing is not the number of links but their quality in recent years. There is no doubt that link diversification is, at the moment, the essential factor in building a link profile. It has the most significant impact on the ranking of a website.