Backlinks, otherwise known as inbound links, are hyperlinks to a web page or web resource from an external website. So, to provide an example, if Website A places a link to Website B on one of its pages, it could be said that Website B has earned a backlink from Website A. It is important to stress that backlinks take users from one website to another, and this is how they differ from internal links, which are links between different pages on the same website.
A webmaster or content creator may choose to link to another website for a variety of reasons, from referencing statistics or facts taken from another site, to promoting content that they think will be useful to their readers. The concept of backlinks is strongly associated with online marketing and, in particular, search engine optimisation (SEO), because backlinks are one of the factors search engine algorithms use to rank pages on their results pages.
Hyperlinks are clickable links, which direct users to another website, web page or piece of content. They may be used for number of different reasons, from providing navigation options so that users can explore the different pages on a website, to directing people to useful or relevant information. Backlinks are a type of hyperlink, originating from a different website from the one being linked to. In many cases, they function in a similar way to a reference or citation.
Most search engines, including the likes of Google and Bing, use backlinks as an indicator that a particular website or web page has value, use or credibility. In this sense, backlinks are sometimes viewed by online marketers as a kind of seal of approval, or a vote in favour of the content that has been linked to.
As a basic rule, if a web page attracts backlinks, it is seen as being valuable by search engines. This then leads to the page being placed higher up on the list of search engine results, which boosts overall visibility and can help to increase page views. Crucially, internal links are treated differently to backlinks or inbound links by search engines. As a result, the credibility from backlinks cannot be replicated by simply linking to pages on your own website.
The importance of backlinks with regards to search engine rankings has made so-called link building strategies a major part of online marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to the practice of search engine optimisation.
However, the ability for backlinks to influence search engine rankings also gave rise to a number of questionable or potentially unethical tactics, such as paid link schemes, link spamming on forums or comments sections, and marketers setting up of additional websites for the sole purpose of placing backlinks on them. In response, search engine developed their algorithms to detect many of these ‘black hat’ link building methods and to penalise them.
For example, buying links from another website is now technically against the Google guidelines. Additionally, modern algorithms do not simply count the number of backlinks, but the quality of them. To do this, an algorithm will assess a backlink based on the authority of the website or web page it is coming from, its relevance to the content, the anchor text used and several other factors. This means that some backlinks are worth more than others. As an example, a link from a popular website, with high credibility, such as the BBC, will be worth more than a link from a small blog.
The purpose of penalising black hat methods is to improve the user experience. Google and other search engines want their rankings to be based on merit, rather than simply showing the websites that pay the most. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements are not regarded as backlinks by most algorithms and so are allowed. However, Google asks that paid ads which function in the same way as backlinks have the “nofollow” value added, so they do not influence rankings.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that link swapping strategies do still exist and can still be effective. This occurs when two (or more) websites agree to link to content from each other, giving both a boost. Additionally, many content creators attempt to have their own work published on other websites. They then include backlinks to their own website within that content, which gives the publishing site free content and the creator’s site an SEO boost.
Despite this, many modern link building strategies focus instead on earning organic backlinks. Aside from avoiding potential penalties, this is also more future-proof, as algorithms are unlikely to change to the extent that they punish genuine links between websites, whereas they may change to further penalise artificial link building.
With modern search engine algorithms giving additional weight to backlinks based on relevance and domain authority, one of the best ways to generate useful backlinks is simply to create high-quality, useful content that other sites genuinely want to link to. Create and publish fresh content regularly, and make sure it is of interest to your target audience and that it actually does something for them, such as informing, instructing, or entertaining them.
If you do not possess the ability to create content yourself, try to enlist the help of skilled writers and content creators. The Textbroker platform provides marketers and website owners with access to a pool of talented and experienced writers. Ultimately, you want your content to attract attention, but you also want it to be reliable. Provide sources for any facts or statistics you use and try to back up what you say with evidence, whenever possible.
When it comes to link swapping and other similar practices, the most important thing is to choose partners carefully. Focus on websites that have an established audience, and that will publish relevant content, in the same kind of area. For example, a hotel website could look to generate backlinks from other websites connected to travel and tourism, and a company offering cybersecurity services could focus on generating backlinks from technology websites.
Finally, if you are creating content for other websites, and including backlinks within it, make sure the anchor text you use is relevant and subtle, so it does not seem out of place. You should also ensure the content is high in quality, aimed at their audience, in-keeping their editorial guidelines and actually valuable to them.
Backlinks are links from external websites or web resources, and are one of the most important factors used by search engines to determine where a particular website or web page ranks on search engine results pages. With this in mind, link building forms a key part of search engine optimisation strategies, and many marketers and content creators place a strong emphasis on attempting to generate backlinks from other websites.
However, modern algorithms do not simply track the number of backlinks a website or web page generates and are instead concerned with ideas of authority and relevancy. This means that modern link building strategies need to be focused on earning links from high authority domains, preferably focused on similar topics. Additionally, the anchor text can have an influence on a backlink’s value, and backlinks should not detract from the overall quality of the content.