What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are inbound links to a web page i.e. linking of a web page to any other page is called a Backlink. Backlinks play a very important role in the off-page SEO of a website.
Creating backlinks which bring results can be a daunting task but if done properly it is not that difficult. Remember Google is all about the users’ experience nowadays.
Gone are the days when all types of backlinks were considered good. People used to create countless backlinks on a daily basis using online tools but this method will not work for you anymore.
An estimated 2 million blog posts are published every day. Due to this continuously spreading content, the job and the importance of search engine increase manifold due to the fact that search engines have to index and rank this new content.
It is a continuous race between websites to rank higher. Owing to this the importance of off-page SEO increases to a great extent. One of the most important tasks of off-page SEO is link building.
Link building is a process to obtain hyperlinks for your website. In simple words, link building means that people link your site i.e. your website link is present on their website. It is important because Google jumps from link to link.
One of the important factors of creating backlinks is the number of links.
Google considers a link as a vote for your website i.e. 1 link = 1 vote.
(Image source Vinayak Sp )
If a website A has 300 links and website B has 100 links then the website A is considered better because it has more votes but remember that the quantity is not everything in link building. In fact, quality matters more than quantity.
Google considers the credibility of the websites which are giving links to your website. If you get links from websites with high credibility such as apple.com or amazon.com then it is great for your website.
When a link goes from a website A to website B, Google transfers the value of that link to the website B. To obtain quality links you have to create user-friendly and useful content regularly.
Google ranks every page on a scale from 0-10 to measure the authority of a page. If you get a link from a website with higher authority then it will be considered as a quality link for your website.
It is better to get a single link from a website having the authority of 10/10 than having a hundred links from the websites with no authority at all.
Backlinks tell the search engines that how much useful your content is. A recent study suggests that backlinks are one of the 10 most important ranking factors.
(Image source Isidro Kearns via creative commons license some rights reserved)
Types of Backlinks
There are two main types of links, internal links, and external links.
- Internal links
Internal links are those links which connect one page to the other on the same website e.g. creating a link from the home page to the about page of your website.
A good internal linking structure makes it easy for the search engines to crawl the website so it is an important part of the Off-Page SEO. Internal links work by remaining inside the same domain.
- External links
External links are those links which connect a website to other websites e.g. if you give the definition of a word in your article and link the definition to Wikipedia.
When someone links you then it is an external link for him but the inbound link for you. You have to get a lot of inbound links in order to make your site rank higher.
Categories of external links
- Natural links
These are the links which you get on the basis of the quality of your content i.e. people start linking your site on their own when your site has good authority and useful content. You don’t have to ask people to give you links.
Natural links are considered the best links.
- Outreach links
These are also called manual outreach links. In order to create these links, you have to approach people and try to persuade them to click on the links to your website.
Outreaching involves convincing people that your content is good and can be useful to them and in this way you can ask them to give links to your website.
Some popular ways to outreach include email outreach, social media, and press.
- Self-created non-editorial links
These links serve the purpose to trick the search engines in assuming that your content is good. This practice falls in the category of black hat SEO and a website having self-created links can be banned by Google.
An example of the self-created links includes blog comments.
- Guest comments
Also called guest posting is a practice in which you write an article for someone else’s blog. Here you can convince someone that you can write an article for his website and if he gives permission, you can include your name and link in the signature or author details section.
What are Nofollow links?
A link which plays no role in the ranking of a page is called a Nofollow link. It consists of a “nofollow” HTML tag which tells the search engines to not follow that link.
A typical example of a Nofollow link looks like this
<a href= “HTTP://www.shahryarniazi.com” rel= “nofollow”> link text</a>
The nofollow link means that no value is transferred by Google to that link. So what is the purpose of Nofollow links?
To avoid spam some websites implemented nofollow links. People used to publish comments such as “nice post” “I like this post” etc and leave their link in the comment.
This practice is done only to get a link and has nothing to do with the users experience so in order to avoid all this spam Google started to follow the Nofollow tag.
What are Dofollow links?
These links tell the search engines to follow them and give reach to your website. An example of a Dofollow link is
<a href= “HTTP://www.Google.com/”> Google</a>
Dofollow links pass on the link juice (the value passed from one page to another) which is helpful for your website in attaining a high rank in search results.
If you get a Dofollow link from a good website then this link brings greater value to your site and if you obtain a link from a low-quality website then the value of this link is also lower.
Properties of linking domain
Properties of websites domains play an important role in the ranking of a website. An important factor in this regard is the age of the domain i.e. how old a particular website is?
If a website which is working for many years and has a good authority gives you a link then Google will consider it a quality link. Similarly, a link from a website launched recently will carry less weight.
- What is a Top-level domain or TLD
TLD is the last part of a domain name e.g. .com, .edu, .org, .net and .biz. Domains having .edu and .org are given special importance.
- Domain authority
Domain authority is another factor you should consider during link building. A website having many high-quality backlinks has a higher authority. So, if you get a link from a website with higher authority then the value transferred to your website through this link will also be higher.
- Website relevancy
It is important to get links from those websites having content related to your website. Google checks the relevancy of the content of the page which is giving a link to your site.
Does the content of your page and the linking page match? For example, if you are running an online cosmetics store then the page which is giving you a link should be related to cosmetics.
Properties of linking page
Like domain authority, Google also gives importance to page authority. Every page on a website has its own authority. A page created recently and having fewer links has a low authority and vice versa.
Note: Before getting links from a website make it sure that you get the link from a site only once. Don’t get links from a site again and again.
Variety of link types
Google’s aim is to give the best experience to users. Google does not allow anyone to affect its algorithm and continuously updates its algorithm in order to make it sure that no one takes benefit by using black hat SEO techniques.
Link building can have a direct effect on Google’s algorithm so it is important that you create natural links (links that form organically without the owner of the website having to go and create them through guest posting etc.)
Try to diversify your links i.e. don’t create same type of links from same websites again and again. It is important to create a balance in your internal and external links. You should also create Nofollow links.
Out of 100 links it is considered good to have 70 Nofollow links. It gives a hint to Google that you are getting links naturally on the basis of the quality of your content and not applying any black hat SEO techniques to create links.
It is also good to have links from websites with different authority and different categories.
You also need to diversify the activities of your link building by not repeating them. Don’t rely on a single platform for link building; try to explore other options too. For example, if you have created a link on YouTube one day try to create a link on a different platform the next day.
How to build links?
The most important thing in the link building is the quality of your content. If your content is good enough then people will start linking your website by themselves. You don’t have to ask anyone to give you links.
Try to include images, videos, stats etc in your content. You can also create backlinks by writing on someone else’s website through blog posting.
You can also create backlinks by searching your competitors’ links using some paid tools such as SEMRUSH. Make a list of websites which have given links to your competitors. Contact them and try to convince them that you have also the same quality content and giving a link to you can be worthwhile.
Sharing links on social media
Links shared on social media such as Facebook have no value at all. They are basically Nofollow links. However creating links on websites such as Reddit, tumbler, craigslist is a good practice.
Black hat SEO
(Image source Peter Sejba)
People tend to barter links with each other’s websites. For example, if a website A gives a link to website B and in return website B gives link to website A, then it is considered a black hat SEO practice. When Google understands this practice the value of both links is canceled.
Remember Google has the ability to follow the pattern of link building. It can be beneficial to practice black hat link building techniques for the short term, but it can be the death of your website in the long term.