What Are Backlinks and Why Are They Important for SEO?

minneapolis seo what are backlinks

To succeed in inbound marketing, your marketing strategy must incorporate link building. Learn more about what are backlinks and why you need them here.

Being at the top of a search engine results page on a desktop computer leads to a 30% click-through rate. Knowing the importance of SEO strategies such as backlinks can help to improve your website’s likelihood of being clicked.

If you’re noticing that your website is lacking in the traffic department, you should start to rethink your SEO strategy. Just focusing on keywords and landing pages won’t help your website grow. That’s why you should start implementing backlinks.

Backlinks are one of the major factors that influence your position on search engines. If you’ve been wondering “What are backlinks?” you’ve clicked on the right place.

Using backlinks is essential to having good SEO practices. Unfortunately, not all uses of backlinks can improve your rank.

We’re here to educate you about backlinks, and show you how to use them effectively.

What Are Backlinks?

What are SEO backlinks? Backlinks are links on other websites that lead to your website. The website that uses your link is called the outbound link, while the website that the link connects to is known as the inbound link.

There are probably links on your web pages that lead to other content on the web, or to your own website. These are internal and external links, and they differ from backlinks.

To get backlinks, you’ll have to have quality content. Other websites might find one of your web pages useful and decide to put a link to your website as an extra resource for their readers.

Why Are Backlinks Important?

There are two ways to use website backlinks–you can link to other websites on your page, or your website can be linked to on another website’s page.

Search engines take into account the number of useful backlinks on a website. Google actually uses an algorithm that measures a website’s reputation.

Creating backlinks that are good quality signals to a search engine that a website is more popular or important. Google and other search engines reward websites that have backlinks by deeming it more relevant in the results page.

Placing a ton of inbound links on your web page won’t help you get a better ranking. In fact, it will lower your status. Search engines take into account the number of your inbound links, as well as the amount–but they really emphasize the quality.

This means that your inbound links should relate to the content on your page or website. When you have a lot of relevant inbound links, the search engine considers your inbound links to be of higher quality. On the other hand, irrelevant inbound links are considered low quality.

For example, if your website sells shoes, linking to a website that sells books won’t be considered relevant. But, if you link to other relevant shoe websites, the search engine will see your backlinks as good quality.

Your website may also be used on another one as a source. When high-ranked websites use backlinks that point to your website, they’ll boost your rank more compared to backlinks on a low-ranked website.

It’s a huge compliment to have your content linked to on another website. It shows that the website owner believes your website to be informative and useful to their readers. This establishes your credibility among a reader-base as well.

Are Backlinks Still Useful Today?

In 1996, Google creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin stated that the amount of backlinks leading to a website matters to the Google ranking algorithm. However, things have changed since then.

Some have abused and overused backlinks, leading to backlinks getting a bad reputation. However, backlinks are still an important part of SEO–they’re just monitored more closely by search engines.

The number of backlinks is no longer the main focus, as websites have to worry about the quality of their backlinks now. When a website is deemed more trustworthy, they are placed in a better position on Google’s result page. In other words, you can still use backlinks to get more traffic.

How To Get Started With Backlinks

Webmasters use a variety of techniques to get their links on other websites. If your website already has intriguing and informative content, chances are that your website has already been used as inbound links on other pages.

You still just can’t sit and wait for your website to get links. Try these techniques to increase your chance of getting backlinks:

Do Backlink Research

Try to look for websites that are likely to link to one of your pages. Most importantly, find out websites that link to your competition. The same websites that insert links to your competition are probably willing to link to yours as well.

If you use websites like MajesticSEO, you can view the websites that have backlinks to your competition. Then you can visit these websites and gauge if your content would fit in.

When you find the websites with links to your competition, send the owner a customized email and give them the reasons why they should include your website in a post.

Find Any Uncredited Links

Sometimes other websites might include a quote from one of your web pages or use your website as a reference without inserting a link. To find out if your website was not linked, you can use a Google Alert to keep tabs on your brand name and branded keywords.

Once you come across a website that has an uncredited link, you can email the website owner and let them know that they should provide a link to your page.

Write Guest Posts

Doing guest posts is a great way to improve your SEO ranking. If you don’t know what guest posts are, they’re articles that you write to be published on another website. You’ll be listed as a guest writer and you’ll be able to insert a link to your website in the post.

However, not all websites accept guest posts. The easiest ways to find websites that publish guest posts is to search Google for a specific topic along with keywords like “Guest Blogger,” “Writers Needed,” or “Submission Guidelines.”

Send an owner of a similar website an email and state what article you want to write for them. When your guest post gets published, you’ll gain new readers as well as backlinks.

Connect Through Email

An easy way to get in touch with other bloggers is to shoot them an email that introduces them to your website.

First, you have to make sure that your website has interesting content that people would want to link to. From there, find other websites that publish posts with similar content. Send these website owners an email along with a personalized proposal telling them why they should link to your website.

Repair Broken Links

Use SEO software like SEMrush to find any broken links on other websites. Website owners may have had a typo in the link, or the website they linked to no longer exists. That’s where you come in.

Email the website owner and let them know that they have a broken link. You can then recommend that they link to your website instead. The website owner will be grateful that you found a broken link, and you might be able to gain a backlink out of it.

Make a Blog

Create a blog that uses the same domain or a subdomain of your main website. You have to make a blog that other websites will want to link to. In other words, your blog should be updated frequently and should contain quality content.

Scope Out Your Competition

Other competitors that have a higher position on the results page most likely have a better link building profile. You can use SEMrush to see how your links match up to your competition. Take note of what backlinks they use and consider using them in your future posts.

Use an Infographic or Research Data

Incorporating infographics or research data will increase your likelihood of getting backlinks. Other websites love to link to infographics because they are easy to read. Including research data gives other websites the opportunity to use your information as evidence as well.

Get On Major Websites

You’ll definitely see an increase in traffic if your website is linked on a top website like Forbes or The Huffington Post.

Try to get in contact with journalists through email, social media, or Facebook. Once you get a hold of them, pitch them an idea for a guest post.

You want to make your pitch email stand out–briefly explain who you are and your idea for a post. Don’t forget to attach some examples of previously published work.

Press Releases

It’s a good idea to start publishing press releases on your website. If you have important updates or announcements, share them. These type of posts can increase your number of backlinks.

Use Social Media To Your Advantage

By being active on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., you can gain some backlinks.

You can even leave comments on other another website’s blog posts or social media. Thank them for publishing an interesting post and then follow up with an insightful question. Make sure the post you comment on relates to your website, otherwise you might be viewed as spam.

Good vs. Bad Backlinks

There is such a thing as good and bad backlinks. Knowing the difference between the two makes a huge impact on the amount of traffic your posts bring in.

You also have to be careful in how you go about using backlinks on your website and how you get your links on other websites. Google gives penalties to those who don’t follow their rules.

What Not To Do

Avoid using article directories as backlinks. These directories are supposed to have tons of outgoing links that aren’t always the best quality.

Don’t use links from website directories either. Website directories are meant to have quality content–they just provide a list of websites.

Google can also punish you for getting paid links. Both websites will be penalized if you pay someone to use your link on their website. This rule pertains to reviews as well–sending someone a free product in exchange for a review on their website is against Google’s policies.

Trading links is not condoned. Asking a website to link to your site if you link to theirs isn’t allowed. You also shouldn’t have links that come from 2.0 websites like Hubpages, WordPress, Medium, etc.

Anyone caught inserting hidden links or link farms can result in punishments. Link farms are a group of websites that link to your website in an attempt to increase its SEO ranking.

In fact, inserting a link to a link farm can get your website banned. The same goes for people who like to use a technique called backlink bombing. When you own a lot of websites on the same IP address, linking to all of these websites on one page is not a good idea.

What To Do

The best and safest way to gain backlinks is to get them naturally. When your website posts quality content, you should see your number of backlinks increase by itself. Websites that get backlinks with no sneaky business involved will have a higher rank on Google.

Using any of Google’s condemned “black hat” techniques of obtaining backlinks won’t get you anywhere. Your number of black links are supposed to grow slowly–if you try to go too fast, you’ll get hit with penalties.

You should also be wary of the links you put on your website–always choose quality sources.

The Bottom Line

Knowing the answer to the question: “What are backlinks?” can aid you in getting to the top of the results page.

You’ll avoid any penalties as long as you’re aware of the proper way of gaining and using backlinks. By correctly adding backlinks and getting your website linked on other pages, you’ll see a definite increase in your traffic, as well as your SEO ranking.

The next time you see a disappointing SEO rank, remember how to use backlinks. Get your name out there–find quality backlinks and pitch your articles to other pages.

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