Backlinks are incoming links to a website from external sites. They play a vital role in search engine optimization (SEO) as they can directly impact a website’s search engine rankings and traffic. This article will examine if backlinks definitively increase traffic while providing useful information for users.Do backlinks increase traffic?Why backlinks matter for traffic

Backlinks indicate to search engines that a website is reputable and contains valuable information. Websites with more backlinks tend to rank higher in search results pages (SERPs). Higher rankings lead to more visibility and traffic. Here’s why backlinks are an important ranking factor:

  • Popularity signal – Numerous backlinks from trustworthy external sites signal popularity. Search engines want to surface popular, authoritative content.
  • Topic relevance – Backlinks come organically when external sites refer to content they find useful and relevant to a topic. This indicates topical relevance.
  • Trust and credibility – High-quality sites carefully curate the sites they link to, lending credibility and trust. Search engines take notice of sites other reputable sites endorse.

In summary, reputable external sites granting backlinks to a page or website signals value, trust, and authority to search engines. Through this validation process, backlinks can elevate rankings and in turn increase traffic.

Best practices for earning backlinks

Not all backlinks aid in driving traffic, however. Low-quality links from spammy or irrelevant sites can actually hurt rankings. When acquiring backlinks, the focus should be on building links sustainably over time from reputable, topical sites through these best practices:

Create high-quality content

The best way to earn backlinks is to create content so useful, insightful, or interesting that external sites are compelled to reference it. The focus should always be on the user over rankings when producing content. Useful, engaging content earns the most valuable backlinks organically over time.

Outreach professionally

Once very strong, useful content is created, professional outreach can help accelerate high-quality backlinks. Identify sites and pages covering similar topics and propose contributing unique insights or data through a guest post. Cold outreach needs to be authentic, relevant, and add value.

Focus on relevance

The sites linking back must complement the topic of linked content. Within a broader topic, anchor text should match the specific focus of the page it links to. This signals search engines the page is highly relevant for those specific keywords.

Prioritize trust and authority

In general, links from more reputable and authoritative sites carry more weight. But a balanced, diversified profile should include links from lower authority sites too. The key is each site must be trustworthy and have at least some domain authority.

Monitor anchor text

Anchor text is the text a user clicks to follow a link. This matters because the anchor text used for a backlink signals to search engines what the target page/site is about. Best practice is links with varied natural-sounding anchor text, not over-optimized or repetitive exact-match keyword phrases.

Key Takeaway: While backlinks play a central role in earning higher rankings and traffic, the focus should be on creating high-quality content, building relationships through outreach, and monitoring anchor text distribution – not just acquiring as many links as possible. Valuable backlinking takes time and effort.

Measuring the impact on organic traffic

Determining if new backlinks drive an increase in organic traffic requires tracking key metrics before and after important link acquisitions:

  • Ranking changes – Use tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console to determine if pages with new backlinks move up in rankings for important keywords. Track which positions see noticeable changes month-over-month.
  • Organic traffic growth – Use Google Analytics to evaluate changes in monthly organic traffic at overall site level but also for key pages. Organic channel must be isolated from other referrals not influenced by rankings.
  • Top referral sources – Under Acquisition Reports, find Links to Your Site to identify top websites driving referral traffic via backlinks month-over-month. Evaluate if strong link-building efforts influence top referrers over time.
  • Landing page optimization – Even if backlinks elevate target pages higher in SERPs, the landing page experience must compel users take further actions to achieve conversions and business value from the increased traffic.

Key Takeaway: Successfully increasing organic traffic through backlink building requires diligently tracking key metrics over time to determine impact and fully optimizing landing page user experience. A data-focused approach is essential.


High-quality backlinks from reputable external websites in a relevant topic area signal value and authority to search engines which can positively influence search rankings. Higher visibility in SERPs leads to increased organic traffic. This makes backlink building an integral ongoing SEO practice.

However, low-quality or irrelevant links can actually hurt rankings. The priority must be creating very useful, engaging content, then building relationships with websites through outreach to earn backlinks sustainably over time. While challenging, this process and the resulting mix of referral traffic can elevate sites and help achieve business goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many backlinks do I need to increase traffic?
    There is no definitive number of backlinks required to increase traffic. What matters most is acquiring links slowly over time from reputable sites. A balanced profile should include links from both high and lower-authority sites related to your niche. 
  2. Should I pay for backlinks to increase traffic?
    There are risks buying backlinks or even paying influencers to link out. It is usually more sustainable over the long-term to earn backlinks organically through creating high-value content and professional outreach. However, some paid placements can add value if done transparently and ethically. 
  3. What types of content earn the best links?
    In-depth, insightful research reports full of useful data and analysis as well as interesting list posts, case studies, guides and how-tos with actionable takeaways tend to attract the most high-quality backlinks and traffic over time. The content must provide real value for the audience. 
  4. How quickly can backlinks increase my site traffic?
    It depends on many factors but typically takes significant effort over months or more to earn enough authoritative links to potentially impact search visibility and traffic in competitive genres. Results also depend on current ranking, domain authority, and the level of competition for target keywords. 
  5. Which is better, a few backlinks from high authority sites or many from lesser ones?
    Ideally, you want a balanced, diversified link profile over time. Having too many links from only high-authority domains looks unnatural. But lower quality links pose risks too. A thoughtful combination of links from related sites with varying (but some) authority is best. 
  6. How do I get backlinks from sites I can’t guest post on?
    Beyond guest posting, explore other organic ways to get reputable sites to reference your content if they have high standards for contributors or accept limited outside posts. You can also build relationships by promoting their content or subscribing to email lists to engage over time. 
  7. How often should I reach out to get backlinks?
    Relationship and community building should be ongoing. But in terms of one-to-one outreach, once per quarter to the same website is usually an acceptable frequency. Avoid reaching out too often or sites may ignore requests. It takes nurturing relationships over time to build links sustainably. 
  8. Will low-quality links damage my efforts to increase traffic?
    Yes – acquiring backlinks from low-quality sites viewed as spammy by search engines can certainly undermine efforts to boost organic traffic through earning high-quality links. Avoid buying links or building tactics perceived as manipulative. Focus on organic value for users. 
  9. Can optimizing existing pages help earn backlinks?
    Definitely. You can update and improve old but evergreen and useful content that predates efforts to cultivate backlinks. Surface these optimized pages to align with modern audience needs. If the content provides value, you may organically earn more quality links even without additional direct outreach efforts. 
  10. What link building tactics should I avoid?
    Link schemes, overly aggressive outreach practices, buying links, using misleading anchor text repeatedly, building to unrelated sites, manipulating metrics, etc. Always focus on ethics, transparency, diversity, and sustainability with organic links from sites relevant to the content topic. 
  11. How can I spread out anchor text to look natural?
    The anchor text for each link earned should directly relate to the page content in a descriptive way. But you can incorporate branded anchor text, URLs, broad category terms, etc. to add more diversity. Spread links across many related pages instead of identical anchor text to just your homepage, for example. 
  12. Will links stop helping my rankings at some point?
    As long as links come from relevant sites and content continues to evolve to meet audience needs, new quality links can continue improving search visibility. But each additional link has diminishing returns, which is why organic earned links grow authority more smoothly over many months vs a sudden blast of links. 
  13. How long does it take before my new backlinks impact traffic?
    It’s difficult to predict precisely how quickly or significantly a given mix of new links may impact traffic because many factors are considered. But monitor both rankings and traffic metrics in Google Search Console and Analytics weekly and month-over-month to spot trends and momentum. 
  14. Should I disavow low-quality links?
    Carefully assess backlink profiles periodically to identify and disavow completely unnatural or manipulative links from spammy sites. But don’t automatically disavow just because a site has less authority on its own. Evaluating context matters most when you identify risky links. 
  15. What makes one link more valuable than another?
    The main factors search engines evaluate are the DR (domain rating) of the site linking in, followed by contextual relevance and anchor text alignment. But diversity across many sites and pages matters too, so inboxing just one ‘perfect’ link is usually less impactful overall than a balanced mix. 
  16. Will linking out to other sites dilute my backlink power?
    Used judiciously on relevant sites, outbound links build community and relationships that may earn reciprocal links which boost rankings. But going overboard with follow links on a page can signal to search engines that page lacks authority, indirectly limiting its ability to pass on ranking power via backlinks. 
  17. Can broken backlinks still influence my site traffic?
    Over time, broken links no longer contribute ranking power as metrics capturing the relationship decay. But rather than leaving them as broken, try redirecting to relevant alternative pages if possible to preserve some marginal value. Complete link removal should be a last resort if redirection isn’t viable. 
  18. Can I manipulate anchor text ratios to look more natural?
    Efforts seen as unnatural manipulation – including adjustments to anchor text ratios – violate Google’s guidelines. Focus on earning links editorially and having anchor text appropriately match linked page topics. Naturally gaining more branded and URL links over time automatically balances higher-performing anchor text. 
  19. What link data should I monitor in my analytics?
    Link acquisition tracking in GA with campaign tags can help assess value of specific outreach efforts by measuring associated goal performance over time. Also track landing page paths, site search queries, and attribution beyond last-click analytics based on initial referral links visiting users take. 
  20. How can I speed up the process of increasing traffic through links? There are no truly instant shortcuts, only deliberate strategy and solid execution. But beyond creating content designed specifically to earn links, you can repurpose and promote that evergreen content further. Look for synergies promoting partners and participating actively in communities within your niche too.

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April 2024


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