A backlink is a link from one website directing to another website. In SEO, backlinks are important for ranking websites in search engines like Google. The more quality backlinks a website has, the higher it tends to rank in search results pages (SERPs).
Why Backlinks Matter for SEO
Backlinks serve as votes of confidence. When a website links to your content, it indicates:
- Your content offers value worth linking to
- Your site is credible and trustworthy
- Search engines can crawl new sites discovering more quality content
Google’s algorithm interprets backlinks as endorsements. More backlinks signals your contentpopularity and authority on a given topic.
While quantity of backlinks matter, the quality and relevance of each backlink affects SEO rankings more.
How to Get Quality Backlinks
Here are effective white hat tactics to earn authoritative backlinks:
1. Create Compelling, Useful Content
- Focus on creating long-form content like guides, research reports, and tutorials
- Answer audience questions and provide unique insights
- Promote content on social media driving referral traffic
Google will crawl links back to truly valuable content that engages visitors.
2. Guest Post Outreach
- Identify websites accepting contributor posts related to your niche
- Pitch relevant post ideas providing value for their audience
- Secure backlinks within contributed posts along with exposure to new readers
Strive for strong web 2.0 backlinks from reputable, high-authority domains.
3. Link Insert Outreach
- Curate a list of reputable websites you’d like to earn backlinks from
- Contact them asking to insert a link to relevant content from your site within existing posts
- Offer to reciprocate the favor on your site
This content enhancement approach builds relationships with webmasters.
4. Broken Link Building
- Leverage tools identifying broken external links on niche webpages
- Offer site owners replacement links to your relevant content fixing their dead links
- Provide value helping them enhance user experience
Most webmasters readily accept qualified link swap proposals.
5 Remodel and Relaunch Old Content
- Audit your site identifying outdated posts still gaining some traction
- Freshen up the content with new stats, studies, and perspectives
- Repurpose as new resource guides, case studies, or analyses
Google favors recently updated evergreen content.
What is a Good Backlink vs Bad Backlink?
Here are signals of quality backlinks:
Good Backlink Characteristics
- Contextually relevant anchor text and content
- Located in naturally embedded body content
- Hosted on reputable, high-authority domains with low spam scores
- Part of a diversified link profile from a mix of domains
Bad Backlink Characteristics
- Irrelevant or manipulative anchor text like “click here”
- Found primarily in footers or site sidebars
- Hosted on low quality, low authority sites
- Repeated anchor text links from a group of sites (“paid links”)
A few spammy backlinks likely won’t hurt you. But an entirely manipulative link building strategy risks Google penalties.
How to Disavow Bad Backlinks
If your site already has problematic backlinks, Google recommends formally disavowing them through Search Console:
Step 1) Download your site’s backlink report under Search Traffic in Google Search Console.
Step 2) Review link data for sketchy patterns like identical anchor text links.
Step 3) Select disreputable domains to disavow under “Disavow Links” tool.
Step 4) Check reports in a few weeks ensuring disavowed links show as “No Followed.”
Use disavows conservatively:
- Disavow entirely spammy domain links (eg. sketchy directories)
- Don’t disavow a few bad links from otherwise reputable sites
Conclusion Key Takeaways
- Backlinks serve as credibility and authority signals for search engine rankings
- Focus on getting editorial style niche backlinks naturally rather than risking penalties
- Continuously produce high quality content worthy of referencing and backlinking to
- Monitor your site’s backlink profile avoiding spam patterns
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between do follow and nofollow backlinks?
Do follow backlinks pass link juice and equity to your site for SEO rankings. Nofollow backlinks instruct search engines NOT to factor into rankings calculations.
- Can you buy backlinks?
Yes, you can buy backlinks from link networks and high-authority domains. However, this tactic violates Google guidelines and risks significant penalties if over-optimized or detected. It’s safest to build backlinks naturally through outreach and quality content creation.
- What is an external backlink?
An external backlink comes from a separate domain pointing back to pages on your root domain. For example, if Site A links to Site B, that link on Site A pointing to Site B counts as an external backlink in Site B’s backlink profile report.
- How many backlinks do you need for good SEO?
There is no defined threshold for the perfect backlink count. Strive for quality over quantity, earning contextual editorial links versus manipulative paid links. Benchmark competitors known for high rankings as a backlink earning target to aspire towards.
- Can I create my own backlinks?
Creating your own deliberate backlinks with multiple sites you own solely to manipulate PageRank violates Google guidelines. However, you CAN interlink quality content within your OWN website across related posts to establish internal navigation flows. Just don’t create “private blog networks” publishing duplicate junk content.
- Do image links and redirects count as backlinks?
Yes, backlinks can take multiple technical forms:
Image/graphic links with anchors
As long as another site is directing visitors to your domain, it qualifies as a backlink per search engine interpretations.
- How do nofollow links help with SEO?
While nofollow links technically don’t boost rankings directly, they CAN provide search visibility benefits related to:
Referral traffic sources
Link equity transfers from followed links on same domains
Discovery of new quality link prospects
So nofollowed links aren’t entirely useless for SEO…
- Can I delete bad backlinks?
You technically can’t manually delete external backlinks from domains you don’t control. However, you have a few options to denounce bad links through:
Google Search Console link disavow tool
DMCA Takedown Requests for copyright violations
Reaching out to site owners directly requesting link deletion
Focus on cultivating MORE quality links to OVERRIDE the poor links.
- What is an Ahrefs backlink check?
Ahrefs allows you to input any domain or URL to generate a full backlink profile report. Details provided include:
Total backlink counts
Specific linking domains
Anchor text uses for links
Linking domain authority scores
Referring pages locations on sites
Graphs on toxic versus healthy links
Think of it as a “backlink audit SEO tool.”
- Can I create backlinks from my own IP address?
No, creating multiple domains hosted on the same server or IP hosting account simply to build artificial backlinks violates Google’s webmaster guidelines. These tactics risk penalties for manipulative link building practices.
- What are taboola and outbrain backlinks?
Taboola and Outbrain provide content recommendation/promotion widgets website owners embed earning a commission on clicks. Appearing in these widgets counts as a backlink, but they likely don’t hold much SEO value due to nofollow tagging conventions.
- How often does Google update backlink data?
Google does NOT report exactly how often they re-crawl and update backlink index information used within ranking algorithms. However, many experts observe fresh backlink data within 30-90 days max based on when penalties hit sites.
- Can competitor backlink analysis help my site?
Yes, scrutinizing backlink reporting for an established authoritative competitor site in your space provides benchmark targets for:
Quality link building from reputable domains
Natural link anchor text ratios to model
Average domain authority metrics expected in a niche
Reverse engineer what Google rewards them for links-wise.
- What are the most powerful backlinks?
Generally, backlinks from authority domains in the topical category matching your own site are deemed the most powerful. For example, technology publisher Wired linking to a tech blog. Industry links suggest third party endorsement.
- Can I gain backlinks via newsletter contributions?
Yes, offering to contribute expert guest posts to popular industry newsletters builds quality backlinks. Avoid blatant ads; offer insightful commentary and advice aligned to their audience interests just like traditional blogging.
- How do I build scholar backlinks for SEO?
Start publishing well-researched academic papers and studies related to your field on preprint websites. As scholars and scientists cite your thought leadership content in their own published papers, this earns valuable “.Edu” backlinks.
- Do broken backlinks impact SEO?
Too many broken backlinks on your site from dead linking pages might signal outdated, neglected content to Google. However, earning new backlinks organically over time can offset moving, deleted or broken backlinks from old links built. Just don’t remove good links proactively without cause.
- What are site-wide backlinks?
Site-wide backlinks link to your homepage rather than deep-page content. While site-wide links still provide domain authority, homepage links are generally considered weaker versus contextually relevant deep-page content backlinks.
- What are blog comments backlinks?
Backlinks earned by commenting on other blogs with your website link typically rely on nofollow tags. However, blog comment backlinks might still index if the site owner approves the post. Either way, focus more on quality guest posting versus basic blog comment links.
- Are PDF backlinks helpful for SEO?
If other sites link to authoritative PDF assets hosted on your domain, yes PDF backlinks can provide SEO value. For example, if your whitepaper gets linked to by an industry publication online. Ensure online PDFs are indexed, crawlable and searchable for maximum impact.