18.06.2021, Vladislava

Why Backlinks Are Important?

It seems like each year, the competition for high rankings on search engines is getting fiercer. With such a difficult task on their hands, SEO specialists and marketers are trying to maximize every tool in their toolbox. One of them is backlinks.

Today we’re going to analyze how important are backlinks for SEO, what types you can use, and what makes a good backlink.

What Is a Backlink?

A backlink is a hyperlink from one web page to another. It is an online version of a citation that directs users from a site to a relevant outside source.

For example, there is a page on your website with a collection of trendy house decor. If another website posts content about interior design, they can insert clickable text pointing to your page. That, in turn, boosts your SEO.

How Are Backlinks Earned?

A backlink is an umbrella term for a few types of links varying based on how they were created. Below are descriptions of the three main types. 

Natural Links

Natural links are editorial links that you did not ask for - basically, the most valuable and important for SEO. These backlinks are posted by a site owner that simply chose to refer to your site. To receive one, you need to give the editor a good reason - like posting up-to-date, unique content.

Manual Links

Manual links are also known as outreach links. They are the most common type of backlinks that you receive during a link building campaign. It involves contacting website owners and bloggers and requesting them to post a link to your page. In some cases, this process can be automated with special tools. Once again, make sure your page is optimized and features great content to be approved.

Self-Created Links

Self-created backlinks are non-editorial links that are created by the owner of the target website. The biggest risk with self-created links is that they might be considered spammy. 

If you choose this route, don’t post your link excessively; just sprinkle in some of these links here and there. But don’t copy-paste your website link in YouTube comments or on other people’s platforms and make people and search engines hate your website.

Natural vs. Unnatural Links

Google became very good at spotting differences between natural and unnatural backlinks. And it goes without saying that a backlinking profile full of natural links is an SEO specialist’s dream. As long as they come from a reputable website, natural backlinks are important. 

With that said, unnatural backlinks aren’t always bad. They can be irrelevant or look out of place, but that can be avoided with a well-thought-out campaign. Just make sure the unnatural link looks organic and is bought from a high-quality source. Otherwise, your site may be negatively impacted algorithmically, most likely, by the Penguin update. 

Are Backlinks Still Valuable for SEO?

The importance of backlinks in SEO is undeniable. While they can hurt your ranking if used incorrectly, they can make a big positive impact in the following ways.

Improves Organic Ranking

A few years ago, Google confirmed that backlinks are one of the top three major ranking factors for websites. Google's Andrey Lipattsev wouldn’t reveal which one is more important; he just said:

  • 1 & 2: Links & Content
  • 3: Rank Brain

Raises Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is about how familiar your target audience is with you and how well people recognize your brand. The more honorable mentions your website receives, the more memorable your brand becomes. Let’s say a user is directed to your website from their favorite blog - you instantly gain credibility and importance in the eyes of the user. 

Boosts Referral Traffic

When a user clicks on your website via a backlink, Google Analytics will track that visit as a referral. Referral traffic provides a steady source of traffic outside of the search engines and is generally characterized by a lower bounce rate than other types of traffic. 

Positions Your Business as an Authority

If an authoritative website links to you, there must be a good reason for it. People start seeing you as a thought leader in a particular service, topic, subject, etc. It goes beyond website metrics or SEO - it improves your online reputation and overall brand image.

Why a Site With Fewer Backlinks Outranks a Site With More

It’s not uncommon to find a well-performing page with a relatively low number of backlinks or a poorly performing page with a ton of backlinks. Why? This is a “quality over quantity” issue. You can’t take advantage of backlinks' importance if you’re simply trying to obtain as many links as possible.

Google doesn’t publish specifics of what makes a high-quality link, but experienced SEO specialists learned that from experience. They found that the quality matters for both the linking page and the target page. 

If your page has a low bounce rate, high time on site, and more pages visited than your competitor, Google might favor your site over others. It will be looking for important indicators that your page answers users’ needs better, even if other SEO metrics aren’t as strong.

Backlink Factors to Consider for SEO 

If you’re choosing between different backlink techniques, below are several important parameters that you need to understand and use to your advantage. 

Follow vs. Nofollow Backlinks

Follow or dofollow backlinks are simply the default state of links that have an effect on SEO. The nofollow attribute in a backlink tells search engines not to follow the outbound link that is being tagged. In other words, nofollow backlinks don’t exist for search engines. For link building, you need follow links. 

Authority of Linking Domain

The term describes the reputability of the linking site and its importance for a specific subject area or industry. For high-quality links, you want this metric to also be high. You can use checker tools to make sure.

Link Relevance

As the name suggests, the term describes how relevant certain backlinks are to your business or niche. Look for links that come from useful and topically similar websites that make contextual sense for both Google bots and people.

Link Location

In SEO, even the placement of backlinks can make a difference. People tend to click prominently-placed links, which is why some links pass more authority than others. The best palace is the main content area of a page. 

Number of Links

Pages with a high number of backlinks usually have high organic search engine rankings. But this is about the site the link refers to. If we’re talking about a website where the link is coming from, it’s the opposite - a very high number of links instantly looks suspicious. 

Anchor Text

The last factor with SEO importance (that we have time for today) is anchor text. It’s very easy to make the anchor text look over-optimized and even receive a penalty as a result. Our recommendations are to stay on topic, keep a consistent structure, and incorporate variations.

How Many Backlinks Per Day Is Safe? 

If you build 100,000 new backlinks in one day, will your website be flagged by Google? Possibly. You can probably get penalized even with 1,000 new links.

Unfortunately, there is no specific number that you can or can’t go over. That is because search engines don’t want black hat SEO to abuse the rules. While it makes everything more confusing, it highlights once again that it’s not about the quantity. 

If we needed to make a guesstimate, it would probably be under 20 backlinks per day. Although, if you receive a higher amount of non-spammy links and have relevant content, it will still play to your advantage.

The Right Way to Improve Your SEO With Backlinks

Now that you know why backlinks are important, it’s time for our final recommendation - use backlinks as part of your comprehensive SEO strategy. Unless supported by other tactics, link building might not be enough. Take your time planning, outlining, and implementing steps for a long-term improvement of your search engine rankings. 

Technical SEO, content, on-site SEO, off-site SEO - every component matters. Sometimes it only takes one of them to fail for all other measures to fail as well. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses in relation to all parts of a comprehensive strategy is key to focusing your efforts and making necessary changes. 

You wouldn’t want to drive outside traffic to a page that has nothing of value or doesn’t even load properly. Start building off-site authority after you take care of everything else. Backlinks can be the hardest part of SEO, so you should be 100% certain that your page is worthy of that extra traffic.