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Backlinks: Importance and Significance in SEO

With the changing nature of page ranking and focus being on E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), backlinks are playing a crucial role in getting websites to the top. Google has been measuring trust in a website based upon the backlinks it detects from other domains. Trust on a linked in the domain is directly related to the trust in linked from the domain.

Google’s ranking algorithm uses backlinks as a ranking factor along with content. Backlinks make it easier for the Google crawler to find your website and index it effectively. If your site does not have good backlinks, then it is possible that search engines might take time to find it, especially for new websites.

Backlinks are like votes, that tell Google that a particular website is trustworthy and the content on the site is valuable, credible, and useful. So, the more of these “votes” you have, the higher your site will rank in Google and other search engines.

Using links in a search engine algorithm is fairly old. In fact, backlinks form the foundation of Google’s original algorithm (known as “PageRank”). Even though Google has made thousands of changes to its algorithm since then, backlinks remain a key ranking signal and Google has confirmed that backlinks remain one of their three most important search engine ranking factors.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks occur when one website links to another. In other words, a backlink is an inbound link that redirects a user from one website to another. This backlink is considered as a vote or a trust symbol that indicates the authoritativeness of the page.

Backlinks have 2 main types: 

  1. Do-follow links - These types of links do not contain any attribute. Do-follow links positively impact your ranking and help get a higher position on SERP. These are the links that pass link juice to your website or a particular website page.

  2. No-follow links - These types of links are necessary for a website to look natural and combine both do-follow and no-follow links. They also drive traffic and gain exposure. No-follow links include a special attribute in their code that sends signals to search engines about the type of a link.

Factors to be considered while making a No-follow vs Do-follow link strategy: 

  1. Find out which sites you want your content to be mentioned in, which can also point back as a Do-follow.
  2. They should be relevant to your post and should not be there just for the sake of a link. If not, search engines may consider your post spam.
  3. If information is irrelevant, but you feel you need a link, choosing No-follow is better.
  4. Make sure that ad links, affiliates, and related ones are not Do-follow.

Do not underestimate the algorithm, because, with each update, Google considers the content made for the user and not for the search engines. So, keep the relevant ones as Do-follow and others as No-follow.

How to know if a link is Do-follow or No-follow?

  1. Right-click on your browser and click 'View page source' or press 'ctrl + shift + I' to directly view the page source.
  2. Next, look for the link in the HTML of the page (use ctrl + f and search nofollow tag or the link).
  3. If you see a rel=”nofollow” attribute, that link is No-follow. Otherwise, the link mentioned is Do-follow.

How Do backlinks work?

Source: https://moz.com/learn/seo/backlinks

A website with multiple quality backlinks is a good sign for search engines. They serve as reviews of web pages and inform users and Google that the content is trustworthy. Companies try to earn backlinks from authoritative relevant sites to show the value of the content and website. As a result, it can rank higher and obtain better discoverability. However, check the website's content to ensure that backlinks are relevant to your site.

Search engines give a higher rank to websites with many backlinks from reputable sources because they enable users to find the necessary quality information faster and solve their problems. Reputable sites also ensure the credibility of the website they refer to and approve that the web page is valuable. Now, the question is how do these reputable sources pass on credibility? To answer this let us look at what Link Juice is.

What is Link Juice?

Once a backlink is created it is very important to know how much authority it will be passing to your website. To find this Link juice concept comes into play. Link juice is slang used to describe and measure how much power a backlink passes onto another site and hence strengthens it.

If a website references another with a link (Do-Follow), it transmits its positive properties to an extent (e.g., PageRank and TrustRank) and therefore gives a recommendation from the point of view of the search engine. The more link juice that flows from a linking to a linked site, the more emphatic this recommendation is. Within Search Engine Optimization (SEO) backlink profile and TrustRank are amongst the most important factors when it comes to link juice, as the amount of link juice is important for the link profile of a site.

The link juice principle generally works under the premise of giving and taking – as the amount of link juice a site can pass on itself rises with the amount of link juice that it receives from other sites to it.

Link Juice is of 2 Types: -

  1. External Link Juice - Linking power that is passed on from another domain.
  2. Internal Link Juice - Linking power that is passed on by internal linking to other internal subpages.
Link Juice
Source: <https://www.woorank.com/en/edu/seo-guides/link-juice>

Factors that influence the quality of a backlink

If you aim to improve ranking and online visibility, attract more visitors and boost traffic, then you must focus on the following factors closely.

  1. Authority of the Domain - It is a figure that represents how authoritative a specific website can be. Many SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, etc. give websites certain domain authority which enables site owners to gauge the potential of the website from 1 to 100. It considers links, content, technical SEO, and many other elements. Factors like inbound links and root domains also play an important role.
  2. Website credibility - The quality of backlinks is also influenced by the credibility of a certain website. The sites that are secure (i.e., have Https), have almost no google penalties & low spam scores can provide your website with a more credible backlink.
  3. Content Relevance – One of the most important factors to consider is that you have backlinks from the relevant sites to avoid being considered spam. Google’s focus is to provide its users with the best solution for their problems i.e., relevant accurate results.  For this, it is important for google that the backlinks you have on your website look natural and not spammy.
  4. Do-follow and no-follow links – As we discussed earlier, Do-follow links are the backlinks that will be passing credibility to your site or as we like to say Link Juice, whereas No-follow links are those that you don’t want to pass credibility but want to keep them. No-follow links can’t directly affect your ranking, yet they help bring in more traffic. Ensure having enough do-follow and no-follow links to improve ranking and generate more traffic.
  5. Anchor text – It is the text or more specifically the keyword used to give a backlink to the site. It defines the relation between the content and relevance between the sites. To give a backlink the maximum value, anchor text should be specific, relevant, and contain appropriate keywords.
  6. Number of Links - A backlink listed among hundreds or thousands of links on a single page is likely not as valuable as a link referenced among fewer. Beyond link equity, a user would be hard-pressed to locate your link among the hundreds and click through to your content, eliminating value.
  7. Link Placement – It is very important for your website that the link placed is visible to the people. Remember, links in the footer or on a website’s sidebar will be considered as advertising links and may impact your website reputation as well as ranking.

How to create high-quality backlinks?

Create High Quality Backlinks
Source: <https://themarketingfolks.com/the-importance-of-doing-seo-properly-and-have-quality-backlinks/>

There are a lot of Black Hat practices that are used to create backlinks. They might show results for the short-term but eventually, these practices will damage your site's reputation as well as the authority which will lead to a low ranking of your site in the SERP.

White Hat practices that can be used to create high-quality backlinks: -

  1. Competitor Analysis – The best way is to see what your competitors are doing i.e., where they are getting backlinks from and how authoritative those are. You can use an SEO tool like SEMrush to analyze the backlinks of your competitors. Keep in mind that you don’t need to replicate all links. Choose the ones with good authority. Look for relevant broken pages of competitors that are getting backlinks, they might be a great opportunity to reach the link giver and create backlinks for your website. Also, pay attention to competitor’s mentions on social media channels, forums, or websites. Help people by answering questions and solving their problems on different channels and they can also help you in return, for instance, endorse your company on their websites and put a link to your site.
  2. Guest Blogging - Guest blogging is when you invite someone from outside of your company to write a blog that will be published on your website. With its help, you can win new clients and communicate with people interested in your industry. It helps in boosting brand awareness, creating fresh content, helping SEO growth - by including good keywords and links, your site may be found by more potential customers.
  3. Content Promotion – It is an effective way of catching the attention of authoritative companies in your niche that may offer you backlinks. Share your content in a variety of ways: social media, influencers, bloggers, and partners.
  4. Publish Guides - Guides are usually informative and long-form which is good for SEO. choose a relevant topic that includes keywords and complies with SEO principles. Create long enough posts for readers to understand and find a solution for their problems.

So, Are Backlinks worth the effort?

Getting unique and authoritative links is crucial for a higher ranking on the search engine results pages and improving your SEO factor altogether. Google's algorithm on the evaluation of links evolved in recent years which now focuses on quality links, not the quantity of the links. This has created a more challenging process to gain high-quality backlinks within your SEO strategy. External links still matter and aren’t obsolete, so start working on a link-building strategy to improve your search visibility.

Backlinks and content go hand in hand. If your content is relevant and is helping solve problems, then there is a huge room for getting backlinks from reputed and authoritative sources. Sometimes, though it is important to promote your content so that the sources can see your efforts to solve relevant problems. In a Nutshell, be a problem solver, provide value to the people and you will get higher rankings.