The term backlink is thrown around an awful lot in the realm of SEO. A backlink is a link placed on another website that links back to your site (links back, backlink... get it?).
Backlinks are extremely important when it comes to SEO because they're a key indicator of a site's authority. The wider you can spread a link to your website around the web (preferably having it appear on relevant, high authority websites), the more your site will grow in traffic and authority. Both quality and quantity of backlinks matter.
Here's what you need to know about backlinks:
How To Get Backlinks
For brand new websites, backlink quantity takes precedence over quality. When you're just starting out, you want to spread the word about your site and services as wide as you can. More links to your site makes Google think it's more interesting and authoritative, which leads to an increase in its search rankings.
Acquiring backlinks takes dedicated time and effort, but it's well worth it for the long term SEO benefits you'll reap. Here are some ways to get more backlinks:
- Offer to write a guest post on other blogs (preferably related to your site topic, on a site with higher authority)
- Submit articles to be published on other sites (same as above)
- Submit your link to site directories (they often list several links for specific topics)
- Email other site owners with a link to a useful article on your website and suggest they include it on their site (note that it's got to be relevant to their content and something that will help their readers)
Image source: SEO Hacker
Backlink Quality Matters
As your site and business grow and you start getting a more consistent flow of website traffic, you should hone in on the quality of your backlinks.
Here are a few things to consider:
- What do your backlinks look like? Check the anchor text (i.e. what the link actually says). Ideally you want the anchor text to be one of the keyword phrases you're aiming to rank for, but sometimes it's tricky for other sites to work that in naturally. Your business name is alright for anchor text, but doesn't give you as much SEO juice. Links that say "click here" are the absolute worst - if another site uses this as anchor text, you should contact them and nicely ask if they would mind altering this to something a little more helpful.
- What kinds of sites are linking to yours? Websites within your industry with higher authority or trust are ideal for backlinking purposes. If a site similar to yours and highly ranked links to your site, it makes you look more authoritative in that subject, which Google in turn rewards with a higher search ranking for related keywords.
How To Check Your Backlinks
There are some free tools out there that you can use to check your backlinks, such as Moz's OSE, Majestic, and Ahrefs. They will give you visibility into how many backlinks your domain and your individual pages have, the domain and page authority (or trust) of the linking page, and what anchor text is used in these backlinks.
Also: beware of bad backlinks! These can be detrimental to your SEO success. It's a good idea to monitor your backlinks and check to ensure the linking site is legit. If it looks like the site is set up just for the purpose of adding loads of links and lacks any content of substance, or is completely and utterly related to the topic and audience of yours, it's a sign of bad badlinking.
If you find bad badlinks to your site, the easiest thing to do is contact the site owner and ask if they can remove your link. Failing that, you could always change the URL if they've linked to a specific page of yours rather than the main domain, rendering their backlink broken.