What is backlinking?

When you start a website for your small business, you have one main goal – for people to visit it and to purchase your products or services, how does this happen? Backlinking.

Google plays a big part in helping people find your site by displaying it in online search results. The art of making your site appear higher in those search results is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). And an important component of SEO is backlinking.

What’s backlinking?

A backlink is a clickable hyperlink on someone else’s site that takes people to a page on your site. Backlinks are also often referred to as “inbound links” or “incoming links”.

How does it help my SEO?

Whenever a site includes a backlink to yours, Google considers it a “vote of confidence” for your page. In other words, it indicates that other sites think you have good content. The more “votes” your site gets, the more likely search engines are to rank you highly in their search results.

Backlinks have been an important part of the Google algorithm since its inception in the 1990s – and have remained so for decades. In 2020, SEO training site Backlinko analysed 11.8 million Google search results and discovered that backlinks were still Google’s key ranking metric.

Are all backlinks good?

Actually, no. Where your backlinks come from is more important than how many you have. According to Backlinko, “a single quality backlink can be more powerful than 1,000 low-quality backlinks.” Quality backlinks come from credible, relevant sites that have “domain authority”.

Google uses an algorithm to work out how authoritative websites are, but they don’t make this information public. If you have access to an SEO tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush or Moz, you can run checks for yourself. Moz has a free domain analysis tool that displays domain authority scores. But in simple terms, a backlink from any well-respected site in an industry related to yours, or a credible news source, is going to be good for your SEO.

In contrast, large numbers of poor quality backlinks will hurt your SEO. When Google’s algorithm was less sophisticated, some website owners tried to game the system by joining public link networks, using automated link building software, or purchasing thousands of backlinks. This practice is sometimes called “black hat SEO”, and Google actively punishes sites that engage in it by reducing their search rank or deleting them from search results completely.

How do I get good backlinks?

There are plenty of ways that you can get quality backlinks to your site:

  • Create high-quality content (like helpful blogs, tutorials and infographics) that people will want to share, and publicise them on your social media channels.
  • Offer to write guest blogs for related sites.
  • Join social media forums in your industry and contribute helpful information. You can often include a backlink to your site in your user profile, and you may have an opportunity to share other links when answering people’s questions.
  • Comment on relevant blogs. Don’t just spam them with your website address, but positively contribute to the conversation and try to work in your link organically.
  • Create listings in online business directories for your industry.
  • Google for unlinked mentions of your brand and ask the sites they appear on to backlink them to a relevant section of your site.
  • Ensure that any inbound links you already have aren’t broken. You can use the Ahrefs broken link checker to find these. Then you can provide the owner of the site who is linking to you with the correct URL.

Want more information on SEO? Check out our other blogs.

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