What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

Sven Scheuerle Updated on 22.09.2020
10 Min.
Last updated on 22.09.2020


Even though link building as an SEO strategy has changed a lot in the last few years, the link profile of your website is still an important ranking factor. And that is exactly why you should take a close look at your backlinks. What exactly this means and which quality features play a role in your links, you will learn in this article.

What exactly are backlinks?

A so-called "backlink" or "inbound link" is used when it is an incoming link from another URL. This means that an external link to your web wassite set on another website . At first it doesn't matter if this backlink links to the main domain or to a subsite domain. 

Nowadays one hears again and again that backlinks have no more relevance. But that is complete nonsense. Backlinks are still essential when it comes to search engine ranking. Because Google, Bing and Co. use the backlink profile of every website as an indicator to be able to classify it for the ranking. 

Simplified you can say about backlinks: The more high-quality backlinks to your website exist, the higher it will be ranked by the search engines and the better it will rank in the search results. 

Types of backlinks

You may memorize the following sentence at the beginning: Backlink is not equal to Backlink! There are numerous factors, how a good and a bad backlink differ from each other. Sometimes the details about how backlinks are actually rated still remain a secret of Google. 

Important to know: There are two different types of backlinks. On the one hand the internal links and on the other hand the external links. 

Internal links

An internal link is a backlink, which refers from one under thesite same or your own domain to another undersite this domain. 

External links

An external link is a backlink, which links from a domain undersite another domain to a website or undersite the own domain. 

Structure of a backlink

Each link is set in the HTML language and looks like this: 

Content idea

a href: This attribute is used in HTML to specify that the link is a link.

"“… ” The URL between the quotation marks is the website to link to.

target: This attribute can be used to specify that the link should be opened within a new tab. However, this attribute is not mandatory. 

>...<: The text between these two brackets is the so called anchor text, which is visibly clickable. 

Which factors make a good backlink?

As mentioned at the beginning: Backlink is not equal to Backlink. There are numerous factors that make a good backlink - or rather, by which you can recognize a good backlink. So you should always check where you set a backlink and where your backlinks come from, if they were not set by you. 

So that you can see what makes a good backlink, I would like to explain the most important factors. 

Relevance

A good backlink should always have a relevance. That means it should come from topic-related websites . From Google's point of view, backlinks which are "relevant" are preferred. 

What does that mean? Let's say you have a website about football. Now you get two backlinks. One backlink is from a website about sports and the second backlink is from a website about cats. 

The backlink, which has relevance, in our case the link from the link site to the topic sport, has of course the higher relevance and is also classified by Google. 

Authority

The authority or also known as "Domain Authority" (short: DA) is an important factor for Google when it comes to the evaluation of the backlink. The higher the value (0-100) of the "Domain Authority", the stronger the backlink. 

In order to evaluate the authority of a domain, many other factors are taken into account for the evaluation. These include, among others: 

  • The age of the domain
  • The number of incoming and outgoing links
  • The quality of the backlinks to this site itself (backlinks)

In addition to the Domain Authority, there is also the so-called Sitesites Authority, which is subject to exactly the same standards as the Domain Authority. In this case, the evaluation simply refers to a single undersite the respective domain. 

Naturalness

A very common mistake made when setting backlinks is to set unnatural Anchor texts. This means that a backlink should be as natural as possible and flow smoothly with the text in which it is embedded. Thus, naked URL links such as "www.bloggiraffe.de" should rather be avoided. Better would be an anchor text like "independent in online business". Depending on how the word order can be integrated into the continuous text, you can - and should - of course vary here. 

Of course, it always depends on the frequency of the set link. If the domain is used very "hard" as anchor text and set to external sites ones countless times, there is a danger that Google will classify it as spam. The same applies to the use of always the same keywords as anchor text. The consequence is then a punishment of the domain. This should definitely be avoided. For more information about anchor text, I recommend the detailed Anchor Text Guide by Nathan Gotch.

Traffic

The more regular traffic a website has from which you receive a backlink, the more "link juice" - i.e. link power - issite passed on to your web. This means for you that the search engines will rate this link to yours site as higher quality than if a website with very little traffic links you.

Placement

The correct placement of the backlink should not be underestimated. The more prominent the backlink is placed on a website and refers to your website , the higher its quality is rated. 

What does that mean exactly? For example, if the link is in the sidebar or in a footer, it is usually the case that this is only one of many links. This means de facto that less link power is attributed to it. However, if the link is placed relatively high up in an article, for example, it is given much more relevance. 

Content length

In addition to the placement of a backlink, the length of the content in which the link is placed also plays a role. The longer the content, which is already classified as "more relevant" by Google anyway, the more relevant the link within this content becomes. 

The big prerequisite is of course that this content is correspondingly well written and is important for the search engines.

SEO and backlinks

As already partly mentioned in the previous paragraphs, backlinks are essential for search engines such as Google and Co. to be able to classify the quality of the respective website . It is not important how many backlinks refer to onesite , but how good or bad the quality of these backlinks is. 

If a website builds up a lot of unnatural backlinks over a short period of time, in the worst case a so-called "Google Penalty" can occur. This means that the website is completely excluded from the rankings. You should therefore regularly check which new backlinks are added and react to "bad" backlinks accordingly. 

Because it also happens very often that you do not set backlinks yourself, but someone tries to damage your website. If you find such links, you can have them validated by Google. For this purpose, the "Disavow Links" tool is available in the Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main.

In summary, from an SEO point of view, you should always make sure that backlinks that link to yours site are both natural and relevant. The more "trust" a website has that refers to yourssite , the better for you. 

The anchor text

Further above I had already mentioned the "Anchor Text" - or also called "Anchor Text". This is an extremely important component when it comes to search engine optimization. 

This is because on the one hand this is the text that visitors see on a website , and on the other hand this anchor text is also read by search engines. The anchor text should therefore always be unique and related to the linked site page. See also "Naturalness".

Dofollow, Nofollow, Sponsored & UGC attributes

There are now a total of four link attributes with which a link can be provided: dofollow, nofollow, sponsored and ugc. This allows you to give Google information about the relationship to the linked website . How these so-called rel attribute values differ from each other is briefly explained below. 

Follow-Links

The good prelude. To set a dofollow link, you usually don't have to do anything else. So if the backlink is not marked as "Nofollow", it is automatically a "Follow" link. 

With a dofollow link, the Google bot receives the signal to crawl the link, i.e. to follow it. This link has a positive effect on the ranking of the linked website . This is often referred to as "link juice". 

Example:

Self-employed in online business

Nofollow Links (rel="nofollow")

With a nofollow link, on the other hand, the Google bot receives the signal not to follow the link further, i.e. not to crawl it. This means that this backlink has no effect on the link structure of the linked site pages, as it is not included in Google's rating. 

Example:

rel="nofollow">Self-employed in online business

Sponsored Links (rel="sponsored")

With the sponsored link or with this link attribute, links should be marked which were set due to a consideration, e.g. purchased advertising, links, recommendations or similar. 

Example:

rel="sponsored">Self-employed in online business

User Generated Content (rel="ugc")

This link attribute should always be used when linking content that was site created by users of the linked site and not by the site owner itself. This is the case, for example, with comments on a blog or forum entries.  

Example:

rel="ugc">Self-employed in online business

Link-Juice (Link Equity)

When the so-called "link power", or in English also often referred to as "link-juice" (link equity) is passed on, it means that a certain SEO authority or trust of the site person who sets the backlink is passed on to the linked website . 

The higher this value or trust is, the more influence the backlink has on the search engine ranking of the linked site . Exactly those factors play a decisive role, which I have already explained to you under "Which factors make a good backlink? 

Tips for more backlinks

If you want to actively build backlinks for your website , you have a lot of possibilities. I would like to introduce the most popular ones to you in the following. 

Guest article

The classic backlink structure is the publication of guest articles on other relevant sites . That is, you search here for suitable websites and ask if you can write and publish a high-quality article on the topic. 

The prerequisite is, of course, that you are allowed tosite set a backlink in this article to your web. After all, you are also offering high-quality content for the readers of the respective site . 

Interviews

The procedure for the interviews is similar to the guest articles. The only difference is that here you ask a website operator for an interview, which you then publish on yourssite . How do you profit from this now? 

It's easy! After the interview is published on your websitesite , you offer the interviewee to share your interview with him or her, for example in social media channels or maybe even in a short article.

Mention Websites

A very simple and usually effective method is to mention relevant websites regularly in your posts - be it on the website or in social media channels. By doing so, you attract attention and can hope that the mentioned website mentions or links to you. 

Comments

A popular (and sometimes controversial) method is to set backlinks within comments. There are numerous topic-related blogs that allow commenting on posts. Unfortunately this feature is often exploited by SEO spammers. When commenting, you should of course not only be out for a backlink, but also read the post seriously and respond to the content. Most website operators immediately recognize generic comments written for SEO purposes only and mark them as spam.

How do you handle your comments?

For more information and tips on managing your comments in WordPress Johannes Mairhofer in his blog article for you on the subject of WooCommerce.

Find broken links ("Broken Links")

You can search on relevant websites for Broken Links search. Because then you have the possibility to write to the website operator and ask if there is interest to exchange the faulty link and link you there instead. 

For example, you can use the free tool "Deadline Link Checker" use. 

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

Here you can enter the corresponding URL and have it checked for broken links. If you find a link that fits the topic and is really broken, you should contact the website operator and suggest your website for linking. 

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

High quality content

My absolute favorite for generating high quality backlinks is to create high quality content myself. Of course you have numerous possibilities to do this. Be it the creation of a great article, infographics, videos and much more.

Of course you can also use social media effectively for this. Talk about putting videos on YouTube, sharing on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. There should always be a link to your website here, of course. You really have a lot of possibilities here. 

For whom are backlinks important?

This question can be answered in one sentence: For all who want to be visible in search engines like Google and Co.

For all those who run a blog or website for private reasons, it may be irrelevant where they rank in the search engines. However, if you generate income with your website or blog or offer site services or products on your site, good backlinks are essential. After all, you want to be found as easily as possible when someone searches for your product or service. 

In the latter case, it is therefore important to build a backlink structure that is as natural and high-quality as possible so that Google classifies your website as relevant as soon as search queries are entered in Google.

How to check your backlinks

You have two good and free ways to check the backlinks or backlinks to your website yourself. Of course, the Google Search Console is the best way to do this. If you have deposited your website here, you can view the most sites linked and top-referencing domains. 

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

If you click here on the respectivesite , you get an overview of which URLs refer to them. 

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

The same of course with the top referring websites. If you click here on the respective website, you will get an overview of the websites to which sites it has set a backlink. 

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

Another free alternative to the Google Search Console is the Backlink Checker from Ahrefs: https://ahrefs.com/de/backlink-checker.

What Are Backlinks? Why Are They So Important for Your SEO?

In this tool you can look at your top 100 backlinks and make appropriate evaluations. 

Final Thoughts

For every website operator backlinks still play an essential role today. Even though Google increasingly prefers high-quality content, backlinks remain an important factor in signalling the value of a website to Google. 

In order for this to work effectively, I recommend that you always keep an eye on your backlinks. If you actively set backlinks yourself, pay attention to the factors mentioned above. However, if a backlink does not originate from you, you have to check whether it meets the requirements of a high-quality link or not. If it doesn't, you should have it validated via the Google Search Console in order not to damage your backlink profile. 

Do you have any more questions?

Do you have any feedback or questions for Sven about the above mentioned points? Then please use the comment function. You want to be WordPress informed about new contributions? Follow us directly on Twitteror Facebook , or subscribe to our newsletter.

Sven Scheuerle – Independent freelancer and passionate affiliate marketer has been working in online marketing for many years. He is also a blogger and regularly posts on his blog BLOGGiraffe.de about self-employment in online business.

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