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Link Building
·
6/5/2024
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13
 min read

Backlinks Importance: Why Backlinks Still Matter for SEO

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Backlinks Importance: Why Backlinks Still Matter for SEOLink Building
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In the highly competitive world of search engine optimization (SEO), backlinks remain a critical factor influencing website ranking. 

Many in the SEO community would argue to the contrary, but in our experience, it is not only still the case that backlinks still have a massive impact on rankings (primarily ranking velocity) but it’s also growing as a key factor to overall visibilty with the growing impact of AI search tools.

This article delves into the importance of backlinks, exploring how they function as trust signals to search engines and ultimately impact your website's visibility and organic traffic.

Let's get started.

What Is a Backlink?

A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is a hyperlink on one website that points to a page on another website. Essentially, it's a citation indicating that one website acknowledges and trusts the information of another.

If a website reviewing the best SaaS software in a specific industry mentions your company and includes a clickable link to your website, that's a backlink. The more high-quality SEO backlinks you have, the stronger your website's reputation and position in search engine results pages, potentially boosting its ranking and visibility.

Why Are Backlinks Important for Search Engine Optimization?

Backlinks stand as critical markers for SEO, signaling to search engines the value and credibility of your content. Let's explore the advantages of backlinking, understanding how these external nods to your site form the foundation of an effective SEO strategy.

Boosts Rankings in Search Engines

Backlinks are essentially seen by search engines as endorsements of your site's content. Each backlink signals to search engines like Google that your site is a valuable resource worth citing. Consequently, a robust backlink profile is directly correlated with higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). This improved visibility in SERPs significantly amplifies your site's accessibility to potential customers, directly influencing traffic and engagement levels.

Theoretically, if the content of an article is better and more helpful than any other content out there, it should rank at the top of Google eventually - however, in our experience, the history of an article being referenced by hundreds of sources due to its domain, its age, or its previous social promotion can cause antiquated articles to outrank even the best new content for a long time before the new content catches up. 

We see links as not only vital to allowing content to rank for topics that are highly competitive, but also increasing the velocity to rank for both competitive and non-competitive terms.

Links can often mean the difference between ranking a page or piece of content for a keyword topic in a couple of months and 6-12 months, which can often have a massive impact on a businesses’ bottom line.

Drives Traffic

External websites linking to yours act as conduits, channeling their audience directly to your digital doorstep. This dual stream of organic traffic—from search engines and referral traffic from other sites—enriches your site's visitor base. Importantly, referral traffic is often comprised of individuals already interested in your offerings, heightening the likelihood of conversions, be it in sales, subscriptions, or other targeted actions.

Enhances Credibility and Authority

The quality of backlinks plays a pivotal role in shaping your site's reputation. Links from authoritative and reputable sites within your industry serve as powerful affirmations of your site's credibility. This external validation not only strengthens your site's appeal to search engines but also enhances its trustworthiness in the eyes of potential visitors, solidifying your site's standing and competitiveness in the digital landscape.

This is a significantly growing factor to consider as AI tools are positioned to crawl the web and establish trust and authority from how often and in what context a business is referenced. In the short term, links boost authority on search engines, but in the long term, links will also ensure that your brand,  content, and business are referenced among relevant searches performed through AI platforms as well.

Boosts Brand Awareness

The diversity of backlink sources is instrumental in broadening your brand's reach. Each backlink serves as a portal through which different audience segments can discover your brand. This expanded exposure increases brand awareness, laying the groundwork for greater traffic volume, trust building, and engagement opportunities. Moreover, heightened brand visibility through backlinks often translates into new business opportunities, collaborations, and an expanded digital footprint.

Collectively, backlinks not only signal to search engines the worthiness of your content for higher rankings but also serve as vital conduits for traffic, credibility enhancement, and brand visibility expansion. Their strategic incorporation into your SEO efforts can yield substantial dividends in terms of your site's performance and overall digital presence.

Key Types of Backlinks

Understanding the key types of backlinks is crucial for any SEO strategy, as they directly influence your website's search engine ranking and online visibility. Let’s explore the primary four types: dofollow, nofollow, internal, and external. 

Dofollow Links

Dofollow links are vital for SEO as they allow the transfer of link juice from one website to another, directly influencing the receiving site's authority and its ability to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Typically, unless specifically tagged otherwise, hyperlinks are dofollow, making them the default type that supports a site's search ranking power.

Nofollow Links

Nofollow links were introduced as a means to combat spam and prevent the manipulation of search engine rankings. These links are tagged with rel="nofollow", rel="sponsored", or rel="ugc" attributes, instructing search engines to disregard the link for ranking purposes. Though they don't pass on ranking power, nofollow links are beneficial for driving traffic, enhancing brand exposure, and contributing to a well-rounded backlink profile favored by search engines. They're especially useful in sections prone to spam, such as comments and forums, as well as for paid links and user-generated content, helping to maintain the integrity of search results.

Internal Links

Internal links forge connections between pages on the same site, using relevant keywords in their anchor text to establish and enhance contextual links. This strategic interlinking bolsters the authority of pages, distributing it across the site based on the context and relevance of the content, thereby aiding in site-wide SEO optimization. They also improve user navigation, leading visitors through a logical path of related content, which can enhance user engagement and reduce bounce rates.

External Links

External links are what are typically referred to as backlinks, and these are the primary sources of outside authority that help boost a site's rankings. They are the cornerstone of link-building strategies and services, providing external validation of a site's content and quality.

Mastering the use of these backlink types is fundamental to developing a diverse and effective link ecosystem that supports long-term SEO success and a better user experience.

What Makes a Good Backlink?

Not all backlinks are created equal; while high-quality links can significantly boost your SEO rankings and credibility, low-quality or spammy backlinks can harm your site's reputation and potentially lead to search engine penalties.

Understanding what distinguishes a high-quality backlink from a low-quality one is key to guiding your link-building efforts effectively. Here's what to focus on:

  • Relevance and Context: Links from websites with content that is closely related to yours are more beneficial. For instance, a backlink from a digital marketing blog to a SaaS company is more valuable than one from an unrelated site like a sports news outlet.
  • Authority of the Linking Site: High-authority sites, measured by metrics such as Domain Rating (DR), offer stronger endorsements. These sites usually have extensive, high-quality content and a robust backlink profile.
  • Natural Link Profile: A mix of dofollow and nofollow links from a variety of sources, including blogs, news websites, and industry portals, indicates organic endorsement of your content.
  • Anchor Text Relevance: The anchor text should naturally fit within the content, providing context for the linked page without over-optimizing with exact-match keywords.
  • Placement of the Link: Ideally, links should be contextually integrated within the body of the content rather than placed in footers or sidebars.
  • Unique Referring Domains: Securing backlinks from a wide range of unique domains is often more impactful than accumulating multiple links from just one domain. This diversity is akin to receiving endorsements from a broad audience rather than repeated endorsements from a single source. Search engine algorithms tend to value this breadth of backing, as it reflects a wider acknowledgment of your site's credibility and value.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Building Backlinks

While building backlinks is crucial for SEO success, it's vital to navigate this path ethically and strategically. Let's explore some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Buying Backlinks: Purchasing backlinks--also known as spammy backlinks--goes against search engine guidelines, risking penalties and damage to your site's ranking. Instead, invest in natural link-building methods like quality content creation and guest posting.
  2. Over-Optimizing Anchor Text: Using exact-match keywords as anchor text excessively can appear manipulative and lead to penalties. Opt for a balanced mix of branded, generic, and partial-match keywords to diversify your backlink profile.
  3. Prioritizing Quantity Over Quality: A multitude of low-quality backlinks can detract from your site's credibility. Focus on securing backlinks from authoritative, relevant sites within your niche for a more impactful SEO boost.
  4. Lack of Backlink Diversity: A homogenous backlink profile, sourced from a few types or sources, can signal manipulative practices to search engines. Aim for diversity in your backlink portfolio by tapping into various sources and types of links.
  5. Not Monitoring Backlinks: Unattended, broken, or outdated backlinks can negatively affect your site's ranking. Regular monitoring and updating of your backlinks ensure they contribute positively to your SEO efforts.

Top Strategies to Build Backlinks for SEO

Let's delve into seven effective methods to acquire valuable backlinks and elevate your website's online presence:

  1. Content Creation: Creating engaging, high-quality content serves as the foundation of a solid backlink strategy, by not only drawing natural backlinks from those who find your content valuable but also establishing your authority in your niche and driving traffic from search engines and social platforms. For example, a detailed white paper on streamlining customer onboarding can attract backlinks from industry publications and software review sites.
  2. Guest Posting: Guest posting on relevant websites expands your reach and credibility, directly earning backlinks and driving referral traffic. For instance, a guest article on strategies to boost customer retention can demonstrate your expertise to a broader audience.
  3. Broken Link Building: Broken link building offers a unique opportunity to add value by identifying and offering replacements for broken links on relevant sites, earning you a backlink in the process. For instance, finding a broken link on a resources web page and suggesting your comprehensive guide as a replacement can be particularly effective.
  4. Influencer Outreach: Influencer outreach connects you with key figures in your industry, whose mentions or recommendations can lead to valuable backlinks and increased exposure. Collaborating on a case study with a known software reviewer highlights your solution's effectiveness, for example.
  5. Resource Page Link Building: Targeting resource pages for inclusion can directly earn backlinks from curated lists of valuable industry resources. For instance, contacting websites with "SEO tools" resource pages and requesting your SEO software to be listed and linked.
  6. Social Media Promotion: Promoting your content on social media not only drives direct traffic but also increases its visibility, encouraging shares and the potential for organic backlinks. Sharing an insightful blog post across relevant social media platforms can spur engagement and discussions, leading to further content distribution and backlinks.
  7. Building Useful Tools: Creating mini-tools, such as calculators or other utility applications, can be a powerful method for generating backlinks. These tools are highly shareable and can attract references naturally due to their practicality. Moreover, they often rank well for keywords with high search volumes but low competition, making them excellent assets for link acquisition at scale.

How to See the Backlinks Pointing to Your Website

Analyzing the backlinks pointing to your web pages is essential for SEO success. Here's a concise guide to using four powerful tools for this purpose:

Ahrefs

  • Boasts the largest live backlink index, updating every 15–30 minutes. Ahrefs Site Explorer offers detailed insights into the referring domains and backlinks for any site, subfolder, or webpage.
  • Access by navigating to: Site Explorer > enter a website/web page/subfolder > select mode > Overview.

SEMrush

  • Part of a comprehensive digital marketing suite, SEMrush's Backlink Analysis tool offers insights into your site's authority score, referring domains, and backlinks.
  • The referring domain tab lists all websites linking to you, including their authority score and total backlinks.
  • While basic backlink analysis is free, a paid plan unlocks full access to detailed data.

Google Search Console (GSC)

  • Free and user-friendly, GSC allows site owners to monitor their site's presence in Google search results.
  • To view backlinks, navigate to: Search Console > Your Property > Links > External Links > Top Linking Sites. This report reveals the top 1,000 websites linking to yours, detailing the number of linking pages and target pages.
  • Additionally, you can check your most linked content under External Links > Top linked pages, showing which of your pages attract the most backlinks.

Bing Webmaster Tools

  • Offers a Similar Sites report for comparative backlink analysis. Access it via: SEO > Backlinks > Similar Sites.
  • Compare up to three websites simultaneously to analyze backlink profiles, with reports on unique URLs linking back and the specific target page.
  • Filters allow focusing on common domains or those not linking to your site, with the top 10 domains and anchors displayed based on backlink count.

Each tool provides unique features for backlink analysis, from detailed reports in GSC and Bing to comprehensive data in SEMrush and Ahrefs. Regularly monitoring your backlinks with these tools is essential.

Transform Your SEO Strategy With SimpleTiger

Building high-quality backlinks is an ongoing journey, but by understanding the importance, strategies, and common pitfalls, you're well on your way to strengthening your website's foundation and unlocking its full SEO potential.

Ready to take your SEO game to the next level?

Explore how SimpleTiger can help you design and implement an effective link-building strategy tailored to your website's unique needs and goals.

Take the first step and book a discovery call today. 

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Takeaways

  • Backlinks act as votes of trust from other websites, influencing your website's search engine ranking and visibility.
  • Both dofollow and nofollow backlink types are essential for a balanced SEO strategy.
  • High-quality backlinks from relevant, authoritative sites enhance credibility and domain authority, while numerous low-quality backlinks can harm your site's reputation and potentially lead to search engine penalties.
  • Avoid unethical practices like buying backlinks and prioritize a long-term strategy for sustainable link-building.
  • Creating engaging, valuable content is the foundation of effective backlink strategies, attracting natural backlinks and establishing authority.
  • Utilizing tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools is essential for analyzing and understanding your backlink profile.
SimpleTiger
SimpleTiger
Sean Smith
Sean Smith
COO

Sean is Chief Operating Officer at SimpleTiger, responsible for operations, process creation, team utilization and growth, as well as sometimes direct client consultation.

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