What Are Backlinks

Learn More About This Search Engine Ranking Factor

Chain link
deliormanli/Getty Images

A backlink is a link on a web page that is directed to your website. In search engine optimization, backlinks are important to SEO because Google and other search engines consider the quality and quantity of backlinks when determining the value of a website to a searcher, which influences its ranking in the search results.

The Importance of High-Quality Backlinks for Your Site

If you create great content on your website—content people want to link to or share—you'll benefit from backlinks. The more people who are interested in your content, the more they will share your site or link to it, which increases the visitors to the site.

You can't control who links to your site, but backlinks from sites that have content that is related to your website's content are considered higher-quality backlinks than those that come from websites that have nothing to do with the topic your site covers.

How to Attract Backlinks

In addition to regularly updating your site with high-quality content that is of interest to readers, you can take other steps that collectively increase backlinks. These include:

  • Repair any broken links on your website. Technical errors run off viewers.
  • Establish a presence in social media on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, all with links to your website.
  • If you can identify your website as being a niche-targeted site, look for a directory that serves the niche and make sure your site is listed in it.
  • If your site serves a specific geographic area, look for city and regional directories for promotional opportunities.
  • Make comments on high-quality blogs in your niche.
  • Understand SEO (or hire someone who does) to select the right keywords for use on your site.
  • Ask experts in your field for the occasional guest post.

The Abuse of Backlinks

Backlinks aren't the single determining factor for search rank, but they are a factor that's been abused in the past. You may have seen pages called "link farms" that are nothing but link after link after link. Some people buy backlinks for their site, and some trade links with owners of other websites that are unrelated to their topic. Google works to minimize the effects of these types of backlinking plans and penalizes them where possible.

The best tactic is to focus on your content and on promotion within your site's area of focus to earn truly valuable backlinks for your website.