What Are Backlinks?

Everything you need to know about backlinks

A woman accessing a website on her smartphone and viewing numerous backlinks from other sites and apps.

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Backlink refers to a link to a website from another website. If there are 300 links to a specific web page from all over the internet then that page has 300 backlinks.

Backlinks can be from web pages, apps, and even ebooks.

What Are SEO Backlinks?

SEO backlinks and backlinks are the same thing. Backlinks can sometimes be referred to as SEO backlinks because of how the creation of backlinks is frequently used in search engine optimisation strategies.

The number of backlinks a website or page has is often used by search engines to determine a site's importance, popularity, and legitimacy. Often, the more backlinks a site or page has, the higher it will appear in search results on Google, Bing, and other popular services.

A backlink from a popular website will often contain more SEO weight than one from a smaller site with few readers.

What's the Difference Between a Backlink and Crosslink?

While similar, these two types of web links aren't the same and it's important to differentiate between them when planning an SEO strategy and when hiring someone to create backlinks for you.

Essentially, a backlink is a link to a web page or site from an entirely different website domain while a crosslink is a link from one web page to another page on the same domain.

For example, a link to Lifewire.com from VeryWell.com would be a backlink while a link from an article on Lifewire.com about the Nintendo Switch to another article on Lifewire.com about video games would be a crosslink.

Crosslinks are links from the same site. Backlinks are links from another site.

Crosslinks are generally used to improve navigation on websites and to direct readers to related web pages. Search engines can scan crosslinks, though, and use them to determine how relevant a page is to a specific topic so they can also be useful in improving SEO.

Do Social Media Posts Count as Backlinks?

Links to a web page from social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter also count as website backlinks and can contribute to a higher ranking in search results. A social media post containing a backlink can also often be given more SEO weight if it receives a lot of engagement from users in the form of shares, likes, or retweets.

How to Get Website Backlinks to Your Website

There are a variety of strategies website owners use to get links to their content on other sites. Here are some of the more popular ones to try.

  • Create quality content. If you make content that's well-written and unique, others will link to it without you having to ask them to.
  • Ask readers to share your content. Creating a call to action on pages can encourage your readers to link to your site from their own and share your content via social media.
  • Engage with influencers. Getting a popular blogger, YouTuber, or social media influencer to cover your website and link to it can be an incredibly powerful marketing strategy. Common ways to achieve this is to ask an influencer to review your business or product or pay them to add a backlink to your site in a blog post or video description.
  • Email website owners. If you have specific content on your site that could be a legitimately useful resource for readers of an article on another site, you can email the site's owner and kindly suggest that they link to your page in their article.

What Is a Nofollow Backlink?

The nofollow tag is an attribute added to a link's code originally intended to tell Google and other search engines not to index the linked page nor deem it important.

If paying someone to add a backlink on their site or social media profile, it's important to ask them not to use the nofollow tag.

Nofollow links are occasionally used by website owners to increase the overall SEO quality of their site by adding the tag when linking to low quality pages on the domain that could bring their search ranking down. If search engines only detect high quality content on a site, they'll likely rank it higher.

The nofollow tag is also frequently used in the comments section of many websites to prevent people from spamming links to their own sites to create their own backlinks. The use of the nofollow attribute on many comment sections and forums is why adding your own backlinks in these locations isn't an effective SEO strategy.