What are backlinks?
Backlinks are hyperlinks sitting on external domains pointing towards particular pages on your domain. They’re called backlinks because they are linking back from their website to yours. Backlinks are important for Search Engines like Google to determine the importance of your page in terms of credibility, relevancy and quality. Initially, Google’s algorithm would determine the importance of your webpage using the number of backlinks as an indicator of page popularity. However, this began the influx of low-quality, spammy sites in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) that weren’t relevant to the user’s search intent, as webmasters were attempting to manipulate their ranking in SERPs. However, today, Google evaluates backlinks based on their quality rather than the quantity. With the advances in Google’s algorithm, we now have ‘good’ backlinks and ‘bad’ backlinks.
What are “good” and “bad” backlinks?
An example of how Google distinguishes between a good and bad backlink would be in the case of a website having an authoritative domain and being known as a ‘trusted’ source in Google’s eyes; Google will use this an indicator to establish that this is a ‘good’ backlink. However, it would still need to be an earned (not paid for), relevant link, i.e. the authoritative website has a good reason for linking to the other website in order for it to be a link that Google would consider a positive vote and not a manipulative one.
A bad backlink, on the other hand, is a domain with little domain authority; one that possibly has utilised a lot of spammy techniques (such as keyword stuffing, low-quality content and an overwhelming amount of ads) and is generally an ‘untrusted’ source. If a bad backlink is pointing towards your website, this will influence Google’s judgement on the quality of your website. Up until 2016, a large number of these bad backlinks could result in pages on your website being demoted in the SERPs, however, more recent advances in the ranking algorithm tend to neutralise these bad backlinks. However, manual actions can still be awarded for overly manipulative linking practices.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are an important factor in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as they can help a website domain rank higher in the Google search engine results pages.
How can good backlinks be acquired?
A popular method to build your backlink network is via outreach. Outreach marketing is the practice of reaching out to individuals and/or organisations that have a shared interest in what your company has to offer. For example, you might email an individual or organisation with personalised content that provides reasoning as to why you like their brand; why your organisation and their brand has shared interests; whether they would publish some of your content as it would be beneficial to them and yourself; or whether they would link back to your site because you offer related products or services.