If you’re familiar with the concept of search engine optimization, then chances are you’ve heard about backlinks. Search engines use backlinks and other factors to determine your website’s relevance to a given search query. As confirmed by Google, backlinks occupy the top three in the list of factors that their algorithm uses to determine your website’s rank on a search engine results page.
But what is a backlink, exactly?
A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from a third-party website pointing to your own. You earn a backlink if another website links to your own in an attempt to refer to your original article, statement, infographic, or other web elements.
Backlinks are important because Google (and other search engines) treat them as a signal of authority. The logic follows how researchers in the scientific community cite other scientists’ work in their literature review and elsewhere. If enough websites put up links that point to you, Google will likely favor your website in the search engine results page (SERP).
Do I need to earn more backlinks to rank higher in SERP?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes, Google will look favorably at your website if you have many relevant backlinks coming from other websites. However, the sheer quantity of backlinks is not enough—your backlinks need to be coming from relevant websites that operate within your industry. Simply having a large number of backlinks are not only useless; they may even earn you a penalty from Google!
Many webmasters and early SEO marketing practitioners tried to game backlinks in the past, paving the way to the development of the infamous link farms. For a short time, signing up and paying to be in a link farm was a viable way of increasing your search rankings.
However, Google immediately took action and started penalizing these practices. Besides having lowered rankings, Google can remove offending websites from their index altogether, effectively banning them.
How do I earn relevant backlinks?
There are many ways to earn backlinks. One way to do this is to write original and relevant content. Provided that your website checks all the other boxes—such as fast page-loads, on-page optimizations, mobile-friendliness, and other UI-centric factors—your website is still likely to rank higher. Content writers and webmasters will still see your content and likely link back to you for reference when writing their own content.
You can also do guest blogging, which is the practice of writing an article for another website in exchange for a backlink. Typically, the other website’s webmaster will post your article on their website and link it back to you for credit. This is a viable strategy but also takes time as you will need to form relationships with the webmaster or owner first.
Infographics can earn you backlinks as well. Infographics capture people’s attention—including that of webmasters, website owners, and content writers—because they condense large blocks of text into highly digestible pieces of information. You can utilize this effectively by encouraging readers to embed your infographic to their website using your own provided code.
Backlinks should occupy the top portion of your to-do list because Google treats it as a vote of confidence. With enough backlinks, you can be assured that your Google search rankings will remain high in the long-term. This critical importance is what lead webmasters in the past to game the system. That being said, backlinks are not the be-all and end-all of SEO marketing.
If your website is quite new, chances are you won’t have enough influence to earn backlinks right away. As such, it’s best to focus on other SEO tasks first, such as writing good content, ensuring fast page-loads, and mobile-friendliness, song other things. Once your website is fully optimized, earning relevant backlinks should come quickly.
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