Backlinks are just links that go from one website to another. Google based its whole ranking system in the past on Backlinks (a system called PageRank which the Google Founders invented in their studies time at Stanford). The theory behind is if one website links to another, it means that they think the content is somehow important. High-quality backlinks can help a site rank higher and show up more in search engine results (SERPs).
How Do Backlinks Work?
What is a Backlink? Every Backlink is a critical part of how search engines work, SEO, and your overall plan to grow your website.
Backlinks are easiest to picture as a dialogue between two or more websites.
For instance, Markus recently published a really intriguing essay on a world cup that he attended.
Alice, a different blogger, shares her opinion by linking to Markus article. This results in the creation of a hyperlink (=Backlink) to Markus piece, since she discusses the issue on her famous online magazine site with thousands of visitors each day that she runs. Many other sites will logically link back to her article. This makes the online magazine more credible, and John’s article gets a valuable backlink from a site with a good reputation. You can dive deeper to the PageRank Algorithm with the Wikipedia article PageRank explained.
Types of Backlinks
Backlinks come in two main forms, and one is better than the other.
“Nofollow” Backlinks do have a Nofollow tag, the link is told to be ignored by search engines. Most of the time they don’t help your search rank or visibility.
“Dofollow” Backlinks are the ones everyone wants. Just remember that the most valuable ones come from well-known sites. This kind of backlink usually help you get better search ranking.
There are, however, some dofollow links that are bad or “toxic.” These links come from sites that look sketchy or are gotten by breaking the spam rules of the search engine.
In extreme cases, this can urge Google to “punish” your site or even take it off its search index. A website which is not listed in Google can be called as of now invisible.
Remember that it’s not how many backlinks you have, but how good they are, that makes a difference in how you rank. We have seen Websites with more than 30,000 backlinks and absolute no ranking at all in Google.
How to gather Backlinks for my site?
The ugly truth directly in the beginning: Organically it takes time and very hard work. Here are five easy ways to start getting good backlinks to your site.
- Your social media profiles should mention your desired backlinks.
- Research the competition, blog posts which are doing well could even perhaps being improved
- Make posts with lists, “how-tos” or infographics in them. Typically, these formats get more backlinks than regular posts.
- Write from time to time very long tutorial posts with thousands of words that cover every aspect of the subject.
- Try to write posts for other blogs and websites as a guest writer, so-called Guest Blog Posts. Be prepared that blogs are asking for a fee for letting you write.
You can also start researching the backlinks of your competitors. To achieve this, you will need to look at the backlinks of your competitors who are ranking well.
How to find the backlinks of my competitor? There are platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush which do allow Backlink Checks on websites.
How Can I Check My Backlinks?
Backlink monitoring tools, such as Google Search Console, SEMRush, Ahrefs, etc., let you check the backlinks to your website. This is called running a backlink audit.
What is a Backlink Audit?
A Backlink audit is the process of reviewing and analyzing the quality and quantity of links pointing to a website. This is an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) because the number and quality of backlinks to a website can have a significant impact on its search engine ranking.
During a backlink audit, the following aspects of the backlinks are usually analyzed:
Relevance: Are the backlinks coming from websites that are relevant to the content of the website being audited?
Authority: Is the website linking to the website being audited an authoritative source within its industry or niche?
Quality: Are the backlinks from reputable and high-quality websites, or are they from low-quality or spammy sites?
Quantity: Does the website being audited have a high number of backlinks, or is it lacking in this area?
Duplicates: Are there any duplicate backlinks pointing to the website?
Broken links: Are there any broken links pointing to the website?
The goal of a backlink audit is to find any problems with the backlinks and take steps to remove or disavow any links that could hurt a website’s search engine ranking.
As you see, it is essential to keep an eye on your backlinks and the competitors backlinks. According to the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you have to ask the owners of toxic websites to take their links from your site. If you don’t, Google can in theory punish your website, and your page rank will start to drop in search results. A manual Google Penalty these Days not happen quite often but if it does, it hurts your ranking drastically.
Lately, Googles Search Advocates state that it is no longer necessary to disavow toxic backlinks, since Google does simply ignore those.
As a Webmaster, you will need to know an answer to these questions at almost any time:
- Where are all of my backlinks coming from?
- How can I tell if they’re dangerous?
- How can I get in touch with the owners of sites with bad backlinks?
There are several backlink audit tools on the market which do help you to answer these questions:
Google Search Console can help you grow your site and see your backlinks, but it takes a lot of time and can only do so much.
With GSC you are able to pull up a complete list of your backlinks, both good and bad: Log into your Dashboard and click ‘Search Traffic.’ Click ‘Links To Your Site.’ View the total number of backlinks to your website.
Be sure to check out other valuable categories like the ‘Who links the most,’ which shows you which websites provide your company with the most backlinks.
There are other tools that are faster and better but as always in life they are not free of costs. Using SEMrush or Ahrefs running a backlink audit for example can become quite costly but they quickly answer all of the above questions and are quite powerful. Both of these SEO Platforms do offer so-called Backlink Analytics.
They will let have you look at the backlinks of your competitors as well of course all the backlinks that link back to yours.
After running a Backlink Audit you should first look into finding the spammy links that might harm your rankings. After connecting your Google Analytics and Google Search Console and running a Backlink Audit within Semrush it classifies all found backlinks automatic with a so-called Toxic Score and it shows the Domain authority of the domain where it is coming from.
By default, the backlinks output will be ordered by URL Rating (UR) which tells you the so-called “link popularity” (or strength) of a linking page. This makes it easy to identify spammy backlinks.
Keeping an eye on your site’s link profile is an essential component of every search engine optimization strategy and will provide you with a wealth of information how to get a better ranking.
We hope this guide helped you understand what backlinks are and how you can use them to grow your website.
Markus Schad | Senior SEO Strategist
Markus Schad is Senior SEO Consultant with over 8 years experience in getting more traffic and visitors for his customers. He is the founder of Commander-SEO.com.
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