Why Are Backlinks Important For SEO?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - backlinks

If you’ve ever taken a cursory glance at the digital marketing field of SEO, you’ll have seen just how confusing things can get. With more than enough jargon, and technical processes that must be followed to a T, search engine optimisation is a complicated – but ultimately handsomely rewarding – marketing discipline that has the potential to establish long-term online lead generation. The best part is that SEO requires an initial investment, but then only cursory maintenance thereafter. This means that SEO will offer a return on investment, and then continue to generate free leads thereafter. A vital aspect of SEO is link building, one that we’re looking at in detail below:

Backlinks Defined

What is a backlink?

A ‘backlink’ is a link that one website gets from another website. These are also called “inbound links” or “incoming links”. These types of links make a huge impact on a website’s visibility in search engine results. Thus they are considered to be very useful for enhancing a website’s SEO ranking.

The internet is essentially a massive network of interconnected computers, servers, and other devices. Websites link to websites that link to other websites. According to Moz, a link coming from another website to your website is known as a backlink, inbound link, or incoming link.

Silent Votes Of Confidence

When a website decides, for whatever reason, to add a link to another website – it’s essentially giving the website a vote of confidence. The company is saying that they trust the other website enough that they’re willing to associate with it and send its own website visitors to it.

Link Value Differences

Now not all inbound links have the same value, just like not all websites are created equally. There are differences in the quality of links, because Google and other search engines’ algorithms assign different quality scores to websites, depending on the quality of their content. For example, a link from the World Health Organisation website is a million times more valuable than a link from the corner shop’s website.

Ways To Attract Links

A common approach to link building is of a reciprocal nature. I’ll link to your website if you link to mine. This is often executed through guest blogging initiatives or listing suppliers and clients (with links to their websites) on a site.

Most digital marketers push for an earned approach to link-building initiatives, where a brand focuses on producing the best content possible – with the hope that people will want to link to the content simply because of its excellence.

Another approach to successful link building is the use of paid online advertorials, where you’re essentially buying a link from a reputable, high-traffic media website. This would be considered by many in the SEO world to be “grey hat”, which is not necessarily against a search engine’s policies, but rather is seen as somewhat of a cheat in the quest for high-quality inbound links.

Best Practices for Backlinks

Backlinks should be natural. What this means is that a website must not make use of artificial ways in order to create backlinks for their own websites. The quality of links is far more important than the quantity of them.

A natural link is one that happens organically. This is not clearly seen as being arranged by your company.

Natural links:

  • Don’t have tracking parameters attached to them
  • Are not within sponsored or paid content
  • Don’t redirect through JavaScripts or any sort of monetisation tools.

A natural link is a reference to a piece of content, website or source.

On the other hand, an unnatural link is paid for. In addition, it can be placed and tracked by PR firms and media buyers. These links can also be monetised through affiliate programmes, CPC campaigns, influencers or monetisation scripts.

If unnatural links are ‘do follow’ links they can potentially lead to Google taking a manual action on your site. Alternatively, you could get hit by Penguin as these are not earned/natural.

How to Get Backlinks to Your Site

Establishing a solid number of backlinks is a bit more difficult than paying a few other site owners to link back to one of your pages. This practice is also a black hat SEO technique which will get your site penalised. However, by following these strategies, it’s completely possible to put together a backlink profile which will assist you with improving your rankings and having a lasting, positive impact on your visibility in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).

Guest posting

The practice of “guest posting” is deals with contributing free content to another website or blog in exchange for a backlink to your own site. These links can either be put in the author bio section or used to cite information within the body of the post.

Public relations

In the context of link building, public relations (PR) refers to the practice of making use of the same ways to get backlinks which you may use in order to get press. One of the greatest ways to do this is to get quoted as a source in a news article or other online content.

Broken link building

The strategy of broken link building involves:

  • Finding broken links on other websites,
  • Identifying the content they originally referred to, and
  • Then giving the site the opportunity to replace their broken link with a working link to content that is relevant which is on your site.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

Are you South Africa’s next search engine optimisation fundi? Consider it to be a challenge to see how high you can get a website’s pages to rank on Google’s search results? Gain the skills and know-how needed to optimise a website for maximum SERP ranking potential, with an SEO and Web Analytics course from DSM!

DSM Digital School of Marketing SEO and Web Analytics course registration