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Backlink Importance: How Links Benefit Your Website SEO (and Performance)

Introduction

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You may be asking yourself: What are backlinks? How are they affecting your website? How to acquire them? Well, a deep understanding of backlink importance is key to optimizing your site’s performance.

In this article, we will explore what backlinks are, how to obtain them, and why they are important.

You’ll also learn about specific methods for acquiring backlinks and investigating the differences between high-quality and toxic backlinks.

By the time you have finished reading this article, you too will be a backlink wiz, ready to take on the digital marketing stratosphere.

What are Backlinks?

In a nutshell, backlinks in SEO are links that connect one website to another. A backlink can also be called an “incoming link”, “one-way link”, or “inbound link”, though the most frequently used term is backlink. 

The backlink is placed within the content of one website through an anchor text. This anchor text consists of words that provide a link to the second website.

Site visitors from the first website can click on this text to access the second website.

Anchor text

Backlinks are a key factor in Google search engine analytics. There are various backlink benefits as they are one of the most recognizable Google ranking signals. They provide Google with a matrix for determining how trustworthy, authoritative, and high-quality a website’s content is. 

Establishing your website’s authority through building up backlinks is not just a matter of quantity, however.

You will need to have the right kind of backlinks in order to prove the value of your site- and that means acquiring high authority backlinks through white hat link-building methods. We will explore this more in a later section. 

Types Of Backlinks

There is a broad range of types of backlinks available out there— but not all of them will provide value for your site. However, most experts agree on two types—high-authority and toxic backlinks. Let’s explore them in more detail.  

High Authority Backlinks

Their name stems from the fact they come from high-authority websites, and they always provide value to the sites they’re linking to.

High DR website

The best ways to engage in quality backlinking for SEO are:

  • Guest post backlinks – are acquired by contributing content to another website in exchange for a link back to your own site within the guest post.
  • Editorial backlinks – are earned when a website’s editorial team chooses to link to your content as a valuable and relevant resource.
  • Acknowledgement backlinks – are mentions of your brand or content on another site, recognizing your contribution.
  • Helpful resource backlinks – are gained when other websites find your content valuable and link to it as a helpful resource for their audience.
  • Digital PR backlinks – result from strategic outreach and collaborations with influencers, journalists, or media outlets to gain links and exposure for your brand or content.

Toxic Backlinks

On the other hand, toxic backlinks have a completely opposite effect on your website. Instead of boosting your search engine visibility, they actively degrade it.

Toxic Backlink Chart

Although paid backlinks can be incredibly useful, they must be approached with care.

Thus, toxic backlinks include the following: 

  • Paid backlinks on link farms 
  • Forum backlinks on low-quality sites
  • Directory backlinks on irrelevant sites
  • Private Blog Network (PBN) backlinks

How Important are Backlinks?

The short answer? Very. 

Backlinks can provide a significant boost to your brand’s SEO since they prove to Google’s algorithms that your site is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy.

Backlinks benefits are that they also indicate that your site offers quality, original, engaging content that provides real value for readers- which will help boost your SEO presence in return. Search engines want to promote sites that offer genuinely valuable and engaging content. 

Backlink Importance in SEO

Google’s search engine analytics measures metrics such as DA and DR to determine the authority and trustworthiness of a website. 

DA is determined by Moz, and it stands for Domain Authority. DR, which stands for Domain Rating, is an SEO ranking determined by Ahrefs. It is one of the most important ranking factors in SEO. It assesses how likely it is that your website will rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Based on a number of factors, the DA and DR provide your site with a numerical ranking out of 100. 

This site ranks your site based on how strong your site’s backlink profile is, giving it a rating from 0 to 100. Google and other search engines use these ranking factors in SEO. 

With quality website links, your site can gain higher DA and DR ratings, and thus rise in the search engine result rankings based on Google’s assessment criteria.

This helps boost your site’s SEO because the more trustworthy and authoritative your website is, the higher in the SERPs will it be placed. 

Because these backlink benefits for SEO, backlinking is an essential strategy and should comprise a large part of every marketing plan. 

Importance of Quality Backlinks

A quality backlink is extremely valuable in building up your website’s online reputation. When another site has high authority and includes a mention of your site within its content, they are unofficially endorsing and supporting your site.

A backlink placement in a high authority site not only expands your reader base and reach but also reveals that your website is the place to delve deeper into a particular subject.

These high-authority backlinks can be difficult to acquire, as there is a high demand for link placements within high-authority content on reputable websites.

However, if you can land high-quality backlinks on high-authority sites, it can expand your SEO presence by a huge amount. 

Sites such as Forbes, Business Insider, the NY Times online, The Spruce, or Refinery29 receive thousands of visitors daily, so landing a backlink on one of these sites can amplify your link-building efforts.

Plus, a link placement in one of these sites will provide a huge recommendation for Google and other search engines to take note of, helping your site to rise in the rankings at lightning speed. 

Backlink Benefits

The benefits of backlinks are that they provide your site with enhanced credibility, authority, and trustworthiness. This makes a compelling case for search engines to boost your site’s content, landing your pages higher in SERPs. 

When your site shows up higher in the search engine results, your content will reach broader audiences. This expanded readership will consist of relevant target audiences who are already interested in your site’s niche area of expertise.

Benefits of Backlinks

Since these audiences are already primed to delve into the type of content your site has to offer, this boost in SEO will drive more organic traffic to your site.

And that’s what we call the “snowball effect” — with more organic traffic and an interested, relevant niche target audience, your site will receive not only more traffic and more natural website links but also more purchases. 

PRO TIP: Having well-written, high-quality content on your site that is positioned well on Google can attract other people to link to it, creating even more backlinks

So building up a robust portfolio of quality backlinks through white label link building methods will ultimately expand your site’s reach, attract new customers, and drive both traffic and profits for your brand’s website. 

Potential Drawbacks and Downsides of Backlinking

As we mentioned above, there are plenty of benefits of backlinks. But you have to approach the link-building process with the right strategies in mind. This means avoiding shady and grey-area approaches to link building.

These are called “black hat” link-building methods, and they contrast sharply with white-label link-building approaches.

Good Backlinks vs. Bad Backlinks

The most common blackhat technique for backlinks is, of course, link farms. Put simply, these are sites whose only purpose is to sell link placements.

Private blog networks, on the other hand, seem much more legitimate, but often serve to drive traffic to a single target site, often owned by the same people. 

Likewise, you should watch out for any site that has a habit of ‘link stuffing’ — putting as many links onto a page as possible. Although this might seem like an easy placement, there’s a reason why it’s so easy.

So if you’ve noticed so many sites having strict backlinks, it’s not because their goal is to reject people. On the contrary, they know the benefits of quality backlinks and are thus picky and don’t want to ruin their own DA or DR. 

Proven Link Building Methods

There are a number of tried and tested link-building methods that offer genuine value to both your site and the sites that are linking to you.

These white hat link-building methods generate an exchange of quality content that supports both sites and offers real, tangible value to site visitors and readers. 

1. Editorial Link Building

Editorial link-building relies on the power of your content to provide a helpful resource that site editors and content creators will want to link to of their own accord.

Take the time to do some research so you can find which are the most cited articles and types of content in your field.

Using that information, you can craft well-researched, high-authority content with attractive graphics and engaging visuals that address a specific topic in-depth. 

Try to create evergreen content that offers a uniquely in-depth perspective on a particular subject. A site full of statistics can be easily referenced by any number of different content creators, for example.

Also, you can whip up some long-form content (over 5,000 words) that reveals the depth of your knowledge on the subject at hand. 

Use clear headings and sub-headings so that content creators can easily locate the relevant information they are seeking. Then they will begin to link back to your content even long after you have stopped promoting that article or page. 

This type of helpful evergreen resource can take a lot of time to create, but once you have posted it, it will continue to bring backlinks to your site for the foreseeable future. That makes it an important weapon in your backlink-building arsenal. 

2. Digital PR Link Building

A digital PR link-building campaign encompasses outreach to a number of different digital media outlets, including online publications, reputable blogs, highly regarded social media presences, and other digital media content creators.

For a digital PR link-building strategy, you will reach out to highly reputable news sources online and offer a valuable resource that they might like to link to.

Bluetree digital pr link building

These resources can include different types of content, such as:

  • News updates serve as powerful PR link-building tools by disseminating noteworthy company developments or industry announcements, attracting backlinks from credible news sources.
  • Instructional videos offer an engaging medium for sharing industry-related knowledge, often prompting other websites to link to these valuable resources.
  • Charts and infographics, presenting data in visually appealing formats, become sought-after content, encouraging websites to link back for supporting information.
  • Bespoke illustrations, uniquely crafted to convey specific concepts or ideas, often entice other websites to link when seeking relevant and distinctive visual content.

Likewise, digital PR backlinks provide a lot of value for your site, since they directly link you with sites that already have a high reputation and ample credibility. Being associated with these sites can help encourage Google to boost your SEO presence. 

For digital PR link building, you will need to establish a network of contacts from across the digital media landscape.

Once you have established this database and created good relationships with various site editors and content creators, you may be able to provide multiple resources for new articles on their sites in the future. 

3. Benefits of Guest Posting

Guest posting is one of the most commonly known methods of link building, and the truth is, it works. To utilize this strategy, you need to find sites that offer content that is relevant to your readers and potential customers.

Then, reach out to them individually, with a personalized email in which you offer to write a guest post for their site on a particular topic. You can suggest several topics that you think could be a good fit and let them choose which one appeals to them most.

Guest Post Example

If you are successful, then the site will publish your article on their blog or content page, citing you as the guest contributor. The key here is to include a natural-sounding backlink placed thoughtfully within the content of the article.

Use anchor text that fits with the article, and doesn’t sound forced, overly promotional, or spammy. Be careful about this, as the anchor text meaning is important to a lot of sites, many of whom will outright reject your post if you make a mistake. 

You can pursue guest posting on your own, choosing to promote your own site this way, or hire a digital marketing team comprised of SEO experts, such as Blue Tree, that offers blogger outreach services.

This can save you a lot of time, as our experts research relevant sites, follow up on email outreach, and create original content for the guest post. 

4. HARO

HARO, which stands for “Help A Reporter Out”, is an online platform that connects journalists and reporters with content creators who can provide sources for the journalist’s current articles and research projects.

HARO mail example

Through the platform, journalists can post entries stating what information they are seeking and what types of resources they may need.

If your site includes content that could provide a helpful resource in a relevant subject area, then you can offer your site’s content to be included as a source in the reporter’s article.

This method can result in some extremely high-profile backlink placements that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, such as CNN, NPR, CNBC, and other major publications. 

So you are helping to provide information a reporter needs, and in return, you get a significant boost to your site’s authority and reputation. 

5. High-Quality Link Exchanges

While you have to be cautious when considering link exchanges, there are some types of link exchanges that can provide genuine value for your site. You should absolutely avoid spammy link farms, as we discussed above.

High quality Backlinks

But if you carefully review a website and determine that it seems truly legitimate and credible, then offering a link exchange can create a helpful addition to both of your backlink portfolios. 

Do You Really Need Backlinks?

To sum it all up in one word: yes. Yes, you do really need them, and backlink importance can’t be understated. Backlinks form an important part of your overall marketing and expansion strategy. 

With the right kinds of backlinks in the right kinds of places, a diverse link portfolio will allow your site to rise in the rankings.

However, you should always be aware of the fact that SEO and link-building are long-term strategies, and often require the input of experts. Be patient, track the metrics, and be wise about your link choices. Good luck.

Author picture
James Sheldon

Where passion meets profession: James Sheldon's insights on link-building are a testament to years of dedication and learning.

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