What are backlinks in SEO? (and how do I build them?)

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SEO Link Building for Beginners

Small businesses that do not have experience with SEO or digital marketing, should pay close attention to the following content!

Building quality backlinks is a crucial element of SEO for any business or organization that wants to build its brand credibility and increase its website traffic. So, essentially, any business that is serious about its growth should concentrate on building its backlink profile.

Link building is a key element of any digital marketing strategy, yet many small businesses that are dipping their toes into the online realm will neglect it.

Businesses cannot afford to ignore such an effective element of search engine optimization and should ensure they put time and resources into building a link profile.

Another fantastic reason to focus on link building is that it is an inexpensive way for any business to grow its online presence.

Popular and safe methods of building links to your site require no financial investment.

Your business should dedicate time for you to reach out to an authority site or domain, perhaps write a guest blog post or two, or utilize blog comments and forum posts.

There’s no excuse not to implement link building within your SEO strategy.

The only thing holding you back is potentially your limited knowledge on exactly what backlinks are, both external and internal links, and more importantly, how to obtain them.

Read on to learn our top tips for building backlinks to your site, and the benefits this could have for your business.

What Are Backlinks?

At this point, you’re probably intrigued, and hopefully asking yourself, “What are backlinks?”.

Before diving into the process of how to go about creating incoming links, let’s define exactly what they are first.

A backlink, also known as a hyperlink, incoming link, or inbound link, refers to any link which directs users from one webpage to another.

Meaning, if a website links to yours, you gain a backlink from them. If you link to another website, then they gain a backlink from you.

Google Search and other search engines consider these links as “votes”, for a specific webpage.

Backlinks are considered by Google when determining your website’s page rank within the search engine.

Websites with a higher number of backlinks are more likely to have higher organic search engine rankings and visibility.

When another website, especially one with domain authority, creates external links to your website, it is essentially telling Google that your website has useful information relevant to its users, and users will likely want to see your content appearing in search results.

Google is all about improving user experience, and rewarding websites that provide great content their users will love. By building your backlink portfolio, you are telling Google’s search engine algorithm that you have high-quality content to offer, and increasing your SEO value.

Why Does My Business Need Backlinks?

So, why are backlinks important? Well, given how saturated the internet is these days, Google needs some way of determining what web pages are actually producing quality content.

To make this determination, Google relies on other sites with domain authority, that they trust and place value in, to tell them where to look next.

Your goal should be to become a website that Google trusts, and in order to do this, you need to gain links from websites that have already built up their reputation with Google.

So, what rewards can you expect if you put time and resources into building backlinks?

Increase SERP Ranking

Any effective link-building strategy will help you to obtain a better search engine ranking.

Inbound links pointing back to your web pages from other quality websites act as a kind of ‘social proof’, alerting Google that your site has quality content that deserves to be pushed up in rankings.

By improving your rankings within search engines, you can ensure that not only do your linked pages receive traffic, but you are increasing your chances of gaining organic traffic from search engine results pages.

Search Engine Accessibility

Backlinks pointing to your web pages also allow search engines to discover your website and content much faster.

When quality sites link back to your content, or when you obtain a guest post on a popular site, this gives web crawler bots a path to discover your website.

It is only when your site has been discovered by these bots that it can be indexed.

Ensuring your site is indexed is the key to your online success within search engines. When your site is indexed, this means your site will be visible to users searching for content within your niche.

Search engine crawlers visit and update their data about websites much more frequently when it is a site that has proven itself to be credible and trustworthy, and is popular with users.

They glean this data from website copy like anchor text and other metadata.

When other websites publicize your webpage through DoFollow links, your website has a chance of being visited by web crawlers on a much more frequent basis.

Increased Website Traffic

Another reason your business should focus on building your site’s link profile is you will massively increase your website traffic.

When one website links to another, this link is clickable by users reading and interacting with website content.

On sites with credibility and popularity, users won’t hesitate to click through if it’s a subject they are interested in or want to learn more about.

By submitting a guest posting or guest blogging on relevant sites, you are essentially ‘piggybacking’ on the reputation of a reputable source.

Major search engines place great stock in outbound links posted by sites they trust.

What Are the Benefits of Building a Quality Backlink Portfolio?

The benefits of taking the time to build backlinks are numerous, and we’ve listed some more below if you still need convincing!

Increased Brand Awareness

External links which direct potential customers to your site, increase consumer awareness of your brand, product, or service.

Building brand awareness amongst your potential customer base is a key goal in any digital marketing initiative.

For small and medium businesses trying to stake their claim in an oversaturated market, simply making your potential customers aware of your presence can prove a difficult task.

By utilizing the reputation of competitors or trusted domains, and obtaining quality links, you are giving yourself the best chance of appearing in search engine results to your potential customers and making them brand aware.

Build Consumer Trust

By obtaining quality links from popular competitors, you are ensuring that you get off on a great foot with your potential customers, and making them aware that they can trust you and your services.

You are building a trustworthy and credible reputation with your potential customer base before they even have an interaction with your brand.

When your brand name is endorsed by competitors’ backlinks, who are already trusted by customers, you ensure your brand name is synonymous with reliability.

This is the kind of reputation all brands strive for and can make or break your conversions.

Obtaining website backlinks from quality sources is a great way for small businesses to start building that reputation, without the need to use paid methods of advertising or marketing.

Referral Traffic

An effective link-building strategy can prove to be a great source of consistent referral traffic to your site.

Users who read and engage with content from a popular site within your niche may very likely click through to your webpage if it is linked by that same website that they know and trust.

Referral traffic won’t always result in instant conversions, but it will get your brand in front of the people most likely to be interested in it.

When a popular website links to another site within the same industry, the referral traffic resulting is considered ‘targeted’, and will likely benefit your business in the long run.

Faster Indexing

The Google search crawlers can follow the backlinks to your site when they crawl a popular webpage.

You should ensure that the backlink is directing traffic to the same webpage which is most relevant to the content.

For example, it may be seen as a red flag to search crawlers if the backlink content is not relevant to the referring domain.

Once Google has had a chance to visit your site and ‘crawl’ your content, it can make a decision on who it should show your content to, and in what ranking.

What Makes a High-Quality Backlink?

Before you can focus on building valuable backlinks to your website, you should ensure that the content you are creating is actually worthy of a link in the first place!

If you already have some great content on your site, take a look at your top linked pages. Which content of yours has proved most popular? What elements of this content have encouraged people to engage with it?

Use this existing content to model new blog posts or articles and to ensure the anchor text used is inviting to people who may click through to your content. Another key point that will encourage websites to create inbound links to your site is, as always, to ensure your content is unique and interesting.

There are also a few top tips you can follow to ensure the links you are putting in the effort to obtain, are actually going to benefit your site.

Domain Authority

When obtaining a backlink from another website, you should ideally ensure this website has higher domain authority than your own site.

Search engines rank web pages based on many factors, which include their relevance and popularity. Search engines use their algorithm to determine the rankings of sites for a particular keyword.

Sites that search engines determine more likely to appear in search results pages are considered to have a higher domain authority.

If you have a lot of backlinks that originate from low-quality or low-domain authority websites, this may appear as a red flag to Google.

Even one website with great domain authority linking to your website can provide great benefits to your business.


Another key aspect of effective link building is ensuring that the websites you are obtaining backlinks from are relevant to your webpage’s topic.

The backlink should refer to the specific page that has relevance to the content being written about. Google will pick up on it if you are obtaining links that are not relevant to your industry.

Anchor text is the text used for backlinks and can encourage people to click through. The anchor text used to link to your website should also be very relevant to the topic being written about and should follow Google’s guidelines to ensure you don’t earn yourself a penalty.

You should also ensure that the anchor text used to link your webpage is relevant to the content you are writing about.

Keyword-rich anchor text is another way of optimizing your backlinks, as long as the keywords are relevant to your content.

Link Placement

The placement of backlinks also has an impact on their effectiveness.

The best placement for links tends to be in the upper body of the core content, surrounded by high-quality, relevant body text.

This gives you the best chance of being discovered by Google crawlers, as they will almost always crawl this section of content. You may be able to request from a site owner with who you have a relationship if they can place your backlinks here.

This is the sweet spot!

A less than desirable link placement area would be considered to be in the footer or sidebar of a website. These places tend to be overloaded with links, and yours will likely get lost among the other content.

Some other sites that do this are for example news sites, which use backlinks in the footer and sidebar. Don’t be too quick to dismiss these, as they get a great deal of traffic and may still have a positive effect on your website.

How Do I Obtain High-Quality Backlinks?

Hopefully, you’re no longer thinking, “What are backlinks?!”, and you’re now wondering; “Wow, this sounds great! How do I do it?”.

There are a few different methods to building a backlink profile. We’ll tell you how to go about it, and which methods are going to ensure you stay in Google’s good graces.

Google Search Console can also provide you with valuable information and data regarding your backlinks, like your top linked pages and sites.

Three Methods to Getting Backlinks

Some methods of obtaining backlinks are looked upon more favorably than others by Google.

You should always ensure that you follow all Google Webmaster guidelines, to give yourself the best chance of succeeding with your search engine optimization.

Organic Backlinks

Organic links to your site may be considered the ‘gold standard’ of backlinks. They are also known as natural backlinks. These backlinks are considered ‘earned’ links.

Natural backlinks have been placed by a webmaster or site owner on their webpage when they feel that particular link will be useful for their audience and provide value to their content.

These are the type of backlinks that Google particularly likes because they are focused on improving the user experience.

These links, when they point back to your website, will give you link equity (also known as ‘link juice’).

This means that if a website with good domain authority links back to your site, they will pass some of this authority and value to your webpage, as they have essentially ‘voted’ for your content.

In order to obtain these links, you should ensure your content is of a very high standard and optimized for Google.

Creating Backlinks

Another method to building your backlink portfolio is to create links pointing back to your website yourself.

This could be done by entering your site into web directories, which are a great method of improving your local SEO.

A directory is considered a site like TripAdvisor or YelpThis is a white hat SEO method and a genuine way of building backlinks.

Make sure your top linking sites are relevant to your niche and industry, so as not to raise a red flag with Google. Following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines should ensure you are not steered wrong.

‘Nofollow links’, such as those in blog post comments or on forums, are not necessarily the best way to create backlinks but may build on your brand awareness.

Outreach Backlinks

A final method of creating backlinks is by using the outreach method.

This is a method utilized by many businesses and websites to gain links and does not require you to have a huge back catalog of great content that people are naturally linking to.

When reaching out to popular websites and enquiring about sharing your content or an offer to write guest posts, you may be turned down. These site owners likely get hundreds of backlink requests.

However, if your content is truly beneficial and you feel it would improve the experience of their users, don’t be afraid to share it with them.

You can ask to write guest posts or blogs related to their niche and content, and ensure it is of a high standard.

A guest post on a popular blog can be a fantastic resource of referral traffic and a great way to build brand awareness.

You can also utilize the presence of broken links on a popular website. Broken link building is a method of adding to your backlink portfolio, by reaching out to a popular website in your industry to alert them of a 404 broken link, and offering them content to replace it with.

This is a white hat link-building method.


We hope this article has built on your knowledge of link building, and how it can benefit your website.

The key point to consider is that backlinks can be a great source of traffic and increased brand awareness, as long as it is done correctly.

Steer clear of ‘black hat methods’, like paying for backlinks on spam websites. The best way to go is, as always, to consider the user experience first.

Have you utilized link building within your website? Has it benefited you?

FAQs about using backlinks in SEO

A backlink is when another website (not your own) has included a link to a page on your website.This could be that they have mentioned your brand name, or referenced a piece of content that you created previoulsy.

The most common example of a backlink is when somebody has highlighted a piece of text that then leads to your website. This highlighted text that a user can click is known as ‘anchor text’.

Backlinks bring more traffic to your website as when a user clicks the link to your website, you are now being referred organic traffic from another website. This is also known as ‘referral traffic’.

There are several ways to create backlinks, but the one method that Google’s guidelines would recommend most, is to earn them naturally, meaning that your content is interesting enough that others want to link to it naturally.

Start your journey to a website that improves your bottom line.

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