What Are Backlinks and How Do I Use Them?


 11/04/2014 12:00 AM

If you’ve read even one article about search engine optimization (SEO), there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about something called a “backlink”. However, despite their prominence and importance in today’s SEO practices, they tend to be a mystery to many people. Once you know what backlinks are and how to utilize them, they can be one of the most powerful tools in your SEO tips arsenal.

What is a backlink?

Simply put, a backlink is a link to your website from another website. If popular enough, a single website can have hundreds – if not thousands – of backlinks coming from a wide variety of other websites from across the web. This comes with a multitude of benefits: links to your website generate more traffic and tell search engine crawlers – automated programs that evaluate websites for search engine ranking – that your website is popular. In modern SEO practices, popularity is very important, and popular websites are, as a result, more likely to receive a higher search engine rank.

Unfortunately, there’s more to increasing search engine ranking with backlinks than just posting links to your website across the web. If it were that easy, quantity of links would determine search engine ranking, presenting a number of problems. While quantity of backlinks is certainly an important factor, quality plays a much bigger role.

What makes a high quality backlink? A backlink’s quality is directly related to the quality of the website hosting it. As a result, backlinks from websites with poor rankings or bad reputations will have a minimal impact or, even worse, negatively affect your ranking.

How do I get and use backlinks?

Unless you’ve built a popular network of high-ranking websites that you can post links between, there are few instances where you’ll be able to create enough backlinks by yourself to raise your search engine ranking. It’s important to keep in mind that the best backlinks come from other websites; as a result, you’ll need to give other websites a reason to post a link to your website. Thankfully, there are a few effective strategies to do so:

  • Generate great content. In the majority of cases, people will share links because they’ve seen or read content that they like. While you might not be able to appeal to everyone, producing and maintaining high quality content on your website will make others more likely to share links to your page. The better and more popular your content becomes, the more backlinks you’re likely to get.
  • Utilize your social media accounts. Posting links to your website or new content on a variety of social media accounts not only gives you a few high quality backlinks to work with, but it may also encourage your followers to explore and share your content.
  • Make guest posts on blogs relating to your website’s message or brand. Making a guest post on a related blog often gives you the opportunity to post a link to your website, giving you a valuable backlink and an opportunity to generate more traffic.

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