Understanding what backlinks are and how they work

Quite simply, a backlink is a link from another website ‘back’ to your own. Sounds pretty simple, but there’s more to it than that when it comes to their impact on search engine optimisation.

Why backlinks can be great for SEO

Backlinks can be great for SEO, because they demonstrate to Google and other search engines, that your website is respected and contains content that others sites are interested in and linking to.

This is known ‘domain authority’ and Google measures DA when indexing websites.

As you acquire a backlink to your website, this will help Google to better understand your site and its content, therefore increasing its domain authority.

Respected backlinks are those which are relevant to your industry – for example, if your website is an online travel agency, respected backlinks will come from other sites such as:

  • Travel blogs;
  • Travel industry influencers;
  • Travel industry associations; or
  • Travel agent directories

Why backlinks can be very bad for SEO

Just as they can be great, backlinks can also spell disaster for your websites SEO performance.

If you don’t adopt the correct strategy for acquiring backlinks, or your SEO service provider uses negative SEO tactics, Google will penalise your site, which will affect your site ranking in search engines.

An example of a negative backlink strategy is the use of link farms. A link farm is a group of websites that link to other websites in that group for the purpose of increasing backlinks and therefore increasing search rankings.

This is now outlawed by Google and if your site contains these types of backlinks, then at best it will affect your SEO performance and at worst, your site could be de-indexed.

Suggested reading: Google linking guidelines

How to acquire respected backlinks

Building high-quality links back to your website is a long-term strategy.

Some of the things you can do to acquire high-quality backlinks include:

  • Writing guest blog posts for other websites;
  • Create content that other industry relevant sites may want to link to, such as curated content from your industry (such as a roundup of news), how-to guides, ‘Best of’ articles or interviews;
  • Appearing on podcasts; or
  • Connecting with industry influencers on social media

These are all things that you can do, which are FREE and will not result in you acquiring bad backlinks.

If you need any information on building backlinks, then please do get in touch.

Mike is a freelance WordPress specialist, with a passion for helping busy small business owners work smarter, not harder.