The A-to-Z of Backlinks for SEO in 2017
Backlinks are among the most important tools you’ll ever use to optimize your web presence.
Backlinks are the most important tool you’ll ever use to optimize your web presence. On the other hand, backlink and backlinking are words that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize yet. When you type the words out, it draws that wavy red line under them to tell you these words don’t exist in its dictionary.
The same can be said about most people starting out their businesses online. When they hear the word for the first time, they make up all sorts of definitions for it themselves.
So, we’ll begin with definitions and then give you all the crucial information you need to understand backlinks and what makes them so important. Once you’ve carefully read this article, you’ll be able to start working on your backlinking strategy with confidence.
To define the term, we looked it up in multiple variations on trusted online dictionaries, only to find most of them didn’t recognize the word either (You disappoint us, Merriam-Webster and Cambridge).
Don’t lose hope, though. Oxford dictionary defines the word backlink as follows:
“An incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website.”
Wikipedia also has a definition on its dedicated page for the word. It says:
“A backlink for a given web resource is a link from some other website (the referrer) to that web resource (the referent). A web resource may be (for example) a website, web page, or web directory.”
In simplest of words, a backlink “is any incoming link to a website from any other website,” which is how Technopedia defines it.
That should settle it. The term is fairly easy to understand: a website is referred on another website with a hyperlink so the reader can go to the linked page.
An even simpler way to recall what backlinks mean is to just remember these are links that lead back to your page.
Now, to understand why backlinks are so important, you need to know why the technique was ever needed. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the mix of strategies and activities that you adopt to rank higher on SERPs, or search engine results pages.
Ranking on top of the search results for important phrases and words people use for searches (keywords) on search engines – such as Google, Yahoo, or Baidu – is the ultimate purpose of SEO. The higher your website ranks the more visitors you can expect and the more visitors you get the higher number of them may convert and purchase your product or service (Note: there are a number of other factors that are important in converting a visitor).
That’s how the search economy works. Users look up keywords on a search engine, the search engine gives them a list of suggestions, and most users click on one of the three top suggestions.
The Hotel Metaphor
Consider this metaphor. When your flight lands in a new city, you ask the information desk at the airport to book you a hotel. They start giving you names without missing a beat. The first quality they tell you about the names they pick is these are quite close to the airport. You thank the desk attendant for their expert advice, take a list of a handful of names and addresses, and take a taxi to the first address.
Now, when you reach the hotel, you find it’s rather shabby. You don’t like what you see. So, you take a taxi and go to the second address on the list. It looks like a better place and you book a room for the night.
While you definitely understood the first part of the metaphor, the other bit can also be explained easily. You see, when a user visits the search engine suggestion on the very top, they might not like it for a number of reasons (It could have spelling mistakes, which would simply put off any decent user of the language. It could have a repulsive design. Et cetera). So, you hit the back button on your browser and then visit the second suggestion on the SERP list.
The Need for SEO
This is where the necessity for good SEO comes from. Once more and more users refuse to stay on that top suggestion for long, the search engine stops putting it on top, since its users don’t appear to like the result.
As these changes may occur time and again, there’s a constant need for all websites competing on that keyword to work on improving their visitors’ experience.
That’s what SEO is. A combination of all tactics you use to make your website rank higher on SERPs, which is to say you do what it takes to establish it as an authority and the search engine’s top choice for that keyword.
As you can see in the image above, SEO is complex and consists of a number of pertinent activities.
Back to Backlinks
Backlinking is one of the activities that you need to master if you’re ever going to survive your search competition and get to the top of your target keywords’ SERPs.
If you called backlinks the backbone of SEO, we wouldn’t really mind it. Why?
Well, because backlinks are a very important factor that search engines use for determining which of the search results are more relevant than others and should be suggested over their competition.
Let’s show you exactly how important backlinks are when it comes to getting high rankings in search results.
In a recent study of a million websites, Backlinko found backlinks are the strongest indicator of a website getting higher rank in Google’s SERPs (Note: Google currently holds around 80% of the global web search market).
As the image above shows, higher number of backlinks leads to higher Google ranks for your website.
In a Q/A session in March last year, Andrey Lipattsev, part of Google’s Search Quality team, explicitly said number of backlinks is the biggest factor for Google’s ranking algorithm after your website’s content.
Why are backlinks so important? It’s quite simple once you get to think about it. Backlinks are referrals other websites are giving toward your website. These websites are smart enough to suggest other web pages only when the content there is good for their readers. If they point their readers to poor, useless content, they’ll lose their audience (and their own rank). So, just as search engine users’ number of visits to a website tells the search engine the website must be ranked higher, other websites linking to it also tells the search engine the content there must be good and so the website should be ranked higher.
What You Should Do Now
With what you now know about backlinks, you understand they are extremely important to succeed in search results. Here’s what you should do now:
- Write to us in the comments section if you have any questions about backlinks.
- Start working on your backlinking strategy today.
- Share this article with your friends.