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What are backlinks? Definition and how to get them (2024)

Backlinks are links connecting two websites. For example, if blog X likes an article on your website, it can link to it as a source when writing content on a similar topic. That’s a backlink. They’re critical for SEO. They indicate to Google that your content is high quality.

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Backlinks are like votes. They endorse your page, making it more authoritative in Google’s eyes. So, it’ll rank higher. But each link has a different value. A high-value backlink can be worth more than several low-value ones. But what influences this value?

1. Authority

The higher the authority of the domain linking to you, the higher the value of its backlink. Search engines rank each domain’s authoritativeness based on several criteria, including:

  • Quality and relevance of its content
  • The number and quality of its backlinks
  • The website’s age and domain history
  • Its technical performance (page load speed and mobile-friendliness, for example)
  • User engagement metrics (for example, bounce rate and time on site)

For example, getting a backlink from the University of Oxford is much better than receiving one from dozens of recently launched websites that have built zero authority. 

2. Relatedness

A backlink will have more value if it comes from a website covering a similar niche to yours. For example, if you own a gaming blog and another website covering the same industry gives you a backlink, this similarity will boost the backlink, making its “vote” a bit stronger.

3. Uniqueness

It’s essential to have a diversified backlink portfolio. Getting a backlink from an authoritative domain is good, but the second “vote” from the same website won’t be as strong. The same goes for the third, fourth, and so on.

4. Using the right keyword

The anchor text is the highlighted part of the text that you can click to visit the linked page. The backlink becomes slightly more valuable if the anchor text includes your article’s primary keywords. See an example:

Primary keyword: “buy domain name”

Good anchor text: one.com has the best offers to buy a domain name.

Bad anchor text: one.com has the best offers to buy a domain name.

5. Dofollow

When linking to another website, you can use two types of links: dofollow and nofollow. Both take users to the correct page, but there’s a critical distinction between them. Search engines ignore nofollow links, so they have zero impact on SEO. You can use them when linking to:

  • Competitors
  • Comments
  • Press releases
  • Ads

Now that you know what backlinks are, why they matter, and how to rank them, it’s time to start getting some. You can produce content and wait for them to come to you, but you can also speed things up by following some best practices. 

It’s a competitive world. With so many websites online, the fight for high-quality links is fierce. So, it helps to understand the best practices for getting them.

1. Have quality content

Before you can expect people to use a backlink to “vote” for your content, you must ensure your website is worth voting for. That is, ensure your content is informative and authoritative. To do so, following some content writing best practices:

  1. Conduct market research
  2. Adapt your content to your audience
  3. Use plain language
  4. Add relevant keywords to your pages
  5. Structure your articles using headings and subheadings
  6. Use short paragraphs
  7. Write in the active voice
  8. Employ storytelling techniques to catch people’s attention 
  9. Proofread your content before publication
  10. Monitor your article’s performance with tools like Google Analytics and Search Console

Now that you’ve ensured that your content is top-notch, read what else you can do to make it more attractive to reputable online publications.

2. Create sharable content

In the competitive world of backlinks, you need to stand out. So, avoid limiting yourself to sharing existing information. Create new knowledge. You can do so in many ways, like surveying your audience for new insights.

For example, suppose you run a blog on recruitment. You can survey your readers on what annoys them the most in their offices. You can share these results through an article, hopefully containing interesting new insights.

Other blogs and even news websites may choose to report findings, giving your domain a solid influx of new authoritative backlinks. 

3. Create infographics

They communicate complicated ideas in a user-friendly way. Most importantly, if people believe they share valuable information, they may use your infographic in their content. They’ll likely link to your website as a source when they do so.

4. Reach out to attractive domains

Research your market. See which websites in your niche are highly authoritative and aren’t direct competitors. You can share your content with them, hoping they’ll like it and include it as a source in one of their articles.

5. Guest posting

Also known as guest blogging, it’s writing content for another blog. The goal is to put a link to yours in the article. In doing so, you’ll gain a backlink from the website for which you’re guest posting. But, before choosing this course of action, be an established expert in your field.

6. HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

Journalism can be chaotic. Sometimes, a journalist needs an expert quote but has no time to find an interviewee. HARO is the solution. It’s a tool that connects you to journalists. You’ll receive daily emails with reporters asking questions. 

Answer them, send your credentials, and get published if the news outlet is happy with the answers you provided. This way, you can get backlinks from reputable news networks. “Reputable” is a keyword to keep in mind. You don’t want to end up with a toxic backlink.

A toxic backlink hurts your website’s SEO performance. According to Google, these include “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

  1. From sites that exist only for backlinking
  2. Backlinks from unrelated sites
  3. Links from websites not indexed in Google
  4. Blog comments
  5. A website’s footer
  6. Links that exist on every page of a website

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