Today, we’re going to learn what are backlinks and why are they important, how you can check them for free, and how to get more backlinks to your site!
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are links from a page on one website to another. From the receiving end, these are often referred to as incoming links or inbound links. And from the linking side, they’re called external, outgoing or outbound links.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are important for three reasons. Firstly, it’s a factor that helps search engines determine which pages should rank the highest for a given query. Secondly, links to your website can send you more visitors through referral traffic. And lastly, backlinks can help search engines discover your page faster.
One easy way to conceptualise backlinks is to think of them as votes. When a page receives a backlink, it’s essentially another website vouching for the content on the page. And the more “votes” you get from credible sources, the higher the trust. However, not all backlinks are created equal!
What creates a good quality backlink?
At a basic level, there are two things that separate good quality backlinks from the not so great ones.
Google mentions this in their “reasonable surfer” model, which explains how the likeliness of a link being clicked relates to its importance. So let’s say that you have a web page on “How to Fold Origami.” If you were to categorise this topic, it would probably go under DIY, arts & crafts, or maybe even kids activities. Now, assuming this page has two backlinks, one from a tech blog and another from a kid’s activity blog. The latter would hold more weight as there’s higher topical relevance from the page and domain.
By “authority,” it’s referring to the quality and quantity of backlinks from the referring websites and pages. Google places a score on this called “PageRank.” But since these numbers aren’t publicly available, there are third party tools that uses proprietary metrics like Domain Rating, which represents the overall strength of a website’s link popularity, and URL rating, which represents the overall strength of a page’s link popularity.
So let’s say your origami article got a link from the New York Times. This website is highly authoritative with a domain rating of 95. And let’s say it got another link from travel blog GeekyExplorer, which has a domain ranking of 25. Based on this, it’s fair to say that the New York Times is a more authoritative domain. Assuming topical relevance and everything else were equal, a link from the New York Times would hold more weight than the other one.
But what if we throw in a little twist? Let’s say that the page from GeekyExplorer linking to you had collected hundreds of links from reputable sources, while the article from New York Times had only collected a few or maybe even zero backlinks. Then the page-level authority of the GeekyExplorer page would likely be higher, potentially giving it an edge over the New York Times link. So with all that, as you’re looking to get backlinks, ideally you’ll want to get them from both topically relevant and authoritative pages to reap maximum benefits.
How to check backlinks to your own site?
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is completely free, and it allows you to see your pages that have gotten the most links, the websites that have linked to your site, as well as the link texts that are most frequently used (otherwise known as anchor text). You can also see the actual web pages that are linking to you. In short, this tool enables you to monitor and maintain your site’s presence, and it can also help fix any indexing problems.
Free Backlink Checker by Ahrefs
The Ahrefs Backlink Checker is touted to be one of the strongest backlink tools with an extensive link index. You can try the free version of it and get a glimpse into its full abilities! Just enter the URL or domain that you want to examine and you’ll be able to see the top 100 backlinks linking to you. If you want the full backlink profile, you can use the Site Explorer, export the results or narrow in on data you want to see. You can also use Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker or Site Explorer to get actionable insights on your competitors!
Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer provides you with valuable data that helps you build better backlinks for your site. It’s a great backlink tool that enables you to gain more insights to build more efficient link building research. The basic options are free, however if you are interested in more advanced backlink data options you’ll need to pay for a subscription. That said, Moz Link Explorer will offer opportunities for you to do what you like with links, like work on link prospecting, fix broken links, discover new or lost links and even discover link building opportunities!
How do you get backlinks?
There are three methods to getting backlinks. These are to earn them, create them, and build them.
Earning links refers to natural organic growth. This is when people discover your pages through any medium like Google search, social media or word of mouth, and choose to link to your page.
Creating backlinks is when you add a link on another website that points to your site. This might be through forums, directories, blog comments, or some other method.
Finally are building links. And this is usually done through strategies collectively known as link building. You can build links by reaching out to other site owners, editors, or webmasters and ask them to link to your page.
As a general rule of thumb, the easier it is to get a link, the less valuable it will be. And when you’re new to SEO, you’ll want to focus on link building to really get traction for your site. Since people search for something and often read the number one result. That results in some of them linking to that page from their own website. And because of these new links, the top ranking page often stays at the top, creating something industry experts call “the vicious circle of SEO.”
We’ll have more articles coming on link building tactics, so make sure to stay tuned for those!