Occasionally it’s useful to revisit some of the most basic concepts in SEO, not only to see if things have changed, but to provide an updated guide which can be passed on to colleagues new to the field.
One of the many factors that Google uses to determine which pages to show in its search results is backlinks, also known as inbound links or external links from other websites. Here are some important things to know about backlinks and how they affect a website’s ranking.
- Backlinks transfer ‘value’ from one page to another, and the more value a page has, the better. This is why we should always be trying to get more backlinks – simply because they help to boost a linked page’s ranking in search results.
- Google has moved away from using the term PageRank and now uses terminology like “link value,” “trust,” and “authority.” This reflects the idea that backlinks infer trust and therefore transfer value from one page to another.
- However, not all backlinks are created equal. Google focuses on the quality of backlinks, such as whether they come from relevant and authoritative websites. In other words, if our website sells blue widgets and we get a backlink from a definitive reference site about widgets, that’s a high-quality link because it’s relevant to our website’s content.
- Conversely, if we get a backlink from a low-quality website or one that has nothing to do with our content, that link will not help our website’s ranking – and may even hurt it.
- In the past, website owners used “black-hat SEO” methods like buying links or using interlinking blog networks to boost a page’s ranking. However, Google has become very good at identifying these tactics and penalising websites that use them. It may be worth investigating if this is a problem for our sites.
- Link-building is an important component of SEO success, but it’s far from the only factor to consider. Ensuring high-quality content that accurately answers user intent, and a technically sound website are at least as important in ranking well in organic search. Machine learning has become more sophisticated, which means backlinks may become less significant than they were in the past. However, this does not mean that they are no longer important in determining your website’s ranking.
In summary, backlinks are an important factor in determining our web pages’ ranking in search results. However, it’s not enough to just get as many backlinks as possible – we need to focus on getting high-quality backlinks that are relevant to our content. But we should also make sure that our websites contain high-quality content and are technically sound.