What Are Backlinks? How to Boost Web Traffic

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By Dany Ortiz, on 30 March 2021

When it comes to SEO, backlinks are an essential pillar in improving your search page ranking. In fact, backlinks are considered one of the top 3 factors that can influence your SEO, according to Google. This fact alone means that if you’re at all serious about increasing your website’s position in SERPs then you need to focus on backlinks. In this post we’ll show you how to boost web traffic with backlinks. But first, what exactly are they, anyway?

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What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links that link to another page or website. They are also called ‘inbound links’ or ‘one way links’. Obviously these links allow pages to reference information or sources of information in their content, but they’re also vital to SEO as they are essentially votes for the popularity of that source of information.

For example, if I write an article about the best pizza place in Brooklyn and multiple sites link to my article in their content, that tells Google that my article is relevant and authoritative on that subject. This in turn means that Google will rank my page higher than others who are not linked to as often. The more backlinks, the higher your organic page rank.

While it’s important to increase your quantity of backlinks it’s more important to increase the quality of your backlinks. What does that mean? Instead of seeking out dozens or hundreds of backlinks from various sources, you want to focus on a few backlinks from sites that have what’s called ‘Domain Authority’. These types of sites are authorities on their subjects and hold a prominent place in their industry. Having TIME magazine link to you for example, is worth much more SEO juice than hundreds of small sites. Google trusts sites like these and sees them as more credible and of more value to users.

How to Build Backlinks

Aside from seeking quality backlinks from authoritative sites there are a handful of other tactics to consider when building your backlinks. We’ll discuss these methods as well as how to check your backlinks and others’ once they’re up and running.

Reach Out to Webmasters and Site Owners. This is straightforward networking. Find authoritative sites that are relevant to your topic and ask if they’ll consider linking to you. These could be sites that you already link to in your content, making it easy to ask for reciprocity. In general you’re looking for sites that have more domain authority than you. Make sure you have a solid value proposition by having “Linkable Assets”, or valuable content that people actually want to link to.

Seek Relevant Backlinks. This goes back to the idea of quality backlinks. If you sell men’s clothing it makes sense to get backlinks from relevant sources like sites that also target a male audience or are somewhat related. On the other hand, backlinks from sites about children’s toys, for example, aren’t at all relevant to men’s clothing. Google measures this relevance by how likely the user is to click on that link. Again, the content in question needs to be relevant to what it’s linking to.

Consider Backlink Placement. How prominent is your backlink? Obviously people click on more prominently placed links that are related to the content being discussed. If your link is lost among others or added to a footer or sidebar, you’re probably better off putting your time into other, better placed backlinks. Likewise, if the link is in the same color as the normal text or doesn’t have compelling anchor text, it probably isn’t being clicked on and thus is not helping your page rank.

Guest Blogging or Podcast Appearances. Instead of just asking sites to link to you, offer to write a post for them or appear on their podcast. This gives you the opportunity to include your own link(s) in their content and brings more attention to what you offer in general.

Broken Link Building. Search for authoritative relevant pages and begin checking their backlinks to see which ones are broken and then suggest your link as a working alternative. Webmasters might even appreciate your suggestion since you’re fixing a problem they might not have known existed. Try Ahref’s broken link checker or Dead Link Checker.

Include your link on social platforms. Make sure you include your important links on all your social media profiles and description sections wherever possible. These links can have a positive influence on your SEO. However, adding links to your social posts, does not. That’s because Google classifies links as being “dofollow” and “nofollow”, meaning they can influence page rank (dofollow) or they cannot (nofollow). This keeps spammy or irrelevant links from having any influence in SERP rankings. Social media posts, blog comments, press releases, social comments—all these are usually tagged “nofollow”.

Skyscraper Technique. Using a backlink tool, find pages that have been linked to many times and create an even better version of that content on your site. Now present your superior content to webmasters as an alternative link.

How to Check Backlinks

Getting other sites to link to you is one thing, but how do you check that those backlinks are actually working and influencing your page rank?

Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to view and analyze traffic data about your site and improve your performance in searches. This includes data about your backlinks. Once you’re signed up, you just need to click “Links”, then “External Links”. There you’ll find the most linked to pages on your site, the sites that link to you the most, and the anchor text used in those links. Google Search Console is a fantastic tool for checking your backlinks and gaining insights into how your site is performing in search queries.

Google Search Console is only for checking backlinks on your sites, however. To check backlinks for other sites, like your competitors’, you can use tools like Ahref’s free backlink checker.

Building backlinks is one of the most important tactics in any SEO strategy. Understanding how they work and putting in the effort to create quality backlinks should be one of your primary efforts for increasing page rankings. Try applying our suggestions and using the free tools mentioned to begin taking advantage of backlinks for your business.

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Dany Ortiz