The Business Owner’s Guide to Understanding Backlinks

Author: Garcia C.

Business owners worry about cash flow, balance sheets, revenues, and sales. They don’t know what ‘backlinks’ are and why backlinks are important.

However, if a business owner wants to grow his business online, they need to understand what backlinks are and how they work. In this post, we explain the following:

  • What are backlinks?
  • How do backlinks work?
  • Qualities and characteristics of a good backlink
  • Link building: quality vs. quantity?
  • And much more.

Let’s get started.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are simply “links” created by other websites that direct to your website. Backlinks usually serve two main purposes:

  • Whenever users click on a link, they are directed to your website.
  • Search engines like Google value backlinks and consider them a very important factor in ranking a website.Here is an example of a backlink.

  • How do backlinks work?

Search engines like Google notice these backlinks. They use backlinks as an important factor when deciding which website results should appear on the top of the search results pages. Google assumes that if other sites are creating backlinks to your website, it must be offering great value to users.

As a result, Google promotes your website to the top of search engines so more and more people can find your website and learn what you have to share. That’s the basic concept of how backlinks impact search engine rankings.

In summary, the right kind of backlinks usually works as a “vote of confidence” for search engines. If an authority website links to your site or piece of content, it implies that your content is helpful and valuable to people. And all this helps Google and other search engines understand out of thousands of contents, which one is actually offering the most value (hint: the one that is getting the most high-quality backlinks).

But what do we mean by “high-quality backlinks”?

Qualities and characteristics of a high-quality backlink

A good — or high-quality — backlink usually has the following qualities:

  • It comes from a website that has a better reputation in search engines than you. In other words, a higher domain authority (DA) and Page Rank (PR) than your website.
  • The backlink must come from a website that is directly relevant to your niche. For example, if your website is in the gardening niche, the backlink must not come from, say, an IT-related website. There is no connection between the two niches, and Google can see it.

Many SEO “experts” and link builders do not pay enough attention to the relevance of niche. However, it is an important factor that you must take into consideration. If your website has too many backlinks from irrelevant niches, Google may penalize you for it and drop your site’s search engine rankings. Therefore, it is important that most backlinks to your site come from relevant niches and sites.

The following chart shows the correlation between the number of websites with irrelevant backlinks and websites that were penalized by Google Penguin (an algorithm that helps Google understand which websites have low-quality backlinks and should be penalized).

You can do the math, right?

Websites with the most amount of irrelevant backlinks got penalized the most. On the other hand, websites with 100% relevant backlinks didn’t get any penalty at all.

Link building: quality vs. quantity?

The above study emphasizes the point that you should focus on quality backlinks, instead of sheer numbers. And this is true to some extent, but it doesn’t mean that you should ignore all other backlinks that aren’t of the highest quality.

To keep our discussion simple, here is something you need to understand.

“The total number of backlinks that your website has also plays a vital role.”

Recently, a study was done to find a relation between the total number of backlinks a website has and its search engine rankings.

Look at the following chart. What do you notice?

Websites with the most number of backlinks are ranked on Google’s 1st position. On the other hand, search engine rankings of websites start dropping as the number of backlinks start decreasing.

What does it mean?

It means that it matters how many backlinks a website has. While quality is still more important, you can’t just rely on 5 very high-quality backlinks and hope that you will overtake other websites that have, say, 3,000 backlinks.

You need a right balance between high-quality backlinks and the total number of backlinks.

And it leads us to a very important discussion.

You also need low-quality backlinks

Yes, we just said it.

It is a controversial statement (we know it), but it is also kind of true.

Let me explain.

Google doesn’t specifically focus on high-quality backlinks. Although it certainly helps to have strong backlinks from authority websites, what Google focuses more is on a natural backlink profile which represents links that are built organically — not artificially.

A natural backlink profile would, of course, have some good backlinks, some very good backlinks, and some low-quality backlinks as well. It’s all part of the parcel, and if you have the right mix, it appears more natural to Google — which is all that matters.

So, here is my point. You need a mix of good and some not-so-good backlinks for two reasons:

The bottom line

The bottom line is that backlinks are important. For Google, they are in the top 3 search engine ranking factors. And if you need to be ranked on Google’s first page, you do need lots of them.

However, the way you generate those backlinks is very important.

Here is a brief summary of what you should remember when it comes to link-building.

  • The most important thing for Google is that a website should have a natural backlink profile.
  • Google Penguin — a highly important Google algorithm — specifically penalizes websites that have a lot of backlinks coming from irrelevant websites. You need to generate most of your backlinks from relevant niches and same industries.
  • Recent studies have discovered a direct relation between a website’s search engine ranking position and its total number of backlinks.
  • High-quality backlinks matter the most and have the biggest impact on a website’s propulsion to top of search engines.
  • But you also need support from some average-quality backlinks to keep your link profile natural as well as to easily increase the number of total backlinks your website has.

What’s next?

Now you understand the basics of link-building and some nitty-gritty details as well. It’s time to start cracking.

Start building links to your website, but don’t forget the tips you’ve just learned. If you do not have enough experience with link-building and you’re scared of messing things up, contact us. We’re here to help you.

We are also offering affordable SEO services to small business owners like you that can help them beat their competitors in search engines.

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