link building

What are backlinks?

Backlinks to your site, otherwise known as inbound links or incoming links occurs when any website, web page, or web directory on the internet link to your site website. Basically, if another website links to your website, that’s a backlink and is central to the process of link building.

It works like this. First, you build a website. Hopefully you’ve created your website the right way by using the right structure and keywords so that your site is on the right path to being search engine optimized. If you use the right search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, you will come up high in search engine ranking.

The search engines use backlinks to rate how worthwhile or valuable your site is. This means that when someone goes into a search engine to look for something that your business offers, you will come up on the first page of the search engine results (rather than your competitor).

The Importance of Link Building

While the structure and keywords are important to keep in mind as you create and add to your website, the most important factor of good SEO for the rest of your website’s life is link building.


If you have many others linking to your site, that signifies to the search engines that you have a reputable site that is worth displaying high in the results. So you move up in rank.

However, be aware that not all backlinks are equal. While the quantity of the backlinks contributes to your ranking, it is also important to remember that a good quality backlink is far better than from a from sites that have nothing to do with your site. A good inbound link is a link from a website that is related to your niche. For instance, if you create a golf website, a good quality backlink will be from popular website in the golf niche.

The most important factor to tackle before you even start is the quality of your site. Make sure that your site looks professional and offers valuable information. It should also be user-friendly and easy to navigate. Make sure that you validate your HTML code and check to make sure that all of your site’s links are working.

The Anatomy of a Backlink

In order to understand the importance of link building, it’s important to first understand the basics of how a link is created, how the search engines see links, and what they can interpret from them.

Link URL
Infographic – MOZ

HTML Link Tags – tells search engines that a link to something else is about to follow. The “href” stands for “hyperlink referral”.

URL – indicates the location to which the link is pointing to. This doesn’t always have to be a web page; it could be the address of an image or a file to download.

Link Title – contains text representing advisory information related to the link and is most often shown as a tooltip text when the mouse moves over the link.

Anchor text – this is the little bit of text that users see on the page, and on which they need to click if they want to open the link. The text is usually formatted in some way to make it stand out from the text that surrounds it, often with blue color and/or underlining, signaling to users that it is a clickable link.

There is an attribute that can sometimes be applied to links called the “nofollow” attribute. If added, you will not notice any difference if you’re a user. But, if you look at the code of the link, it will look slightly different:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text

The nofollow tag is basically a notice sign to tell Google not to pass PageRank (link juice) across this link to the target URL. Effectively, you’re telling Google not to trust this link and to discount it from consideration. Therefore, the target URL will not rank any better.

The main reason a site might use nofollow relates to scenarios in which that site lacks control over the links that are added to its pages. You might find yourself wondering when to use the no follow attribute and when to allow for do follow links. No follow links primarily belong in:

  • Paid links (e.g advertising banner on a website which links to you, press releases and advertorials)
  • Comments
  • Forums
  • Anything involving what Google calls “untrusted content”

WordPress automatically assigns the no follow link attribute to all user-submitted links, and Wikipedia does the same for its reference section. Some website allow the follow attribute as a reward for blog commenters who are contributing to the blogging community or online discussion, but that’s up to individual websites discretion.

Just because the page rank is not transferred in a nofollow link, does not mean it is worthless. A well-placed blog comment or a relevant forum post, no follow or not, can send a huge amount of traffic to your site, which then can funnel down to leads and conversions. Besides, search engines today are looking at a lot of factors outside of link juice and PageRank.

Social signals like those from Twitter and Facebook are increasingly valuable, despite being no follow. The key is to build your brand. Don’t think of what links are good for SEO, but instead think what links are good for your business, your brand, and what links can help establish you as an industry authority. Remember that links, no follow or not, build trust.

Keep in mind that the highest quality links are those that are connected by a keyword or keyword phrase, not links that go from another site straight to your simple domain name. So, for example, if someone links from his site to your site, this counts for something. But not as much if the same person links the text “red apples” from an article in his site to your article on red apples within your site.

How To Do Link Building

1. Offer Top-Notch Quality Content On Your Website

First of all, before you even put your link building strategy into place, you want to make sure you are offering top-notch quality and information on your site. This is the foundation that holds it all together. Make sure that your site looks professional and offers valuable information. Interesting and informative content will bring more links to your website naturally, without you having to go out searching for them. And quality includes being grammatically correct as well.

One of the easiest ways to diminish your credibility is to fill up your site with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. If you aren’t all that brushed up on your grammar, get the help of someone who is.

2. List Your Site In Trustworthy Directories

Directory Submission is another one of the easier link building basics. Many online directories provide no real value to Internet users, and Google has excluded them from its search results. You don’t want your website to be listed on such directories. A directory that gives you the chance to post a link to your website and provides useful information for your potential customers is a directory you want to be listed on.

Niche directories and directories attached to informative websites for a specific industry are a good choice. Having your business listed with such directories makes it easier to get indexed in the major search engines and helps people find you online.

3. Guest Post On Another Website or Blog

“Guest posting” is the practice of contributing free content to another website or blog in exchange for a link back to your site. There are many websites and blogs that will accept to publish your article. It’s important that you build links that help your website and not links that can negatively impact your website’s ranking in search results. You must be selective of where you publish content and must ensure that :

  • the website or blog is relevant to your topic;
  • the article is NOT about how great you are/ your company is;
  • you have a focus on quality (well written, professional, and interesting);

An entry in these authoritative websites or blogs will soon see more and more people linking back to your website.

4. Build Internal Links

An internal link is any link from one page on your website to another page on your website and is the easiest way to gain backlinks. There are several types of internal links. Links on your homepage and menu help establish information hierarchy of the website. You can also add contextual links within your content to point your users to interesting and related content on another page. This ensures a longer dwell time on your website and increased user engagement.

internal linking
Infographic – Neil Patel

Moreover, they allow search engines to find out what content on your site is related and determine its value. The more links an important page receives, the more important it will seem to search engines. Therefore, good internal links are crucial to your SEO.

Too many internal links may cause your website to seem spammy, so make sure only to include those links that make sense and add value for the user. With great internal linking, ranking for very difficult keyword phrases is made much easier as you help spread link equity (ranking power) around your pages.

5. Social Media Backlinks

It is a common misconception that backlinks from social media have no use. But the truth is that social signals play a role as a ranking factor. Social media backlinks present an audience that could benefit a site. Sites can be accessed via clicking on links that are typically present on newsfeeds.

Google has repeatedly stated that social shares do not influence their search rankings – but that doesn’t mean social plays no part at all in the process. Social has become a key distribution channel for content, and once your content is out there and starts generating engagement via social shares, it gets traffic. And traffic is a metric that Google cares about.

Socail media

Publishing videos on YouTube about your product or service, and then linking them back to your blog in your video description is a great way to get more traffic and more incoming links to your website.

One of the main things to avoid when building your links is spam. Don’t be over-promotional or over self-centred in any of your strategies to link to social media channels. This will only backfire.

6. Outbound Linking

You can choose to do some outbound linking yourself to provide additional value to your readers and inspire others to link back to you. Outbound links are links from within the content of your website that take you to another website. Outbound links are typically added to content as a way to either reference a source that was used in research or as a way to link out to a complimentary piece of content published on the web. When you put outbound links on your website, it helps search engines better understand your site! If your page is about golfing and you link to an article about golf clubs, it gives the search engines more information on how to rank your site properly.

Outbounds links bring balance and authenticity to the overall SEO health of a page. If you think about, the highest quality articles submitted for professional reviews always reference their sources. On a macro level, using outbound links consistently throughout all of the content on your site will increase your site’s overall quality, which ultimately contributes to unlocking more domain authority for rankings, traffic, and exposure to your content.

Outbound linking is viewed well by the search engines and has now started to emphasise user metrics in their algorithms. They know that external links are a sign that your website is offering valuable information to users, especially when the links are related to your topic. Please don’t overdo it though. Just one or a couple of links per page will be fine.

The biggest mistake many outbound link builders make is to “no-follow” the outbound links. When you “no-follow” outbound links, you are creating a very heavy, one-sided spectrum of authority that leans in the direction of your website and content. In essence, it’s the equivalent of not adding any outbound links to your content.

On the other hand, by providing “do-follow” outbound links, you bring balance and symmetry to your website’s authority, which ultimately increases the value of your content and your website. And again, the more quality you build into your pages, the more SEO authority your pages will carry.

Tactics You Should Avoid in Link building

First of all, remember that all backlinks are not the same in quality and that obtaining a bunch of low-quality links can harm your search engine ranking rather than improving it. Penalties can result in total or partial de-indexing of your content, which is detrimental to organic traffic.

Stay away from hundreds of links that all come from the same origin (usually referred to as “link farms”). These are easily tracked and very much frowned upon by the search engines. Avoid Getting Backlinks from Irrelevant Niche sites – Getting incoming links from a non-related niche adds very litte weightage to your ranking.

An example of a quality backlink is a dofollow link from a high page rank site within your niche. Also, steer clear of businesses that advertise the buying and selling of links – these links will also sooner or later be flagged by the search engines and are not worth the risk.

Will Paid Backlinks Help Your Search Engine Ranking

Building links yourself is a tedious, long and continuous process. So, not too long ago, people were very comfortable paying a service to provide them with a backlink. But it didn’t take Google too long to figure out that this was happening and paid linking services started being penalised.

While paid backlinks may not be the way to go, there are a number of incoming link services that you can choose to use rather than just outright buying backlinks. These services will actually do the link-building work for you rather than just selling you the links. Different services offer different features, so ensure that you do the proper amount of research to establish those working the right way and keep one step ahead of the search engine rules and regulations.

While backlink services will not be cheap, they offer a great alternative to you spending an enormous amount of time trying to learn about backlink-building and then applying it to your business. Choosing the right service allows you to let the experts handle that aspect so that you can go on to other business-building activities.

Check Your Site’s Backlinks to Measure Success

Backlink building isn’t complete unless you measure the results. Using the right software can help you to track the backlinks to your website. Believe it or not, you could be linked to other websites without even realising it. Link popularity software is something you can use to check your search engine rank and manage and monitor your backlinks. Link popularity refers to the number of websites that are linking to yours? This number is important because the higher your link popularity, the better you look to search engines, the higher up you will appear in search engine results, and the more traffic and sales you will get out of your website.

Tools like Moz or SEMrush reveals which sites are linking to your website, and will score the domain authority of the sites that link to you. With the tools, you can also discover which sites are linking to your competitors’ websites and determine whether you should reach out to that brand for possible promotion. To improve your SERP and stand out from the competition, you must know what the competition is doing. The analysis will also give you insight into your competitors’ weaknesses. If they perform better in SERPs but have a weak social media presence, you can beef up your social platforms to move up in the ranks with Google.

With your measurable results, you can determine your backlinks’ impact on your search engine ranking. Knowing the most effective backlink building methods allows you to develop a strategy for future link-building efforts.

Final Thoughts

Link building is one of the many tasks you need to allot time to when you’re doing digital marketing. It’s quite time consuming and can be frustrating, but it is essential if you’re going to compete and thrive online. Do you need help building quality backlinks to your site? As an experienced SEO firm, Adstar Digital can create a custom link building plan for your company that boosts your presence in search, improves your SEO, and increases your site traffic.

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