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What is a backlink?

Backlinks are inbound links from another domain to your webpage.

In most cases, on-page optimization alone will not guarantee higher ranking.

In case you are new to SEO, backlinks are incoming links from another webpage.

So, you might be asking how does acquiring backlinks from another page affect your ranking.

To explain that, let’s talk a little bit about search engines.

How Search Engines Use Links

  1. To discover new web pages
  2. To help determine how well a page should rank in their results

 A link is essentially a hyperlink. A hyperlink made up of a referring domain and an anchor text. An anchor text is the clickable (often blue) text in a hyperlink. It is SEO best practice to write anchor link text that’s descriptive and relevant to the page you’re linking. Most links on the web are text links and a small fraction is image links

A hyperlink is used by people to navigate around pages while crawlers use it to crawl the web. Crawlers depend on hyperlinks to move between pages on a website and to move to other pages on another domain.

After pages have been crawled and indexed, search engines will gauge the quality of the page then determine how well the page will rank for its keyword. The number of external links pointing to the page and the quality and relevance of the external websites is the key determining factor of the quality of a webpage. A backlink is more like an upvote, so having more backlinks from authoritative sites creates a positive effect on a site’s ranking and search visibility.

This system of ranking web pages is based on Google’s revolutionary metric called Pagerank, which Google used to determine the quality of a page based on the number of links pointing to it. The metric was so effective that it became a part of Google search ranking algorithm. It is one of the methods Google uses to determine the relevance or importance of a webpage.

There were two main ideas behind Pagerank

  1. A website with a lot of links pointing to it means it is a good website.
  2. Not all websites are equal. Thus, a link from such authoritative website means that the linked-to site is very good.

PageRank (PR) is a calculation, famously invented by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which evaluates the quality and quantity of links to a webpage to determine a relative score of that page’s importance and authority on a 0 to 10 scale.

Just so you could understand what the web was like before page rank. Search results were based mainly on keyword matching. So many people were manipulating the system by simply keyword stuffing their post or pages. “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.

When backlinks became the dominant ranking factor, many SEO pros engaged in clever schemes to acquire more backlinks to gain undue advantage in ranking and search results. This has led to black heart SEO schemes like links farms and private blog networks (pbns). Thankfully, Google Penguin algorithm update was released to reward quality links and filter out spammy links. This update has helped identify and punish websites that engaged in such practices.

Backlinks Terms

DO follow links- Dofollow links pass along what the SEO community commonly calls “link juice.” Links are a vote for quality.

NO follow links – A No Follow tag is a way that allows webmasters to tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.”. Such links do not pass link juice.

Advantage of Backlinks

1. Improves Organic Ranking

If you search a topic on Ahref, you will see that the top pages always have a high number of backlinks.  So, for your content to rank higher on search results, you need to acquire more backlinks from other pages and posts. Because backlinks are very much an upvote of your website from other website, it will help increase your domain authority.

2. Faster Indexing

When you have backlinks, search engine bots will follow those links to discover new webpages by following backlinks from existing webpages. Only when they’ve discovered your site can they crawl your site effectively.

3. Referral Traffic

Since people click on links voluntarily, they’re usually more targeted and are less likely to leave the page fast (aka a low bounce rate).

Link Building- How to Acquire Backlinks

When building links, you must be strategic and focused on acquiring natural high-quality links. The craze to acquire backlinks will never go away so, be careful and do not fail for any of the link building schemes- buying links or expired domains with high domain authority. Truthfully, many SEO pros are desperate to achieve quick wins for their clients so they engage in such unethical practices. Unfortunately for such clients, Google’s Penguin algorithm keeps getting smarter and will find and punish erring websites. The penalty can result in huge drops in page rank and search results for your keyword. So, it is important that you keep an eye of the type of backlinks your website is acquiring.  

There are many great ways to acquire high-quality backlinks.

As you embark on your link building journey,

I need you to understand one key thing

All links are not equal. Link building is not a game of numbers but the quality of the links. So the key to successful link building is to focus your attention on acquiring links from authoritative websites.

1. Content Marketing- Create Bad Ass Content

One sure way to generate quality backlinks is to create high-quality in-depth content that is relevant and provides information that searchers are looking for. The first step to creating great content is to seek to understand your audience, the keywords they use and the searcher’s intent.

Remember that you are writing for humans not machines, so design your content to be engaging, readable and enjoyable. In addition, make sure you design the structure and layout of your content to deliver great user experience. When your readers are engaged, they read more, interact with the content and easily share it. This will attract other website owners to link to it.

2. Copy your competitors’ backlinks

To truly succeed in SEO, you need to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. When you want to outrank your competitor, you can use tools like Ahref’s Content Explorer to find out the top pages for the keyphrase you want to rank for. Then you can gauge their backlinks and referring domains. The next step is to create content that is of better quality than that of your competitor. Then you can pitch your content to your link prospects until you acquire more links than that of your competitor. Remember that all links are not equal so its important that you focus more on link prospects that have higher domain authority.

3. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a very effective link building technique. One key advantage of guest blogging is that will help increase your popularity and establish you as an authority and thought leader on that topic in your market.

Some search operators you can use to find guest blogging opportunities.

[your_topic] “write for us”

[your_topic] “become an author”

[your_topic] “guest post”

[your_topic] “guest article”

[your_topic] inurl:contribute

If this seems like too much work. For you, you can use Ahref’s Content Explorer tool to find guest blogging opportunities for any keyword.

4. Broken Link Building

Before you go any further, I need you to understand that broken link building is a time-consuming process that sometimes delivers mixed results. Here is a not so simple process for broken link building

You find a broken link using tools like the broken link checker

You recreate the dead content

You reach out to people linking to that dead content and ask them to link to your recreated version.

You see, Its that’s simple.

Other sources of backlinks are local citations, directories, social media and press releases.


Backlinks are the livewire of SEO. The importance of backlinks can never be over-emphasized. This post clearly lays out a simple picture of how links what, why backlinks are important and how to acquire backlinks. As an SEO expert, understanding of link building will certainly give you an edge.


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