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SEO FAQ: What Are Backlinks?

Many of our small business clients say they hear that “backlinks” are one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s true that having the right backlinks helps your website get seen by people who are already interested in your topic and impacts your overall rank on search engines for designated keywords. Unfortunately, most small business owners do not fully understand what backlinks entail.

what are backlinks

What Exactly Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are external links on other websites linking “back” to your content. These links are embedded into other web pages, blog posts, news outlets, or shared on social media. In other words, think of a “link” as outgoing – you are pointing to content located elsewhere on the web. Whereas, a backlink is the “incoming” link into your content. Typically, when companies or individuals add a link to your content, it is because they see the linked content as being relevant or adding value to their article’s content. As a result, you earn a “backlink.”

How Do Backlinks Impact Search Engine Ranking?

Backlinks affect ranking in many different ways. Every time someone links to your website (thus creating a backlink), they are essentially giving your website a handshake and thereby passing a part of their credibility (and page rank) to your website. Just like the importance of a quality introduction from person to person in the business networking environment, the incoming web page that links to your content needs to be from a high-quality source and, ultimately, relevant.

Not only do backlinks positively impact rankings, they also help you to be seen by your target audience. For instance, if your business is a custom home builder, and you are featured in a home design and style magazine, you would be reaping great benefits by simply appearing in front of your target audience.

It is important to note that social media sharing can also create backlinks to your website, but these are not weighed in the same manner as those placed in high-quality web pages. Instead social media backlinks are treated as a social signal to showcase your website’s importance and popularity, which certainly mixes into the ranking algorithm search engines utilize.

Next Steps for Getting Backlinks

Web masters cannot simply create or purchase their own backlinks, but this does not mean they should passively rely on waiting for people to share their content. Note that trading backlinks with other websites can yield negligible, or even negative, impacts to your website.

There are numerous legitimate ways to begin building backlinks, but any successful backlink generation campaign must start with creation of a long-term strategy. This strategy must abide by Google’s intended purpose for relevant and high quality linking and rely heavily on the creation of superior and useful content tailored to your target audience.

If you are interested in learning how to boost your website’s rank and visibility on the web, reach out to our team to have a conversation with one of our SEO specialists.

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