A backlink is a link that leads to a given page from another page. Why is it one of the key elements of SEO and internet marketing, what is the quality and where to get backlinks? Find out in our comprehensive guide.
What is a backlink and how does it work?
A backlink is an external link that can be used to click through to a web page. The quality of a backlink depends on the authority of the linking website or web page and its credibility in the eyes of search engines. Backlinks are an important criterion for organic ranking (SEO).
A backlink is also known as a hyperlink or inbound link. In SEO, backlinks are seen as those inbound links that link from other pages on the web to your own website.
Backlinks are perceived by search engines as peer reviews of websites. An analogy with books and scientific research is offered - if a publication is cited many times by various relevant and authoritative sources, it is an indication that it contains valuable information. Similarly, many relevant and authoritative links pointing to a web page indicates that the web page contains valuable content.
External vs. internal backlinks
In the context of backlinks, we usually talk about backlinks that link to a website "from elsewhere". However, in addition to these external links, there are also internal links that lead to the (target) same domain as the domain to which the link exists. In other words: an internal link is a link that points to another page on the same website.
Why are backlinks important?
Creating backlinks is important in internet marketing for several reasons.
Backlinks are one of the main ranking factors for a website when compiling search results on Google, which by the way is the most visited website in the world and completely dominates the search engine market. It processes about 100 thousand queries every second.
Other search engines work on a similar principle. Their algorithms use a site's link profile to decide where (and if) to rank it for a particular search term. The link profile consists of both the number of links leading to a page and the quality of those links.
The question of why Google likes backlinks so much has a prosaic answer. Inbound links are a signal of trust. When a website links to another website, it's a sign of trust that its content is valuable.
It makes sense because website owners are unlikely to link to bad content. In practice, this means that Google can be almost certain that sites with many links are worth showing in the top positions of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
The early version of Google worked on this principle, i.e. the quantity and quality of backlinks.Although current web ranking methods are much more sophisticated, links still play a very important role.
The backlink and its quality
In recent years, quality has become a crucial criterion for linkbuilding. But how to know if a backlink is of sufficient quality?
A high-quality backlink is a link that comes from a relevant and high-quality website. Of course, dofollow links are those that allow Google and other search engines to link back to the site. Whenever you place a dofollow link on your site, it can link back to you, which strengthens your authority because it shows search engines what other sites are linking to you.
Finally, anchor text - the visible text of the link that can be clicked on. It is usually displayed in a different color than the surrounding text and is often underlined. Good link text tells the reader what to expect if they click on the link. It should be relevant keywords.
Other aspects such as the IP address and the location of the link also play a role.
And since there is no official manual on the basis of which we can evaluate the quality of backlinks, it is necessary to assess each backlink individually and in the context of the entire link profile. Read below to learn more about Google's quality assessment criteria.
Relevance of anchor text, pages and domains
Google uses anchor text to assess the relevance of the referring page. In general, an ideal link is one that naturally uses a keyword in the anchor text. In practice, this means that a backlink leading to the website of a wooden building manufacturer should lead through the link „wooden buildings“, or „wooden buildings + city“, etc.
However, the content of the page from which the link leads should also be relevant. If an article on another topic links to a woodwork manufacturer, the quality of the backlink drops significantly.
On the other hand, this does not mean that backlink building should only focus on sites that are thematically identical. While it is advisable that relevant sites predominate, Google does not count on only perfect backlinks appearing in the link profile. Thus, even a backlink from a site may be valuable; it is not thematically related to the linked site, but is placed logically and naturally. For example, from a travel magazine it is correct to link to a children's clothing store if the text addresses a relevant topic (e.g. what to pack for a child on a holiday to the seaside).
In addition to the above, when assessing the quality of a referring site, focus on the monetization method and try to avoid sites whose content you cannot read in peace due to aggressive advertising.
The IP address of the site should also be checked. If too many (hundreds to thousands) of sites at the same IP address appear in the link profile, they may be backlinks from the PBN (private blog network), which can be penalized.
When looking for relevant sites to link to, keep an eye on the quality of the content and give preference to sites whose operators offer visitors valuable and original content. On the contrary, „over-optimised“ texts are considered to be of poor quality.
Another relevant indicator of the quality of the site from which you want to link to your site is its search ranking. Links from sites in the top positions carry more weight than links from untraceable sites.
The nature of the legacy
Having backlinks in the link profile that lead through relevant text (keywords) is very important, but such links should only form a certain part of the whole. A link profile riddled with the same links will not be perceived by Google as natural, instead it will recognize an attempt to manipulate search results and penalize the site.
That is why it is right to use different combinations. In addition to texts with different keyword variations, these can be links led through the company name or brand, but also through general phrases (e.g. „on this page“) and url.
Link location and number of links on the page
One of the main goals of linkbuilding is to distribute the „link power“ of a given page. However, in practice, individual links on a page may have different weights. Link strength can be influenced by placing the link in an appropriate place.
In general, backlinks placed in the main content (i.e. in an article or other text) have the greatest linking power. From an SEO perspective, the higher you place the link, the more valuable it is. Therefore, if multiple links appear in the text, the highest link can be considered the strongest.
Link strength is also directly proportional to the number of links on a page. The more backlinks there are in the content, the less "linkjuice" (a slang term for how much power a backlink carries to another page) it will convey.
Also consider the direction of links that are on the same page as the link to your website. If your content includes a backlink to an authoritative site (e.g. Wikipedia), Google will evaluate your link as more valuable than if a link to an inferior source is placed next to it.
Finally, the traffic to the referring site - again, this is a criterion that is very closely related to the quality of the backlink. In addition to the fact that a number of real users (=potential customers) can click through such a backlink to your website, it is perceived by Google as strong because it finds the linked page to be of high quality.
How to find out the backlink?
There are quite a few ways to find backlinks. The most commonly used tools include:
Google Search Console
This is a free tool from Google. You can find the function on the home page in the left menu under "Links". You can then click through the menu that opens to the "Most frequently linked sites" section and click on "More" below the table to view a complete overview. The data can be exported to a spreadsheet or csv file.
In the Google Analytics environment, you can find the sources of backlinks in the "Acquisition" section (located in the sidebar on the project page), specifically in the "All Traffic" section (click on "Channels" and in the table click on the "Referral" option).
You can find specific backlink addresses by clicking on a specific resource or on the "Secondary Dimension" option - you can find it above the resource listing, then type "Linking Resource Route" in the search box. Once clicked, it will show all external backlinks pointing to the site over a certain period of time.
You can also use paid tools like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, Monitor Backlinks, RankActive, OpenLinkProfiler, Sitechecker and others for comprehensive backlink tracking.
How to get a backlink?
There are dozens of correct answers to the question of how to get a backlink. The possibilities of building a link profile are indeed wide, below you will find the most commonly used methods.
Registration to catalogues
The formerly widely used method of linkbuidling is now rather meaningless, because the vast majority of catalogues do not bring any benefit. Still, there are two sources that are worth looking into - the catalogues Firmy.cz and Google Maps. A few other bright exceptions can be found among the local catalogues.
Texts designed to introduce a product or service, or provide an answer to a specific query, are a great way to get a backlink. Ideal are articles published on relevant and at the same time authoritative websites, from which real traffic can reach the target website.
Metrics such as Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR), Moz Page Authority (PA), Moz Domain Authority (DA), Majestic Trust Flow (TF) and Majestic Citation Flow (CF) are often used in linkbuilding activities.
If you find a quality website where for some reason you don't want to buy a PR article, you can resort to guest blogging. In return for providing valuable content, the site owner will allow you to leave one or more backlinks in the article.
Backlinks can also be obtained on social networks, which, although they do not directly affect the ranking of a website in search results, can become a good source of relevant traffic and at the same time improve local SEO.
Social networks that are generally worth considering include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter.
Backlinks from Wikipedia articles are nofollow, but they are still very important from a linkbuilding point of view - they are quality links through which a lot of relevant traffic can flow to the target website.
Getting a link from Wikipedia is conditional on writing a high quality article. Another condition is the type of web content the backlink leads to - moderators usually delete backlinks leading to commercial content.
If you manage to create viral content (article, video, infographic...), users will take care of its dissemination themselves.
Backlinks can also be added to posts on the discussion forums. To avoid moderators deleting it, you need to make sure the content is useful and relevant.
Lots of magazines allow commenting on articles. However, webmasters usually approve comments manually - as in the case of a discussion forum, it depends on the quality of the post.
Have you purchased a product or used a service whose quality impressed you? Do not hesitate to offer to write a testimonial. With a bit of luck, you will be able to insert a backlink into it. Similarly, you can contact your business partners and suppliers with a request to place a backlink from your website.
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Create and distribute content that engages internet visitors, informs them about your services or product, and is designed to encourage them to purchase your services or product. Users consume content on the internet actively (search engines) or passively (magazines and social networks). Content marketing using PR articles and social media posts will help you get the necessary information to content consumers where they are looking for it or consuming it.
Advertorials (PR articles)
PR articles are advertising articles written by an editor as regular media content. Readers often don’t perceive the advertising message as an advertisement, but as a handy informative article. Paid or sponsored articles therefore belong to subliminal advertising. PR articles is an abbreviation used in the Czech language for the expression “paid advertising articles”. In professional circles, the term “advertorials” – a composite of “advert” and “editorial” (an article written by an editor) – tends to be used. On the PR Yard platform, you can order PR articles in English, Czech, Slovak, Polish and German.
Link building using paid articles
Paid articles are often used as a link-building method. Link-building is a term meaning to get backlinks. Internet search engines rank pages in search results (SERPs) according to the popularity of the page. Multiple sources called signals are used to evaluate site popularity. The popularity of the site is mainly determined by backlinks. Each page has a certain popularity, which some SEO tools try to express using a “rank”. A page with higher popularity should have a higher rank. In the PR Yard catalogue, you can sort by statistics from Ahrefs (+ MOZ).