Backlinks: What Are They?

Posted by Neville on August 28, 2011 under Blogging, How To, Resources, Training | Read the First Comment

One of the mysteries of SEO.

For some time now I have been reading and hearing people saying just how important backlinks are for a site’s visibility and reputation, as well as being important for ranking well. But they never seem to explain just what backlinks are, and how they work.

So here goes.

What Are Backlinks?

The easy thing would be for me to say, “Google it.” Sounds like a good idea, but will you get an up to date answer? And will you understand the tech talk and jargon in the articles you find?

backlinks and SEOThe field of SEO, and hence the way that backlinks figure in that, is always changing. This is often to counter the methods that some gurus in SEO sell, to encourage their followers to try and short cut their way to high Page Ranking (PR) and Search Engine Results Page (SERP) position. So, the ways in which backlinks work are always changing.

Backlinks are just one part of the BIG THREE for SEO: Content, Keywords and Backlinks. They are all important but for now, I will just talk about backlinks, at last!

Backlinks are like the trails that join the the houses in a village that just grew. The residents of the village will visit others and make tracks as they regularly visit some of the houses. Some houses will have wider and more prominent trails leading to them. Others may only have narrow tracks leading to them. The houses with well defined trails belong to the most popular and respected citizens.

In the world of the Internet, backlinks are the links to your site from other sites. The more links from sites like yours, and from respected sites the better. The better the trail to your site the better. No one really knows just how the Search Engines do it, but generally they will look kindly on sites that have QUALITY backlinks. This is seen as an indication of the reputation and perceived authority of a site.

Backlinks should be easy to get.

Look at all of the ads where you see sellers offering to get very large numbers of backlinks to your site. Surely if they can do that for less than $5, it must be easy. Remember, QUALITY backlinks are what you are looking for. Links from sites that have similar subjects to yours. Is your site going to benefit from a link that has come from the underwater knitting supplies website?

All I have to do is get all of my buddies, or my 2000 Twitter followers to agree to link to me if I link to them. Wrong! The Search Engines are onto Reciprocal Linking like that and discount them.

Article writing and submission. Yes, write an article or two, put some links back to my site. Submit the articles to hundreds of article directories. That will work, won’t it? Please! Sorry, link farms like that are also easy to detect and discount.

Yes, some of the above may work in the short term, but if you are in this for the long haul, it is best to work on getting your backlinks naturally and organically by providing QUALITY CONTENT that other visitors will find, and because they recognise the quality, they will want to share it with their contacts and readers, and set up QUALITY backlinks to your site.

Build backlinks organically.

Sorry, but I can’t really see any easy way around it. Like building a safe, comfortable and welcoming home, it’s a matter of working away at it, and building it on firm foundations. Do that and the trail to your site will develop, and your site will be seen as one worth visiting.

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  • Rieke said,

    Neville, great article about correct backlinking.

    Here a personal experience: I use some free backlink services on my site and also realized an increasing number of visitors. Looking at the stats I had my doubts about some services as I saw too many backlinks. OK – my site is ‘old’ and until today these backlinks
    didn’t harm.

    But today I got the message that one service stopped to deliver. Why?
    There were too many bots.
    When I read this, I asked myself: How useful is this kind of backlink?????

    So, when using this kind of backlink service one has to look carefully which one really support the own effort in an effective way.

    A person with a new blog has even to be much more alert!

    Your article gives good advices on how to behave properly!