Backlinks: A Brief Definition

While reading an article, you may notice linked text within the content. Upon clicking these links, you are redirected to another site that shares related information.
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Though external links are not new, they continue to be a big part of search engine optimization (SEO).
These backlinks act as community votes for a website, signaling to search engines that these sites have high authority.
This guide explains how backlinks work, ways to gain more, and tips to enhance them for your site.

Understanding Backlinks in SEO

Backlinks were part of Google’s initial search algorithm called PageRank. PageRank defines backlinks as “a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B.”
This description still holds today, as Google and other search engines view sites with many backlinks as having authority under specific search queries.
Search engines reward these sites with high rankings on a search engine results page (SERP).
By understanding how backlinks work, your site can experience the same benefits.
Defining Backlinks
Backlinks are external links in your site to another site. They are also called “inbound” or “incoming” links, as these backlinks go back to your site from another.
We find backlinks as links with anchor text or words summarizing the linked content. Sites with high backlink numbers or other sites that link to them appear first on SERPs.
Think of each backlink as a positive vote from other sites to yours, telling Google that your content has the most accurate and valuable information about a specific topic.
Medical, government, or dictionary-type websites typically have high backlink numbers, but this is not exclusive to those website types.
Any site can gain high relevance if its content is accurate enough to be referenced in other sites.
Not only is your site seen with higher relevance, but authority from the other site linking back to you is passed down. With the additional authority, users and search engines recognize your site as trustworthy.
Role of Backlinks in SEO
Backlinks are important for SEO because they let Google know the most relevant sites for specific search queries.
Sites with many backlinks get the first spots on SERPs because Google shows the most relevant links for your query.
For example, say you read an article about French cinema’s history on website A. One of the links points to an external article about the best French cinema on website B.
Website B gets authority from website A since website A determined its content to be relevant. Google recognizes this, rewarding website B with better rankings.
Optimizing your content to be authoritative and relevant lets you receive backlinks from related sites and increases your rankings.
Backlinks and Domain Authority
From a non-technical perspective, getting more backlinks sounds simple. However, Google and other search engines do not view backlinks in quantity. Simply having many backlinks does not immediately guarantee success for your site.
That’s because search engines check whether these backlinks have high domain authority. Domain authority is a score used by search engines to determine how trustworthy a site is.
Generally, pages with domain authority scores of 60 or greater are seen as high authority.
Backlinks pass down authority from one site to another. If site A has less authority than site B, the passed-down authority lessens. These low-scoring sites are viewed to be spammy, irrelevant, or unoptimized.
While a perfect 100 score is not required for sites to rank high, search engines still use high scores as a SERP ranking metric.
Other sites knowledgeable about SEO will check domain authority, and if they see that your site has a low score, your backlink options lessen.
Ensuring your content is worth linking out to impacts your domain authority and other sites’ perception of your domain.
Backlinks and Google's PageRank
Understanding PageRank is essential to comprehending how important backlinks are.
During Google’s early years, you could click the PageRank button at the top of the search bar. This button showed a score similar to domain authority, detailing a site’s quality.
The score ranged from PR0 to PR10 and was determined by content quality and backlink quantity.
Though we no longer see the PageRank button, Google still uses PageRank to determine what appears on SERPs.
This history emphasizes how backlinks have always been part of Google’s foundation, and properly using backlinks does wonders for your site.

The Influence of Backlinks on Search Engine Rankings

When implementing SEO for websites, you will need backlinks. They are simply essential for any site’s organic success.
Since SEO focuses on optimized content to help users, backlinks are sources of additional information and votes from other sites to promote yours.
Hence, they help improve search engine ranking in various ways.
Even as Google’s algorithm changes, backlinks are a tried-and-tested element that anyone learning SEO can master.
Organic Traffic
Better backlinks will bring more organic traffic to your site. Organic traffic measures the number of visitors finding and interacting with your site from unpaid sources.
Backlinks act as pathways for users to navigate from one site to another. They show their readers that this linked content provides additional information or is their content’s reference.
Users that go from one site to yours through backlinks recognize your content as the source material, increasing trust.
Having diverse backlinks signals to search engines that your content is relevant across various niches, organically improving your ranking.
With this organic growth, your site’s relevancy improves without needing paid methods. Organic traffic continues long-term, ensuring growth since these backlinks are permanently in published content.
SERP Ranking
Let’s address the question, “What is SERP ranking, and how does it connect to backlinks?
Sites with many backlinks gain a competitive edge by appearing first on SERPs. After inputting a search query, the first links show their relevance ranking over others.
To better facilitate providing quick information to users, search engine algorithms ensure the first links hold all the necessary answers.
They determine this through multiple SEO factors and backlink numbers. Once your site has numerous high-quality backlinks, the chances of high SERP rankings are greatly boosted.
Website Visibility
Visibility is a major element that affects site performance. Since Google SERPs act like a popularity contest, with the most popular sites appearing first, gaining visibility is crucial for a site to survive.
Backlinks provide visibility by introducing your content to other sites or introducing other sites within your content.
Think of backlinks as two or more websites collaborating. By featuring your content on another site, that site brings its audience to yours.
As backlinks increase organic traffic, more users discover your site and benefit from it. With more visibility, your SERP rankings will rise accordingly.
User Engagement
Your site may have high visibility, but it does not mean much without user engagement.
User engagement measures how anyone viewing your site interacts with your content, links, or other elements.
Backlinks bring more user engagement alongside wider visibility as more users find your site.
If your content benefits them, they become part of your main audience, further boosting engagement by sharing your content.
Google notices sites with high user engagement and perceives them as trustworthy within their niche. SERP rankings increase, and user engagement continuously grows.

Different Types of Backlinks and Their Relevance

Though a high backlink number is beneficial, not every backlink helps your site long-term.
Understanding different backlinks and anchor texts and why diverse backlinks matter are important parts of your SEO strategy too.
Dofollow Backlinks
Anyone who has worked with code knows how search engines rely on HTML codes. A site’s HTML code details which links should be counted by Google — these links are called dofollow backlinks.
Dofollow backlinks are links within code that do not have a “nofollow,” “UGC,” or “sponsored” attribute after it. Here are common dofollow backlink examples:
  • Reference website (dictionary, government, or medical website)
  • Image descriptions within photo-sharing websites
  • Product page links
  • Review site links
Dofollow backlinks act like markers to search engine web crawlers or programs that go through a site’s content and code, letting them know that this link is an authoritative backlink.
When the web crawler recognizes it as a backlink, it appears as a normal link on the page, and link equity is transferred from site A to site B.
Link equity is a level of authority or value passed from one website to another. It affects how search engines determine SERP rankings.
Like domain authority, link equity is passed down from site A to site B through dofollow backlinks.
Nofollow Backlinks
While dofollow backlinks signal links with high relevancy, nofollow backlinks tell search engines that certain links should not be linked out to.
Nofollow backlinks are links in code with a rel=nofollow tag. When web crawlers and search engines notice this tag, they ignore the link.
Ignored links do not affect your site’s SERP ranking and are not recognized by PageRank.
Nofollow backlink tags were created to block out spammy links and content. Previously, spammy sites would rank higher on Google than relevant ones, affecting user search experience.
However, some links that are not spammy can still be considered nofollow backlinks because they do not affect your site’s SERP rankings. These links are irrelevant to a site’s audience.
These are examples of nofollow links:
  • Blog comments
  • Links within forum posts
  • Social media links
  • Widget links
  • Links within press releases
  • Paid links
Google and most search engines are strict about incorrectly tagging links as either dofollow or nofollow. If you incorrectly tag links, you risk breaking search engine guidelines and receiving penalties.
The Role of Anchor Text in Backlinks
Using the appropriate anchor text to summarize linked content impacts how users interact with the backlink.
The anchor text is the clickable phrase or word that briefly summarizes the link. For example, an anchor text for a page about French cinema can be “best French cinema.”
The anchor text must give the users an idea of the link’s context.
Anchor texts help determine the ranking the linked page receives from search engines.
If the anchor text is irrelevant to the user, they will not click it. This action can attenuate the backlink’s visibility, affecting the authority of both sites.
When choosing an appropriate anchor text, ensure it briefly yet accurately describes the linked content’s relevance.
The Importance of Backlink Diversity
Backlink diversity can be attained by having a variety of websites linking to your content. Diversity is a crucial element impacting SERP rankings.
Note that always getting backlinks from the same external site is a mistake. If Google recognizes this happening, these sites will risk severe penalties.
Google views diverse backlinks as an indicator that your content is trustworthy across multiple sites. You gain more authority from these sites than from the same external site.
A lack of backlink diversity makes Google perceive the site as having spammy backlinks.
By gaining the trust of other sites through relevant and authoritative content, your SERP ranking grows while showing search engines that these backlinks were earned.

Identifying and Evaluating Quality Backlinks

Though you may tag your backlinks properly and gain many over time, how do you know which ones help your site?
Link equity determines which backlinks can be kept or ignored. While domain authority scores matter, they’re not the only determining factor.
Authority, relevance, and uniqueness are three criteria backlinks must pass to provide your site with the most link equity.
Authority of the Linking Site
If you asked any site owner if they would rather have a well-known site link back to them or an unknown site, they would choose the first site due to the higher authority they receive.
You receive more link equity if you show search engines and users that high-authority sites trust your content.
Authority is determined by how accurate and relevant the external site’s information is. Part of the authority is how this backlink fits your site. Google and other search engines appreciate backlinks related to your niche.
Unless it is a definition or medical study, backlinks that do not fit with your site’s main topic will deter users from viewing it.
While authority-checking tools can help with deciding a backlink’s authority, asking yourself these questions may help further:
  • Does the backlink’s topic fit my site’s overall topic or niche?
  • Is the backlink monetized? (ex. Does it contain ads within its content or affiliate links?)
  • Do many of the backlinks come from the same website?
  • Was the content created to help others or to advertise something?
  • Is the backlink from a new domain?
Relevance of the Linking Page
Relevance is measured by how closely one thing relates to another. Google checks how closely your backlinks are related to your site to determine how much authority you receive.
Link relevance is passed down like domain authority and link equity. The more relevant a backlink is to your content, the more authority it gives you.
However, you cannot expect to always get highly relevant backlinks. Though high-authority backlinks with low relevance are still good, ensuring that both metrics improve your content is vital.
Relevant links show search engines these elements:
  • What your site’s context is
  • What keywords your content or site rank high in
  • How relevant your site is compared to others within the same topic or industry
There are two types of link relevance:
  • Location Relevance: This type focuses on how relevant a backlink is to users around your site’s geographic area.
  • Topic/Niche Relevance: This type prioritizes how closely related a backlink’s topic or keywords are to your site’s main industry and audience.
For location relevance, say you own a Los Angeles plumbing services website. Location relevance increases if you have backlinks to related sites within Los Angeles. Users within the city who click those links gain relevant information.
An example of a topic or niche relevance is when a gardening tips website links to a gardening product website. Users gain helpful details from both sites without straying from gardening.
Uniqueness of the Linking Domain
Uniqueness is a determining factor for backlinks, as search engines view sites with different domains linking to them as having higher authority.
Think of gaining link relevance as juicing an orange by hand. It would be difficult to fill a glass with only one orange. However, using multiple oranges makes it easier to fill the glass.
Link relevance is also known as link juice because of this very reason. More unique domains mean more authority, signaling to Google that your site is widely trusted.
Rather than expecting or investing in several backlinks from the same sites, ensure you gain unique backlinks to increase your site’s relevance within your niche.
Assessing the Value of Backlinks
To assess a backlink’s overall value, consider these factors:
  • Dofollow or Nofollow: Knowing if the backlink positively or negatively impacts your site’s authority is important. Ensure that dofollow backlinks are relevant enough to link out to and that nofollow links are properly tagged.
  • Anchor Text Relevance: The words you use for the anchor text determine whether your audience clicks it. Use its main keyword within the anchor text to boost user engagement.
  • Domain Authority: Backlinks with high domain authority scores positively impact your site. Before tagging any backlink with dofollow, check its domain authority score.
  • Link Location: The backlink’s location affects how users and search engines perceive it. Links within a sidebar or footer may be seen as advertising links, negatively affecting their relevance.
  • Content Quality: Check that the backlink’s content is similarly optimized, user-friendly, and meets search engine guidelines before including it in your content.
  • Link Order: The chronological order of links affects their relevance and value. The first link usually gains more engagement, so ensure the first link has the most relevance.
  • Link Quality: Backlinks that go to spammy or unoptimized sites negatively impact your site. Check that the backlink’s content provides more information and does not exist solely for rankings.
Determining whether a backlink provides beneficial content helps your site’s authority score and audience.

Checking and Monitoring Backlinks

Once you have gathered backlinks, how can you monitor them?
In the past, SEO specialists manually monitored backlink performance and growth. Today, many online tools automate the process and introduce new backlink opportunities.
Leveraging modern technology and analysis tools to monitor backlinks keeps you aware of relevant changes.
Tools for Backlink Analysis
As you grow your site, your link profile grows. A link profile refers to the complete collection of external backlinks pointing to your site.
Over time, you may gain good or bad backlinks. However, manually analyzing each one’s value is a time-consuming process.
As such, here are five great online backlink analysis tools that any site owner can use:
  1. SEMrush Backlink Gap: Backlink Gap shows your backlink profile along with each backlink’s domain authority score, monthly visits, and link quality. Its features allow you to filter backlinks and check competitor performance.
  2. Ahrefs: Ahrefs details each backlink’s domain score, organic traffic, monetary value, and other domains referring to a backlink.
  3. SE Ranking Backlink Checker: Backlink Checker lets you monitor new and lost backlinks, define a link’s type, and determine link locations and authority.
  4. Google Search Console: This tool shows the first 1,000 backlinks your site receives and how many backlinks each domain has. It provides a performance report detailing your SERP ranking.
  5. SEO Spyglass: SEO Spyglass lets you combine Search Console and Google Analytics data. You may also input your competitors and find shared backlinks. The tool has no restriction over how many backlinks you may view.
Remember that regular monitoring is crucial as you gain backlinks.
Evaluating Your Website's Backlink Profile
Analysis tools provide you with a dashboard to monitor backlinks. However, learning to evaluate your site’s backlink profile is also important since you can determine which links to keep.
Consider these factors while evaluating link quality:
  • Backlinks from Low-Quality Sites: If the backlink comes from a site with low-quality content, consider adding the nofollow tag.
  • Link Relevance: To learn a backlink’s relevance, check if it benefits your audience and matches your content’s topic.
  • Link Velocity: This refers to how fast a site gains backlinks. If your site quickly gains backlinks, it may appear spammy to search engines. Ensure you gain backlinks at a realistic pace.
  • Link Location: Check that you spread backlinks equally across your content to avoid appearing spammy.
Gaining a healthy balance within your backlink profile involves including these anchor text variations:
  • Exact Match Anchors: These anchor texts have the main keyword. If the content’s main topic is “basketball shoes,” the anchor text must have these exact words.
  • Partial Match Anchors: These anchor texts have a variation of the main keyword. A variation of “basketball shoes” would be “women’s basketball shoes.”
  • Branded Anchors: This anchor text type uses a brand’s name.
  • Generic Anchors: Generic anchors indicate an action for the user to do, such as “click here” or “learn more.”
  • Naked URLs: Naked URLs do not use anchor texts but display the actual URL.
Using these variations signals to search engines that your backlinks are genuine and relevant.
Competitor Backlink Analysis
If you are unaware of your competitors’ performance, you lose opportunities to learn from their strategies and apply them. As such, competitor analysis should be part of your SEO strategy.
Knowing which backlinks your competitors use, why they chose those links, and how to use them for your site gives ideas for growth.
Using backlink analysis tools, follow these steps for a comprehensive competitor backlink analysis:
1. Identify Your Competitors: There are two ways to find your direct competitors:
a. Keyword Research: Keyword research shows which sites rank high within specific keywords.
b. Domain Research: Domain research gives an overall view of which sites have the most authority within a niche or industry.
2. Export Your Site’s and Your Competitor’s Backlink Profile: Using tools like Ahrefs, get your competitor’s backlink profile and export it into an Excel sheet. Using the same tool, export an Excel sheet of your backlink profile.
3. Export Your Site’s and Your Competitor’s Traffic Data: Using the Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, get the backlinks from your competitor’s Excel sheet and paste them into the tool to get each link’s traffic data. Follow the same process to get your backlink traffic data.
4. Get the Trust Ratio: Use the Majestic SEO tool to get your competitors and your site’s trust ratio. A trust ratio combines these terms:
a. Citation Flow: This term refers to how popular a backlink is but does not consider the link’s quality.
b. Trust Flow: This term measures how trustworthy a site is depending on its quality.
5. Set Filters: Use Excel’s filter option to single out relevant or irrelevant backlinks. These are essential filters:
a. Domain rating
b. Dofollow or Nofollow
c. Domain traffic
d. Trust Ratio (a good average ratio would be 0.50)
e. “Client Has Link” or links from the competitor’s profile that you already have on your site.
6. Deselect “Client Has Link” Feature: Deselect the “yes” filter for “Client Has Link.” Competitor backlinks that you do not have on your site should appear.
7. Choose Backlinks: Use link-building strategies to decide whether or not to get a competitor backlink.
As your competitors rise or fall in relevance, regular competitor analysis keeps you updated on their backlink performance and ways your site may improve.
Monitoring Backlink Growth
Like competitor analysis, backlink growth monitoring is essential. Checking how each backlink performs helps determine how your site is performing overall.
Backlink monitoring shows you these metrics:
  • Whether a link’s value increases or decreases
  • Which backlinks do your competitors get or remove
  • When you will need to gain new high-quality backlinks
Backlink analysis tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Majestic give a detailed overview of how each backlink performs and ways to gain new backlinks.

Effective Strategies for Backlink Acquisition

As new sites populate the internet, getting new backlinks benefits your site. But how can you get these backlinks?
From creating quality content to contacting site owners, backlink acquisition strategies can help out various sites in a “win-win” symbiosis.
Understanding how each strategy works provides more options to get backlinks while building healthy business relationships.
Content Creation for Backlinking
Since authority and relevance determine a backlink’s value, creating highly relevant content is one way to gain backlinks.
This content should provide new information in an optimized or user-friendly format and benefit other sites within the same niche.
Whether the content is entertaining, relatable, or educational, you should ensure that it benefits various audiences and does not copy from competitors.
Tapping into the latest trends within your industry or using general yet relevant topics helps mold your content.
Ensuring the content is well-written, informative, and beneficial increases the chances of gaining good backlinks.
The Skyscraper Technique Explained
Imagine high-ranking competitors as tall skyscraper buildings. If you want to climb higher than them on SERPs, you will need a clear strategy without resorting to illegal methods.
The Skyscraper Technique involves creating content of higher quality and relevance than competitors.
Here are the steps for the Skyscraper Technique:
  1. Find top-ranking content with many backlinks within your industry.
  2. Study their content and do further research.
  3. Outline what their content did not mention or additional content you can delve further into.
  4. Create new content with this additional information.
  5. Publish the content.
  6. Contact the original site and ask them to use your link as a reference within the original article.
Your content helps the original site by providing additional information and showing its audience that your site has high authority within the topic.
Updating Outdated Resources for Links
While search engines show the most relevant links for any search query, they do not consider when those articles were published.
Because of this, users sometimes find outdated articles. This scenario is more prevalent for articles with more general topics, like definitions or guides.
Updating the information within outdated articles is crucial to ensure they continue receiving backlinks.
To decide which outdated content to focus on, keep these factors in mind:
  • Content Performance: Focus on older content that still gains organic traffic. These sites remain relevant and may gain more traffic if the content is updated.
  • Content Relevancy: Determine whether the content is still relevant and helpful to your audience today.
  • Content Depth: Read the outdated article and check whether additional details are needed.
Once you have decided which pages to update, follow these practices:
  • Edit the Content but Use the Same URL: Creating a new page using the same main content may signal duplicate content, negatively affecting your site’s authority ranking.
  • Keep the Same Keywords: If you change the title, ensure the main keyword remains.
  • Add an Editor’s Note to Detail Changes: If users see that the content has been updated, they will know these new details are more helpful.
Updating your content ensures these pages gain more backlinks, increasing your site’s overall SERP rankings.
Utilizing HARO for Backlinks
Have you ever wondered how news websites get backlinks so quickly?
The answer is through HARO (Help A Reporter Out), a link-building strategy journalists use to find sources for their articles.
Journalists use the HARO website to email queries to expert sources on various topics. These queries are opportunities for you, the expert source, to provide information for them.
When journalists like the information you provide, they will include your content as a backlink in their articles. If their website has high authority, you receive more relevance from their readers.
Follow these steps to use HARO for backlink acquisition:
1. Sign up on the HARO website.
2. Choose to be a “Source”.
3. Learn the different types of queries sent out through email:
a. Request for Information: These are more general questions about various fields that journalists need answers to.
b. Request for Quotes: This request uses specific questions from which journalists need expert quotes and answers.
c. Request for Interview: These come from journalists who want to interview experts in a specific field.
4. Find queries about your site’s industry and pitch yourself as an expert source.
5. Email the reporter the following details:
a. Your basic information
b. Your experience with the topic in the query
c. The value your content can add to their article
6. Follow up with the journalist after the article is published and let them know you are available as a source for future related queries.
The more you practice HARO for link-building, the more journalists will recognize you as a trustworthy source and be potentially willing to help you build your backlink profile.
Press Releases for Backlink Acquisition
Press releases are official statements sent to media outlets detailing an important announcement, providing information, or creating an official statement.
Press releases are a primary source, meaning that this information is the origin point for specific information. They provide a prime opportunity to include and gain backlinks.
Remember these practices when creating press releases:
  • Focus on Quality: Press releases provide valuable information to your audience. Prioritize including high-quality content that benefits them.
  • Use Different Anchor Texts: Using the anchor text types detailed above, experiment with them, but remember to keep them relevant.
  • Use Eye-Catching Headlines: Press releases are meant to immediately catch your audience’s attention. Keep headlines straightforward, brief, and interesting.
  • Avoid Spammy Behavior: Be careful about how often you post the press release. Remember that users do not interact with dubious-looking posts.
If done well, press releases will simultaneously provide major news updates related to your site and gain new backlinks.
Recovering Lost Backlinks
Some backlinks come from websites that close down or get banned on search engines. If your site has lost backlinks, users get sent to dead links, negatively impacting their experience.
Recovering lost backlinks ensures your backlink profile remains fresh and relevant. Dead backlinks do nothing for your site, so updating or removing them is better.
These are ways to recover lost or broken backlinks:
  • Identify the lost backlinks using tools like Ahrefs or Google Search Console.
  • Search for codes showing a dead link (ex. 404, 401).
  • Analyze why the links are broken (e.g., technical errors or content changes).
  • Compare how your site performed before and after the links became broken using backlink analysis tools.
  • Focus on lost backlinks with high authority and relevance on your site.
  • Contact the broken link’s site owner to request that the link be restored.
  • If the link is not broken on their end, check that there are no technical issues within your site.
Through this practice, you can maintain your backlink profile and continue to provide your audience with relevant information.
Broken Link Building Strategy
The internet has many dead pages scattered throughout various topics, but you can use these dead links to your advantage through broken link building.
Broken link building basically means finding dead pages within your niche, contacting the site owner, and requesting that they swap the dead link for a related page within your site.
For instance, say you own a gardening tool website and find an article about planting tips. One of the article’s backlinks goes to a dead link about gardening tools.
Using broken link building, you can contact the original site owner and let them know your site has an active page detailing relevant information on gardening tools.
Before proceeding with this strategy, ensure your content provides new and accurate information to increase the chances of the site owner agreeing to your request.

Pitfalls to Avoid in Backlink Acquisition

Though there are many ways to gain backlinks, some site owners use quick and easy methods that can cause more good than bad.
Knowing the downsides of other backlink acquisition practices helps you ensure only the best backlinks stay on your site.
The Risks of Buying Backlinks
Some site owners cut through the longer process of requesting backlinks by buying them instead.
Though this is a popular method, it carries the risk of penalization by search engines. Google and other major search engines are strict about paid links.
A site that adds the dofollow tag on a paid link may receive penalties and lower SERP rankings.
Plus, artificial intelligence within search engines develops daily, detecting bought backlinks faster than before.
These bought backlinks may point to spammy, low-quality websites that do not provide relevant authority. Since they are irrelevant, your control over their anchor text diminishes.
Dangers of Excessive Link Exchanges
Link exchange is an SEO practice where two websites agree to regularly link out to each other’s content. This collaboration has benefits, but doing this method too often has disadvantages.
Google detects when sites gain backlinks in irregular patterns, such as receiving them too fast or too much through the same domains.
If they notice this behavior, they penalize the site with lower SERP rankings or remove them from SERPs entirely.
Link equity lessens since the backlinks always direct from the same site, affecting your domain authority score.
While collaborating with related sites is good, sticking to the same external sites lessens your chances of link exchanges with higher-authority sites.
Too many backlinks from the same link exchanges also lower user experience as they get redirected to the same external site.
Finally, algorithm changes can affect current SERP rankings, and relying on the same external sites makes you vulnerable to these changes.
Avoiding Irrelevant and Low-Quality Links
Some sites have irrelevant and low-quality links due to link farming.
Link farming happens when a site creates fake links to other sites to boost its SERP rankings. With automated scripts and programs, these links contain little to no content.
Search engines recognize link farming and penalize these sites immediately. Now, avoiding link farming will help your site stay on the SERPs and ensure your content doesn’t violate search engine guidelines.
Another backlink technique to avoid is private blog networks (PBN). Private blog networks exist solely to provide backlinks to other sites.
Though this concept may sound helpful if you need to grow your backlink profile, there are more private blog network drawbacks than there are benefits:
  • PBNs violate Google Webmaster Quality guidelines due to their manipulation tactics toward SERP rankings.
  • PBNs do not offer any real value or relevance.
  • PBNs put your SERP ranking at risk.
  • Google automatically detects low-quality links and ignores them, affecting your domain authority score.
Quantity is only part of link building. In the end, quality always matters more.
The Consequences of Black-Hat SEO Techniques
Black hat SEO techniques manipulate search engines to gain high rankings.
Google’s AI and other technologies are learning to detect black hat SEO practices faster, and search engines are stricter against any site using them.
Your site will be penalized for using black hat SEO, and user experience will suffer. Users do not gain relevant information from your backlinks, lessening their chances of returning or exploring your site more.
As such, if you want your site to grow organically, it is in your best interests to avoid black hat SEO techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out these common questions about backlinks to learn more about this SEO cornerstone.
Backlinks signal to search engines that other websites trust your content as a reference, potentially boosting your site’s SERP ranking.
You can check your backlink profile through backlink analysis tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs. These tools give a comprehensive overview of all your backlinks.
A good backlink should have these qualities:
  • Be highly relevant to your site’s niche
  • Provide additional and accurate information
  • Have a high domain authority and trust ratio score
  • Have high-quality, SEO-friendly content
  • Come from various relevant domains
These are some ways to get high-quality backlinks:
  • Create relevant content for related sites to link out to.
  • Use the skyscraper technique.
  • Update outdated links with new content.
  • Use HARO to answer queries.
  • Publish press releases.
  • Recover lost or broken backlinks.
  • Use broken link building to find dead pages within related sites and submit new content.
These are important things to avoid during link-building:
  • Buying backlinks
  • Using private blog networks
  • Relying on link exchanges
  • Using low-quality and irrelevant links
  • Other black hat SEO practices

Conclusion

Even as Google’s search algorithm changes over time, backlinks remain an integral metric determining any site’s success on SERPs.
Using backlinks properly and organically gaining backlinks increases traffic, user experience, and engagement. Building relationships with related sites broadens visibility, introducing new audiences to your content.
Remember that search engines can and will quickly detect illegal link-building practices. Ensure any backlink is of high quality, use legitimate techniques, and continuously monitor their performance to know what to improve.