Local SEO

WHAT ARE BACKLINKS IN SEO?

By Daniel Dahlen

December 8th 2022

In my dozen+ years of working in the SEO world, there may not be a more widely debated topic than links (and specifically backlinks) – and for good reason: it’s why the “web” is “the web”.

What Are Links?

A “link” in this context is short for hyperlink, which is a clickable (or tapable) reference in an digital document (source) that points to another digital document or resource (target). The text that is used when linking from the source article is called anchor text. More on that term below.

What Are Backlinks?

A backlink, quite simply, is the inbound link that points to a particular web page. When discussing backlinks you’re talking about links from the point-of-view of the link’s target page. That is, where the link points to (where you end up after clicking or tapping a link).

Why Could Backlinks Be Important In SEO?

Understanding the backlinks to a particular web page can be useful in understanding that page’s importance or relevancy about a topic. If a particular web page has thousands of backlinks from several different source web pages, it could be a sign that it’s a useful, important page.

Optimizing the anchor text used for backlinks and increasing the number of backlinks to a web page (link building) is a common tactic that’s been around since the very early days of SEO. As with many traditional SEO tactics, as you’ll see below, linkbuilding can be prone to abuse and manipulation.

Are All Backlinks Good?

You can’t say “this page has the most backlinks, so it’s the most important and should rank first”. If that were the case, then it would be a race to get the most number of backlinks from the most number of web pages — no matter what those web pages were about; even from spam or lowest quality sites. This, as you can imagine, can lead to abuse. Is that page the most relevant or important? Or do they just have the most resources to acquire the most number of links?

As search engines have evolved over the years, it has become increasingly important to not just build the quantity of backlinks, but also the quality of backlinks. Backlinks from industry-relevant and/or niche directories, local business organizations, verified business listings and other trustworthy sources could be a place your ideal customers might find you organically online or use to research and verify your company’s activities & associations.