What in the world is a backlink?

If you’re new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’ll have to get used to hearing the term “backlinks” a lot as it often gets used in SEO-related conversations. To put it simply, a backlink is a link from one website to a different website. To give you a better idea, a typical conversation involving backlinks might go something like this:

Bob: Hello John, how many backlinks does your website have? John: Oh, about 3 backlinks.

Okay, but why are backlinks so important?.

If you’ve ever wondered how the search results in Google are ranked, you’d be surprised to know that the results are generated based on Google’s algorithm that consists of over 200 ranking factors/signals.

So how do backlinks come into play here? If you haven't guessed it by now, backlinks are one of Google’s more important ranking factors. To put it simply, not all factors are created equal. Some factors out of the 200 plus mentioned give lesser impact while others give a more significant impact. In this case, when compared to some of the factors, obtaining backlinks to your website usually show more results in a shorter amount of time in regards to helping a website rank higher in the search results.


Is there only one type of backlink?

Currently, there are a few types of backlinks that exist such as sponsored and ugc links but to keep things simple, we’ll only highlight the two main types which are dofollow and nofollow backlinks.

The backlink that you want is dofollow as it passes link juice and lets Google know that the webpage that it is linking to is trustable. A nofollow backlink usually does not pass link juice as it is basically hinting to Google that it does not endorse the webpage it is linking to and that it should be ignored. Nofollow backlinks are commonly seen in the comments section of blog posts to prevent spam.

To give you an idea of how dofollow and nofollow links look like, here’s an example. This word is a dofollow link. If you right click on the anchor text “word” and click inspect, you’ll see that the source code looks something like this:


The above is a dofollow link while a nofollow link would look something like this:

"href=”https://dataasservices.com/” rel=”nofollow”>word<"

I get it. Dofollow backlinks are important. So basically having more dofollow backlinks is better right?

Yes and no. When it comes to backlinks, there are three things to consider. The type, quality and quantity of backlinks. We’ve already covered the topic on the type of backlink that is preferred so now we’ll discuss the quality and quantity of backlinks.

Ideally, you’d want as many quality backlinks to your website as possible. However, we live in a harsh world where we don’t always get what we want so if a choice has to be made between quality and quantity, choose quality over quantity everytime.

Think of it this way. Backlinks are like votes of confidence in real life. Would you rather have a single vote of confidence from the CEO of Tesla or five votes from employees of an unknown company? Exactly. CEO of Tesla every single time. The same thing applies in the SEO realm. If you had to choose between a backlink from Tesla’s website or 5 backlinks from unknown blogs, choosing the backlink from Tesla would be the wiser choice.

Right, so how do I obtain backlinks from other websites?

Basically, it’s the same thing when you want something in real life. There are a multitude of ways to obtain backlinks especially if you have a knack for creativity. You can work hard for it by writing informational blog posts which people will naturally link to and guest posting on other websites or you can use quick but illegal methods such as buying backlinks from shady websites. Of course, this comes with the added risk of being caught and penalized by Google and other search engines.

In the SEO world, we coin honest SEO tactics as “White Hat SEO” and illegal SEO tactics as “Black Hat SEO.” My advice, stick to White Hat SEO if you’re in it for the long run.

If you’d like to know more on how to identify the quality of backlinks or how to obtain backlinks via both White Hat and Black Hat SEO in detail, stay tuned for future posts!

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