A Beginner's Guide To Understanding Backlinks

Link building has evolved into a highly effective and advanced digital marketing tactic, implemented to increase a website’s domain authority and ranking, among other competitive advantages. In simple terms, link building is the strategic acquisition of backlinks from another website to yours. These links direct users to relevant pages that contain related content. 

Understanding the value of backlinks and how to use them in your optimization strategies is the first step towards proactively growing your online business and presence, eventually, allowing you to achieve your marketing goals.  

Nuances of Backlinks

Not to be confused with internal hyperlinks, external backlinks or inbound links are formed when one website links to another. When a website acquires a range of links back to them from other legitimate sites, this tells search engines that they contain credible and valuable content that’s worthy of being displayed towards the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). They’re essentially a means of an endorsement.

There are two primary advantages of backlinks:

  • Increase relevance

  • Build trust

Backlinks also benefit websites by driving higher referral traffic and helping them rank higher in searches.

SEO and the Importance of Link Building

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved into a core strategy of online marketing and has been tremendously impacted by aggressive competition. SEO strategies are dependent on the fundamentals of link building, which include keyword research and targeting the right audience with worthy and authoritative content. 

Google has revolutionized the SEO market with advanced algorithms and its primary mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google’s ‘crawlers’ patrol websites to extract and validate their content. These crawlers navigate around websites by grabbing onto links. Links are recognized as ‘votes’ or indicators that your website is credible, relevant, and valuable, which improves search engine rankings. 

With these considerations, external link building with backlinks is one of the best approaches to a strong SEO strategy:

  • Organization of content

  • Relevance and usefulness of content

Quality and positioning of content will generate higher PR (Public Relations), which is the backbone of link building. 

Google Ranking Parameters and Factors

There are about 200 known ranking factors used by Google, and backlinks are among the top eight on the list. In addition to their frequency of visitation and visibility, websites are ranked based on the quantity and quality of internal or external links. Therefore, websites with more backlinks earn higher organic rankings on major search engines. This makes link-building a highly effective and results-driven growth strategy for websites to use, provided that it’s based on trust and popularity. 

There are a range of components to Google’s ranking algorithm, which are all subject to change and updates. The top 3 criteria include:

  • Trust and authority of a host domain

  • Link popularity of a specific page

  • Anchor text of external backlinks to a page

Organic vs. Inorganic Backlink Acquisition

For long-term success and optimization, naturally acquiring and utilizing backlinks is considered the best approach to link building. Organic link acquisition implies that links are earned, not purchased or obtained any other way that involves promotion or monetary exchanges.

Organic links don’t do the following:

  • Have tracking parameters

  • Appear within sponsored or advertised content

  • Redirect through monetization tools

Inorganic links can actually be harmful to a website’s authority and credibility. It’s considered cheating or tricking visitors by misleading them into thinking the quality and authenticity of the website is validated by other authority websites and search engines. Google can, and sometimes, penalize websites for using inorganic link building, which will inevitably deplete a website’s ranking status. 

Acquiring backlinks and adding too many too quickly can also be a red flag since it’s a manipulation tactic to Google and other major search engines. A more strategic approach is to help search engines to index your content, and then start increasing your visibility and credibility with quality links. 

How To Earn Links Naturally 

Implementing a strategic approach for natural link building campaigns is the first step towards earning quality backlinks for a website. Here are some useful and effective methods and tactics to consider:

  • Claim unlinked mentions: Mentions are like untapped sources of potential and impactful endorsement. Tracking brand mentions on blogs and in news articles can help identify authors and publishers who can provide backlink attribution to a sourced website. 


  • Contextual links: Sections of online articles often contain backlinks to relevant content, which is a prime backlink opportunity to capitalize on. 


  • Outreach to key influencers: Another known and effective strategy for earning backlinks is to boost PR by reaching out to industry influencers, such as journalists and bloggers. Unique data stands out more when it gains higher visibility in social media. Every quote earns a backlink, which promotes a reputation as a trusted authority and drives referral traffic. 


  • Free-to-use online tools: Creating online tools, such as calculators and template builders, can generate more inbound traffic and earn valuable backlinks. Designing the tool with simplicity and with customization options is the optimal way to attract new and returning visitors to a website, allowing you to gain link attribution from authority domains of the specific industry or niche topic you’re in.  


  • Visual Content: Infographics, diagrams, templates, and photo galleries can visually stimulate an audience and become a means of earning backlinks. A creative campaign is highly advantageous for building brand awareness and gaining mentions on social media. It also increases the incentive for other websites to host backlinks to a source that has well-constructed and strategic visualizations since this saves them the trouble of investing in time-consuming or labor-intensive content.


Key Metrics of High Authority Sources for Backlinks

To assess the quality of backlink sources, here are some important metrics and standards worth considering:

  • Domain authority and relevance

  • Trust flow

  • Citation flow

  • Keywords and anchor text



Creating and deploying an effective digital marketing strategy with backlink building requires considerable effort, time, and tactical decisions, but it pays off greatly in the long run. The acquisition and implementation of backlinks is a growth-focused investment in the value of a website, impacting and contributing to sustainable success. 

Understanding how backlinks can play a strategic role in SEO and market share is crucial to acquiring them from the best sources and leveraging their usefulness in a scalable way. 

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