Is backlinking dead? The short answer is no. In fact, it is more alive than ever.
Backlinks are extremely important for SEO performance because they are the foundation of ranking. There have been countless independent studies in the SEO industry proving the impact of backlinks on organic search performance. While Google’s algorithms have undergone numerous changes over the last decade to improve the overall user experience, high-quality backlinks to your website continue to be one of the most important ranking signals.
In September 2020, a Forbes article claimed that backlinking is out and SEOs should focus on the content to rank a web page. Although on-page content is important, believing that backlinking doesn’t impact SEO is wrong. In fact, it’s critical to regularly try for link-building to boost your brand’s ranking and conversion prospects.
Are you unsure where to begin? Then this is this article is for you! Today, we’ll discuss what are backlinks and why they remain relevant in 2022.
What is a Backlink?
A backlink is sometimes referred to as an inbound link or hyperlink. Backlinks are incoming links from other web pages to your own website. Google considers backlinks between two websites to be a “seal of approval.” A page’s likelihood of ranking at the top of Google increases with the number of (quality) backlinks it has. On the other hand, the higher a page ranks, the simpler it is to acquire backlinks for it.
Ya know when you’re reading something online and there is blue, underlined text in the article that you can click on? The text that you can click on is what we call “anchor text” and is ‘backlinks’ to another website. And if you want to get a little more technical, sometimes you’ll find an image is clickable, when the link is made an image it’s still a backlink but has the added feature of utilizing ‘alternative text’ which is ‘hidden’ text that is descriptive of the image and explains what happens if you click on the image (ie: ABC Company logo opens website design contact page).
Let’s take a look at an example of what backlinks look like.
In this NSDS blog post, the highlighted words “a Hubspot study,” and “Google,” are the hyperlinks that link to other websites. These anchor texts are perfectly acceptable as they are relevant to what’s on the website page that opens once the hyperlink is clicked.
What Constitutes a Quality Backlink?
Not all links are created equal. Some can damage your site instead of helping it rank. Several factors determine the value of a backlink Some of these are as follows:
A backlink to your website should be directly related to or relevant to the content of your website or page. If an external website or page has relevance for a particular location or niche and links to you, that relevance is transferred to your site. Think of other online profiles like Social Media, review sites, or industry-specific sites (ie: Clutch for NSDS).
This is a measure of the ranking authority that a link carries across. A backlink from a website that has earned a high level of trust from search engines is beneficial since its authority is transferred to your webpage. For instance, if you get a backlink from an authority site like the CT Post, Forbes or CNN, it can help you rank faster. The authority of an external website is established by its age, quality, and size.
A high-quality backlink results in more traffic to your website. Referral traffic generates leads that have more potential for conversion.
The location of a backlink determines its quality. This is because a link that is prominently displayed on the main content area of an external page will almost certainly attract people’s attention. Using an eye-catching typeface and color scheme also helps in generating more clicks.
- Anchor Text
Anchor text refers to the clickable words that comprise a backlink. The more relevant it is to your website, the more effective the backlink, which should include the phrase for which you’re attempting to rank. Relevant anchor text improves search engine relevance signals while also enhancing user experience.
- Dofollow Links
Nofollow backlinks do not help you from an SEO perspective. No follow tag communicates to search engine bots that the connecting page should not convey authority to the destination website. As a result, your page rank will not improve. Instead, getting dofollow links can help you rank better. SEMRush released this article recently which goes a bit more indepth on this topic if you’re interested.
Reasons why Backlinks are Important
Backlinks remain a crucial factor for search engine rankings as well as for improving conversions. Here are four reasons why backlinks are important.
- Domain Authority is an Important SEO Factor
Domain Rating or Domain Authority refers to a score between 0 to 100 determined by the total number of backlinks as well as the relative authority of those hyperlinks. A high domain rating indicates that the site has a large number of excellent backlinks.
Domain authority is an important ranking factor. For example, if we type “best players” in the Google search bar, the results that appear are in ascending order with reference to page authority or the number of links they have.
There are several examples of it. This proves that authoritative sites with loads of good backlinks tend to rank higher. Several studies prove that point. A study by Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million Google search results to find out that No.1 result in Google has an average of 3.2 times more backlinks than positions 2 to 10.
Similarly, another study by Search Engine Land also concludes that quality backlinks are one of the top 3 ranking factors in Google. These studies indicate that backlinks are extremely important to rank higher in search engine rankings.
- Trustworthiness and Credibility
Backlinks continue to be a source of trustworthiness and credibility, both for search engines as well as human beings. Each backlink that you get from a different domain is seen as a “vote of trust” by Google. The more votes of trust you get the better your chances are to rank higher in search engine rankings.
Besides search engines, even human beings see backlinks from an authoritative site as a source of credibility and authority. Especially if you own a small business, getting links from other important websites can help you greatly. It can get you a huge credibility boost when you get links from industry leaders.
Think about a time you were looking for an answer online (nausea remedy, organic gardening advice, organization tips). Chances are good that you found a couple of “Top Tips” articles and inside those articles were links out to specific products (the digital equivalent of ‘as seen on tv”). Each of those links was a ‘back link’ and if you’re like me, you have probably clicked on and have purchased a few things found in articles like that.
- Increased Visibility and Exposure
Obtaining backlinks from prominent and authoritative websites is an excellent strategy to increase your web page’s visibility. This is because search engine bots frequently visit the more popular pages. If there are new links in those authoritative pages, the pages to which they are linked, also get indexed and ranked faster. They are actual signals that indicate the trustworthiness of your website. Eventually, this prompts search engines to rank your websites higher.
One way of getting more backlinks from relevant authoritative websites is through guest blogging. While doing so, keep in mind that you must not guest blog for links. Rather, guest blog only when you have an interesting insight to share. Authentic guest blogging can help you get a great boost by getting links from these authoritative websites. This way, your website pages get ranked faster and easier.
Another great way of getting backlinks is to make yourself more visible in the community, support local events, and ask for mentions of your business/name on other sites to be hyperlinked back to your website. Recently, North Star owner, Tara Meeker, was voted ‘Milford’s 2022 Local Business Person Of The Year’ by her peers on alignable.com. This accolade was covered in several Herst Media outlets after NSDS sent a related press release letting them know about the accolade.
It’s important to let local publications know about accolades, events, contents… anything special in the community you’re doing, involved in, or have been acknowledged for. Local Publications are avid supporters of local businesses and are usually eager to highlight such things. We recommend our clients send short press releases to editors with basic details as a heads-up to such things and then let the editors reach out from there. Here’s a nice tip sheet for writing press releases from Indeed.
- More Referral Traffic
The term “referral traffic” refers to traffic that originates from an external website. It’s critical since it directs potential buyers to your website who believe in the recommendations of the website from which they clicked the link. This exposes your content to new audiences, allowing your website to convert the visitor into a lead.
While submitting your website to online directories is one of the simplest ways to generate referral traffic, you do not want to submit to every directory available. Rather than that, prioritize those that are most relevant to your industry.
At NSDS, we regularly generate referral traffic from local citations. An example of it is this backlink from a local directory about web designers in Connecticut. This backlink is quite relevant and credible.
Even in 2022, backlinks are still one of the most valuable SEO tactics available. It’s a surefire strategy to improve not only your search rankings but also your conversions when combined with quality content.
You may start seeing the huge impact of these backlinks once you use the right link-building tactics. At NSDS, we regularly perform backlink analyses of our client’s website as well as their competitors’ sites to suggest the best route for off-page SEO.
Backlink, Keyword, and competitor analysis is the keystone (and a pre-requisite) of website development strategy through the service can be purchased as a separate line item. Interested in getting your Keyword Research, Competitor Analysis, and Backlink Review? Schedule a consultation and get started here!
PS: Be wary of super cheap backlinking services. Quality backlinks are not achieved overnight. Outside the above-mentioned Press release styled ‘backlinking requests”, we feel listings and directory management is the first step most businesses should take related to backlinking. This is a niche service often offered by experienced marketing agencies like The Janice Christopher Agency (who we recommend for such things and use ourselves). Once your listings management is under control, then there are many credible backlink strategies agencies like JCA can help implement for you.