What Is a Backlink?

What Is a Backlink?
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What is a backlink? A backlink is a link from one website to another. If you’re a website owner, a backlink is a link from another website to yours. Backlinks are used by Google as a search enginge optimization (SEO) ranking factor.

While the definition of a backlink is simple, the process of acquiring them for SEO gains is fraught with misunderstandings and disagreements, plus a lot of manipulation in the early years of SEO.

While SEO myths still exist today, the process of “link building” has greatly matured and, for the most part, is no longer a spammy practice.

Google uses backlinks as a ranking factor because they act like “votes” for your site. If someone is linking to you, it’s usually because you provide more valuable information or are a subject matter expert. Both of those reasons for linking are a “hey, this site is great” signal for search engines.

The real value of backlinks is when you get multiple around a certain subject pointing to your content about said subject. That’s a strong indication that you’re the subject matter expert, and Google can be confident about serving your content higher in search results around said subject. Read up on Google’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) for more on subject matter expertise.

Backlink quick facts

  • Backlinks aren’t just there for Google — they’re for users! A user is meant to follow the link to gain more knowledge or resources around their query, meaning you’re getting referral traffic via those links.
  • Backlinks can be either Dofollow or Nofollow.
  • There are many tools that exist that’ll find all your backlinks — just search for “backlink tool” and pick one that fits your needs.
  • Google also provides a link tool within Search Console, although it doesn’t provide as much data as other tools.

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About the author

Jolissa Skow

An English degree gives me writing skills, 6 years of SEO agency experience gives me digital marketing knowledge, and my content strategy experience rolls all those things together to make one pretty knowledgeable and skilled marketing writer. I'm published on UpCity, Salesforce, G2, and more. I'm also an avid reader and run a book blog in my spare time.