Backlinks are links from an external webpage that direct traffic to your domain. These inbound links or incoming links are backlinks that can give a thumbs up to notify search engines the linked website has great content.
When using a backlink, the referring web page is using their domain authority and website ranking to vouch for the credentials of the site they’re linking to, and referring users to it. The healthier a backlink profile is, the better a search engine will index the website.
How do Backlinks Impact SEO?
Backlinks are a major metric for website ranking, often considered one of Google’s three primary ranking factors. As webmasters first became aware of the importance of backlinks, many began to game the system, building link farms to send hundreds of links to their site, adding links in comment sections and paying for links. Over time, Google’s search algorithm has been refined to weed out any spammy or low-quality links.
Today, high-quality backlinks are a prime currency of ranking. They work by essentially acting as a vote in a popularity contest; the more votes (aka “links”) you have from the prom committee (aka “other reputable sites in your niche”), the more likely you are to be prom queen (aka “top organic position” on search engine results pages).
“Authority” is a web performance metric tied to your backlink profile. The more backlinks your site has from a wider range of sources, the more authority your site has in the eyes of Google and the higher you’ll rank in search.
What is a Healthy Backlink Profile?
There are three main factors that contribute to a healthy backlink profile:
- Number of backlinks
- Authority of link sources
- Diversity of backlinks
A healthy backlink profile should have a large number of backlinks, links from quality sources, links from reputable websites and come from a wide range of sources.
While you certainly want a large number of backlinks, keep in mind that quality is always better than quantity. Avoid spammy websites that let anyone link to their site from theirs as that will likely be viewed as a low-quality link source and will have no impact on your site’s authority (or worse, could potentially hurt it).
Websites that have (.edu), (.gov), or (.org) will carry the heaviest authority and will boost your website’s trust in the eyes search engines.
The authority of other websites that have (.com) or (.net) is dependent on the relevant content and overall domain authority. One backlink from The Washington Post will be insurmountably better than 1,000 backlinks from spammy foreign websites.
As you build your site’s backlink profile, make sure to monitor the credibility of your backlink profile through useful tools such as Google Search Console, Moz Backlink Checker or Ahrefs Site Explorer.
How Can I Build Backlinks to my Website?
Building backlinks takes time, patience. In most cases, interacting with another human being through the development of mutually-beneficial relationships.
There are several different approaches to building backlinks:
- Content sharing – Content sharing is still a common method of building backlinks to one’s site. In simple terms, you exchange a piece of original content for a link back to your site, usually in the author byline or bio. Guest posting is a very common version of content sharing, but this model can also extend to graphics, videos and even social interactions.
- Broken link building – Broken link building is the process of capturing broken inbound links to your site or that of your competitors where you have a relevant piece of content. An example would be if you, a tire supplier, found that a manufacturer has a link to a competitor’s Tire Sizing Guide page that no longer works. In an effort to capture that broken link, you would build a comparable page and reach out to the site owner and request that they update the broken link with a relevant new URL. The exchange here is that you’re providing them a way to be helpful to their customers. Also, nobody wants a broken link on their site.
- The Skyscraper Technique – The Skyscraper Technique was officially coined by Backlinko’s Brian Dean and is the method of developing shareable content for the purpose of organically growing links to your site. This method is highly time consuming and resource intensive, but if executed properly, it can dramatically change the traffic trajectory of your site. You can learn more about that method here.
There are several other strategies that we simply don’t have time to cover here, so we recommend that you do your own research if you want to learn more about link building techniques.
When it comes to getting quality backlinks for your website, keep in mind the overall philosophy of how search engines crawl websites and content. Search engines desire great content on reputable websites without spammy links or references.
Writing original evergreen content, focusing on writing for the purpose to solve a problem of a consumer, or crafting quality material are sure-fire ways to start to build backlinks for your site.
How to use Backlinks to Increase Your eCommerce SEO Strategy
As we stated, backlink building is a sure-fire way to incrementally grow your site’s authority, and thus, its rankings. But growing your backlink profile isn’t easy – it’s a research-, time-, and content-intensive strategy that involves aspects of SEO, email outreach, content writing and more.
Remember that you are reaching out to another human being to collaborate and create a mutually beneficial backlink! Focus on finding a direct point of contact between your brand and theirs. Interacting on LinkedIn, reaching out to whoever may own the blog page or a personalized email are the best ways to connect.