What is a Link?
A link, also known as inbound links or backlinks, is a hyperlink placed on a webpage, targeting another webpage on a different website or domain. The webpage being linked to would be the one which built or acquired a backlink.
Why Do Backlinks Matter?
Backlinks can increase the value of a site, especially in the eyes of search engines. When executed properly, link building strategies can significantly improve PageRank and directly affect the popularity and profitability of a website.
Backlinks Are Popularity Signals to Google
When other sites link to your site, search engines consider that to mean your site has quality, authoritative content that supports content on the original site. Content can be powerful when it tells a great story. And, when additional sites link to yours, your site rises in its level of importance, because more people consider it as a reliable source of value.
What is Link Building?
Link Building, the process of getting other websites to link to yours, requires patience and discipline because quality matters. If a website Google rates as “spammy” or of small importance, a link from that site to yours can hurt your website in search engine results. When learning how to build links, webmasters should, therefore, focus on authoritative, high-quality sites that already rank high in the search engines.
Good vs. Bad Links
Not every link to your website can help you. In fact, some of the easiest ways to get links either don’t promote your site, or they hurt it for SEO. In the early days of SEO, website owners could create links in website directories, where anyone could create a listing. Web directories did not indicate value or authority, because anyone could create an entry for any website, without any validation. Nowadays, search engines consider a web directory as “spammy” and penalize sites with inbound links that come from them.
Website owners learning how to build links can quickly create links to their sites by leaving comments in blogs and review websites. Although this strategy can build credibility for a website, they usually offer no SEO value.
A good link comes from an existing high-quality website that already ranks high in search engine results. These sites contain valuable content, so the sites to which they refer their users usually also have value. When a quality website refers visitors to your site, search engines will rank your site higher for relevant searches.
What is Anchor Text and How Does It Affect Me?
When creating a link, webmasters must associate the link with specific words on a page. Described as “anchor text,” these words usually have something to do with the link, so a reader can click the link and get relevant information.
When a webmaster highlights words and associates them with your website, search engines learn that your site has valuable content that relates to those words and ranks your website higher when users search for those words.
Other Reasons for Link Building
Although link building strategies often help SEO efforts, they can also offer other benefits. For example, visitors who click a link to your site validate themselves as genuinely interested in your content, making them easier to convert to customers.
Link building also builds value for your brand and reputation, because users of the referring website consider a link to yours as a validation of the quality and authority of your site.