What are backlinks? And why do you need them?
A backlink is simply a link from an outside source to your website.
So what it means is, that someone else is linking to your website.
When it comes to backlinks more is better. But in order to be effective, backlinks must come from quality websites.
If you’re new to SEO, you might be a tad bit confused with all the different terms that you come across ... backlinks, linkbacks, inbound links ... Don’t be! They all mean the same thing.
They all mean that another website is linking to your site.
Google (and the other search engines) see these links as recommendations that a website is worth checking out. So the more “recommendations” you have, the more likely that Google will rank your website higher in its search results. Ideally you should aim to get your website on the first page of Google search results, because the higher your position, the more people will see your website.
So essentially Google sees inbound links, as a type of “word of mouth advertising” from other websites. Whoever links to your site is telling Google that they think your website has great content and that more people should check it out. Thus it needs higher rankings.
Let’s take a very common example of how a typical backlink looks like.
Say you’re browsing Website A and on a particular page you see a word or phrase that is blue and underlined.
Most probably that would be a link that you can click on to get further information. If that link takes you to Website B than that means that Website B got a backlink from Website A.
To Google, this will mean that Website A recommends Website B as a great resource on a specific topic.
Not all backlinks are blue and underlined though. Some webmasters change link colors to blend in with the website’s look and feel.
If you yourself comment on a blog, then that is another example of a backlink to your website. However in order for this to happen, the blog owner must allow visitors to add their website in the comment box. (I give many more tips on how to get backlinks throughout this 7-Part Article Series).
In the example above, you can see what a typical blog commenting box looks like. So you'd usually have a name field and an email field. Sometimes a blog owner de-activates the option of inputting your website URL. In that case, you won't get a backlink if you comment on that blog, because you won't have the ability to include your website's address.
If you look at the caption above though, the owner/publisher of this blog allows visitors to add their websites.
Therefore, if I had to comment on that blog, I will then type in my website's URL i.e. www.webtrafficzebra.com. As soon as my comment is accepted, the words that I put in the name field will become a clickable link that will take anyone who clicks on it to my website.
First off, what is a "do follow" link and what is a "no follow"?
A no follow link means that the search engines will not transfer the PageRank or anchor text across that link. Moreover, when the link is a no follow, the search engines will not crawl the site where the link goes to.
So what is a do follow link then?
To put it simply, a do follow link essentially tells Google (and the other search engines) that it is OK to pass on credibility to that website.
So say Website A is an established site in its niche and on one of its pages, there is an outbound link to Website B.
If the webmaster of Website A makes that outbound link do follow, then he is telling Google that he thinks that they should "check out" Website B because it's a good site. He will also be passing on some of his website's credibility to the other website. So if Website B is a fairly new site, this will be of great benefit to it!
I like to compare this whole "do follow" thing, to fame by association. So in the example given above, from Google's perspective, Website B is "famous" because it's "hanging out" with Website A! Get the picture?
So as you can see, do follow links are more valuable. However, be careful not to overdo it. Your link profile should be as diversified as possible, otherwise you risk raising a red flag with the search engines!
Now that we got the "What are backlinks?" question out of the way, it's time to focus on how to get and monitor inbound links, so proceed with reading the rest of the articles in this series.
This is Part 1 of a FREE 7-Part Article Series on Post Penguin Link Building.