Why are backlinks important for SEO?

5 min read
23 Feb 2024
Why are backlinks important for SEO?


Understanding links

To understand the importance of link building you should be familiar with the structure of a link, how is it seen by the internet browser and what it means to Google robots. Each link consists of:

  • Beginning of a link tag (<a): these two simple characters open the HTML link tag and inform the search engine that it is worthwhile tracking it
  • Location of the link (href =? www.example.com?>: The text in quotes points to the location where the link is to be sent. It doesn’t always have to be a website – it may well be directed to an image or a file.
  • Anchor text: a piece of text that the user sees on the page. By clicking on it you open a hyperlink. The anchor is usually formatted to stand out from the normal text (usually links are blue and have underlining).
  • Closing of the link tag (</a>): it signals to the browser that the link ends here.

Search engines and links:

Search engines use links in two ways:

1)     For discovering new websites

2)     It’s one of the factors that helps to rank the crawled page in search engine results

When a search engine robot crawls a website, it can download its content and index it. Indexing helps the crawler decide if the site quality is good enough to be ranked well. However, the content of the site is not the only ranking factor. The number of links that lead to the site from external sources and the quality of these links also play an important role in this process. The more high-quality external links that lead to your website, the better rankings in search engine pages you will get.

Links as a ranking factor were what enabled Google to gain an advantage in the search engine market in the late 90s. One of Google’s founders; Larry Page, patented the so-called PageRank, which was used to measure the quality of a given page (based solely on links). The links were seen (and still are) as votes of trust for the site. At the base of the logic is the point that someone would not link to the site if it didn’t deserve it.

However, SEOs very quickly discovered that it’s quite easy to manipulate the results of PageRank and search results for selected phrases. It forced Google to release more and more updates to their algorithms to filter out the websites that didn’t deserve high rankings. Some of the link building techniques were also blacklisted by the Big G as unethical. An example here can be placing a site in the catalogue and getting a link back. At some point, this method was even recommended by Google, but once again, because of the abuses, it’s now considered a shady link building tactic.

No SEO knows exactly how the Google algorithm works. It’s kept confidential and Google will never reveal the exact ranking methods. However, we know for sure that links still play a huge role in the current ranking algorithms.

Everything you need to know about ‘nofollow’:

There is one attribute that you can add to the standard link.  It’s: ‘Nofollow’. When ‘Nofollow’ is added; the end user won’t notice a difference but the link code itself looks a bit different:

<a href =? http: //www.example.com? rel =? nofollow?> Example <a/>

Note that rel =? Nofollow? has occurred in the structure. This section tells Google not to follow the link in the indexation process and not take it into account when evaluating the page. Therefore, the URL to which this link is pointing won’t get any ‘link juice’ that could help with the rankings.

You may be wondering why is ‘Nofollow’ attribute needed if it doesn’t add any value. It’s used quite often on:

  • comments on blog posts
  • posts on forums
  • comments in the guestbook
  • Wiki pages
  • Yahoo! answers

It’s easy to add links to these pages and it would be impractical to moderate each one of the links separately. Therefore, by using the ‘Nofollow’ attribute the problem solves itself.

What can I gain by building links?

As mentioned earlier, links are extremely important for search engines in determining the ranking position. Therefore, the more links you point to your website, the better your page will be positioned. In addition, there are other benefits of link building, which may not seem so obvious at first glance:

  • Building partnerships – Link building often allows you to catch up with other important websites and blogs in your industry. Mutual exchange of links and good relations accelerate the development and marketing efforts
  • Increased traffichigh-quality links can attract new users to your site
  • Branding – extremely important nowadays in the Online Marketing realm. Acquiring good links allows you to build trust and become an authority in your niche.
Written By
Adam is the founder of Contactora and chief strategist. Having worked in Digital marketing for over 10 years and in SEO for 7+ years he has gain a wealth of knowledge and insights.
You will also like these