What are Backlinks and How Do They Work?

What are Backlinks and How Do They Work?

Backlinks are links from outside domains that point to pages on your domain; essentially linking back from their domain to yours.

Whenever backlinks occur (particularly quality backlinks), it is like receiving “a vote” for a webpage. The more votes you get from sites with authority, the more positive an effect on a site’s SEO (rankings and search visibility).

Tip: Follow links pass link equity, while NoFollow links do not. 

Site owners need to make sure they follow Google Webmaster Guidelines on links to ensure they attract high quality links that are not part of a link building scheme. 

What are backlinks?

To a larger degree, your backlink profile is made up of backlinks from external sites (also known as referring domains) that contribute to the overall strength, relevance, and diversity of your domain’s backlink profile.

The total number of backlinks can often include many links from the same referring domain or multiple referring domains. It’s common for referring domains to link back to your content if it is relevant, authoritative, or useful in some way to their domain. In an ideal world, that’s how backlinks are accumulated; unique content that other websites want to be associated with.

Generally speaking, backlinks are considered to be a “vote” of confidence for the content that’s being linked to your domain from outside sources.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are important for Search Engines and users alike. From a user’s perspective, backlinks provide a way for people to find other sources of information on the same or related topics.

For example, if the consumer is visiting a page about the “best smartphones” he might find links to other carriers, cell phone providers, or user-generated review pages. Links create a solid consumer experience because they transfer the user directly to additional desirable information if needed.

For Search Engines, backlinks help to determine the page’s importance and value (i.e. authority). Historically, the number of backlinks was an indicator of a page’s popularity. Today, due to the way backlinks are evaluated based on different industry-related ranking factors, it is less quantity-focused and more about the quality of sites from which the links are coming.

Alternatively, too many backlinks from many unreliable domains can hinder the authoritative signals of your domain.

How Do You Build Backlinks?

Now that you know that backlinks are important, how do you get other links to your site? What’s the best strategy to get website links pointing to and from your site?

Link building is critical to the success of any SEO campaign when it comes to ranking organically.

Simply having thousands of backlinks or only having links from one website isn’t going to affect your rank position. 

Despite having worked in the past, those strategies are outdated. Today’s backlink guidelines revolve around your content and overall authority on a topic, which can be achieved by: 

  • Guest bloggers creating content on your site
  • Original research with insights
  • Building relationships with influencers
  • Write quality blog posts for other sites in your industry
  • Link reclamation

There are also many ways to manage and understand your backlink profile. Majestic, Buzzstream, and Moz offer tools to help you manage URLs and optimize your link profile.

seoClarity offers an integration with Majestic, the largest link index database, that integrates link profile management into your entire SEO and digital marketing strategy.


Getting unique and authoritative links is crucial for a higher ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and improving your SEO altogether.

Google’s algorithm for the evaluation of links evolved in recent years and focused on quality links, not quantity. This created a more challenging process to gain high-quality backlinks within your SEO strategy.

External links still matter and aren’t obsolete, so start working on a link-building strategy to improve your search visibility.


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