What is a backlink?

A backlink, or an incoming link, is a hyperlink on another website that directs users to your website.

In the past, people relied heavily on their connections

What good is a website if no one can find you?

In the days before telephone directories or the internet, the only way to know if someone was selling potatoes was if someone told you or if you saw a sign at a farm.

Imagine, for a moment, an internet without Google. It seems impossible, right? But let’s say that Google and other search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Altavista, and Dogpile didn’t exist. In this hypothetical world, how would you make your website known?

Let that thought sink in.

It’s an interesting thought experiment to consider what the internet would be like without search engines. And how you would get visitors to your website.

What would your connections look like on the internet?

In the 90s, people used directory pages to find companies within a specific sector. These companies were often grouped by province or city of residence, making it easier to locate them. Referrals from other places on the internet were also common. If you could get a backlink from a homepage in your sector, it would increase your visibility and make it easier for people to find your website.

But who uses home pages these days?

Real websites, real backlinks.

In addition to such a directory, it would be much better to get a listing on a heavily visited website. Imagine that you are working at the White House with your landscaping business, and suddenly, your company is mentioned on their website. You will probably get more brand awareness and many more visitors through this mention than from a link on a directory site. 

External links and references

All these references between websites are called backlinks. But why are they important (to search engines)?

  1. For search engines; it is an indication that you are important. So, the more people refer to you with a backlink on the internet, the more value the search engines attach to you.
  2. To get more visitors.
    1. The more your website is mentioned on the rest of the internet,  the more likely you are to attract visitors.
    2. The more visitors the website you are listed on gets, the more chance you have of getting more visitors, remember?  ;–)
  3. Without references to your website,  fewer people will know about you and you also have less chance of being found.
  4. They pass on value, which was originally called PageRank. See below for an explanation from Matt Cutts (an ex-Googler) of how that works. It’s a very old video, but it gives a clear idea. The more quality links a page gets, the more value it gets. And the more value the page gets, the more value a backlink gets that is back on that page!

Google will find out.

Website administrators used to believe that having more links would result in a higher ranking on Google. As a result, they would do whatever it took to create more links themselves. However, this strategy was no longer effective after Google introduced the Google Penguin update. This update had a significant impact on a website’s findability in Google that was using this technique. Even now, Google continues to roll out similar updates to combat spam.

Since then, it is no longer about the number of Backlinks you have, because these were links that you (or the company that did that for you) created. So, this is not a “good backlink” created by a third person.

The great danger of quantity. So purely and simply the ‘number of backlinks’ is unimportant in the sense that Google might as well deindex you and therefore no longer show you in the search results. This is called a Penalty in English. Pure Spam.

  • Why do directly pages still work ?
    No idea. Preposterous. I don’t know why they still work, but when you start looking into why certain websites rank at the top for certain searches, it’s saddening to see that the link profile with tens/hundreds of directory links could probably be the reason for this. This will change one day (but I have been saying this for several years) that they will no longer be appreciated by Google and Bing. There is no other way, because no one actually uses them anymore, except for backlinks. (This is also a tip).
  • Link partners on websites
    As I said, everything used to be different. Yet you still see some websites having a particular page on their website called Link Partners, for example. This is now strongly discouraged—the name alone!
  • Links without traffic
    Links on a website that do not generate traffic have little value. You will not get more visitors because of this. Actually, a link can still be valuable without a lot of traffic if it is on a very well-known website.
  • Paid links
    Important websites sometimes allow you to post a message or article for a fee. For example, in the English world, think of the Huffington Post, etc. You can get a piece of text on it for hundreds of dollars, often by using an author who regularly writes for the website. The problem here is that Google knows this too! She will, therefore, simply be able to ignore all such websites in one go, while you think you will get a boost from that. And Google does that, too. The Linkjuice, as it is called, then suddenly stops.
  • Self-made links
    No matter how you look at it, you still want to get a backlink from somewhere. In any case, make it clear that it is a quality link, and not just a link without added value! A backlink according to Google is a link that others have placed out of goodwill .

I’m talking about backlinks that you would like:

  • For traffic
    Before I discuss Follow (or do-follow ) and No-follow links, I’ll first discuss the quality of a link.
    What do you have a website for? Visitors should be able to do something with it. So my first point is that a Good Backlink brings traffic. I’m going to repeat this sentence one more time. A good backlink generates traffic: visitors, searchers, customers, buyers, and interested parties.
  • Relevance
    Traffic to your website becomes EVEN more important if it is the traffic you want on your website! If you want to sell your shoes, you want shoe buyers to visit your website. So a backlink from a painter’s website (www.schilderbedrijf.nl/linkpartners) has no relevance whatsoever, and not only will it not bring you any visitors, it is also NOT seen as relevant by search engines. The more relevant the better! Also, for search engines!
  • Important Resources
    Watch the video above of Matt Cutts explaining how PageRank works. This is still an important factor in determining the quality of your website. If you get a link from a very well-known person in your industry, the link will be given more value than if you get a link from your neighbor who works in a completely different industry.
  • Nothing to note as SPAM or self-made.
    A good link would be one that the Google Spam Team cannot see as Spam or as a self-placed link. So here, the link partners are already left out, and in my opinion, all home pages. The link must also be VISIBLE to readers.
    So the link must stand out, for example, through a different text color or an underlying line. It must not be hidden.
  • Tip of the Day! “ A good backlink is a link that you would also like to have without search engines existing! 

A word of warning:

Google is continuously improving its algorithms. Even though specific backlink methods still work today, it is very important that they are also future-proof. If you go to a guest blog to get a link, Google wants you to make the links NO FOLLOW. 

Also, using directory pages, etc., may still work, but they may be seen as pure spam tomorrow and therefore ignored. Whatever you call the dog, it remains a home-made, low-quality link. When you hire an SEO agency for link building, ask why they place a certain link somewhere, not on partner link pages that have nothing to do with your industry.

No one at Google will say that a self-made reference to your site is a good backlink. By earning them.

You will automatically get them if you write high-quality content that people find useful and ‘want’ to link to. This means that you may have to write longer content, give more away, go deeper into the subject matter, get your hands dirty, cross your boundaries. Or you buy them ;–)
There are many ways to get good backlinks, but that will be a whole separate chapter.

How can I see which websites refer to my website?

There are a number of backlink tools that show you where there are links to your website. I list some of them below:

  1. Moz
  2. Backlinkwatch
  3. Majestic
  4. Ahrefs 
  5. SEMrush

I also made a list with Free backlink checkers, if you prefer to go that route.

What is the difference between follow and no-follow links?

There are two types of backlinks – the links that pass value and the links that don’t pass any value. The Google video above provides more information on this topic. Search engines assign a value to every website or webpage based on different factors, including the number of quality links the webpage has received.

Follow link (also called do-follow)

  • The value of a page is also passed on to the links on it. Suppose there are 100 links to page A on website A. In short, he gets 100 points, and he passes on X points value to the link that links on that page to another page.

No follow link

  • A no-follow link doesn’t transfer any value. This means the page’s value is not passed on to that link. No-follow links are typically used when we don’t want to associate our website with another website or when we don’t want to transfer any value to that website. User-generated content on a website, such as blog comments, usually includes No-follow links.

Although No-Follow links do not pass any value to get a better ranking in the search engines, they can still be very useful if they get traffic!!!

Outgoing links from your website must also be set up correctly so that they do not pass on value to websites that you do not want to pass on value to! If you link to a competitor on your homepage, he will receive value from your page, and you don’t want that.

Start reading the blog again! You need to clearly understand that SEO has two distinct parts: On-page SEO and Off-page SEO. On-page SEO encompasses all the elements present on your website, including its content. However, Off-page SEO includes all the external factors that affect your website, such as backlinks, mentions, etc.

In what ways can you link?

How about Photo links or Button links?

  • It’s important to note that the best backlinks are those included within the main content of the page, rather than in the menu. Some may argue that there’s already a link in the menu, but this doesn’t change the fact that text links are more effective. Links included in the footer, header or sidebar, which are present on every page, are less valuable.
  • Buttons are great for conversions but may not be so good for backlinks. Buttons tend to be too prominently placed, and you can’t often add the exact keyword a that anchor text. As mentioned earlier, it is essential to have other people talk about your website or brand. Usually, people prefer to mention you in their text instead of using a button. That would be a bit less natural.
  • Images can also be used, but for the same reason as a button they will have slightly less value anyway. But it remains a form of linking!