What Are Backlinks?

Backlink explained
Backlink explained

Backlinks, which are often referred to as incoming links or external links, are links that go from one website to another. So think of a rope that passes through one window to another (but without the obvious intangible aspect behind it). Search engines value white hat backlinks (we’ll get into this later) as they help to improve search engine rankings. Surge Marketing Solutions has put together an in-depth guide on this – read on to find out more.

Why are backlinks vital?

Would you obtain a link from a high authority website like The Guardian or a random blogging website, that doesn’t provide any valuable information, your answer must be no because no one likes to get associated with unknown or less credible sources. In the same way, Google also takes this concept into consideration to produce high-quality search results that are influenced by backlinks or inbound links.

Backlinks, if done correctly, suggest to readers that what they’re reading is valuable, credible, and valuable in regards to what they were searching for. Backlinks are seen to be a ‘vote of confidence from one website to another in which authors from the website you’ve gained a link from, vouches for your content. 

Here is an example of what a backlink looks like:

Source: Heathline

The above points to a link directly to another page on a completely different website, which therefore makes this a backlink. 

White hat link building

It’s important to note that not all backlinks are created equal

Earning backlinks are a vital component of an SEO strategy, and some links are inherently more valuable than others are (this rings true especially if you use white hat tactics). As mentioned earlier, white hat link building is the only form of link building that should be carried out. This is because a black hat can actually negate your search results, subsequently resulting in Google penalizing your website. Black hat techniques include using link farms to build links, paying for links, placing links in irrelevant places on the internet, and spamming links across websites. 

Here is an example of a healthy backlink profile:

Source: SEMrush

By researching the websites you’re looking to attain links on, you’re keeping your website from significant damage that will cost you in the long run. Whether or not a link is followed (e.g. if a site owner gives a search engine authority to pass or not to pass link equity), it’s vital you look into the domain authority before anything else (essentially, the more authority a site possesses, the more authority can pass through a website through a link). If a website owner was to gain incoming links from low authority sites, they’re potentially damaging their own domain health, which can cause toxic scores to increase. This then suggests to search engines that your website is full of toxic, spam links and shouldn’t be ranked on SERPs (search engine result pages) at all.

Competitive backlink research 

Earning backlinks can be a long process, especially when you take your time to churn out creative, insightful content that will help readers find what they’re looking for. Be sure to examine the backlink profile of those that you want to get links from and gain insight into who they are already linking back to. Not only is this great for competitor backlink research, but you can then compile a list of places where you can try to place links also. 

Found a website that you really want to work with to offer an expert comment or opinion? Or simply want to guest post on a website that would complement your products or services? A backlink tool such as the Backlink Analysis tool on SEMrush helps to uncover competitor backlink insight so that websites can target the correct websites in their link-building strategies. This also offers some detailed graphs and statistics about the health of the links, keywords that are used, and their overall domain scores. 

Ways to link build

There is actually an abundance of ways in which websites can improve their link-building strategies. Some of these include outreach, HARO, link reclamation, and link exchanges. No matter whichever way you choose to link building, the success rates are always better than not carrying it out the right way.

Email Outreach

Email outreach is a great way to work with bloggers to build your relationships with influencers on social media whilst improving your overall domain score in the background. Not only does this help brands with exposure, but it allows websites to work on improving their relationships with authoritative people on the internet. Below are some of the top ways in which link-building campaigns can be carried out.


HARO aka Help A Reporter Out is an excellent resource for high authority backlinks that tons of news media outlets use. All you need to do is sign up, choose your industries and wait for the emails to pull through to your email. Once these come through, emailing reporters can be carried out throughout the day. Pitching to the journalists is literally endless.

Link reclamation

Link reclamation simply involves you contacting a website that hasn’t provided you with a link to ask if they are able to pop a link where your site has been mentioned. Instead of hoping one day they may link back to the site, proactively reach out and ask them for a link. 8 times out of 10 they will either respond, or you can follow up.

Broken link building

The broken link building is an exceptional way to get in the good books with highly rated websites. All you’re required to do is utilize good SEO software to sift through 404’s on your chosen website in your niche and contact them about fixing it. You can then mention your website and how you’re able to provide them with better ways to improve the content that was on that page.

Guest posting

Guest posting isn’t dead. In fact, it is one of the best ways to get links back to a website. And a great benefit of it is that most of the time, it’s free to publish (if your content is accepted)! As long as you have valuable insight to provide, nothing is stopping you from websites wanting to use your insight on their websites. The traffic you then get from the guest posts you carry out would help give your organic traffic a huge boost. The more of these that you carry out, the more Google will want to rank you on its search engines

It’s important to note that each industry has its own, valuable link-building opportunities, so content should be curated for each one in a different way. From infographics, videos, blog posts, social mentions, and more. It’s imperative to take into account that a ‘one size fits all approach shouldn’t be taken. Rather, by creating separate campaigns, websites will undoubtedly find fruitfulness with their domain scores when looking for the most relevant, authoritative websites.


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