Quite simply, backlinks are links from other websites back to your own. Sometimes they are known as ‘inbound’ or ‘incoming’ links, but the premise is the same.
Why are backlinks important?
Backlinks are important as they indicate to Google that your website is an authority on a given subject. Think of these backlinks as votes or recommendations…
If you own a restaurant, you’re going to be much more popular with the punters if you’ve got hundreds of raving reviews. Even more so if those reviews are from top-quality, respected food critics.
And that’s how backlinks work. A backlink from a lower domain authority site is the average joe reviewing your restaurant. A high DA backlink is the equivalent of getting a review from a well-known critic.
Are they good for SEO?
Yes! One of the biggest factors in ranking is a sites backlink profile. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and other fairly lazy techniques for ranking well. Nowadays Google’s very sophisticated algorithm has one goal; to satisfy the user’s search query.
So if your content does that and you have a great backlink profile, you’ll get bumped up the rankings because Google knows you are a trustworthy source; why else would you have some many links to your site?
What makes a good backlink profile?
I use the word profile instead of focussing on the number or even quality of the backlinks because Google is very clever nowadays. It is looking not only for authoritative sources but genuine ones.
It’s common knowledge that backlinks are a very important ranking metric, so as you can imagine everyone that knows this is trying to gather backlinks to their site. So rather than the naturally most authoritative sites having the best backlinks, sites that would otherwise be way down the list start to creep up.
The trouble is as I say, Google is very clever. If you have an unnatural number of links or they are all really high-quality, it can throw a red flag. In the same way that unnatural anchor text can.
You can then end up actually shooting yourself in the foot and receiving a Google penalty for want of a better word, cheating.
How can I check my backlinks?
A great tool I recommend is monitorbacklinks.com It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like Ahrefs or SEMrush, but the plans are much cheaper as a result.