Blog Post

What are Backlinks and How do They Work

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‘A backlink is an external clickable link coming from a third party website which sends both traffic and link equity to your website. It is considered a vote of confidence for your website’.

Search engines pay heavy attention to the type of backlinks and the amount of backlinks which point to your website. This is a case of quality over quantity.

One backlink from a highly trusted authoritive website is far more valuable than fifty backlinks from average sources.

Eight years ago – you could buy 1,000 links for hardly any money and your website would outrank your competitiors.

This is no longer the case…

Hold up, please rewind:

In the world of SEO, backlinks are one of the most crucial parts of your website development process. Backlinks are external links that link to your web page and are a core part of the off-page SEO building process. 

Search engines take into consideration the number of quality backlinks your website has when determining Domain Authority and how to rank you.

If you want your website to draw organic traffic at a consistently growing level, then you need your website to appear within the first few pages of a SERP. Google search engine robots do crawl through the backlinks on your website, and these have a say on how your website gets ranked.

Without relevant SEO backlinks, your website will not be ranked high on SERPs. This is why you need to include backlinks in your SEO marketing strategy.

What is the relationship between SEO and backlinking?

Before you look into the relationship between SEO and backlinks, we need first to understand SEO. What does SEO stand for? It stands for Search Engine Optimization, and just like the name suggests, SEO involves developing your website in a way so that it can rank higher on SERPs.

The reason behind why you want to rank high on a search engine like Google is because it is the single easiest way to draw in traffic to your website without having to spend excessively.

 Even if you do have the resources to spend on marketing campaigns, search engines still bring in the largest number of people. This happens because search engines like Google or Bing are trusted among Users to provide quality and legitimate links.

So when your website is ranked higher on a commonly used search engine, people are more likely to find and visit it. This leads to more traffic, conversion and engagement on the website.

What is a backlink? A backlink is an external link that will connect users to your website. These are necessary as search engines like Google use the number of quality backlinks your website had as a way to determine how much authority your website has. The more relevant and authoritative your website is, the higher it will get ranked on SERPs.

Backlinking is an integral part of the SEO building process. SEO mainly consists of on-page SEO and off-page SEO. While on-page SEO constitutes that part of the SEO building process that you gave control over and can manipulate on your website – such as your website architecture, your website’s foundation, whether all your URLs are working or not, and other factors that affect User Experience, you do not retain control over off-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is that part of the website optimization process that is dependent on others. Backlinks are a part of the off-page SEO development process. You need to develop connections with relevant brands in your niche if you want to get backlinks from them. Influencers, journalists and social media can also help you get backlinks.

Basically, the more relevant links that link to your webpage, the higher your reputation, authority and overall placement on SERPs will be.

How do backlinks work?

This is the concept:

Image example of how a backlink works

Before you start building backlinks for your website, there are some things you need to keep in mind. You can’t just link any kind of website to your own. There are certain kinds of websites that will actually harm your chances of appearing higher on search engine ranking pages.

These include:

  • SPAM pages
  • Pages which don’t lead anywhere
  • Orphan pages – pages with no internal or external links
  • Pages with malware or malicious content
  • Pages with low authority


Backlinks are only useful when they are relevant to your website. The kinds of websites
mentioned above are toxic backlinks. If you are wondering what toxic backlinks
are, then the easiest way to explain is that these are websites that take away
from the overall User Experience as well as the authority of your website.

When you visit a page that is listed high on a SERP, you do not expect that website to
harm your system in any way. Malicious content can do just that, and this means
that your website will be ranked lower if they are connected to yours. If you
discover that a malicious website has linked to your website, then you can

  • Ask the website administrator to remove the backlink
  • Make use of the Google Disavow tool if you are certain that it is
    a toxic backlink

External links should help you build your brand and reputation and solely contain content
focused on that. This means that unnecessary pages or pages that don’t go
anywhere can also bring down your placement in SERPs.

How do you get backlinks?

Backlinks bring many benefits and here are some easy ways to get quality backlinks for
your website:

  1. Use social media: Social Media channels are big online content distribution platforms and contain a lot of shareable content. You can also build relationships with your customers there and share links from your website. When people share your content on social media or visit your website from there, it builds authority for your website.
  2. Use influencers: Influencer marketing can really help you get the word out about your brand. If you can find a relevant influencer to give you a shout out and drop a link to your website, it can both draw in customers as well as improve your SERP ranking.
  3. Talk to journalists and bloggers: When magazines or blogs publish content about you, they have to link to your website. This also counts as a backlink. If you can get someone with authority to write about your brand and link to your website, this can act as a powerful SEO backlink.
  4. Build your website’s content: The kind of content you have on your website will ultimately be the deciding factor on how many SEO backlinks you get. If you have content that people want to link to and share, you will automatically get quality backlinks and rank higher on SERPs. That is why creating shareable content designed to drive traffic to your website is also important for SEO backlinking.
  5. Guest posting: Some companies and site owners utilise guest posting services and link building services from dedicated companies who write content and post it on your behalf. This is a decent practice IF you have the right service provider. You get what you pay for!

With these tips on how to get backlinks, you will be able to build quality SEO backlinks for your website that actually help you rank higher on SERPs.

Toxic Links

As benefical as good backlinks are, you get harmful links too. These are known as toxic links and will hurt your website.

We do not have control over who links to us or when they link to us however, we can take charge by auditing our backlinks and checking them to ensure there are no dodgy backlinks or spammy backlinks.

toxic links in the context of backlinks

What are Toxic Links?

Links which are considered toxic are any unnatural links or links from websites of low quality. Many years ago SEO’s found that obtaining large amounts of backlinks helped to boost rankings.

Webmasters were then taking advantage of this and how Google references external links to validate a websites authority and trust, and they manipulated the system of link building.

This opened the gates to things such as link farms, link networks and Private Blog Networks – all of which would later on become items on a list which Google would ban and issue as bad practice.

Which type of links are toxic?

Generally speaking, it is rather easy to spot a toxic link by how the page will look, the type of content it has as well as it’s overall purpose. Example:

If I am a health and wellness centre in the Uk and I have a ton of backlinks from websites which sell second hand cellphones and the website is in a different language, what use would this be to my audience?

Why should you speak to us about building links?

We ensure a quality over quantity process which is always more beneficial in the long run. Do not ever settle for instant results and ‘quick fix’ packages when it comes to link building. That will never pay off!

Generally speaking, we start with a full backlink profile audit and analysis to understand the current status of your link profile. From there, we would classify each link and try to understang what benefit the link has to the end game of the site.

Yes, backlinks do help to boost rankings and visibility over time due to how link equity works and the positive impacts it has on the overall trust and authority of your domain. Just be sure that you have some form of control of the type of links which you aim to gain within your link building campaign.

This will mean investigating the type of website you are wanting to get a link from, the type of content, how it looks, how fast it loads and what that particular website’s domain authority is. 

It is also important to look beyond domain authority or domain rating (Ahrefs metric) and analyse the amount of organic traffic the referring website has as well as how many backlinks it has VS the number of unique referring domains. Ahrefs has excellent insights for this type of analysis and planning.

Take a look at a few screenshots from the dashboard in Ahrefs when taking a high level look into a link profile and the type of backlinks to go after:

In Conclusion:

1: Always think of your main audience objective and business objective when embarking on a link building campaign.
2: Don’t take part in dodgy link building!

We do more than just link building – view our range of SEO Offerings

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