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Understanding Backlinks

4 links

4 links

The links on a site represent the relationships that site has with other sites. A site with no incoming links or outgoing links will not receive organic traffic.

Even if you have the most valuable content on the internet published on your site, if you have no incoming links, you’ll never receive traffic because there is no way for other sites to find you.

Inbound and Outbound Links

Outgoing links are a resource for your readers.  Linking to your sources is important for at least four reasons: verifiability, acknowledgment, examples, context. However, having only outgoing links is not a good thing either. What a site needs is to have a balance of both incoming links and outgoing links.

Organic Traffic: Organic traffic is any traffic that comes to your site without being paid for. This includes people who visit via links in forums and blogs, traffic from search engines, traffic from word of mouth, or traffic from bookmarks. Organic traffic generally comes to a site naturally and is not driven by marketing campaigns.

Inorganic Traffic: Inorganic traffic is traffic that is pushed via marketing campaigns. Banner ads, search engine ads, etc generate inorganic traffic. Generally speaking this form of traffic is semi-immediate depending on how much you blanket the Web with your advertising and slowly dies out over time unless more money is spent to build a new marketing campaign.

What is a Backlink?

Backlinks are incoming links to a website. A backlink is created when another site links back to your site or to a post on site. The value of that backlink is related to the PR ( pagerank) of the site linking back to yours. A site with a lot of backlinks implies that many other sites link to that site ie. popularity. A site with a lot of backlinks from authoritative sites in the same niche implies your blog is growing in authority within the niche.

The importance of backlinks

If you want high search engine rankings so your blog will receive more organic traffic it’s important to have backlinks. Google ranks your site from 0 to 10 based in part on the PR of sites that link to yours.  If you have backlinks from high PR sites then Google will rank your site higher in search engines results, and as your site gets more backlinks Google will see your site as one of increasing importance. This will be reflected in your blog’s PR.  The more quality backlinks your site has the higher your Google page rank will be. Therefore improving your Google page rank is important.

Quality, quantity and relevance of backlinks

Search engines consider content of the sites to determine the quality of a link. When incoming links from other sites with content related to your site, they are considered to be more relevant to your site than those coming from site with unrelated content. When search engines calculate the relevance of a site to a keyword, they consider the number of quality incoming links to that site. The higher the relevance of incoming links the greater their quality will be.

A backlink could be considered as a quality backlink if:

  • The content of the backlinking site is the related to your same as your website.
  • It links to your website with the keyword (keyphrase) that you are trying to optimize for.

Note: Google’s policy strongly opposes buying/selling links and hence purchase and sales of backlinks is violation of terms of Google.

Backlink checkers

A tool to help you keep track of your backlinks is the Domain Stats Tool. This tool displays the backlinks of a domain in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. It will also tell you a few other details about your website, like your listings in the Open Directory, or DMOZ, from which Google regards backlinks highly important; Alexa traffic rank, and how many pages from your site that have been indexed, and more.

There are several other online backlink checkers that you can use. Type URL of your site to get complete detailed information about quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to your site.

  1. It will show you “anchor” text, pagerank, total outbound links on that page, and nofollow flag for each of your incoming link available. – How to use this tool

  1. Enter the exact site address of the page you want to check the backlinks for into the text box.
  2. Click the “Check!” button.
  3. The results will be shown in a table, 20 results per page will be displayed.
  4. Click the + icon to view more details about the website.

Backlink Building

  • A tool to help you with your backlink building is the Backlink Builder Tool.This tool searches for websites that have a related theme to your website which are likely to add your link to their website.
  • A good tool for helping you find your backlinks and what text is being used to link to your site is the Backlink Anchor Text Analysis Tool. If you find the anchor text at a site linking to yours is not being properly used, you ought to request the anchor text be corrected to incorporate relevant keywords.  The result of the correction  will help boost your quality backlinks score.
  • Another way to gain quality backlinks to your site is selecting appropriate anchor text. When a link incorporates a keyword into the text of the hyperlink, this is quality anchor text.
  • There are many webmasters who purchases lot of links very quickly and wants their site to get listed on 1st place for highly competitive keywords from the day of launch.

…if the content of a document changes such that it differs significantly from the anchor text associated with its back links, then the domain associated with the document may have changed significantly (completely) from a previous incarnation. This may occur when a domain expires and a different party purchases the domain… All links and/or anchor text prior to that date may then be ignored or discounted. This extract has the following core messages:

  • It’s best to build backlinks slowly to avoid penalties.
  • Sites that generate a huge number of backlinks very quickly can be considered as spam in some cases.
  • All previous backlinks are ignored on sites where the topic of the site has changed significantly.

Link farms

Search engine criteria for quality inbound links has become increasingly tougher due to unscrupulous webmasters trying to achieve  incoming links by deceptive techniques, like hidden links, or automatically generated pages designed solely to provide incoming links to websites. These pages are called link farms; they are disregarded by search engines, and linking to a link farm can result in your site being banned entirely.

Bad Neighborhood link checker
Text Link Checker Tool

WordPress and SEO Tips and Techniques
Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links

Staff have published two helpful SEO articles.
All About SEO on

SEO and Your Blog

Related posts found in this blog:

How to Become a Better Blogger 3: Ethics and Links
Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers
How backlinks will make Google your blog’s best friend
WordPress: How to maintain and track links

Updated December 11,2015.

71 thoughts on “Understanding Backlinks

  1. rocking my world again timethief, you make the complicated understandable! I thought backlinking was being polite and giving credit where it is due (which it is) but didnt realise the implication it had on stats and ranks. Going to check out the tools as soon as I have a spare mo too! :)

  2. Yet another question. If I comment (as I’m doing now) using my account, my name becomes a link on your site. Does Google see that as a backlink to my site, and thus improve my page rank? If the answer is yes, doesn’t that call into question whether it is really ethical to comment using that account, since I am effectively stealing page rank?

    Or is that really just a drop in the bucket that doesn’t really matter much?

  3. I did seem to hit you up a lot today with questions, sorry about that. The more you learn the more you know you don’t know.

    It may be pingbacks, but it showed up when I used the following link form your post above: No need to respond, but judging by your reply above your blog should not show up unless you gave me a backlink.

  4. Hi again,
    When we link to another blogger’s post in a post of our own a backlink is created. When a backlink is created we get a pingback. I think you may be referring to pingbacks. To prevent self-pings, you use a special version of the URL of your posts:

    I can’t explain why leaving a comment on my post would result in a backlink because our blogs have “no-follow” comments. Do-follow comment links do pass on PageRank. No-follow comment links do NOT pass on PageRank. I think you are referring to pingbacks.

  5. I am new to the blogging world and as I research the many topics, forums and how to’s, I have to take a moment to share how helpful I have found so many of your posts, including this one. I appreciate your knowledge and the ease of which you describe and teach the rest of us. Thank you for making it approachable and much less intimidating!

  6. Once again, a lot of valuable information and lots of tools to explore. The more I read, the more ignorant I feel, which is probably the best indicator that I have lots to learn. I do enjoy learning, though… and your clear writing makes the lessons easy to bear.

  7. Pingback: Zen and The Art of Linking | Blogging Perspectives Daily

    • There is a lot to learn and the learning curve is a steep one. I recommend just taking it step by step. Your primary focus ought to be on creating high quality, optmized content and learning how to promote it effectively. Goof lick with your blogging. :)

  8. Hi TT

    Found this extremely useful

    I did alot of commenting on websites that were related to my theme especially ones that had a pr of 5 or over also I used classified ads as I figured those would be useful backlins aswell.

    But when I used the backlink checker tool I saw a number of no follows which from what I understand but not certain I think it means that it doesnt create a backlink pointing to your blog but just everyone who happens to visit that page (that has your no follow link on it ) will see the link and so it could be a traffic source but not exactly a backlink.

    1. So my question is should I stop commenting on the no follow sites then
    2. Also how can you tell a site is no follow before commenting on forums if it is going to be a waste of your time with them.


    • Hi Mr. O,
      I have never left a comment simply to get a backlink and never will. I value the comments received because they are freely given. The whole idea of using backlinks as a bribe to get people to posts comments runs against my grain and that’s why my blogs are “no-follow”. If you want to only post comments on “do-follow blogs” then you can search the internet and get a list of them.

      • I probably didn’t explain myself properly.

        I enjoy posting in threads and the sea of conversation it provides and leads into but from a pr point of view of a new site does it mean that google looks at it as being bad if a no follow site has your link on it.

        As in I want to know if its a neutral thing that doesnt affect you in which case I don’t mind continuing to post on related themed sites if I can provide a solution but if it is anyway an adverse thing in terms of ur PR then I’d like to know.

  9. Thank you so much for your valuable information you have here on your website. I just started blogging yesterday for the first time and there is a lot to learn about the etiquette of blogging to avoid the pitfalls of spam.

  10. A-P-O-L-O-G-I-E-S
    What I meant is this:
    1) I checked my Back links with, I didn’t understand the “no flag” term.
    2) On one of my Blogs, it also reflected a few links generated from your site, connecting with the posts that I have never visited. I am not sure how the “linking” happened in that case. And that wasn’t my Primary Blog too.
    3) It may be out of context- but then, whenever I leave a comment, it links back to my 1st blog (if you click on my name) and not the 2nd Blog that’s my Primary Blog

    Pardon my ignorance

  11. Dear Titi,

    At the outset, thanks, I checked the OBLs. I am not sure if I understood things completely.
    No Flag tag did a bouncer on my head- didn’t understand that.
    There were few links with your Site too.. Even with the posts I have not read!!

    Please help..

  12. Pingback: Zen and The Art of Linking « Blogging Perspectives Daily

  13. I am so glad I found your site. With just the few articles I have read I am convinced I need to visit on a regular basis.

  14. Pingback: Blog Directories for Backlinks and Traffic « one cool site: blogging tips

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