Backlinks and links are good for the Search-Engine-Optimisation (SEO) of your website. They can help your site achieve a higher ranking in search engines, like Google and Bing.

But what is a backlink, how does it help and how do you get one?

What is a backlink?

Backlinks are links that come to your website, or pages of your website, from other web pages.

There are two kinds of backlink:

✅ Dofollow backlinks

Dofollow backlinks pass value to your site and are valuable for your SEO. We use these when we want to share content and give credit.

❌ Nofollow backlinks

Nofollow backlinks don’t pass any value to your website. We use these when we want to reference a site without giving it any credit — for example, if it’s a bad site.

Backlinks in social media posts and in comments on blogs and forums are now set to nofollow by default. This is because these places have historically been used to distribute spam.

Backlink quality

When it comes to your backlinks, quality matters. One high quality backlink can outrank several of lower quality.

Poor quality backlinks can actually be harmful to your SEO. These sometimes come from spammy directory listings, so if your site is listed on any questionable directories, it’s a good idea to get those links removed.

The best quality backlinks come from pages with a high page rank score.

What is page rank?

The page rank is a score given to a webpage based on the pages linking to it and the score of those linking pages.

Pages with lower scores can still rank well if they’re on a high performing website, with a high domain authority (DA) score.

How are the pages of a website ranked?

The pages on a website have a hierarchy, as shown in the diagram below. The home page of a site has the highest page rank and this is distributed through the other pages.

For example, let’s say the home page in the above diagram has a page rank of 18. The About, Products and Contact pages are all on the first tier and are linked to directly from the home page, so they would each get a page rank of 6 (18 divided between three pages).

The two pages linked to from the Products page are on the second tier and would each get an equal share of the Product page’s rank. Their page ranks would be 2 (6 divided between three pages) and so on.

Image created by Jenny Lucas Copywriting with Lucidchart

Increasing the rank of an internal page

BUT… let’s say your second tier pages are as valuable as the first tier and you want to increase their page rank. What do you do then?

If you link to those from the home page too, you can distribute the home page’s value equally between all of the pages. A link from the home page can increase the page rank of a lower page by up to 80%.

In the sitemap below, we’ve added links from the home page to all the first and second tier pages. This means that those pages each get a rank of 3, which is an equal share of the Home Page’s 18.


How to check your backlinks

Before you start getting new backlinks, it’s a good idea to check what backlinks you already have — or may be entitled to.

What backlinks do you already have?

You can find out who already links to you using a backlink checker. There are numerous backlink checkers online, but you can also do it using your Google Search Console account.

What backlinks should you have, but don’t?

Unlinked mentions

Some sites may give you a mention, but no backlink. You can find these using Rank Tank’s free Unlinked Mentions Finder (sign-up required). If a website is mentioning you without giving you a backlink, you may be able to contact them and request one.

Broken links

Pages online are sometimes moved or renamed, resulting in a broken link. This is something to think about if you’re getting a new website designed and some of your URLs might change.

You can check for broken links using SEO Review Tools’ Broken Link Checker. Then contact the link host and ask them to update it.

You can also set up a 301 redirect — but, if you do this, you must make sure the page contains the same content.

How NOT to get backlinks

When getting backlinks to your website, there are some things you definitely shouldn’t do. Let’s start with those.

NEVER pay for backlinks

I can’t stress this enough.

Yes, there are lots of people still selling backlinks. But paying for them is against Google’s terms and, if you’re caught, there could be serious consequences. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Avoid poor quality directory listings

Poor quality directory listings can do more harm than good.

According to Moz, a poor quality directory is typically one that:

  • Doesn’t have human editors in place
  • Gives you a worthless nofollow link to your site
  • Has a low proportion of its pages indexed by Google
  • Has low domain authority (DA) score
  • Is covered in spammy advertising and full of errors.

How to get backlinks to your website

There are a number of ways to get quality backlinks to your website. The important thing to remember is that whatever you do should be of value.

Here are a few examples:

Give a testimonial

Giving a testimonial to a company or individual your company has worked with should also result in a link to your website.

Create reciprocal links

Do you have other businesses you partner with regularly? If so, you could posts links to each other’s websites.

Sponsor a charity or event

Charities and events always need sponsors. In return, you’ll get your website link in all the online promotional material.

Create a resources page

A resource page is a curated list of high quality links that are useful to people looking for certain things. For example, vegan recipes or free SEO tools. Your page should be valuable and something people want to link to.

Create an infographic

An infographic is a set of data that’s showcased in a highly visual way, using graphics and images. Infographics are not covered by the same duplicate content rules as written content, so they can be shared widely. Just make sure there’s an active link to your website at the bottom.

Create your own quality content

High quality content is packed with value, which makes people want to share it. Ideally, your content should be long and detailed — but short and detailed is better than long and waffly. If you’ve been creating content for a while, you may already have linkable assets you can use to their full potential.

Create link-earning content

Link-earning content is different to your own content marketing. It could be curated content, such as surveys, interviews and round-ups of quotes the experts have said. You could also produce a long-form guide that teaches people how to do something valuable.

These are just examples

Anything you produce that is useful to others could earn you a link. The main things to remember are:

  • Be valuable — always
  • Stay true and relevant to your brand
  • Monitor where your content is being used and make sure you’re getting those backlinks from it.

For example, anything that saves someone the time and effort of doing their own research. In this case, pulling together facts and figures from reputable sources is something that creates a lot of value for not much effort.

It doesn’t have to be text-based. For example, you could take some useful photographs and make them available for others to use. Using a Creative Commons licence, means that anyone who uses them will be obliged give you an attribution — and a link to your website.

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter and content writer, based in Leicester, UK.

I specialise in writing effective SEO copy and content for websites and blogs.

If you need some help to create high quality written content for your business, you can find out more about me and the services I offer on my main website.