What is a link?
A link or hyperlink to give it its full name is a clickable word or phrase that leads from one web page to another.
They come in three forms - Internal links that link to other pages within your website, external links that link to pages on other websites and backlinks that link into your website from external sites.
Why are links so important?
Links are the lifeblood of your website as they direct customers to the right high quality information within your website or externally and they signal to modern search engines where your website should be ranked against your competition.
An all encompassing SEO strategy should focus on how a customer is directed through the content on your site using internal links, increasing the number of backlinks pointing at your website and the domain authority of the sites these inbound links are coming from.
What is domain authority and why does it matter?
Each website including your own has an ever changing Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Ranking (DR) score which predicts how likely it will be to rank in search engine results pages (SERPS).The higher the score from 1 to 100 the more likely it will be that your website will rank higher in SERPS.
How do links change the domain authority of my site?
Links pass on ranking signals, specifically link equity, from one site to another. Link equity is a search engine ranking factor which works on the basis that a link between two websites will result in link equity being passed from one website to another.
The higher the linking page’s domain authority the more link equity will be passed from that site to the site being linked to.
Does that mean external links are bad?
Yes and No. Linking externally will not only move valuable traffic outside of your domain but you will also potentially lose link equity in the process too.
Linking to high quality external content can be beneficial to the overall customer experience if done effectively, but too many external links can really slow down the growth of your website.
What about internal links?
Setting up a clear and natural customer journey through your website is crucial to keep users on your website for longer and move them towards desired outcomes.
Linking relevant content together in an intuitive way will also impact SEO because it will improve your website’s crawlability allowing Google bots to index your website correctly. Only indexed pages can appear in search results so getting this right is crucial as if the pages aren’t indexed properly then nobody will be able to find them in search.
Internal links will help the user journey when on site and will help make sure that pages can be found by Google and while they do not pass domain authority like external links, they do pass on page authority which can help improve your chances of ranking in SERPS.
Why backlinks are so important for SEO
Backlinks are the key to increasing the domain authority of your site and moving you above your competition in search results because they give a signal to search engines that your website contains valuable content that is worth linking to.
An inbound link from a website with a very high domain authority will make this signal to search engines even greater, conferring a bigger benefit to your sites ranking position.
The more backlinks you have coming into your site from as varied a number of sites with as high a domain authority as possible, the bigger the benefit to SEO and the higher your site will appear in search results.
Are all backlinks equal?
There are two types of backlinks coming from other websites into your own. They are called ‘follow’ and ‘nofollow’ links.
A follow link is a setting on the webpage of the site linking to your own that directs search engines to use the link for page ranking calculations whereas a nofollow link directs search engines to not use the link for ranking calculations.
Therefore a follow link is much more powerful for SEO than a nofollow link but that isn’t the end of the story. As of March 1st 2022 the Google algorithm now treats nofollow links as a hint for indexing and crawling which in simple terms means that if a nofollow link comes from a website with a high enough domain authority it will still contribute positively towards SEO.
How can building backlinks have a tangible impact on your business?
Implementing a content and outreach strategy with the aim of increasing the number of links coming into your site will help to increase the domain authority of your website and move you up the search rankings earning you more traffic and more sales.
To be most effective this strategy should be consistent and measurable with high quality content at its foundation. Sites with a high domain authority do not give valuable follow links easily, but they will happily signal to Google that you are a site with content worth linking to if the content and approach is right.
Please check out our Greatest Hits document which reveals how individual items of content outreached in the right way can have a huge impact on a website's domain authority and its ranking in search.