When doing a search on increasing traffic to your website, you would have come across the term backlinks quite often. Backlinks generally refer to links placed on other websites that point back to pages on your website.
Why are they important?
So what sort of significance do backlinks have for your website? Google’s rise to dominance today, and the reason most of its competitors were left in the dust back when there were dozens of popular search engines, was its patented PageRank algorithm.
What PageRank did differently from other search engines at that time was the way it ranks your search results. The most common way to rank a site in the past was to look at the keywords present and how strongly they related to your search query. This, however, means that a spam website can easily stuff its website full of popular search terms to get its pages ranked high in search results that are not relevant to its content.
PageRank introduced a different metric of measuring the relevance of a website to search queries. Google takes each backlink that you get from another website as a “vote” that your website contains enough relevant and desirable information that the other website finds it worthwhile to put a link to. By doing so, Goggle reduced the dependence on keywords present on a website to determine how high to rank it. At the same time, it encourages site owners to develop quality content instead of keyword stuffing its pages.
Each time you put a link to another website on your own site, you are effectively giving your vote to that link. It is important to note that if your website contains links to sites that Google considers spammy and dubious, it will affect your PageRank. The same thing happens when links to your website appears very often on dubious websites. This works on the logic that if you hang around the bad company, you are very likely to be one yourself.
While having backlinks is important, getting quality ones is even more vital. In February 2003, Google received its first patent awarded for the methodology of giving more weight to links from authoritative websites. A few links from a group of reputable websites works in your favor far more than having hundreds of links from site of low ranking and quality.
How can you get backlinks?
Getting desirable backlinks from another website is a tedious process. Websites in the past used to commonly have a links or resources page just for listing websites that the website owner thinks you will find interesting. You could email websites with similar content to put up a link on their website and you would reciprocate. As websites changed, the links and resources pages were increasingly made redundant because the links got embedded into the content itself wherever they fit the context.
When blogs came into the picture, anyone who has access to the internet can post and manage online content without any programming skills. With an increasing amount of content being created on the internet in the form of articles or posts, the practice of linking interesting bits of information in these posts became even more prevalent. This is where it is easiest to obtain backlinks – writing interesting articles or posts that people want to read and in turn share with others. Whenever your articles are reposted or shared on other’s blogs, you are automatically getting backlinks without much effort beyond writing the article itself. At the same time, you are also driving traffic to your site so there is really no reason not to do this where possible.
While Google has since added over 200 other criteria in which it ranks a website, backlinks remain a key component of establishing your site on search results. An entire industry offering Search Engine Optimization was even created to help clients boost their search traffic by creating quality backlinks. Google’s search engine is constantly being refined and updated as its engineers discover new ways of linking information to your queries. What works for boosting search traffic today may not work a few months down the road. However, PageRank being the core innovation that helped boost Google to the position it enjoys today will very likely be here to stay for a long time.