What is a BackLink?

 What is a backlink

Past SEO ABC’s articles have been:  What is a Robots.txt File, What is an XML Sitemap, & What Does Google Penguin Mean to Me.  

There are many ways to answer What is a Backlink…  But I am going to try to explain it in terms of how it will help your website generate more traffic by ranking higher on search engines (SEO).

“Backlinks, also known as incoming linksinbound linksinlinks, and inward links, are incoming links to a website or web page. In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level domain) from another web node.” (wikipedia.com)

The definition of backlinks does not really do much to explain why it is important to know what they are and why they are important.  

I will try to explain using the examples that are created in this post.  You have already seen 5 different backlinks.  They can be put into 2 basic categories:  Internal Linking and External Linking.

Internal Linking or On Site Optimization 

Is the less talked about, but quite frankly, easier type of linking you can do with your SEO Campaign.

I began this article by telling you about other posts that are in the same thread, or keyword theme, as this post.  There are 3 of them and they are a different color and if you click on them they will take you to a different page, On This Same Website, and give you information about the titles.  1.  What is a Robots.txt File   2.  What is an XML Sitemap  3.   What Does Google Penguin Mean to Me 

These are internal links.  Meaning:  When you click on them they will take you to a different part of this same website and not an external website. 

It is important to have internal links in your website for a couple different reasons

  • It helps to increase your average time on site (the amount of time that each visitors stays and keeps reading)
  • It helps to tell the Search Engine Spiders what to index.  
    • This will get more pages indexed
    • This will also get more pages indexed in regards to each keyword you are focusing on
  • It will eventually help each link that is connected to rank higher in the search engines by distributing any benefit you get from External Backlinking

“BreadCrumbs” are an example of Internal Backlinking.

“Yet Another Related Post” is a popular plugin for WordPress that automatically creates internal backlinks.

External Backlinking or Off Site Optimization

In the next two paragraphs of this post you will notice that there are 2 additional linked portions of text.  1.  SEO  2.  Wikipedia.com.  

These are both external backlinks.  Meaning:  When you click on these links they will direct you off of this site to an external site.

The strategy with External links is generally that you want to be the website that is linked to from another websites on the internet.  In our SEO example, the site that is linked to the keyword SEO or credibility.  Usually when you hear people talking about backlinking or getting backlinks this is what they are referring to.  

It is important to have external links to your website to tell the search engines that your website is credible.  If we think of each backlink to your website as a vote of confidence, then it makes sense that the more votes you have the higher your site will rank.  While this is true, there is also to much of a good thing.

Google created PageRank as a way to measure your external backlinks.  They measure how many backlinks you have pointing to your site, the relevance of the Keywords that are linked to your site, and the quality of the site that you are linked from.  Then they give you a score from N/A to 0 to 10.  The higher your score the more credibility your site has and the better chance it has at ranking on the search engine.

This area was the biggest concern for the search engines because it is easy to abuse.  People can buy links, set up link farms, or run different link building schemes.  When Google released their newest update, Google Penguin, it was designed to penalize sites for having to many backlinks that were not quality backlinks.  

What makes a quality backlink?  There is not a hard and fast rule, but you can assume that if they come naturally from sites that are linking to your site because you have great content, you will have quality backlinks.  If the link comes from a “Spammy” site, a site that does not create new content, a link farm, to many links that come from unrelated sources, etc… you will probably have low quality backlinks and you might be in danger of being penalized by the search engines.

Externaly linking off of your site is good practice as well.  1.  It seems that the search engines reward this behaviour.  2.  It creates good community 3.  Other sites may return the favor.  4.  It generally lends credibility to whatever it is you are writing about.  Like in our WordPress.org example.

Anchor Text and How To Link

We know that linking text in our post and on our website is a good idea… but we should not  just go off all willy nilly and start linking everything.  It is important to be strategic in your backlinking efforts.

How to link text on your website:

1.  First enter Text: [ This is the text that I want to create a backlink with.]

2.  Then select the portion of the text that you would like to be the Focal Point: [This is the text that I want to create a backlink with.]

What text to link on your website:

This part of the process is VERY IMPORTANT.  The text that you link will be the Anchor Text.  It is this anchor text that tells the Search Engine Spiders what the Subject of the page that is being linked to is.  

In our example: [ This is the text that I want to create a backlink with.]  The Anchor Text = create a backlink.  So what we are telling the search engine spiders is that the content that is linked to this backlink is about:  create a backlink.  Fitting for this post.  Create a backlink, then becomes the keyword or keyphrase that the page of content that it is linked to will be known for.

3a.  After you have chosen or created the text to be highlighted you will  highlight that portion of text with your mouse and create a Hyperlink.  Most website builders, including WordPress, have a Chain Icon something like this:  wordpress link icon  Click on the Chain Icon and a pop up box will appear and will generally ask for a.  The URL that you would like to link to b.  The title of the link  c.  Whether you want the link to open in a new window or not.

3b.  If you do not have access to a Chain Icon then you can use simple HTML code:

[ This is the text that I want to <a href=”Insert the URL that you want to link to here”>create a backlink with.</a>]

You have just created a BackLink with strategic Anchor Text.

I hope this helps answer the question, what is a backlink.





By |2015-11-03T19:53:56+00:00June 6th, 2012|

About the Author:

Jason Fox - Real Estate Marketing Business: We build WordPress Real Estate Websites with IDX Me: #GoHawks, #BringBackTheSonics, #MaybeNextYearMariners, #ILoveMyKids #SeattleSunLover #SeattleWaterLover #BFF Blog: Focuses on Wordpress Websites, Content Management, SEO Services, SEM Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Beautiful Design, IDX, and more.


  1. Reg-NBS-SEO June 6, 2012 at 3:17 am - Reply

    You say:

    "The higher your score the more credibility your site has and the better chance it has at ranking on the search engine."

    If by "ranking" you mean search positions or SERPs (Search Engine Report Pages) then no, this is not true.

    Google has told us that links are no longer a viable metric and that they are not actionable.

    (Google "beyond pagerank". )

    • jason June 7, 2012 at 2:34 am - Reply


      I make no claim that the PageRank will have a direct correlation between that number and the SERP number. I simply stated what PageRank was and that in general if you have a higher PageRank number then your site will rank higher. This is true.

      What I believe they have said is that quantity of links is not important, but quality, or relevance, is.

  2. Ken June 8, 2012 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Great article! Well worth the read for newbies to learn and vets to remember. Great content-per usual!


    • jason June 9, 2012 at 3:12 am - Reply


      Thank you. I appreciate the kind words.

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