Why Backlinks are Necessary for Search Engine Ranking

Why Backlinks are Necessary for Search Engine Ranking

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Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager
Updated on Feb 27, 2023 14:40 IST

Learn about backlinks, how they help websites rank faster on search engines, important terminology and importance.


Apart from having keyword-optimised blogs with proper URLs, links, meta descriptions, and images, a website must be a trustworthy source. Credibility is especially important for websites and pages that aim to rank on highly competitive keywords with maxed-out search volumes and keyword difficulty scores of 50 and above. To put it simply, to rank for a tough keyword, search engines like Google need to know if the web page with rich content quality is also deemed authoritative by other sites topically and in the same industry. And the proof of such credibility comes from quality backlinks. 

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links from an authoritative website page to a different domain’s page. They are additional sources of traffic for a website, indicating search engines that a web page with backlinks is likely to be a valid source to be ranked higher on search results compared to ones with fewer or none. 

Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are a way to cite statistics or provide a different authoritative perspective to readers about a topic through hyperlinking articles across the web with an anchor text.  

They create context so that the reader can refer to and verify them without having to look for the claims with a separate Google search. 

Important Key Terms That’ll Help You Know Backlinks Better 

When referring to backlinks, these terms are common across SEMRush and similar tools. So when using them, you know what they mean. 

Referring Page

A referring page is the one receiving the incoming/inbound links. If your web page links to a referring page, it is an external link and not an internal link that takes your readers to another topic within your website domain. 

Referring Domain

It refers to the website that has one or more backlinks. If there is one website offering many backlinks to another website, there will still be one referring domain. This means that having too many backlinks from one website will hardly affect the rankings positively. Instead, having multiple referring domains with high domain authority will move the website’s position to the top. 

Some characteristics of good referring domains are site relevance, relevant anchor texts, type of link, and a good site architecture

Broken Link

A broken link is a 404 link that is no longer active on the domain. This link may have been deleted from the domain, or the domain name itself got changed. 

Anchor Text

It is the text that contains the link to or from a web page of another domain. This text is hyperlinked. 

Backlink Profile

It is the list of every profile – the external backlinks that point to a website. A banklink profile needs to have quality links and they should not be spammy. Many tools offer backlink audits to help SEO professionals understand the quality of a banklink profile. 

Quality Backlink

An inbound link from a highly authoritative website is considered a high quality backlink. A quality backlink also meets other criteria, such as industry relevance, and that the link is natural enough to provide significant value to readers.

On the other hand, a low quality backlink comes from a website with low traffic. As Google will ignore low quality backlinks, a website’s search ranking will hardly move up even if there are too many. 

Speaking of quality, a backlink can also be toxic. Toxic backlinks from web pages are those that follow black-hat SEO practices. These toxic backlinks can damage your website rankings. 

“Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam.” This is mentioned under spam policies for Google web search that also covers other spam-worthy practices such as keyword stuffing and cloaking. 

One way to avoid bad links is by using the disavow feature in Google Search Console. 

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a ranking score on search engines that was developed by Moz. A higher domain authority indicates that search engines will rank the website on top results. A similar tool from Ahrefs is its Website Authority Checker. 

Link Building 

Link building is a marketing effort that goes into acquiring backlinks from authoritative websites from the same niche. Marketers reach out to websites or businesses through social media, PR, and similar. 


PageRank is a Google algorithm that looks at the quality of incoming links. Improving backlinks’ quality is one of the most important ways of fixing off-page SEO issues. 

Link Equity

Link equity or link juice refers to a search engine ranking factor that relies on the topical relevance and authority of the external link. 

Which Type of Backlink will Help Your Overall SEO Strategy?

At the core, the common types of backlinks are follow links, nofollow links, and paid links. And when it comes to an SEO strategy, these are the types of backlinks you must know. 

Editorial Backlinks

These indicate that a website is the most important source of information within the niche. 

Backlinks from Press Releases

Press releases are meant for sharing newsworthy content. Using nofollow link attributes in anchor texts is one of the most important practices for using press releases for link building. If the content is only created for linking back to a website, and it is not a news-like piece, it will be considered spam on search engines like Google. 

Guest Post Backlinks

It refers to acquiring incoming links from guest posting on other websites. Some guest blogging websites may also not allow any external link inside the content body. In such cases, anchor texts can be used in the guest post bio. 

Is Quality Content Less Important than Building Backlinks?

It is important to build backlinks, but quality content will always be essential in any scenario of digital marketing. Good content is valuable to get a website inbound links in the future. 

Take a deep dive into the beginner’s guide to digital marketing to learn more about the broad domain.  

A website may not have enough referring domains, but it cannot even rank without any content on it. Acquiring high quality backlinks from top referring domains will only be possible when the content is of high quality. 

Why is Backlink Building Essential to Your Website?

Faster Visibility in Search Results

While a blog should meet all the necessary on-page factors, it should also have backlinks to rank higher organically

Backlinks are among the three most important ranking factors of Google and ignoring it may be one of the many reasons why your web pages are not ranking even when the page is optimised thoroughly. Also, Googlebot can crawl pages much faster when there are good quality backlinks. 

Builds Credibility

When a top referring domain links to your web page, it signals Google about your website’s authority.  Backlinks help indicate the E-A-T to Google. 

Check out the screenshot from Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines below. 


Parting Thoughts

Now that you know about backlinks, the related terms, and their importance, you must include link building in your next search engine optimization strategy if you haven’t thought about it yet. 

Try following these basic steps to get started with link building –

  • Analyse your competitors on how they use backlinks on tools, including Ahrefs or SEMRush 
  • Do thorough keyword research to write link-worthy content 
  • Try guest blogs on good websites in your niche
  • Monitor the performance of blogs and backlinks using tools like Google Search Console 

You may check out Udemy’s SEO Link Building certification to learn more. Or if you are completely new, there are many SEO courses to get started with. 

About the Author
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio