How Backlinks Work: The Science of Link Building

The process of backlinking is when a website links to any other page on your own domain. If you ever wondered how backlinks work, this article might help. So, let’s first see why people link to other websites.

What Makes People Link to Other Websites?

To understand the tangled web of backlinks across millions of websites, we should know why people link to other sites in the first place.

The links often come in great content designed for targeted outreach and additional value to a website. The content that attracts the most backlinks

  • Has high quality
  • Is built for users, not search engines
  • Contains useful information
  • Increases credibility and authority

Backlinks as a Ranking Factor

A backlink is an incoming link from other sites that can serve as a ranking factor. Recent studies conducted by Backlinko, SearchMetrics, SEO PowerSuite, and other SEO experts revealed the top-ranking factors you need to focus on are the content, backlinks, mobile-first user experience and overall user experience.

Luckily, you can incorporate your backlink strategy in your content plan and in the parts of your UX design.

But, how to score a backlink?

Backlinks are Scored According to 2 Key Factors:

  1. Link Score

Google calculates a link score to quantify backlink as a ranking signal. It is made up of the number of links to the site and every incoming link’s PageRank or individual quality score.

  1. Anchor Text Relevance

Anchor text relevance tells Google what a web page is all about and what category or niche it should rank for. There is no one formula to determine the relevance of an anchor text, but there are scoring averages that we can use as a reference:

  • Branded text = 70%
  • Naked URLs = 20%
  • Generic text = 5%
  • Topic-related text = 4%
  • Exact match text = 1%

Anatomy of a Backlink

We measure backlink quality in a couple of ways, most notably with the help of the following metrics.

Domain Authority

Domain authority refers to how authoritative a website is based on its ranking in search engines. In the world of backlinks, it is the one link you get from ABC Online or The Sydney Morning Herald that may be worth more than 200 links from random sites.

Page Authority

Page authority, on the other hand, refers to the measure of authority of a particular page on a website, which we determine by how many other pages are linking to that page.

Anchor Text

The text, phrase, or terms used for hyperlinking. Often used when ranking for certain keywords.

Co-Citation

Co-Citation is the corollary of Page Authority that helps search engines determine the relevancy of a topic or page linking to your website.

Link Juice

Link juice is passed when a website links to an article found on your website or the homepage and the link is tagged as Do-Follow. No-Follow links do not pass link juice.

However, the technical metrics by which we measure the authenticity and the ranking potential of links are not always the only elements that get into the equation. We must not forget the relevance and the human value (links added for humans, not for crawlers).

Perks Backlinks Bring to Your Website

Backlinks and link building are, without a doubt, one of the top three SEO tactics to date. Following are the benefits they bring to your website.

  • Promote your brand
  • Boost authority
  • Enhance relevancy factor
  • Improve organic ranking
  • Facilitate faster indexing
  • Get referral traffic
  • Add quality signals to content
  • Provide added value to users/readers

How Backlinks Work and Pass Authority

  1. Different links coming from social media, blogroll, content, authoritative websites, and footer will link to your website and/or to specific pages.
  2. A valuable link will pass link value or authority from the referring domain to your domain.
  3. Value-affected links do not pass authority and can impact website authority.
  • No-Follow links do not pass value or link juice.
  • 301 Redirect discounts link value.
  • Broken Page links may pass value to internal pages but are misguided.
  • Paid links and too much exact match anchor text can lead to a drastic drop in value and possible site penalties.

Where to Get High-Quality Backlinks

  1. Authority Sites
  • Ranks well in Google
  • Have links from referring domains with high authority
  • Contain a huge number of visitors
  • Have good social media exposure and/or active blog readership
  1. Relevant Sites
  • Have the same niche as your website
  • Have content that is closely related to your website or niche
  1. Relevant Content
  • Have similar content focus as an individual page on your website
  • Share the same content or link category
  • Subject is relevant to your niche
  • Content surrounding the link is closely relevant to your field
  1. Within a Content Body
  • If you place links within the body of content
  • Links are surrounded by contextually relevant information

Important Backlinking Rules to Remember

  • Use proper anchor text when linking or referring to your website.
  • Links should come from different IP addresses. Multiple backlinks from the same IP address are not given much weight by Google.
  • Only one linked root domain will be accepted, even when a website links to your domain multiple times. Don’t waste time on acquiring more backlinks from the same domain, regardless if it is unique.

How to Ethically Build Backlinks for Authority

  1. Submit your website to blog directors, blog aggregators, local business directories, document sharing sites
  2. Post and participate in forums and other online communities
  3. Leave a comment on popular blogs and authority sites
  4. Reach out to bloggers and guest blog on popular sites
  5. Use social bookmarking sites to bookmark your blog
  6. Share on social media
  7. Invest in infographics
  8. Ask questions or post answers in Google Groups, Quora, or similar websites
  9. Answer queries from authority news sites
  10. Donate to charities and get a link in return
  11. Buy an expired domain with a huge number of quality links pointing to it
  12. Reclaim links from companies and websites that mention you.

Lastly and most conveniently, work with a partner you can trust to build your backlinks without bringing the wrath of Google on you and while increasing your website traffic.

How Backlinks Work