What is a backlink in SEO? Do you really need to build links?

By Roman Berezhnoi April 12, 2022 289 views

What is a backlink in SEO? Do you really need to build links?

Many SEOs today focus on building backlinks. A whole industry has grown around backlinks. You can find dozens of theories, explanations of the Google algorithm, and many (easy, powerful, professional) link building strategies. Also, you will find a large number of people who build links.

Business owners invest millions of dollars in backlinks. SEOs spend thousands of hours of linkbuilding.

Are backlinks really worth it? 

What is a backlink in SEO?

This is the short definition. A backlink (also known as inbound links, incoming links) is any hyperlink on a website that points back to your website. 

This is the backlink to the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide Also, you can write a link text and Google recommends writing good link text. Unfortunately, these backlinks won’t make people want to read Google’s SEO guide. 

Anyway, the backlink definition can’t help us to understand why backlinks are important for SEO.

Are backlinks important for search engine optimization? The answer is absolutely yes. For instance, Google recommends SEOs to avoid using link schemes. It means links can affect website ranking. 

But the truth is many SEOs can’t explain how backlinks are important for SEO.

How backlinks can help search engine optimization

Many SEOs and digital marketers think that search engines like Google use the quality and number of backlinks as a ranking signal. 

It’s pretty obvious that Google and other search engines don’t use the number of backlinks to rank pages. Spammers use technologies to create thousands of backlinks, but the truth is it works in 15-25% of cases. SEOs can use these technologies to promote online casino sites, adult sites, and grey niche sites (it means business niches that have legal restrictions). But if you do SEO for business sites in other niches, you should avoid spammy link building. Because it doesn’t work when you need to promote some complex products or services in a competitive market. Spammy link building is the least efficient tactic for SEO.

What is about the quality of backlinks? What defines a quality backlink?

A quality backlink is a link that comes from a high domain authority website that is well-trusted by search engines and searchers alike. (Neil Patel’s site).

Other SEOs say about link relevancy, website authority, etc. You do not need to dive into these theories. In practice, a search engine can pass more value to your site from a new blog than from a big well-known site. Backlinks on local media sites can help you better than backlinks on national media sites.

Many SEOs can say that the link to the free dress-up games wouldn’t be relevant to this article, but the fans of these games do not agree. So, if you are a fan of such games or looking for a pocket anime maker you’ll appreciate the link to the online dress-up games site. Also, this site helps you to do with kids on a trip.

In fact, Google and other search engines don’t define the quality of backlinks. Search engines use their own algorithms to calculate how much value to pass on your pages. Search engines can ignore links for one site but pass some value to another site. No one knows how much value a search engine passes with this link. SEO tools can’t help you because they have no access to search engine data. Honestly, we all don’t know how these algorithms work.

But we do know the reasons why you need backlinks:

  1. Backlinks help to drive the referral traffic
  2. Backlinks help the pages of your site to be discovered and crawled (Using the XML sitemap is a great example)
  3. Backlinks help the content of your site to be indexed 

That’s all. There are many effective ways to rank your pages without backlinks. In other words, If you don’t know how to optimize a web page without backlinks, you don’t know how to optimize.

When backlinks can be effective for your site?

One of the hardest lessons for people to learn is link building practice is the least effective and low-ROI task of search engine optimization. You should spend time and money to earn several links which can be ignored by Google. 

But in some cases, you should spend your time building links (there are 43 ways to build links).

You need to get more leads

One of the most effective ways to generate more leads is to drive referral traffic. Referral traffic is important to business sites because it sends potentially qualified visitors to landing pages from trusted websites. This in turn gets your content in front of a target audience, giving your website the opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead and your sales team the opportunity to convert that lead into a customer.

Many years ago SEOs published websites in online directories. Note, that online directories have never improved SEO. Now, this way is still working for some business niches like legal services but it doesn’t help many businesses. You should be looking for trusted sites like blogs, media, or social media groups and communities where you can share your links. 

Also, backlinks improve your online visibility. It is very effective because people can find links to your site on forums they like, on blogs they read, and on sites they visit.

You have a new website

You should show the search engine that the site is worth indexing and showing people. If someone put a link to your site, it means that he or she trusts your site. 

Search engines also allow backlinks to pass anchor text that helps their systems understand the content of pages (this is why internal links are great for SEO).

If search engines value your site as relevant and quality, they will crawl your site without backlinks. Because search engines are interested in content that searchers like.

Optimization for keywords with high search volume

Sometimes SEOs need to optimize for highly competitive search queries. If you can’t win the game on content alone, you should use backlinks. But it is a more advanced technique than many people use. It won’t work even if you buy a link at $500. 

You need to analyze which sites and pages can be effective. There is no SEO tool that could help you. Only an SEO who has years of experience in backlinks analysis can do that. But there are no guarantees you’ll win even if you create good content and grab tons of value-passing links.


You can improve your search results rankings with backlinks. But you don’t need to build backlinks in search engine optimization. In many cases, linkbuilding in SEO is a complete waste of money. Sure many people would disagree with this idea. 

In fact, you can build backlinks to generate more valuable traffic on your site and improve your online visibility outside web search and social media. These investments will benefit your business.

Look for the value for your business, not for useless practice. SEO is not linkbuilding and you can use other practices and methods to improve your site ranking

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