The Complete Guide To Quality Backlinks

Last modified:
Emma-Leigh Hull

Digital PR and Campaigns Manager

Prior to Google’s Penguin 2.0 update in 2013, a website was simply judged based on the number of links being built to the site. That essentially meant that if you had thousands of links pointing to your site then the search engines would deem it important. Quality simply didn’t come into the factor.

As you could imagine this made it very easy for black hat SEOs to build hundreds of links a day, artificially increasing the page’s authority. Google recognised this and brought in Penguin 2.0 which put an end to the ‘power in numbers backlinks.’ In 2016, Penguin 4.0 was launched.

But what are backlinks?

Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from one website to another. They are important for search engine optimisation (SEO) as they help search engines understand the authority and relevance of a website.

When a website links to another website, it is essentially vouching for the content on that website. The more high-quality and relevant backlinks a website has, the more likely it is to be considered authoritative by search engines like Google.

Backlinks can be generated through various means such as guest posting, broken link building, and social media. However, it is important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. Backlinks from authoritative websites are considered more valuable than those from low-quality websites. Additionally, a large number of spammy backlinks can harm a website’s SEO and ranking.

Types of backlinks

The way a site owner marks up their backlinks can also hint at how valuable a backlink can be considered. There are several ways site owners can choose to mark up their backlinks to other sites.

Nofollow links – Nofollow backlinks are links that have a “nofollow” attribute attached to them in the HTML code. This attribute tells search engine bots not to follow the link and in previous times give it any weight in terms of search engine rankings.

Nofollow backlinks were introduced by Google in 2005 as a way to combat spam and discourage the manipulation of search engine rankings through the use of link schemes. When a website owner adds a nofollow attribute to a link, they are essentially telling search engines that they don’t vouch for the linked content or website and they don’t want to pass any “link juice” or authority to it.

Nofollow backlinks can still provide some benefits for website owners as Gogle now, since 2019, has updated their advice and say that Nofollow will now only be used as a suggestion, or hint to their crawlers. They can also still be worth going for to gain generating referral traffic and building brand awareness.

UGC links – UGC stands for “User-Generated Content”, and UGC links are links that are created in user-generated content, such as blog comments, forum posts, or social media updates.

In September 2019, Google introduced a new attribute called “rel=ugc” (ugc stands for user-generated content) that website owners can add to their links in user-generated content to indicate to search engines that these links were not editorially placed by the website owner or their team, but instead by users of the website. The rel=ugc attribute helps Google understand the nature of the link and differentiate it from other types of links, such as editorial or sponsored links.

Sponsored links – Sponsored links are links that are placed on a website in exchange for payment or other compensation. They are typically used in advertising or marketing campaigns to promote a product, service, or brand. These kinds of links are encouraged to be tagged with a rel=”sponsored” attribute. This attribute was introduced by Google in 2019 as a way to help webmasters identify and mark sponsored links on their website.

When a website owner adds the rel=”sponsored” attribute to a link, they are indicating to search engines that the link is a result of a paid arrangement, and that it should not be considered as part of the organic search rankings of the linked website.

Using the rel=”sponsored” attribute is important for compliance with search engine guidelines and transparency with users. It helps ensure that sponsored links are not used to manipulate search engine rankings and that users are aware when a link is a result of a paid arrangement.

How to go about building backlinks

Here’s the best way to build backlinks to your website:

Quality Over Quantity

How many backlinks do you think you need to get to the front page of Google: millions, thousands, hundreds? You’d probably be surprised to find out that it’s much, much less than that. Because Google now focuses on quality, two or three great links from sources like the BBC or Government websites could send you straight to the top.

In fact, many people have found that less is more. By having thousands of poor quality links to your site then algorithms will see you as being spammy and therefore penalise you. When Penguin 2.0 was first launched, thousands of websites were hit as a result of links like these – pushing competitors who hadn’t taken part in link building higher.

Giving Your Site a Boost

Think about it logically, the bigger and more relevant the site linking to you, the better it will look to others. Imagine it like this: If a worldwide recognised news source tells you that something is great, then you’re more likely to believe it than you would twenty nobodies telling you it’s amazing.
By building quality links from authoritative sites you’re showing Google that these guys, who are already established, believe you’re important. This will help you to boost your page ranking and increase your positioning within search engine results.

Appeal to Humans

Don’t build links just for the sake of creating backlinks. While they are important, your real goal should be generating traffic to your website and this simply won’t get done through spammy sites. Submitting guest blogs to established websites is a great way to increase user interaction through their existing readers.
Aim for websites that are related to you. If you sell colourful cotton socks then having links to a steel works factory’s website won’t look natural. Think about the websites that you already visit and trust and try to get links from there. You’ll see benefits from this almost instantly as:

  • The more relevant the site, the more people will read it
  • The more people read it, the higher the click-through rate will be
  • Higher click-through means more people on your site
  • More people leads to more sales/ enquiries

For more link building tips checkout our guide, how to get quality backlinks to your website

Why are backlinks important?

  1. Authority: Backlinks are an indication of trust and credibility in the eyes of search engines. When a website links to another website, it is essentially vouching for the content on that website. The more high-quality and relevant backlinks a website has, the more likely it is to be considered authoritative by search engines.
  2. Visibility: Backlinks can help increase a website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). When a website has more high-quality backlinks, it is more likely to rank higher in search results, making it easier for people to find and visit the website.
  3. Traffic: Backlinks can also drive traffic to a website. When a website links to another website, it can generate referral traffic, which can result in more visitors to the linked website.
  4. Branding: Backlinks can help increase a website’s brand awareness. When a website is mentioned and linked to from other websites, it can help increase its visibility and exposure to a wider audience.

Overall, backlinks are important for improving a website’s SEO, visibility, traffic, and branding. However, it’s important to note that not all backlinks are created equal. High-quality, relevant backlinks from authoritative websites are more valuable and links directly to pages matter more than domain level. Read our guide which explains how link equity is passed around websites.

At the end of the day this is what you’re aiming for, sales and enquiries. By building quality backlinks you’ll actually be creating virtual gateways for thousands of people to see your site, understand what you’re all about and buy your products. On top of this you’ll also be generating fantastic backlinks that Google will absolutely love – as Charlie Sheen would say, “winning!

Our Cardiff SEO agency only build quality, relevant backlinks for our clients. See what we can do for you by getting in touch with our SEO team today.

Backlinks are part of a long term SEO strategy, and as we say, SEO is a marathon not a sprint. To get a better understanding of this checkout our blog, how long until I see SEO results to understand how SEO is the long term project you never knew you needed.

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Emma-Leigh Hull

Digital PR and Campaigns Manager

Emma- Leigh previously worked at a travel PR agency and a number of tourist boards. At Liberty she has had a keen interest in e-commerce, getting clients in as many of our clients in ‘best buy’ guides. Finance, particularly property finance, mortgage rates, creating campaigns around housing and interest rates and legal. Creating reactive PR…

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