what are backlinks

What Are Backlinks? (Are They Important?)

Last Updated on August 7, 2023 by Jordan Alexo

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Backlinks? Sounds like something my chiropractor warned me about.” But don’t worry; we’re not talking spine health here.

Picture this: You’re at a party, right? You’re chatting away, impressing everyone with your extensive knowledge of, let’s say, underwater basket weaving.

Suddenly, from across the room, someone shouts, “Hey, that person over there knows a thing or two about weaving baskets under the sea!” That is a real-life backlink. It’s an endorsement, a shout-out, a “Hey, check this out!”

But here’s the thing: Not all backlinks are created equal. Some are like getting a high-five from a celebrity, while others are more like getting a pat on the back from a stranger.

So, in this guide, let’s talk about backlinks. And more importantly, let’s answer to the common concerns “Should I waste my time building backlinks? Or creating new content for my blog?

Without further ado, let’s roll!

Key Takeaways

  1. Backlinks are like high-fives from celebrities: Not all backlinks are created equal. Some are like getting a high-five from a celebrity (high authority website), while others are more like a pat on the back from a stranger (low authority website).
  2. Backlinks boost your site’s rankings: They’re like votes in a popularity contest. The more quality backlinks you have, the more search engines believe your site is a valuable resource deserving a higher spot in search results.
  3. Backlinks are Traffic Magnets: Every backlink is like a door to your site that opens up from another website. When someone clicks on that backlink, they’re taken to your site. It’s an awesome way to attract more people to your content.
  4. Backlinks are a Double-Edged Sword: Building backlinks can be time-consuming and risky. Google may penalize your site if they think you’re trying to manipulate search rankings through unnatural backlink building. So, focus on creating quality content first, and let the backlinks come naturally.

What Are Backlinks?

Well, in the simplest terms, backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website.

Now, imagine you’re at a party. You’re having a conversation with a group of people, and suddenly, someone across the room points at you and says, “Hey, that person really knows their stuff about SEO!”

You could say that’s a real-life backlink. It means that someone else is endorsing your expertise.

The same thing happens online, where a website links to another website. Basically, it’s a website telling search engines, “Hey, this page over here has some cool sh*t. You wanna check it out!”

But here’s the pickle: this isn’t about getting a ton of backlinks. Nope, it’s about getting the ones.

See, not all backlinks are created equal. Some are like getting a high-five from Brad Pitt (high authority website), while others are like getting a pat on the back from your neighbor’s cat (low authority website).

So, the more high-fives you get from Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, and other celebrities (other high authority sites), the more popular Google considers your site. In a way, online works quite similarly to the real world.

3 Reasons Why Backlinks Are Important?

Well, I’m about to give you three solid rocks reasons why backlinks are essential:

1 – SEO Supercharge

Search engines, like Big G (Google), view backlinks as a thumbs-up for your site. It’s like a popularity contest; every backlink is a vote in your favor.

The more quality backlinks you have, the more search engines believe your site is a valuable resource deserving a higher spot in search results.

2 – More Traffic

Next, backlinks are a fantastic way to get traffic to your site. Every backlink is like a door to your site that opens up from another website.

When someone clicks on that backlinks, they are taken to your site. I often see people visiting my blog from guest posts I wrote on other websites.

Besides, people who click these links are usually interested in the topic. In other words, it’s highly targeted traffic.

So, it’s an awesome way to attract more people to your content.

3 – Brand Booster

When high-quality, authoritative sites link to you, it builds your brand’s credibility and authority in your niche.

The more “quality” backlinks you have, the more your brand gets noticed. Plus, the higher Google and other search engines rank your content.

What Are The Best Type Of Backlinks?

So, let’s check what kind of backlinks are the crème de la crème, right?

1 – In Your Niche

First off, the best backlinks are like your favorite pair of jeans – they just fit. And by fit, I mean they’re in your niche. Why’s that matter?

Well, think about it. If you’re running a fitness blog, a backlink from a tech site might not make much sense. But a backlink from a well-respected health and wellness site? Now, that’s a perfect fit!

It tells search engines that you’re a trusted authority in your niche. So, you should get most of your backlinks from sites that are relevant to yours.

2 – From Higher Authoritative Websites

You want backlinks from high-authority websites. These are the big boys, the sites with hundreds or thousands of pages and have been around for a while.

When one of these sites links to yours, it tells search engines that your site is credible and trustworthy.

Same as if you hang around influential people; their positive reputation rubs off on you. Now if you hang around people who do drugs and have other bad habits, their reputation rubs off on you, too (but not in a good way).

3 – Contextual Backlinks

The best backlinks are contextual. What’s that mean? Well, these are backlinks placed within a website’s content rather than in a sidebar or footer.

These backlinks tell search engines that your content is so valuable other sites are naturally incorporating it into their content.

Plus, if these backlinks have relevant anchor text like “best fitness tips” or “healthy lifestyle advice,” they provide more context and relevance to your website.

Should You Get Backlinks?

Okay, so time to pull off the curtain. At this point, you think, I will tell you to run and grab as many backlinks as possible.

And yes, and no. What? Here’s the thing:

If you’re starting a new blog, your main priority should be to create content in a specific niche. See, you want to build your topical authority. That means creating mountains of content in one niche.

The more content you have in your niche, the more Google considers your site the best thing since sliced bread. Or you could say they start ranking your site higher in their search results for that particular topic.

Unfortunately, I fell into the mistake of not following this advice earlier with Jordan Alexo. And believe me; it cost me months of not seeing any traffic growth.

So, here’s the deal:

1 – Focus On One Niche

My site initially had about fifty posts related to self-publishing. Then I started all sorts of content from credit repair to the Metaverse.

As you can imagine, these topics have nothing to do with each other. It also confuses readers and search engines. Because search engines have a harder time deciding what your site is about and how to categorize it.

2 – Build Quality Content Like There’s No Tomorrow

You want to create helpful content with a unique perspective in one niche. So, if your site is about “white socks” (it must be the most boring topic ever), you want to focus on building your topical authority.

That means you cover everything about white socks, like history, different types, materials, best brands, styling tips, care instructions, etc.

It depends on the niche, but this might be only fifty posts for a smaller niche. Or it could be hundreds of posts for a larger and more competitive niche.

In fact, your first months of blogging should be dedicated only to creating content for your site.

3 – Gain Backlinks Naturally

I’m not against building links, and you can do it. However, it is extremely time-consuming. Often you need to outreach companies and websites, and most people don’t reply.

I spent months doing this instead of writing content for my blog. And let me tell you, it didn’t pay off!

The other thing that surprised me was that I found several bloggers who built successful blogs in competitive niches in a few months without focusing on backlink building.

So what did they do? Well, they created tons of quality content in their niche and acquired natural backlinks. That means people enjoyed reading and sharing their content on their websites or social media platforms.

What’s The Problem With Building Backlinks?

So, here are my thoughts about building backlinks…

1 – Time Consuming

The biggest problem with building backlinks is that it’s incredibly time-consuming. Expect to spend hours drooling over your board, sending boring ass emails to companies and bloggers, and waiting for responses that may never come.

That’s exactly the suffering I went through. And you’re better off spending that time writing content for your blog.

2 – Penalize Your Site

The other issue is Google may penalize your site if they think you’re trying to manipulate search rankings through unnatural backlink building.

It may not be today or tomorrow, but you never know. Google changes its algorithm frequently. I’ve seen sites going from millions of visitors to nearly a fraction of that after a few months.

3 – Backlinks Aren’t Reliable

You have no control over the site that is linking to you. They could delete the link, change the anchor text, or even have their site penalized by Google. And boom, your site immediately loses all that juice.

So much work for nothing! That’s why I rather have a blog with hundreds of pages of solid content.

Imagine your site already receives thousands of visitors monthly just from the content you wrote. It’s less likely to be affected by the ups and downs of building backlinks.

But Wait, Should You Ever Build Backlinks?

I’m not against building backlinks entirely. I rather focus on creating my first one to two hundred articles or so (this depends on the niche).

The thing is, once you have that content, you already have a solid foundation for your blog. Besides, you probably receive a nice flow of traffic.

And at that point, getting some strategic backlinks is easier to boost your website’s visibility and authority further.


The easiest links to acquire are from the companies you reviewed or mentioned in your content.

Last Thoughts

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever build backlinks. But it’s more important to first focus on creating quality content for your blog.

I’ve seen many blogs succeeding only with that. And some people may think, “Yeah, but they are writing for a less competitive niche.”

Nope, not exactly. In fact, these bloggers are in highly competitive niches such as fitness, travel, and fashion. Some of their content is outranking big players in that niche.

The thing they have in common is “huge quantities of in-depth and high-quality content.”

If I could go back, I wouldn’t have spent all those months building backlinks. I didn’t notice any improvement in my traffic. In the meantime, I could have written more valuable content for my audience.

So, that’s what I suggest. Focus initially on building a strong foundation of quality content for your blog in one niche.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 – Are Backlinks Legal?

Are backlinks legal? Well, it’s a bit like asking if eating cake is legal. Sure, you can eat cake, but if you eat too much, you might end up with a stomach ache. Similarly, buying backlinks is technically legal, but it’s frowned upon by the big boss of the internet, Google.

Why’s that, you ask? Well, Google views buying backlinks as a bit of a cheat code, a shortcut to the top of the search engine rankings.

It’s like paying for votes in a popularity contest. Not cool, right? So, while you won’t get arrested for buying backlinks, you might end up in Google’s bad books, which could hurt your website’s rankings. And trust me, you don’t want to mess with Google.

2 – Can Backlinks Hurt SEO?

Can backlinks hurt SEO? The answer is yes! But don’t start hyperventilating just yet. Let me explain.

Think of backlinks as your buddies. You’ve got the good ones, the ones that make you look good. But then, there are the bad apples, the ones that drag your reputation through the mud. These are what we call “toxic backlinks.”

This could be backlinks from adult content and spammy sites.

3 – Which Is The Most Powerful Backlink?

Well, it’s the do-follow backlink!

Well, a do-follow backlink is like a golden ticket from one webpage to another. It tells search engines to follow the link and consider it as a vote of confidence for the linked website.

It also passes authority from the source page to the target page. So, when you build backlinks, you want to get do-follow backlinks mainly.

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