How do Backlinks Work? – SEO FAQs Simply Answered

how do backlinks workLinks and backbones are the backbone of any website.

In fact, backlinks are so important that building a sustainable business without them is impossible.

In this article, we will explain how do backlinks work and basically everything you need to know to understand their importance.

Before we get into the details we need to understand what are Links.

What are Links and How to Link to Other Websites

Links are website names that are used to connect one section of the website with another. When we reference a website we add a URL to another site. That’s done to further explain a topic, cite a source or explain a meaning of a specific word.

Depending on the platform creating a link might require using a code snippet (example: <a href=”“>Anchor Text</a>) or might be as simple as pasting a URL.

Links can be placed to another section on your own website or a completely different website.

  • Inbound backlinks or links – those are links within your website, such as a link from your homepage to your service page Or from one blog post to another.
  • Outbound Backlinks or links – those are backlinks that link to other sources of information outside of your own page – such as Wikipedia, Facebook, etc.

This  means that there are 2 options how you can link, that is within your homepage or to external resources.

How do Backlinks Work?

how do backlinks work

Links are also called backlinks and they transfer people from one section of the website to another.

Backlinks connect or redirect one site to another and function as an authoritative “Upvotes” of the site which has received the backlink.

The more backlinks a site has, the more authoritative it will be.  It’s because backlinks transfer link value and the more backlinks together with link value one site has the better it will rank on Search Engines.

For example: If we Check Backlinks for a site like we will discover that it has a lot of links pointing to this site – 16,703,699 backlinks to be exact. These links transfer link value and improve BusinessInsider’s authority, and Google often ranks this site very high on the first page.

businessinsider backlinks

How to Create a Backlink?

If you want to create a backlink all you have to do the following:

  1. circle the text on which you want to place the link
  2. and locate the “add link icon”
  3. once you click on this icon you will be able to add a backlink to another resource.

How to add a backlink in WordPress:

Step 1: Circle the text – For example: add backlink here

Step 2: Click on the “Add link” icon:

How to add backlink

Step 3: Then paste the URL in the pop-up window that will appear next to the text you circled:How to add backlink2

How to add a backlink in HTML code:

If you are adding a backlink in the text editor or HTML code, this is how it will look like:

<a href=”“>Anchor Text</a>

For more information visit this resource.

Backlink Authority

Backlinks are NOT created equally.

First off, each website has an authority.  Depending on how high is your website’s authority, also your backlink will have a higher or lower strength.

So. backlinks from authoritative pages will bring more link value and can give a good boost to rank your website on Google.

There are a ton of different metrics on how to asses how qualitative is the website, the main metrics are the following:

  • Domain Authority (DA) – the authority of the entire website. Measured from 0 to 100.
  • Page Authority (PA) – the authority of a single page or article. Measured from 0 to 100.
  • Spam Score metric of how spammy is the site. Measure from 0 to 17 (red flag is everything over 6).

Backlink Authority

If you want to measure your website’s or other site Domain Authority, Page Authority, and Spam Score, you can do that here.

When you consider all this, you will also realize that getting high authority backlinks is really hard.

For Example, sometime to rank an article it will be enough to get 1 DA60++ backlink and they will help more than 5 low authority backlinks.

Now when we know that authority matters – there are few more things to consider.

Types of Backlinks?

Even if you get a high authority backlink – it might be useless if it’s a No-Follow backlink.

Crazy, huh?

Backlinks are also different in their construction.

Rel attributes

When you consider how useful a backlink could be there is one more aspect to it.

It’s called Rel attribute.

And there are mainly two attributes:

  • Rel=”nofollow” – SEOs call this a No-Follow Backlink. It means that this backlink carries NO SEO VALUE. In other words, it’s useless for ranking purposes.
    • There is one exception – Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s backlinks are by default No-follow. But they can boost your rankings.
  • Rel=”dofollow” – These are the backlinks that carry SEO value and they are super important to rank on Search Engines.

On top of these tags, there are 11 other rel attributes that have no significance for SEO but if you want to see the list, here’s the doc.

So, now in our Backlink recipe we have 2 ingredients – Backlink Authority +  Rel Attributes.

And there are 2 more factors that affect how backlinks work.

Backlink Relevancy

Depending on where and how the backlink is added it can bring more or almost No-SEO value to your site.

1. Human Value

This is a weird term, right?

But at this point, Google’s crawlers can detect how valuable the content is for us – humans.

If you are using content spinners and automatically re-writing articles – Google will see that.

And if you have a authorative do-follow backlink from an article that’s written by a robot and makes no sense – it will carry almost no SEO value.

Sad but true.

2. Anchor Texts

Anchor text is the text on which your backlink is placed.

A link to your page can be placed on all of the following:

  1. brand name – like Microsoft, Apple, etc.
  2. on filler words like “here”, “this”, “guide”, “article”, etc.
  3. on explainer words – Buy Cheap Phones, Best laptops, or articles about backlinks
  4. or on an empty space

First two are great options for anchor texts – you cannot go wrong with that.

The third is a bit tricky – if all your backlinks are placed on what’s called “rich anchor texts” then there are chances that you will get a penalty.

The fourth option is a NO-NO. Never ever do that. Google can see that and will downgrade your page.

To see your anchor phrase distribution you can use Linkody.

3. Backlink Placement

You should also consider the following things when thinking if the specific backlink will have any value:

  • How many other outbound links are on the site – no page should have hundreds of outbound links, that’s unnatural. Creating lists of articles, tools, etc. that’s a common practice but stay away from “link graveyards”.
  • If it’s industry related – a backlink from sausage producer when your company is a nail salon – will have almost no value.
  • From which TLD and country link is coming – If a European business has a large percentage (over 10%) of backlinks from Asian sites – this will affect your site rather badly.

This 3 aspects are extremely important when you consider you backlink relevancy.

Backlink Technical Aspects

For a complete understanding of how backlinks work you need to understand how Google finds them.

It might take several weeks before Google indexes your backlinks.

But there are ways to speed it up.

To see all the backlinks Google has discovered head over to Google Search Console.

How to find indexed backlinks

These technical elements are important to note, but they shouldn’t affect whether you pursue a link or not, only how you report it. These elements can affect how Google interprets relevance and authority, or if they can crawl the link at all.

Some of the technical elements to consider are:

  • Redirects – Depending on the redirect, this is a great way to transfer outdated page’s authority to an up to date resource.
  • Robots.txt – This file shows which resources on your page should be accessed and which avoided
  • Sitemap.xml – This file is the map of your website.
  • Javascript – Javascript creates the “moving parts” of the website such as pop-ups and blinking buttons.
    • If a page works the same as Facebooks newsfeed – it just never ends – sometimes Google will have trouble accessing some parts of the content and/or indexing backlinks will be harder.

How do Backlinks Work – The Summary

I know it’s hard to take it all in at once.

But this is the section is where it all will comes together.

Backlinks are like Votes – the more backlinks the higher your site’s authority.

And the rest is like a math.

So, to rank your website backlinks are the most important factor but, that’s not all, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Backlink authority – consider Domain Authority and Spam Score
  2. Rel Attribute – only rel=”dofollow” backlinks matter for SEO
  3. Backlink relevancy – human value, anchor text, and backlink placement
  4. Technical aspects – the construction of the page on which the backlink is placed

Even tho all these 4 factors are equally important, you can consider them starting from the top – first two are the most important and then also the 3rd and the 4th.

All this combined is how backlinks work and give your site authority.

And if you wish to monitor your backlinks, you can do so with these tools: