SEO Glossary > Backlinks (inlink, incoming link, inbound link)

Backlinks (inlink, incoming link, inbound link)

Backlinks are hyperlinks existing on a third-party website, Website B, pointing to a web page on Website A. The source of the term backlinks may be in that in the early years of SEO it was common to offer to link to other websites and in return, they would link back to your website. Backlinks are a factor, among many others, that search engines use to determine the quality and authority of websites and that influences the relative rank of that website in the search engine.

What is a backlink analysis?


A site's backlink profile is an important element in ranking on Google. Search engines view backlinks as a sign of a site's, or page's authority. Specifically, the number of links, the number of referring domains, and the authority behind those domains are all factors in high-ranking content. In order for an SEO to understand their site's authority, they must perform a backlink analysis. The analysis is usually performed with an SEO tool and the information is arranged in a report that shows metrics such as the number of links and unique domains pointing to the site.

What is a competitor backlink analysis?


A competitor backlink analysis is an assessment of competitor sites that are in the same industry as or share a similar audience to a site. The goal of the analysis is to assess the competitor's backlinks and overall authority. This will help the site owner to formulate a strategy that will allow their site to outperform the competition. The analysis should focus on the number of backlinks and the quality of the linking sites. It should also focus on which type of sites the competitor sites generally earn backlinks from. The site owner can then use this information to reach out to similar sites and request those sites link to similar or better content on their own site, thereby emulating the competitor's backlink strategy. 

Are backlinks important for SEO?

Search engines view backlinks pointing to a site as a vote of confidence for that site. If a number of high-quality sites link to a site, that signals to the search engines that the site is worth linking to. This might cause them to feature the site at the top of the SERPs. In this way, backlinks can have a positive effect on a site's rankings. 

Should I buy backlinks?


Buying backlinks is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. As a result, buying backlinks could result in a penalty.

By Google's definition, a paid link is an exchange of money, goods, or services for links. This includes sending a free product in exchange for a mention of the product and a link. In the early 2000s, buying links was common practice but over the years, Google has become fairly accurate at finding paid links, making the practice risky at best.

Check out our guide to understanding backlinks