Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here.

What are Backlinks and Why are they Crucial for SEO?

A graphic that says "What are Backlinks and Why are they Crucial for SEO?

You’ve probably heard that SEO is an ever-changing field, and you’re not wrong. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow, but some remain important. One of those things? Backlinks.

So, have you been wondering why your target keywords don’t get much organic traffic? Or why your competitors seem to always be a few steps ahead? The answer might lie in your backlink strategy—or lack thereof. And if you’re wondering, “Do backlinks still matter?” The short answer is a resounding yes.

Backlinks are fundamental to your site’s ability to rank well in search engines. And in this piece, I’ll break down exactly what they are, why they’re essential, and how you can leverage them to your advantage. Let’s dive in.

Top Tips for Backlinks

  • Backlinks boost rankings: Essential for improving search engine rankings, backlinks act as endorsements, signaling your site’s credibility.
  • Prioritize quality: High-quality backlinks from authoritative sites outweigh the quantity, directly impacting your site’s authority and search visibility.
  • Variety matters: A mix of backlink types, including dofollow and guest blogging backlinks, diversifies your SEO strategy, enhancing your profile’s richness.
  • Building takes time: Cultivating a strong backlink profile is a long-term strategy with enduring SEO benefits, such as increased visibility and organic traffic.
  • Analyze and refine: Utilize backlink analysis tools to understand your backlinks’ impact, allowing for targeted strategy improvements.
  • Ethical practices win: Build backlinks with integrity through valuable content and active community participation, securing sustainable SEO achievements and maintaining your site’s credibility.

So, What Exactly Are Backlinks?

Backlinks, in the simplest terms, are links from one website to a page on another website. They’re also known as “inbound links” or “incoming links.” But why do they matter so much in SEO?

Imagine every link to your site as a thumbs-up from the internet. It tells search engines, “Hey, this content’s great!” When lots of websites point to yours, it’s like the search engines get the hint: your stuff’s worth showing off in their results. So, gathering these digital nods can really boost how visible your site is in searches.

Now, not all backlinks are created equal. High-quality backlinks can catapult your site to the top of SERP rankings, while low-quality links can do more harm than good. That’s why it’s important to understand the types of backlinks and how to best use them.

Types of Backlinks

A graphic explaining the organization of backlinks.

Source: Semrush

Each type of backlink has its unique characteristics and ways of acquisition, and understanding these nuances can significantly boost your SEO strategy. Together, they feed into each other’s SERP juice to boost rankings and increase your credibility. Check out the image above to see how easily they flow and where the connections happen.

Let’s dive deeper into the various backlinks and how you can earn them:

  • Dofollow Backlinks: These are the backlinks every site covets. Dofollow links are like the open gates allowing search engine bots to follow through to your site.This process can substantially enhance your site’s domain authority and improve its ranking in search engine results. You earn these golden tickets by creating compelling content that others want to reference, engaging with communities, or through direct collaborations with other websites.
  • Nofollow Backlinks: Nofollow links might not pass authority to your site because they have a special HTML attribute search engines heed. Yet, they’re essential for a diverse and authentic backlink profile, and they still have the potential to drive traffic. You can gain Nofollow links by engaging in forums, posting comments, and participating in select directories or social media platforms.
  • Guest Blogging Backlinks: These backlinks are acquired by contributing high-quality content to other blogs or websites. Typically, you’ll get a backlink in your author bio or within the content itself. This type of backlink helps with SEO and broadens your audience by tapping into the host site’s audience. Establishing relationships with other publishers and offering valuable insights to their readers is key to earning guest blogging backlinks.
  • Editorial Backlinks: The holy grail of backlinks, editorial backlinks are given when a website references your site as a source of information or because your content is exceptionally authoritative and valuable. These links are earned purely through creating high-quality, unique, and informative content that others find worth mentioning organically.
  • Backlinks from Webinars: If you host webinars and share them online, you open up another avenue for backlinks. Sites that find your webinars valuable may link back to them as resources. To maximize this opportunity, promote your webinars extensively, partner with other influencers or brands for broader reach, and ensure your webinars provide actionable insights.
  • Free-Tool Backlinks: By offering useful tools or resources for free on your site, you encourage other websites to link to these resources. Whether it’s a unique calculator, an ebook, or an interactive platform, free tools can attract backlinks naturally as they provide value to users across the internet. Developing and promoting these tools in your niche communities can significantly boost your backlink profile.

Understanding and leveraging these different types of backlinks can transform your SEO strategy, driving more organic traffic to your site and improving your search engine rankings. The key is to focus on quality content, active engagement, and providing value, which in turn will earn you a diverse and robust backlink profile.

Backlink Quantity vs. Quality

Now, the age-old debate: is it better to have many backlinks or focus on securing high-quality ones? While having a robust number of backlinks can be beneficial, backlink quality unequivocally trumps quantity every time.

A single backlink from a high-authority, relevant site can do more for your SEO than dozens of low-quality links. High-quality backlinks can improve your site’s authority, increase traffic, and improve your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Going after many links without caring about their quality is a recipe for trouble. It’s like inviting a bunch of strangers to your party without checking if they vibe with your crowd. This approach can tarnish your site’s reputation and lower its ranking.

So, what’s a low-quality backlink? It’s usually one from a site unrelated to your niche, has questionable content, or is known for spamming. These are the party crashers of the internet world and trust me, you don’t want them at your site’s bash.

Why are Backlinks Crucial For SEO?

The digital landscape has evolved, but backlinks have consistently held their ground as a cornerstone of Google’s PageRank algorithm. Why does this matter to you? Because backlinks act as a seal of approval from one site to another. They tell search engines, “Hey, this content is reputable, valuable, and trustworthy.” This endorsement boosts your site’s credibility and authority, which search engines reward with higher rankings in search results.

But the impact of backlinks doesn’t stop at just credibility. They’re also critical for driving targeted, quality traffic to your site. Imagine a backlink as a bridge between your site and another site’s audience, funneling visitors directly to your content. This increases your site’s visibility and can also lead to higher conversion rates as you’re attracting an audience already interested in your niche.

To truly harness the power of backlinks, it’s crucial to understand their impact on your SEO strategy. This is where backlink analysis tools come into play. Want to know who’s linking to you and your competition? You need to check backlinks and see where you’re being mentioned.

My free backlink checker tool can help you uncover this valuable information. It’s designed to help you find out who links to you and your competition, providing insights that can be used for building backlinks and boosting your rankings.

Neil Patel's Backlink Checker in action.

Source: Backlink Checker

By leveraging backlink analysis tools, including my free backlink checker, you can dissect your backlink profile, examine the quality of your backlinks, identify opportunities for improvement, and spot any potentially harmful links that could be dragging your rankings down. This allows you to craft a more informed and effective backlink strategy, ensuring that each backlink propels your site higher in search engine standings.

The Long-Term Impact of Backlinks

Building a strong backlink profile isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a strategic, ongoing process that requires patience, persistence, and smart networking. The quest for high-quality backlinks is ongoing, but let me tell you, the payoff is well worth the effort.

Over the months and years, a strong backlink profile acts as a powerful lever for your SEO. It’s like building a reputation in your industry—as you accumulate high-quality backlinks, your site’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) climbs. This isn’t just about getting your site to rank higher—it’s about cementing your site’s authority and trustworthiness in the eyes of both users and search engines.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Increased search visibility translates directly into more organic traffic—traffic that’s high in quantity and quality. These are the visitors who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, making them more likely to convert.

And let’s not forget, organic traffic, unlike paid traffic, is cost-effective because you’re not paying for each click—you’re reaping the rewards of your backlinking efforts.

Perhaps most importantly, a diversified and high-quality backlink profile provides a buffer against the ever-changing winds of search engine algorithms. It ensures that your site remains resilient, maintaining its visibility and relevance even as the digital landscape evolves.

Dedicating time and resources to building your backlink profile is an investment in your site’s long-term success. It’s about laying a foundation to support your site’s growth and visibility for years. Trust me, it’s an investment that pays dividends in the realm of SEO.


What exactly are backlinks?

Backlinks, also known as “inbound links” or “incoming links,” are links from one website to a page on another website. They are vital for SEO because they signal to search engines that other websites endorse your content, which can improve your site’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Why are backlinks important for SEO?

Backlinks are crucial for SEO because they act as a vote of confidence from one site to another. This endorsement helps search engines trust your content as valuable and authoritative, improving your site’s rankings in SERPs. High-quality backlinks can also drive targeted traffic to your site, enhancing your online visibility and potential for conversions.

How can I build backlinks ethically?

Building backlinks ethically involves creating high-quality content that naturally attracts backlinks, engaging in guest blogging, and participating in relevant online communities. It’s important to focus on earning links from reputable sites within your industry to ensure the backlinks contribute positively to your SEO efforts.


Backlinks are an indispensable part of a successful SEO strategy. They improve your site’s ranking and visibility on search engines and enhance your website’s credibility and authority. By focusing on building high-quality backlinks ethically and using a backlink tool to understand their long-term impact, you can significantly boost your digital marketing efforts.

Remember, the journey to building a strong backlink profile is ongoing, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Consulting with Neil Patel

See How My Agency Can Drive More Traffic to Your Website

  • SEO - unlock more SEO traffic. See real results.
  • Content Marketing - our team creates epic content that will get shared, get links, and attract traffic.
  • Paid Media - effective paid strategies with clear ROI.

Book a Call

Are You Using Google Ads? Try Our FREE Ads Grader!

Stop wasting money and unlock the hidden potential of your advertising.

  • Discover the power of intentional advertising.
  • Reach your ideal target audience.
  • Maximize ad spend efficiency.
Ads Grader