SEO and backlinks go together like bread and butter.
You can’t have one without the other.
(Well, you can—but on their own, they don’t taste that great.)
For that reason, every conversation about SEO involves backlinks in one way or another.
It’s not ground-breaking news that it’s near enough impossible to rank without them.
But why are backlinks so important, exactly?
What makes these little virtual connections so critical to ranking in organic search—and how are they powerful enough to skyrocket a page from the unexplored depths of page 64 to pride of place on page one?
Luckily for you, I’ve got the answers.
I’ve got four of them, in fact.
Why Are Backlinks Important? 4 Reasons Why They’ve Got the SEO Juice
So, are you ready to get your learnin’ on?
No need to pencil in a two-hour chunk of your day to understand exactly why backlinks are important. You’ll only need a few minutes to get the lowdown!
1. Backlinks Are How Google Finds New Pages
The simplest explanation behind the “why are backlinks important?” question is this: They’re how Google spiders find new pages.
Just like we’d use a map to find our way to new cities, Google spiders use backlinks to find, crawl and index pages on your website.
Think about it: You’re much more likely to find a new city if it’s connected to other cities, right? A tiny city that sits in the middle of nowhere could take a while—if you manage to discover it, at all.
What does that mean? Well, lots of backlinks give you a better chance of being found quickly.
That leads to faster indexing, and higher rankings, in a shorter period of time.
Because backlinks are Google’s internet navigation tool, building a bunch of them to your website helps to boost the average time it takes for SEO to work.
(On average, that could be anywhere from 4-6 months.)
Not to cut corners, but we’d all like to see faster rankings, right? With high-quality, relevant backlinks, you can speed up the SERPs the right way.
2. Backlinks Are Google’s Reputation Management Tool
Unfortunately, Google isn’t human. Although the algorithm was created (and is manned) by actual people, the software doesn’t have a human brain.
Granted, that can have advantages—but they’re playing catch-up when determining which sites are worthy of high rankings.
You see, backlinks are important because they’re used as Google’s reputation tool. Since their main aim is to point searchers in the direction of the best possible result for their query, they won’t point searchers in the direction of a site that’s writing to crickets.
Instead, they want to point them to a popular website—because a popular website means it has a good reputation and can be trusted.
(Sorry, Joan Jett. You still need to give a damn about your online reputation!)
To put this into context, try it out yourself. Which of these sites would you trust more?
1. A site with three backlinks
2. A site with 300+ backlinks
I’ll bet you chose the second option.
I, the person reading this article after you, and Google would all have the same answer—simply because we all think of popular, backlink-rich websites as more trustworthy.
3. Relevant Backlinks Boost Your Credibility
Following on from the explanation of Google wanting to show the highest quality results for a user’s search query, backlinks are also important because they boost credibility.
Here’s what I mean:
If a car manufacturer has a backlink profile with inbound links from automotive blogs and car news sites, you’d think they were more credible, right? If others in their industry are linking to their content, it can be safely assumed that they must be sharing something of value.
However, if a car manufacturer were to fill their backlink profile with links from pet blogs and food stores, it’d have the opposite effect.
Google would think, “Hmm… Is this website really an authoritative source in the automotive industry?”—and that second-take is what could cost you those all-important rankings.
Remember: Google uses backlinks to determine your online reputation.
Collecting backlinks from any place you can get your hands on, especially if it’s not relevant, won’t do you any favors.
In fact, it could have the opposite effect—and see you penalized by Google.
4. Backlinks Drive Traffic to Your Site
I’m not going to bore you with the whole, “Google wants to show the best results…” spiel that I just (potentially) bored you with.
You know that by now.
However, that same philosophy applies when we’re talking about the added benefit of referral traffic to your site, through your juicy backlinks.
Think about it: Google won’t trust a website that doesn’t get any traffic. Naturally, it’d sit lower down in the SERPs.
But, sites with lots of traffic must be trustworthy and offer some value… Am I right?
So, when you’re implementing your own link building strategy, aim for backlinks from relevant, high-quality sites with a Domain Authority of 40+. These websites have a bigger, established audience—and a better chance of increasing overall traffic to your own website.
…So, Do You Have These SEO Goldmines?
You now know why you need to have backlinks if you want your site to see any ranking improvements.
So, how do you find out whether you’ve already got some of these SEO goldmines pointing to your website?
In true Elise style, I’m not just going to explain it to you—I’m showing you.
Simply sign in to your Monitor Backlinks account, and hit the Backlinks tab in the top navbar:
(Don’t panic if you’re still not on the Monitor Backlinks boat. Grab yourself a free 30-day trial to get started right now—no credit card required!)
Now, see all those rows of data? This is your backlink profile—a neat document that details every single link that’s currently pointing to your website.
You can sieve through this data manually, taking a look at the “linked from” column to determine who’s showing your site some love:
Or, you can take it a step further by using the filters in the right-hand column to filter the data. Just click on the Filters button to expand the list of options.
To see how your backlinks stack up, try filtering by:
- Domain Authority: To assess how likely the linking domain is to rank highly. (Aim for 40+)
- Page Authority: To assess how likely the linking page is to rank highly. (Aim for 30+)
- Spam Score: To assess how spammy the website is seen to be. (Aim for a score of 3 or less)
You should always work to keep your backlink profile filled with high-quality, relevant and trustworthy links—that’s the only way to reap the SEO rewards.
Monitor Backlinks can make this job a lot easier. Instead of having to manually check in on your backlink profile, it’ll monitor your backlinks for you round the clock, and even send you notifications whenever you get a new link (or lose one).
Easy as pie!
You know why backlinks are important—and why having the right backlinks can have a huge impact on your organic search presence.
Now, make sure they’re bringing you the SEO juice by keeping track of them with Monitor Backlinks, and watch your rankings rise!