A backlink is a link that a website acquires from another, different website. Backlinks have a profound impact on the prominence of a website’s search engine results. Hence the reason backlinks are considered extremely worthwhile for improving the SEO ranking of a website. To display search results, search engines calculate rankings with consideration of a multitude of factors. It is unclear the amount of weight backlinks are given by search engines when listing results. However, it is quite clear that backlinks are extremely important.

Backlinks must be natural, meaning a website should not use artificial means to generate backlinks for a website(s) owned by the same entity. The link quality is significantly more important than link quantity. For example, Website X is a restaurant and gets a backlink from Website Y, which is a prominent culinary review website and blog. Website X has thus gained a natural backlink from Website Y that will likely prove valuable, relevant, and respectable.

Because backlinks are so vital to websites, there are many negative practices that website owners follow to obtain backlinks. Some of these negative practices include: link exchange networks, purchasing backlinks, selling backlinks, etc. Search engines usually do not recommend or condone these negative practices. The search engine typically penalizes or deindexes websites suspected of participation in these bad practices.

When thinking of backlinks, it may be helpful to think of them as conversations between websites. The World Wide Web (AKA “the web”) is a network of web pages, or documents, connected to each other via hypertext links (i.e., hyperlinks). The web grows more substantially with each new hyperlink connection to a new document. We find these web pages or documents much easier with the use of search engines. A web page that is linked by several other web pages on relatively similar topics is considered more valuable and respectful.

Perhaps an example would be helpful here. Imagine that there is a blogger, Johnny Jones, who writes a very enthralling article about a sporting event. Another blogger, Samantha Smith, disagrees with Jonny’s blog post and writes about it in an article for an online magazine. She includes a link to Johnny’s blog post to help her readers navigate to it quickly and have a reference for his point of view in addition to hers. This provides a valuable backlink for Johnny’s blog post. Conversely, Samantha’s article gains a lot of attention and several other websites link to her post. Despite Johnny technically getting only one backlink to his article, the value of his backlink increases exponentially due to the backlinks that Samantha’s post has generated. Since Johnny’s blog post started the conversation that resulted in several other web pages linking to one another, his post gets significant respect. Therefore, backlinks are not only essential for increasing a website’s ability to gain value and respect, they are similarly important for search engines, as well as for the overall well-being of the entire World Wide Web.

Incoming Links is a WordPress admin dashboard widget that displays links from other websites, and in particular blogs, to that website. To show the links, the widget uses Google’s blog search results. Several other free backlink checking tools are available online that can be utilized to determine the number of other pages linking to a particular page.


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